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Rape Isn’t Hilarious But It Wasn’t the End of My World Either… Though It Was A Close Call.

May 2014
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I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post for a couple of years, a lot more in recent months because it’s important.  Fear has driven me to keep quiet until now.  Fear of ending up on Oprah was a small, but funny part of it but the real fear is of persecution after the fact, or of being raped again.  What I’m about to write is going to piss off a lot of people.  Special groups will more than likely want to attack me and victims who make what happened to them the center of their existence will want to tear me to shreds.  The institution where it happened would go nuts but it’ll go unnamed so I’ll be safe there.  Just know it was a university, a college, where they require you to live on campus to “get the full experience that college life has to offer”.  Funny, that.  I’ve seen this rape after the rape happen.  Lived through it and if I’m right, all of the aforementioned groups will come at it from a self-preservation angle.  I will be shown to be flawed or the aberration so they can protect their funds or victimhood. That’s how this rolls, you’re not supposed to be able to recover from something as heinous as rape.  The main one I’m worried about is the victims groups, especially women.  While my experience almost killed me, I eventually recovered from it as completely as I believe is possible.  I did something with my experience rather than let it dictate who I became, and I did it without the system…  Here’s how that works: “What you went through wasn’t really a rape, it was something else (less than), which is why it still doesn’t haunt you like it does me”. And that’s only the part of the iceberg that got the titanic… While I understand that notion, it gets worse but I’ll save the surprise.

The impetus to my post was another from Ryan Doherty’s Hut, entitled “Why Rape is Hilarious“, featuring a YouTube video of an older fellow talking about how he is pressured to believe that his statutory rape by a teacher at thirteen is funny or cool because the teacher was hot and the old, “I wish that had happened to me” thoughts conjured by Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher.  Well, I’d take a hot teacher over what happened to me but we’ll get to that momentarily.  In the case of the hot teacher, I’ll simply say this:  I haven’t walked in that man’s shoes so I don’t know why his situation has him messed up after all of these years but if it’s bothering him, my opinion doesn’t matter, even a little bit.  He’s got an issue to deal with and I hope he does.

That said, here’s my story, short and simple.  I’ve written plenty about my alcoholism, I’ve got a whole page on this blog devoted to those posts.  In a few of them, I alluded to spinning out in my second year of college but I never explained why.  Here goes.  I was in my second year of college and I’d been drinking heavily since my second week of the first year.  I had a pretty good network of friends who kept me well stocked and I held a job so I could afford it.  If I hadn’t mentioned it before, I’m a good-looking guy.  I was having relations with my floor’s Resident Assistant (she wasn’t hot but she wasn’t not either, she was just kinda cool).  Long about the middle of the year, I was underperforming but passing.  My dorm roommate, whom the university assigned to me, and I got hammered and stoned one night and I passed out.  Turned out, his girlfriend (who regularly stayed the night) was a beard.  He liked the boys.  I was in the middle of an awesome dream starring a hot, very blonde actress who will go unnamed and who was, um, performing a Monica on me…  That’s when I woke up to find that it wasn’t a blonde, she wasn’t hot and she wasn’t a she.  Yeah, it sucked.  Ooh, poor choice there.  In any event, it’s kind of funny what happens when a normal fella contemplates killing another person for real.  Some just go for it (I had a pocket knife in the drawer by the head of my bed, it would have been quite easy, if messy), I just couldn’t do it.  I was hammered and probably still high and I knew damn good and well that I’d end up in prison.  So I rolled over.  I thought about my options, what I’d do with my stash to get rid of it when the cops came, etc.  Then he tried to come at me again, apparently thinking I’d gone back to sleep… I completely freaking lost it.

Reports were filed, charges were brought, deals were made and I was left on my own.  That treatment that women complain about when they’re dealing with a rape, from those in the system, yeah I got that.  “Let him cop a plea, you don’t want to get dragged into court”.  “Your drug use will be brought up and investigated (pot), you could be charged with possession”, yada, yada, yada.  Once I agreed to the deal they were gone.  No counseling, no “here, call this number in case you feel like chewing on the barrel of a gun”, no nothing.

I completely checked out.  In the next year and six months I would find myself in court facing serious time on something completely unrelated but entirely connected, kicked out of college, hopelessly addicted and one step away from homeless.  In short, I went from Animal House to Leaving Las Vegas in about a year and a half.  Thankfully I was too chicken to actually end it permanently, though I thought about it. A LOT.

I found salvation in recovering from alcoholism, in the original Twelve Step program and in a higher power that I call God.  I quit drinking and dealt with the rape, in time, by working the steps at it and talking through it with other, trusted, recovering drunks.  Eventually the nightmares stopped and I was able to come to the realization that sometimes bad things happen to good people and make my peace with it.  It took a lot of prayer, clichés, acceptance and forgiveness but that night no longer dictates who I am.  It no longer has any power over what I choose to do or who I choose to be.  I’ll never be the innocent kid I was before it happened but I wouldn’t want to be…  Too many good things have come out of that one despicable night.  Out of all the thousands of ways I could have turned that into the beginning of the end, I won.

So no, it wasn’t hilarious but it wasn’t the end either.  Even if it seemed like it at the time.

