Today

Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse

Today

I saw him

He saw me too

I froze

Just like I always do when our paths cross
My heart dove into my stomach
I wanted to run and cry and yell and disappear

All at the same time

Today

I saw him
The man who raped me

Last year around this time, I was sitting in a cafe
I heard his voice right behind me
He was talking to his friend, pretending not to see me

So with my heart beating way too fast, I pretended that I didn’t hear his voice
I pretended that we weren’t close friends a time long ago
I pretended that on that summer afternoon, he didn’t look into my eyes and tell me

You’re beautiful

When I heard his voice that day

I felt completely invisible
I felt like my whole being didn’t exist

When I walked outside

It immediately started to rain

The rain was a gift letting me know that I do exist

The wet drops on my skin and the wind in my hair told me that I am
A human being that is breathing, alive and visible to the world around me

When he saw me today

He hid
He lowered his eyes and his head and once again pretended that I was invisible
That what he did to me didn’t happen
That I didn’t exist

Are you alive?

These were his words to me, the day after it happened
These words would shatter my heart each time he crossed my mind

Today

I want to say to you
Yes, I am alive
I am breathing
I am brave
I am brilliant
I am beautiful

I am worth so much more than the violence other people have inflicted onto my body, heart, and mind

To you, I say this:

You could not face me after it happened
You still cannot
And I understand
You don’t want to be a monster. You don’t want to be a villain

I want you to know that I forgive you

I forgive you because I no longer want to hold onto the pain I’ve carried for years
I no longer want my whole being to freeze when you cross my path
From this day forward, if our paths cross again, I will keep walking in strength and in peace
Shame and pain will no longer make me too afraid to acknowledge what you did to me

To you I ask:

Have you acknowledged what you did to me?

Have you forgiven yourself?

Today was the first time I was brave enough to go back to the place it happened
I am writing these words sitting in the place my body became yours

Without my permission
This is my healing, this is my closure

You will no longer haunt me
The tree beside me gives me comfort
At least I know, I was not alone.

Distraction

Trigger Warning: Abortion.

Sitting in the waiting room dressed in my long gown and socks I feel I look like my Grandma. They told me to remove my underwear and I feel uncomfortable sitting on the hard seats, they’re trying to make comfortable with blankets.

The few women in the waiting room display an array of emotions on their faces: calmness, fright, relaxed,
I have to wonder what they see on mine,
Am I doing the right thing?
Is this going to hurt?
I just heard I’m almost 8 weeks,
AM I DOING THE RIGHT THING?
One by one they are leaving me,
It is now me and the calm girl with the bounce in her step…she asked if I was given the IUD pamphlet…
No.

She jokes and I laugh,
We talk about being hungry,
We laugh,
We laugh in this place,
We are all here making a big decision,
And we can laugh,
She gets called and I am now sitting alone on this hard seat,
Why would this place want me to stay hungry while making a big decision?
I am the last one here,
Seeing the locked exit from the corner of my eye.

Deep breaths…
Listening to the opening of the Ginger Ale can on the other side,
A distraction,
After all of this I will be able to eat,
Distract yourself with thoughts of food,
I hear my name being called,
It is my turn,
My heart beats faster,
I’m getting rid of ‘him’
Oh my God am I doing the right thing?

The nurse tells me her name: Ricky,
I want to tell her that that is the name of my brother but I think that would be awkward,
She seems nice,
Her glasses…her glasses are nice; distraction,
Walking to the room I pass a room on my right and see the same woman I was in the waiting room with,
I see their faces and some still look calm others look like they’re in pain,
Oh my God my heart beats faster,

I enter the white room and I sit on the bed,
“Are you sure about your decision?”
I say yes but am I?
She says she likes my glasses and wants to know if I get compliments all the time too?
Yes I do and this is when I tell her I like hers,
We are like glasses sisters;
Connect,
Distraction,
I laugh nervously,
I lie down.

I look up and I see a picture on the ceiling,
What is it a picture of?
Distraction,
I don’t remember and everything is white,
Very white,
Ricky is talking to me as she is inserting an IV,
Memories of me in the hospital start to pass,
I can hear Indrani from work telling me I should not have gotten pregnant,
That word: “Pregnant.”

“Squeeze the blue ball” she says,
“Squeeze it,”
It’s in and she rests my hand on my stomach,
The IV hurts and it’s uncomfortable,
I look up to the picture and this will be my distraction,
I will not tell her this hurts.

She leaves the room briefly to get the doctor,
I hear I’m the last one; I hear I was 8 weeks,
I hear rustling… everything is starting to spin and I feel tired,
I feel like I’m pass being hungry now,
I put my hand to my head and close my eyes,
I open them to see Ricky,
She says the meds are working,
This is actually really happening!
Everything is about to change in less than ten minutes.

The doctor enters with a black nurse,
They’re talking,
The doctor doesn’t look like a doctor to me,
I see brunette hair…
She’s asking me about birth control options,
Condoms?
No condoms are bad,
I look back up at the picture,
Distraction,
What the fuck is this picture of anyway?

I can’t believe this situation I’m in,
“IUD… you can have it inserted for a week and some women keep it up to five year and take it out when they want,”
No I do not want that,
Ricky asks questions and now she’s talking to me,
I look briefly at the doctor,
Oh my God this really is happening,
Speculum,
I can feel it,
She’s telling me she’s going to dinner with her husband after,
My words jumble but I manage to tell her “that’s nice,”
At least they get to eat,
What am I going to eat after this?
I really, really am doing this,
Ricky is told to rub my belly,
She’s still talking,
I don’t know what’s going on,
Focus on her glasses… her glasses are nice,
“You’re done, everything is complete.”

Everything is spinning,
I feel nothing,
I gave it back and now I feel nothing,
Benjamin.

I am now one of the women sitting on the chair,
Eyes dancing,
Ricky pours me some Ginger Ale and says it will help,
“Heating pad?” I say no thanks,
The calm girl sitting across from me says the heating pad will feel nice,
I take the Ginger Ale but it’s going to choke me,
I can’t swallow,
Everything is going fast,
Ricky is gone,
It’s slowing down,
The pad is making me hot.

I don’t like being around these girls,
They look like they are in pain,
I feel nothing,
Nothing,
The calm girl leaves and waves bye,
I start to eat the crackers,
Focus on empty chair across from me,
Head spinning,
Salty,
Crackers drying up in my mouth,
Ginger Ale is done,
Another nurse gives me a package to read,
Purple paper “Post Abortion,”
I was pregnant ten minutes ago,
ME,
It is now gone,
I am now,
Empty,
Benjamin.