I typed your name into the Facebook search box tonight on a whim. I had done it before one other time, years ago. I vaguely remember seeing your blurred smiling face in a baseball cap, and the feeling of disgust that suddenly welled up in the pit of my stomach, I had to click away. This time was different though, perhaps I have grown softer over the years since then and now… and I have surely grown softer in the years since you stole my innocence in the house that “Merch” built. This time instead of just your smiling face that made me want to punch the SCREEN until it shattered into a million pieces, there was two small, beautiful, golden haired, smiles in pink dresses on each side of your dimples... And your smile… was so happy… so radiant with joy sitting there between those two tiny angels, that instead of disgust… instead of rage… the only thing that welled up in me was an overwhelming feeling of joy in my throat for you… and in that instant... just like that, forgiveness happened.
Fifteen years ago you wanted to pretend that next morning that nothing had happened, and I went right along with you out of shame. I made believe while working and selling right along side of you for weeks afterward that nothing had happened. To the few I told, I made believe that we had made love. That I had finally been “made love” to. You pretended nothing had happened to everyone, after all, you were my team-leader and dating each other was inappropriate, as you had been telling me after every time we had kissed up until that point. Of course the same was true after we… well, after YOU had sex with me… but then you moved on very quickly from encouraging my puppy-love crush in the moments we stole off alone together, to dating another girl who was part of your sales “team”. I’m sure I could write pages on what that did to my self esteem, but I won’t… I want to focus on the rape itself. Because YES, Brian, what you did was rape, though it took me years to call it by name.
I adored you. You knew it, our friends/coworkers knew it, our manager knew it… everyone who had eyes to see knew it. I hung on your every word… Your stories about growing up without a strong family tore at my heartstrings. Your proclamations about your beautiful home state of Wyoming being the most breathtaking place on earth… “God’s country” you’d sigh… and I believed every word. I believed in you when you said you were going to succeed, you always were a terrific salesman, and I bought your dream. You were going to work hard enough to make your wishes come true, undoubtedly, and when you said that and looked into my eyes with those beautiful brown puppy-dog eyes and kissed me... I was pretty sure (in my naivety) that you wanted me to come along with you in that dream. You see Brian, I was a young nineteen. I had only dated three guys up until that point and none for longer than a few weeks… none had gotten even as far as third base, and when it came to the male psyche, I had no clue whatsoever. I had no idea that, while I was kissing you because I was picturing wedding bells, you as a man could have shared the same deep conversations, the same passionate kiss, and still be picturing only a soft wet hole. Or maybe that isn’t that at all, maybe it’s not the male psyche ( and it’s not, But It took me years of spiraling downward in my relations with men to realize “not all men”). Maybe it was you, not that into me, but immature and unable to tell me straight up, instead of making excuses that left me still believing that our feelings were mutual. Maybe it was you, unsure of your feelings for me, and drowning the pain of your shitty childhood in one too many beers that particular night that relieved you of your self control… I say this, not to make excuses for what you did, or the pain it caused, but to find a place in my mind and my heart where I can make peace with what happened that night.
