Friday, June 22, 2007

The letter of the Day is R

(The first part of this post is Here.) Sometimes when I'm working on something or struggling with a particular though/topic, it seems like everything I do or read or hear is related. Almost as if I'm going to be inundated with that subject until I deal with it. Sure makes it hard to ignore things.

On AS awhile back, we had a topic chat with Dr. Patti Feuereisen who wrote Invisible Girls. Several of us decided we should read the book and discuss it online. Like an online book club. Somehow I was volunteered to lead it. Like most projects, I dived right in. I really have enjoyed the book.

I love books. When I get a new book, I have to smell it. I love the smell of new books. Then I love my book. Open it slowly, in the method taught to me by my college professor so that the spine isn't broken or creased. After that, all niceties are off. I write the date on the front cover. If I ever go back and re-read a book, I write the subsequent dates here too. When I read, I underline, highlight, fold pages and take notes in the margins. If I re-read the book, I read my notes and respond. It is interesting to re-read books and my notes and see how my perspective had changed. I also like to lend books. Some people are reluctant to write or mark up someone else's book. But I have a few people who humor me and will write their comments or mark their favorite sections. I like to share my favorite books and then read their comments. In a way it's like a book club, without the need for face to face discussion of personal stuff.

My Invisible Girls book is highly marked up with lots of pages folded. I'm preparing to start leading this discussion on July 1, so I now have sticky notes in the book too, with possible questions and fodders for discussion. Last night I was working on dividing up the book into sections for discussion. My book kept falling open to a particular page. Page 156. Chapter 10. One small paragraph, 3 sentences at the end of a section stuck there in the midst of a page.

"Many girls ask me if being forced into oral sex is rape. In my opinion, and in the opinion of other professionals, the answer is yes. While this might not hold up in a court of law because the legal definition may be more restrictive, any forced sexual entry is rape. That means if someone forces his penis into your mouth or forces anything into your vagina or anus, it is rape."

There's that R word again. I feel like I'm on Sesame Street and the letter of the day is R. It's everywhere lately. I keep finding different definitions of what "counts." Except for my state's legal definition, I fit into all of the. The state where it happened, a lot of other states, and everywhere else I've read. All the psychological books label it with the "R" designation. I really don't know what to do with this. I feel as if I am trying to struggle into a jacket that is far too big for me, but I can't figure out why I have this insane, intense need to wear the jacket. I feel like a fraud. I feel like I'm making far too big a deal out of this. Out of what happened in the first place; out of my loathing of this label; and out of my desire to reject it, while at the same time a need to accept it.

I don't doubt that what happened to me was bad. Or evil. Not anymore. Online posters will periodically say that what happened to them "wasn't all that bad" or that they "had it easier than so and so." With other people I have no problem telling them that they shouldn't compare. That it is all evil. With myself, I'm not so easy. I criticize myself for having such problems/issues when my story "isn't as bad as so and so." I think we can all think of ways that someone else had it worse, and ways that someone else may have had it better.

One day online several of us got into a discussion about why someone else's abuse was worse. We were trying to convince each other that their abuse was more horrid than our own. Debated whether stranger rape/abuse was worse than with someone you know or a family member. It was absurd. It's all evil in it's own way. Who is to judge what is worse or better.

{raising hand} I am. I judge. Not others, but myself. I hold up the legal standard and say it's not R***. I then hold up another legal standard and it is R***. I read books and hear friends say it "counts." But the part of me that minimized what happened for so long, and still minimizes it to some degree today, rejects the notion that what happened is significant enough or "bad enough" to be R***. People keep asking me if I've said it yet - the "I was ___ statement." No, I've not. I feel like that is a huge statement - a huge step. As was telling my story. Which, while I've done online, I've not done outloud.

Maybe I'm just pushing too hard. Maybe I don't really need to do all these things - say what happened out loud. Make that statement. Or.....maybe that is just wishful I don't have to face the hard stuff......


Lynn said...

One day I was talking in a round about way to my therapist. I just stopped. I couldn't keep talking anymore. He said very softly, "It's still hard to say, isn't it?" I just started to cry...

highwayoflife said...

Hi there. I like your blog and will pop by to visit more often. Cheers and take care.