Zero Days Since Last Occurrence
In hindsight, I should have known. The tragic truth is when a group of women recount stories of their first sexual encounters, chances are one of them will include violence.
But I love when you read to me; I wasn't thinking about the possibilities of the story line. I love my back against your chest, your breath on my ear. Your best impression of a southern belle's accent is adorable and endearing. I love how much you love sharing this beautiful artwork with me.
My frame of mind in that moment was anticipation. All of my walls were down and I was eager for the seduction of story time, held in your arms.
We were only a few pages into the chapter when I started to worry. One page more and I spoke up. "I don't think I can do this one."
You moved on to the next chapter without hesitation, and I wanted to listen, but your words in my ear and the words and pictures on the page were all jumbled up.
"I'm upset. Can we stop?" I'm shocked by the waves of discomfort and anxious, irrational thoughts flooding my mind.
Even an hour later after we've watched our new show, I was still on the verge of tears, embarrassed that I can't move on and calm down. Insulted for myself, by myself.
I hate that damn word "trigger." It feels weak, but the worst part is it means there are wounds not yet healed. I haven't had anything like this happen in years, maybe even a decade? I can't remember, but I felt ridiculous that I was overwhelmed.
I felt defeated. Still? 30 years later. It hurts that the aftermath can still be so powerful, and that it's happening here with you.
I hate for anyone to see me cry, so I shakily told you I was going to do the dishes. You looked bewildered, rightfully so for how late it was. But I needed tactile work.
While my hands were busy and the anxious thoughts washed down the drain, I allowed my mind to roam and think about the why's.
I can listen to heartbreaking stories; I've heard them from friends. I volunteered for a child advocacy agency for several years, heard fresh pain and never had this kind of reaction.
One reason, I know, is a strange occurrence from the day before, which in itself was unusual and I had not shared with you.
In additional to not being triggered in years, I have not had flashbacks in years. But I found myself standing in your bathroom after my shower, looking in your mirror, and remembering something unsettling. I won't share the details with you; I don't want you to hold that knowledge. When I remembered, I felt objective about the experience I had as a child. It was like remembering any other day.
But I felt pained at how it correlates to the way I interact with the world sometimes as an adult. A lack of agency, indirectly pointing to clues about my needs and wants, afraid to speak up.
In the chapter we started, as our young heroine was guided to a place I could only assume her agency and innocence would be undermined, I think it hit too close to home.
I also realized the other factor behind my reaction was our setting and our mood. Hearing the sinister words of abusive grooming in your voice, in the safety of your arms, when I'm expecting for the story to inspire us to enjoy each other...
I knew I owed you some sort of explanation, but I couldn't risk the words for the tears. I texted you from the kitchen, and asked for another task.
I questioned the author's intent. Did he want to generate arousal in this story as he had in the others?
By the time I'm done tidying up you had found an article for me to read to give perspective.
I was mostly calm, and sleepy, and I told you I was okay, and in the moment it was true. Off the lights went and in the darkness you reached for me, loving and petting. You offered me the pleasure of you and I was so grateful as you banished the rest of the discomfort from my body and I lost myself in our moment.
In the morning when I got home, I cried in my husband's arms, having mulled over the feelings on the drive. He listened to me process outloud while we sat on the front porch, away from little ears.
I read through your article, and others, and we messaged. You told me you had a thought of concern about the story's content, and I realize that it is truly a compliment you still shared it with me. You recognize my strength. I've healed enough that your expectation is I can handle it. I beam inside even now at the thought.
I hate it that this experience caused you to wonder if I would lose trust in you. I know I questioned the work, and in doing so indirectly questioned your choice. I do trust you.
I can handle the content in the right setting. I've read the story now, without incident.
We were both caught off guard, and now I know something about myself I did not know before.
You know something new about me, too. It makes me feel a little insecure, to have this liability. The truth and the lie in being "restored broken goods" is not new to me. But it's new to feel it with you in this context.
I was scared to continue reading this series with you out loud, because it is likely this hard memory of hers will be hinted at here and there.
But I now have a better understanding of the intent of this work, and I'm anxious for the story to unfold, to see the art, and to explore what he creates within these characters because of their interactions.
The truth is, as these women share their past experiences with one another, continue to enjoy one another (evil grin), and navigate the world around them, they bring all of themselves to both the offering and the receiving.
As do I.
I want to journey into their revealing, and mine, with you, sweet lover of storytelling. I'm grateful for the tale we weave together, and I'm enamored with the prompts, elements, and context your particular character lends to my pages.