I wonder Brian, if you even remember my name. I wonder if you remember what you did, or realize the lasting effects that sort of thing can have on a person? I looked at your smiling face on my computer screen last night and I wondered if you ever look at those two beauties on either side of you and hope that they never meet a man who treats them as you treated me. I think, if I was in your shoes instead of my own all these years, that I would probably have pushed away those memories. That I probably would have come up with reasons to justify it… after all I was in your bedroom. I was cuddled up alongside of you. I did receive your kisses willingly. I dry humped you right back happily. And in all honesty, I felt so much admiration and love for you, that I did want to make love to you. I wanted to… IF we were an actual couple, if you put had put your arm around me in the company of our friends and not just in the dark on our walks around on those city streets, if you had called me your girlfriend instead of your (one person) sales team, if you didn’t smell of beer, and caress me just a little too rough that night… Even though I was afraid of losing my virginity. Even though I was anxious that it might hurt and that a man might think less of me if I slept with him too soon in our relationship… Brian, I adored you. I’m almost sure that I would have happily and willingly given you the prize you claimed, if not that night, surely on another. The regret, the sadness, the self loathing, fear, anger, frustration, self-destructing, mistrust and hatred that your penis inside of me caused wasn’t because it was YOU I gave myself to. I wanted to give myself to you. The problem was that I DIDN’T GIVE it to you. I said “no” Brian. When you started to remove my underwear, I said “no”. When you pressed yourself against me harder, I pushed back with my hands and said “no”. When you pushed painfully into me despite the tension in my unaccustomed and unwilling vagina, I said “NO!”... And then I gave up. It was already done, you were already inside me. So I tried my best to “relax”. I tried to tell myself that since I loved you, this was "making love". I even kissed you back as you jammed your mouth just as hard and rough against my face as your pelvis was grinding into my spasming, pain-wracked hips. After you finished like a porn star, and threw me a dirty towel off the floor for my belly, I think I may have even gently stroked your back as you passed out next to me. I lay there awake most of the night replaying and getting started on rewriting our sex into something other than rape. In the morning before you woke up, I stole quietly out of the house to go get cigarettes with one of our friends. I was ashamed and I was bruised. Our friend Tiffany was wise-cracking, indestructible, and the life of the party, I idolized the hell out of her. I wanted to cry and tell her everything, but I was embarrassed. She had had lots of sex, and she knew the extent of my crush on you. I had finally gotten to have sex with you, wasn’t that what I wanted? No… No, it wasn’t.
Brian, I could write a novel about the past fifteen years since that night when my innocence died. About all the chain reaction of pain and trauma that came from losing my virginity to rape in the hands of someone I loved and trusted. Maybe I will someday. Today though, I write with a different purpose…. I see your smiling daughters, Brian. I see the innocence on their faces… They are so young, so eager, so absolutely enamored with their dad. And they should be, they have a wonderful father who I’m sure dotes on his princesses and adores them beyond measure. Over here, I have my sweet, gentle-hearted eight year old son sleeping next to me as the sun rises while I write this letter to you. I see these wonderful children we have each brought into the world, and I know that I must forgive you… and more than that, I must tell you out loud that I forgive you, so that maybe, just maybe, you can forgive yourself.
Perhaps you haven’t spent fifteen years playing that night out in your head from time to time, or maybe you have. Perhaps you don’t remember me or if you do, perhaps you don’t have enough of a conscience to care. Perhaps if you do think of me, you like to pretend to yourself even now that what we did was have consensual sex, I know you pretended that back then the few times we spoke of it. Perhaps my forgiveness is not needed, and your life was not effected in any way, shape, or form by the event that so strongly shifted my own. Or maybe it did, and is effecting you. Maybe in the back of your mind you still think of yourself as a rapist when you kiss your lovely wife and tuck your smiling daughters into bed. Maybe your life has been just as tough, maybe you have caused yourself just as much (or more?) suffering. I am not a religious woman, but I believe that life is about the exchange and interplay of energies. I believe that in one way or another, you get back what you put into the world. Call it karma, or whatever you’d like, but I can’t believe that the energy that you put out that night into my life hasn’t come back to you in some way… In which case, I want to tell you this Brian:
I forgive you, and thank you. Truly… I have no frame of reference for what my life would have been if you hadn’t laid on top of me that night, maybe it would have been grand, with less struggles, and more beauty. But I love my life exactly as it is right now. For all it’s ups and downs, I wouldn’t be who I am, where I am, and probably wouldn’t have the beautiful child sleeping next to me if it weren’t for you. I was messed up for a long time, its true. But not now… Now, I am okay… in fact, way better than okay! So, as fucked up as it is: Thank you. Tonight I released you of your debt. I smiled at your Facebook pictures ( the one of you playing guitar for your oldest hit me right in the heart)… I sobbed big heaving sobs for the naive little girl who loved you… and for a simple, sweet, sad boy from God’s country who made a big mistake. May we both raise our daughters and sons to be stronger, wiser, kinder, and with more self control than either of us had. May your children have the steady as a rock, overflowing with love childhood that you were deprived of. May we someday live in a world where rape is seen by both men and women for the horror that it is, so that my son and your daughters will never question that "NO" means "NO. May our children never know the depths of the struggles and despair we have known. I release you from my heart, from my body, and from my debt Brian. Go in peace and may you be blessed.