FINDING MY GOD-GIVEN DESIGN IN THE FACE OF RAPE AND CHRONIC ILLNESS
I jolt awake from another nightmare. My ears are ringing and my back is sticky with sweat against the sheets. My eyes take a few seconds to get adjusted. I look at the clock - same time as always. I’m back in my high school bedroom. Plenty of dates gone too far in here, but that’s not why I shoot awake at 4 AM tonight. And every single night for the past ten days. That memory lingers a short 50 yards outside my front door where just last week a friend pinned me against a tree and raped me. It’s a blur as it flashes in my head. Talking – kissing goodnight – their thumb digging into my left elbow – their other hand ripping down my pants ...
I slip off my bed and load a bowl of weed, chasing a high that could calm my racing mind. It simply doesn’t exist though; this was a different type of shock. They penetrated my circadian rhythm. I could smoke a hundred bowls and still not feel safe in my own body.
I look down at my elbow and see the faint remnants of bruising – large spreads from their hands and smaller ones that line my vein from countless needles that had graced my arms in the past month for various tests and procedures. It feels like a sick joke seeing them interwoven on my arm, leading to my utter despair. The rape is a hopeless diagnosis for my soul while the Lyme disease is a hopeless diagnosis for my body. I’m exhausted and in pain. My present is unbearable and I don’t see a future. I want to die.
as a child
The first assault on my body took place when I was sexually abused as a child. When I did come forward I was mostly dismissed. Formative, to say the least. My voice: too young, too quiet, too wrong. My body: to be played with, experimented with. What followed was years of continued neglect of my body and soul.
Multiple health issues as a teenager led to my official withdrawal from my dream college. I was crushed. Everything I had built crumbled. The basket I put all my eggs in vanished. All because my body just couldn’t perform. If I had any pride left, it was squashed with that. I was in debilitating pain and unable to eat anything without throwing up seconds later. Nothing could explain what was causing me to wither away, one pound at a time. My shot-in-the-dark attempts at regimens acted as such. I was watching myself die with seemingly no answers.
Doctor after doctor, every appointment seemed to end in another dismissal. Once again, I found myself too young, too quiet and too wrong. To be unwell and trying to prove it was thoroughly discouraging. After continual negative results, a friend recommended a test for a disease nicknamed “The Great Imitator .”