This is not the greatest thought process in the world, this is just a tribute.

Tonight I feel alive.

For the first time in such a very long time

I walk through this City’s streets with my head held high

Like I can see it again as I did for the first time

Thinking maybe this time I can actually thrive

With no fear as I walk past two white guys fighting

and for a second they stop and I can feel their eyes like knives, prying

Even though I walk past doorways where in the past I’ve sat crying

Somehow it all still feels vibrant

 

I no longer wear your hand-made rose-tinted glasses

I’m finally free to settle back in amongst the masses

Instead of being stuck home alone,

Lonely

While you’re sat next to me staring at your phone

And later I’d dutifully lie on my back and moan

Though for those final months there was always something a little ‘off’ about the tone.

 

Tonight I feel alive

For the first time in a very long time

My mind on fire as I race to get home

Because fuck me the one time I’ve actually left without my phone

 

And I have no pen to write down the lines

That are spilling forth from my tortured yet newly-inspired mind

As hard to retain as sand

And yet here I stand

for the first time in a very long time, rhyming

Fingers dancing across the keyboard, typing

Trying to remember how it went the first time, unbridled

How do you capture inspiration when for the longest time it’s been silenced?

 

Messy and raw, it’s never going to sound as good on paper as it did when it was just a thought.

 

This is not the greatest thought process in the world, this is just a tribute.

 

I’m RSVP-ing a big fat ‘NO’ to your pity party.

I’ve done my research on narcissistic and emotional abuse. I started looking into it while we were still together, which should’ve been a HUUUUUGE red flag. A tip for all of you out there –

If you think you’re being subjected to verbal/emotional abuse enough to look it up on the internet at least once a week for MONTHS and sit there thinking “yep that sounds exactly like what’s going on”, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT ignore it and carry on like it’s not happening. Because it is happening. You’re not being crazy. Admit what’s going on to someone to someone you trust. Make a plan. Then get the fuck out.*

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It’s been four very long years…OR my rape story. 

Around this time of the morning four years ago, I woke up to realise that there was a man inside of me and I had not given him permission to be there. This was a man that I knew, very well. That I really cared for. That I’d dated on and off, that I thought would someday stop treating me like shit. I was naive, but the night before had been my birthday party and he’d finally told me he loved me and I believed him because I’d wanted it to be true. I went home with him that night, drunk, and we talked. Then he tried to initiate sex and I said no, to prove to me that this is how he felt when he was sober. So we went to sleep. 

And I woke up to him raping me. 

Going to the police about my sexual assault was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Telling my friends was harder, because a lot of them weren’t my friends. He was more popular than I am, more fun to be around and so a bigger social loss if they were to abandon him for what he did. A lot of them didn’t want to believe me, saying that I looked fine externally, whilst telling them I was dying on the inside. A lot of them gave me sympathy one week and a slap in the face via smiling photos with him on social media the next. 

I had to tell my already emotionally unavailable father that I had been raped. He’s not really looked at/spoken to/treated me the same way since. Like I’m too fragile. Like I’ll shatter at any minute. 

Weeks turned into months of nightmares, breakdowns and outbursts, Police questioning and interrogation, health checks, vaccinations. I quit a job and group of people that I loved because it was too painful to keep myself there. I still look around certain bars and night clubs with an anxious tick because he might be there. I might run into him. I might have to see him and look at his face mirroring my own sadness/loss/fear/anger/bitterness. Sometimes I get too overwhelmed and stomp home alone with hot tears streaming down my face. 

Years of therapy later and I still don’t understand. 

A relationship tainted with a black cloud that has caused both of us stress, anxiety, depression, social disconnect. 

On the face of it, it was all for nothing. I was let down by the judicial system. He didn’t get the punishment that he rightfully deserved. 

BUT. 

That man taught me that my body is my own and does not belong to anyone else. If it’s not treated that way, it is my right, my duty to stand up for myself and shout and scream that this is unacceptable. 

Women are not play things. 

We are not sex toys that guys put kindness tokens into until sex falls out. 

We are not a pair of legs, tits and ass. 

We are not the makeup and clothes we choose to/not to wear. 

We are not obliged to have sex with you because we laugh at your jokes. 

We are not obliged to have sex with you because you want to have sex with us. 

We are not there for the taking because we are drunk, unconscious or asleep. 

We are not going to keep letting sexual assault victims be ignored and pushed into a corner because the word rape makes everyone else feel uncomfortable. We are not going to stay silent. 

We are going to teach our children that the ‘boys will be boys’ culture is not okay. We are not going to raise girls believing that ‘he is being mean to you because he likes you’ – that might be true but you’re much better off with someone who just isn’t going to be mean to you. 

We will give our children proper sex education. He will not die of blue balls because you don’t have sex with him. He should politely go and sort himself out if he’s more concerned for his own balls than how comfortable the girl is next to him. 

No means no. 

We will go to the police if you rape us. Even if it goes nowhere. Because that’s one more woman who has stood up for herself. One more statistic. One more crime reported. One more woman being brave and making it easier for the next. We will stand up and stand together until the word rape doesn’t make everyone else uncomfortable. It is happening at an alarming rate. It should be freely spoken about. 
I’ve been told that he suffered too. That I caused him pain and drama and hurt his social image and his pride. As if that’s meant to be some form of consolation, or reason for me not to talk about it ever again. Like enough is enough, right? Wrong. 

Good. Keep suffering. 

Because when it comes down to it, it was not me raping him while he was unconscious. So I could not give less of a fuck about his pride.  

Today I am so proud of myself and the strength that I found in that moment, to walk into that station and tell my story. 
Today I will not be silenced. 

Today I know that I did the right thing and I would do it again. 

Birthdays. 

I have the itchiest feet

For brand new streets

New faces

Strange places.
New things I long to try

But how, when I’m so tied

To a life that doesn’t feel like mine

In a place on borrowed time.

I should’ve left

When I knew it was best

Packed up like the rest

So scared of life’s tests

While others were right
I am left, bereft.

And yet.

A seed. A well protected yearning

That grows stronger

With each year

Each number.

Another chance to make a change.

Another chance to age

With pride in choices that are mine.

I’ll just give it more time

Marinate in this hopeful skin crawling yearning

Until there’s nothing left to do but move

Fumigate my entire being

And emerge anew.

Risen. Cleansed. Raw and ready.

To meet myself face to face
And she’ll say

“Finally.”