How did the "reenactment" affect your relationship?
We talked about every detail I could remember of the rape, every day, for years. It was excruciating. Both of us were in so much emotional pain that it became physical; he had nightmares about black men attacking me, we obsessed over it for so long. Each of us was hurt more by the fact that the other was in so much pain. The only time either of us could sleep well was when we were sleeping together. He is definitely a secondary survivor.
But every minute of torture that we went through together pushed me to work harder. My options were to kill myself right then, or to push myself back into school, strengthen our relationship, and get the fuck out of that apartment. Obviously I couldn't kill myself. That would devastate my boyfriend, Cameron. I had lost a friend to suicide before, so I knew I couldn't put that kind of pain on anyone who cared about me.
There were times when I wondered if Cameron could even love me at all anymore. I felt so dirty and guilty, so disgusted with myself. I wasn't sure whether he asked me to marry him because he was trapped with me, or because he really wanted to spend his life with me. I felt horrible for keeping him trapped, but I needed him so much. He kept me going even though I felt dead inside. I kept working because I wanted to be worth his time, worth all the effort and love he had wasted on me. I was never comfortable with my body again, and I know that hurt him. I made it through community college and got my associates. I remember the deal I made with myself at the end of the semester...
..."If I pass and get into UH Manoa, I'll live and life will get better. If I fail, I'll slit my wrists in my bathroom."
Stupid, of course. I could never do that anyways. Too much of a pussy.
But we never really discussed how the reenactment hurt him. We never talked about how he felt playing the role of the rapist. My rapist. The man we both hate more than anything. I know it hurt him, but he wouldn't talk about it. He wouldn't go to counseling, and neither would I. I was so stubborn until I got to UH Manoa. When I couldn't handle the anxiety and depression anymore, I reached out using the school's counseling service. That way, I could talk through the excruciating details with a therapist without ever needing to bother Cameron.
It's true, I really did go because I wanted to take the burden off of Cameron. All the professionals thought that was a problem, that I should have been going for myself, not for him. But at least he gave me a reason. I wouldn't have reached out if it weren't for him.
I'm not trying to say I'm noble or anything for saving him from the pain. I'm not saying that at all. But I had tried everything else to dull his pain, and I couldn't hold it in myself. So I reached out.
This whole thing, all the pain we've been through together, all of the torture and drama, I'd like to say it brought us closer than anyone could ever understand. I could see my pain in him, and we just mirrored it back and forth to each other. I don't know if we're trapped together or deeply, deeply in love, but things are much better for us now. I'm still dealing with a lot of mental pain, but I'm trying to reach out in other ways so Cameron won't have to feel it.