And yes, I was pressured too.  Gay people are a politically protected group don’t ya know (and yes they were back then too).  Imagine what would happen if a bunch of rapes in university dorms made the light of day…  After all, it is the university’s fault – they chose my roommate.  Now what happens if you have to start segregating gay guys because they can’t be trusted to keep their mitts off the fresh dorm meat?  Oh, that’s such a sweet slippery slope.  James Carville gimme a holler and walk me through that one will ya?

It’s actually very simple:  Bad things sometimes happen to good people.  I can choose to die over it, choose to be a victim for the rest of my life or get over it.  I just have to remember three things (in a particular order):  Getting over it means I get to be happy again.  Dying is a permanent solution to a temporary problem…  Choosing to be a victim means, one way or another (at least the way I see it), I’ll be shackled to that mess for the rest of my life.  Those last two options are for the birds.

So, the main point to this post, the one thing I wanted to get across, is that a happy life after a traumatic experience was possible.  I just had to be willing to do the work on myself to get to a point where I could forgive and let live.  It’s not easy and it’s probably not fair (I love that word), but I’d rather be happy than shackled or dead.

 

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33 Comments

  1. sueslaght says:

    You are very courageous to share this trauma. That you have worked so hard to overcome this and your addiction is inspirational. I continue to send positive energy your way.

  2. James Carville! haha! Thanks for the post!

  3. bpangie says:

    Wowza. Thanks for sharing. Not even sure what to say… Way to stay strong and end up where you are today.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Not much to say brother, it is what it is. A year (or some arbitrary length of time) from now someone will read that post and it’ll matter then. Thanks man.

  4. You my friend are a true source of inspiration for me! I admire your honesty and strength in sharing this difficult aspect of your life! 🙂

  5. WOW! I don’t really know what to say, but that knife, along with a shovel and a hole in the woods might have been my option.

    • bgddyjim says:

      It was mine at first brother. Trick is, if I had, how do I prove that I thought my life was in danger? Can’t be done. Catholic upbringing is all I can say. I’m glad I did what I did.

      Like I wrote in the post, as heinous as the whole thing was, it actually helped get me sober. I made lemonade out of something a lot worse than lemons. It’s one of those things… At the time, you’re world gets messed up really bad. 23 years later I can see more of the whole picture and I’m okay. I play with the hand I get. Sometimes that sucks and I have to bluff for a minute. Then I draw the jack of spades on the river for my full house and it’s all good.

  6. Sandra says:

    Wow. Just. Wow. Thank you for sharing. People are so different in how they deal with sh@*^%t. You are a survivor on so many levels.

  7. sxeveganbiking says:

    Great that you’re able to share this and glad you’re here to do so

  8. Sandra says:

    By the way. I have been there too. Except for the violence–on another day when I refused to see him again, he nearly hit me in a room full of people, but was the wiser.
    I lost all of my college friends except one (whom I met after), and even left to study abroad to get away from them. Compounded was that I dated (gasp) an African American and, of course, was therefore labeled a slut by my former friends.
    I also did not let it define me in the end, but it surely fucked me up for a few years.

  9. Opening up about your trauma is a release. It is too bad our society has made it tough to open up about such things, so much so that by opening up you are deemed to be brave or courageous. Since I opened up about my problems, I have had countless people tell me I am brave for doing what I did about opening up.

    Though my demons are not like yours, they layed in my subconscious for many years. I am now getting the help I need now and I thank God each and everyday for our health care system that allows me to get the treatment I need without worry of financial repercussions.

    • bgddyjim says:

      We’ll both make it brother… And I don’t quite know how to respond to the little healthcare jab at the end. See, under your healthcare system, if my liver ever fails me, even though I’ve been sober for the last 21 years and only drank heavily for four, because I went to a treatment center when I was 22, I’m S.O.L.

      • Not a jab about your health care system. No system is perfect. Regarding the liver thing, it would still be covered, I actually know someone who was a very heavy drinker that got a liver transplant about three years ago. There are a lot of misconceptions about our system as I am sure there are a lot of misconceptions about your system.

      • bgddyjim says:

        Too true, they may have changed that ruling in the last twenty years too – it’s been a while since I read about that horror story.

        Didn’t mean to come off snippy brother, government run anything is a touchy subject with me. You guys seem to have done a pretty good job of it, but you’re also running a surplus… Our guys can’t balance a budget within a Trillion dollars.

    • bgddyjim says:

      By SOL, I mean that I cannot get a new liver should my old one fail under your system because I went to treatment once. Even though my liver is now functioning perfectly and is now healthy, because I went to treatment, I would be sentenced to death by your healthcare system.

      So I’ll end with this: I thank God that your system is working for you right now and I hope it also continues to in the future. I thank God that your system is getting you the help you want.

      I also thank God that I didn’t need your system to get over my issues. I thank God I only needed a few friends who gave a shit and some coffee. Oh, and I thank God that God sufficed instead of a system. And that you Canadians are lucky enough to live next to the Big Dog on the block so instead of spending 1/3 of your tax revenue on defense, your government can spend that cash on your free healthcare. So, you’re welcome brother. Glad we could help.

  10. elisariva says:

    Being brave enough to share is a wonderful characteristic. As much as I admire you, it just increased even more.

  11. my1sttrirace says:

    That takes serious courage to be so open. Many dudes would have swept that away for fear of their own embarrassment. I’m glad you’re healed, and stronger now.

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