[TW: SA, r*pe]
I’ve tried many ways to cover the pain I felt inside after my rape.
The first was love. I wouldn’t be alone with my thoughts at night if I wasn’t alone at night.
It can be common for sexual assault survivors to act out sexually in attempt to erase what had been done, to prove that it didn’t matter, to reclaim the experience of sex.
I also found comfort in the codependence of these early relationships. I figured if they could take on some of my problems, maybe the burden wouldn’t be so much to bear. Of course it doesn’t work that way. Companionship can bring comfort but it doesn’t heal the pain within.
I wasn’t left feeling whole. Submitting myself further to men was not going to heal the pain that a man had caused. Diving quickly into new relationships created chaos in my personal life that did not contribute to healing.
The second was drugs. I wouldn’t have to remember how I felt if I couldn’t remember and couldn’t feel.
I was introduced to my drug of choice by a sexual partner - also, to my understanding, a very common experience. I trusted the person I was with, so I trusted what they were giving me. They had done it before, and showed me how. I do not blame them for offering them, but myself for taking them. The drugs allowed me to slip away into euphoria when my prior mindset was hell. I went from having feelings of fear to having it all slip away, like I was floating on a cloud.
But it would come crashing down. It made me very sick. My partner and I would do too much and end up passing a bucket back and forth all night.
I was also becoming a very boring person. I was home on a Wednesday afternoon, getting high and watching Cops with my partner and their friend. Just weeks prior, I had been spending my Wednesdays in meetings in high rise buildings. It was amazing how quickly life crumbled down.
One day I woke up and I realized I didn’t recognize myself any longer. I’m not sure what it is in me that had changed. I knew I didn’t want that to be my life any longer. I left that partner that morning. He didn’t understand why I was leaving, but I suddenly understood that we had both stopped loving me the moment he drew my first line.
I don’t tell these stories because I am proud of them. I have never told these stories before because I am not proud of them. In hindsight they feel like a stain on my existence, but a stain only starts to come off if you acknowledge it and treat it. Maybe it’ll only fade, but at least it won’t be as bright - you’d have to search with a keen eye for the memory of those past mistakes.
One night, I thought I did too much. It hadn’t felt like too much. It felt like the normal amount. But suddenly I was very unaware of my surroundings. Next thing I knew I was in my bathroom, head in the toilet.
I later learned that the friend who brought the supply that night knew that it was cut with something stronger. As I nodded out on the couch, they started to panic that I was about to overdose. I was lucky that my body rejected everything before that truly happened.
I stopped then. I got clean. I’d been officially clean, actually sober, since 2017.
And then my husband was diagnosed with cancer at the start of the pandemic.
The first few days of diagnosis, he was in the hospital without me. The doctors debated keeping him in inpatient for 6 months during chemo to limit his exposure. That week they were throwing around worse diagnoses - I thought that he might not make it, and that I would never see him again.
I laid alone in our home, in our bed, with every thought racing through my head. We had recently moved cross country - I had nobody nearby, nobody to turn to.
While lying there, I harvested old methods and managed to cop a dealer’s number. I messaged them, they replied. I asked for prices, they replied and sent pictures of the product.
I stopped there. We never met up. I’ve been clean since 2017.
My husband came home a few days later. Under strict doctors orders, we both entered quarantine in May 2020. We have been home together every day since then.
I couldn’t fall into my codependent ways. He needed me to be strong for both of us.
I’ve realized in quarantine that I often used to rely on a busy schedule to keep my mind busy. I can no longer always keep my mind busy.
How do I cope now?
I write. I paint. I do yoga. I read. I research things that interest me online.
These are the things they always tell you to try, aren’t they? Nobody ever suggested to me that I should try to ease my mind with love and drugs, but I fell that way anyway. They didn’t do shit. It was finding ways to meditate, reflect, communicate, and create that did that. I’ve reclaimed myself. I will heal myself. I love myself.
I hope that at least one person reading this can learn from my story. Don’t do what I did. But if you did, you’re not alone.
You can reach out to me @CorinneDeCost. As a Rethink Advocate, I am here to talk any time.