Monday morning I woke up to light frost on my muddy brown front lawn; I woke up to Zachary shining a light in my face; I woke up to Scottie Puppen sprawled out against my body — something I’ve learned about Scottie when he does this, he already has sensed my emotional upheaval.
Boy, the somber state of the environment outside of the threshold of my front door nearly reflected the anxiousness I felt Monday morning; it felt as though my emotions were on a treadmill set on the highest speed.
My emotions were on this perpetual running motion from memories that were resurfacing – from a trigger – and I wasn’t getting no where. I was treading water — water that was rising to my calves from my own internal and external tears.
My feet felt like they were captured by cement blocks just weighing me down to this abyss of darkness and emptiness. My mind is my own worst enemy; I had a college professor that celebrated my brilliant memory, she lavished sweet nothings unto my mind’s memory recognition and capabilities.
I hate my memory.
I hate it as much as I hate this Monday.
Once I sat silent, just listening to the wind slightly drumming on the window facing the sidewalk; the blinds slightly askew so I could focus my left eye on the soft coat of snow on the shed across the street, I realized why I was anxious.
A memory surfaced of that night – maybe it was from the man I saw at Zang Mansion that smelled of a weird mix of Camel cigarettes and a day-old bender of aged whiskey and beer that he forgot to wash off.
I don’t know the exact trigger, but that’s just a superficial semantic, the memory still materialized and I was left with a barrage of emotions.
I could smell him; it was if he was still here with me. ten years later, he still has a certain amount of control over my thoughts. My hand looks at my wrist, and I can remember how his calloused hands felt on my wrists.
I just sink down on my burgundy couch with Scottie nuzzling against me … protecting my vulnerable emotive state. In a matter of seconds, my mind is consumed with that night, I fight back tears.
I fight back those damn tears.
I will not give that man another tear. I WILL NOT.
But they fall anyways. They trickle down my reddened, cherub cheeks and roll unto my lips, where I can taste the sadness in them. I can taste the desolation in them mixed with a hint of happiness.
Happiness? Why in the f*** am I happy?
Then a shining bright light comes into my vision; a light of who I was ten years ago and who I am now, at this moment, despite these horrible memories that are temptingly encroaching my sanity and joy.
A light that reminds me that memories aren’t mutually exclusive with a specific, pungent, problematic memory, but, at times, can be a gentle reminder of our personal journey of healing and comfort.
The time I was raped, I was in a really bad place – not just literally in a physical bad place, but I was still harboring resentment, bitterness, anger from losing my father a few years prior. I was reeling from poor relationships with my family; I didn’t know who I was; I pointed the finger at every other person, except for myself.
After I was raped, I fell even deeper in a proverbial pit filled with ginormous snakes telling me I was a mistake: I wasn’t worthy of love; My only gift (my sex) was now blown to smithereens because I now was a defiled object thanks to being raped.
For nearly ten years, thanks to an ignorant social-rape culture that tends to blame the woman and a church culture that does the same, I didn’t think I was worth anything.
But now? My memory coupled with God’s gentle hand in reminding me, I’ve come so far from the girl I was.
I’m a woman of valor.
That bad memory wasn’t one to bring pain, but a simple reinforcement that even when I criticize my own journey; when I question my own spiritual path; when I wonder what in the hell am I doing writing my pains in a public format; I’m reminded that I’ve made strides.
Perhaps, this public documentation of my pain and healing can, indeed, be a soft pillow of comfort for someone else who is just starting to sort their pain.
I’m not defined by my rape experience, but rather, I’m defined how I’ve chosen to live my life.
I’m defined by the essential steps I’ve made to better my life; the stepping-stones I’ve decided to place my size 10 Adidas laden feet on as I make strides to understand who ‘Tammy’ is – the ‘Tammy’ God has uniquely made and the ‘Tammy’ that is not like any other person on the face of this planet.
I’m defined by my definition and my definition alone.
God – in my belief – waits for the time we finally come to this conclusion; a conclusion of harmonious happiness and unrequited joy; a conclusion of who we are as a person and embracing all that we are and, in turn, giving that positive version of us into the universe.
Thank you, God, for making me who I am.