(Trigger Warning: This article contains sexual assault, depression, and suicidal experiences and profanity.)
Last month, I went back to my hometown for the first time this summer. I drove two and a half hours to walk the streets we once walked together. The place reeks of memories of you. And yet, it was the first time that I actually felt like I could breathe. I laid down on old dirt roads, stared up at the night sky, and just breathed.
Since we broke up in February, my head was filled with the awful experiences you put me through. I was plagued by constant nightmares of your assault. But, as my Spotify started playing "Your Betrayal" by Bullet For Your Valentine, I began to remember the good memories. I remembered you serenading me with that song as you made love to me in the back of your car on the same dirt roads I laid on.
I smiled. Then, I immediately stopped. Was I allowed to smile while thinking of you? Was I allowed to have fond memories of the man who assaulted me, ignored me, and made me feel like I was nothing of importance?
After that moment, the memories kept creeping back in. Like the time we cuddled and watched anime until the sun came up. When you held me close through the haunted houses on my birthday, even though you hated horror. When you came to me begging for help beating Resident Evil 5 on easy.
Honestly, I thought we were soulmates. We seemed perfect for each other. We both loved anime and video games and reading. We had dreams of being the best in our respective fields and we wanted to help people. We loved theatre and would sing to any type of music available. I didn't think there was anyone in the world like you.
But, we were so different in so many ways. You wanted children, I didn't. You wanted a perfect housewife and to be the breadwinner, I wanted to be independent in my career. You preferred crowds and parties, whereas I liked being alone. You had no political stance and I was constantly fighting the system to change the world for the better. I loved deep, intellectual conversations, but you talked only of the next big movie coming out.
These differences weren't easily compromised, even though you promised me they could be. For instance, when I started showing signs of PTSD from your assault, I assumed I was asexual because I no longer felt a desire for you and hated you touching me. I told you I couldn't have sex anymore and you said that was fine.
I believed you.
Then you proceeded to attempt to touch me any fucking time you could, pressuring me and making me feel guilty. Truthfully, I hardly remember anything. Everything is blurred together of what I think happened and what you made me believe actually happened. Every good memory of you is followed by you ruining it. The bad memories definitely cloud the good. But, I was blind. I believed you every time you said you were sorry and that you would change.
Now, as I'm looking through our photos together, I'm torn between keeping them or shredding them. Seeing you reminds me of what you put me through, but you were also my boyfriend of almost four years. You went everywhere I did. For four years you were involved in every activity I was. We had good times, there had to be some reason I loved you. Isn't it wrong to remember your predator as good?
Can I still consider you a decent person after what you did? Can I smile while remembering a joke you made? Can I smile remembering how much you cared for those in need? Can I smile thinking about how you would tell me stories as I drifted to sleep?
I don't have the answers to these questions. I did everything with you. Every game, every book, every anime I love is tainted with memories of you. Can I still enjoy them knowing I shared them with the man who raped me?
Am I allowed to love the man who assaulted me?
How should I remember you? Boyfriend or rapist?
Is it possible for you to be both?
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE STRUGGLING WITH SUICIDAL THOUGHTS AND/OR TENDENCIES, REACH OUT IMMEDIATELY. NO ONE SHOULD GO THROUGH THIS ALONE. SUICIDE IS SERIOUS.
National Suicide Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255 - available 24/7