Monday, March 22, 2010

Rape

Thinking of Savannah, and I am struck that I need to write something about it all. I have been rehashing all the events that happened in Savannah with a therapist for years now. This is the first time I have written about it. I guess that I have this fear that once I write it down, it becomes real. Without writing it down, I can still pretend I imagined it all. Without writing it down, I am refusing to come face to face with all the details. And without facing it, I can just keep shoving it under my carpet. But that has been going on so long that these events in Savannah have crippled me for years. It is time to let go. It is time to put it all down on paper and lay it all to rest.

I was sitting remembering Savannah last night, thinking about all the details of those times. Images of the coolest little Asian market popped up. The market was just around the corner from our little house in Savannah. We used to go there all the time. In the back, there was a door that opened up into a vast room full of authentic Chinese food, herbs, and utensils. You could find anything you wanted there. Liam and I used to peruse the aisles, just looking at all the fascinating things.
I remember the smell of Savannah sometimes. It is like it is so clear in my mind and close to my soul that I still remember the smell. It smelled fresh for a large city, like the river that runs through it. Fresh, like the grass that covers all the small parks. Fresh, like seafood and the ocean. Savannah does not smell polluted like so many big cities. It smells old, and it smells earthy.
I am reminded fondly of the first days I spent in Savannah. Days like a dream. Those were the days before it all changed. Those days were on the dawn of change. It seems those tranquil days in Savannah were just moments before the huge explosion. Those days were just before the storm; the winds that changed it all.
We used to walk all through the neighborhood in Savannah. We were drawn to the cute little house in what appeared to be a quaint little neighborhood that reminded us of home in Louisisana. We were not far from downtown Savannah by the river. We were right next to a convenient store. At first, we thought...oh, how convenient!
But it turned out that the convenient store was crack central. The first night we were in that little apartment, the store across the street was hopping all night long. Bass blasting from lowered old cars with shiny rims. People hanging out in the parking lot and behind the store all hours of the night. Nice cars driven by white college kids pulling up regularly and not staying long enough to purchase anything from the store. Liam and I were enthralled, curious about what drugs were being sold over there.
Liam and I had just gotten on methadone for the first time before we moved to Savannah. We were ready to start anew, or so we thought. We went from calling ourselves "Bonnie and Clyde" to referring to ourselves as "The Cleavers." Like most first time methadone users, we thought our lives had become out of control. We naively thought, if we could just get on methadone....
We were not yet in recovery because taking methadone daily and changing no other habits is not recovery. We thought we were cured, though. We kept drinking, and smoking weed. We even kept using heroin sometimes. We would skip our Sunday take homes, and then get high Sunday night. We thought we were really on the up and up. At least, that is what I thought.
Often times, a junky gets on methadone and other drug problems begin to manifest. The methadone does not cure the problem of addiction; that can only be done with determination and hard work. (Neither of which Liam and I had put in at this point.) With the corner by our house popping every night, we eventually ventured over to find out the details.
Crack. They were selling crack. I had smoked crack several times at this point. Crack was not something I would say that I was into. Crack is one of the few things I had very little experience with. Liam, on the other hand, had more experience with crack. He had not only smoked it a lot before, but he really liked it.
Before long, we were smoking crack. At first, it was just occasionally. We would get cravings. We wanted to get high. We needed to fill the void that was left by not using heroin everyday. Sometimes, we would venture out to the liquor store and buy a bottle. Other times, we would just go across the street and score some crack.
What can I say about crack? When I first tried it, I did not really get very high. But several moments later, I found myself wanting more and more. That is how crack always was for me...I wouldn't always get very high, but I always wanted more. Now there were times I would get high, but there were never any times I was not left with the craving for more. Liam obviously felt different than I did. I later discovered his love affair with crack had started years earlier.
Still these times seemed like the sun was still shining. Liam and I were still in love with each other, and in love with our life together. There had been some times of desperation, and the world was truly crumbling around us...we were to blissful to do much about it. Little did I know, that soon everything would change for me forever. Little did I know, that in a few short weeks, my life would never, ever be the same. Little did I know, that I would be sorting out these details for years.
The crack spree only lasted a couple of weeks. Crack is expensive, especially when you really like it. Now, the rest of the story is from my perspective...it is how I know it. It is how I remember it, and the conclusions I drew from the facts I was not aware of. To this day, I am not really sure of all the details of certain parts.
Liam was smoking crack when I was not there, at least this is the way I came to see it. Our money was disappearing quickly. I would come home from work, and he had been drawing all day long. He would only draw like mad when he was smoking crack or shooting coke. The landlord had seen him going into the house across the street, which was a known crack dealer. He showed up at the landlord's house late one night, wanting the rent back. He was sweaty and in a panic. He made up some lie about needing a doctor for his wife. I believe that he was smoking a lot of crack by himself, and he had managed to rack up at least a little bit of debt on the streets.
All the little things kept adding up, and eventually I confronted him. At first, he started to deny it all. But, he did realize that he needed more help than just the methadone. I felt like the methadone had given me a new lease on life, and Liam felt it only deepened his desire to get high. The methadone filled all my opiate receptors, keeping me happy. Liam began to crave other things. After confronting him, we decided he needed to get more help. We looked in the phone book and started calling rehab centers.
This was the first time either of us had ever looked at rehab for anything. We were shocked at the cost! We barely had enough to pay the weekly clinic fee, let alone several thousand for inpatient rehab. I knew there were state supported rehabs, and I was determined to keep looking. Even if Liam had to get on a waiting list, I knew we could do this.
Liam on the other hand was desperate. He was probably craving. He was definitely frustrated with our life and my nagging. He was a mess that morning. I remember him crying to me about how hard it was; how he just did not know what to do.
In frustration, Liam broke down and called his parents. I had suggested we keep calling these numbers in the phone book first. I wanted to exhaust all our options, and have a little more of a game plan. Liam was desperate, and he called his parents and spilled the beans about everything.
They wanted him to come home right away. They said they would take him to get into treatment. They said they would shelter him while he gets better. They bought him an immediate ticket home. We got several take homes from the clinic in Savannah, and set him up to guest dose in Virginia.
Before he left, I asked him if he owed anyone any money. I needed to know what was going on because I was going to be left in that house all alone. The dealers on the corner knew we lived there, and it was only fair to me to know what I was up against. Liam said he owed one kid about forty bucks, and other that that...he was debt free.
At the time, I believed him. At the time, I believed a lot of what Liam would say. I guess love can be blind, and sometimes lies do not matter. All that was about to change for me, though. Little did I know, that the events to come would scar me forever.
Liam made it safely home, and I kept on about my business in Savannah. I went to the clinic everyday, and I went to work everyday. I came home to an empty house. I would call Liam, but his parents often refused to let us talk to each other. I was lonely, and I was starting to be angry. Why was I always left to pick up the pieces? We owed everyone money at this time, the landlord, heroin dealers, our parents, electric company, phone company, and cable. We were in financial ruin, and I was trying to pick up the pieces.
One night after work, I went out to a bar with several employees. I did not eat much in those days, as methadone seemed to have that effect on me at first. I got pretty drunk, and then I drove myself home. Things are spotty in my memory from here on out. I remember going over to the store across the street.
I went in and got something to eat and drink. I am sure, like any good junky, the mission at hand was really to get something more. I remember sitting down next to the old dready man who would sometimes score for us. He was a crackhead, and we often paid too much from him, but he was the only one I knew. I know I asked him to score for me, and I think I may have even mentioned that Liam had gone home to his parents for a while. The old dready man said he would score and bring it to my door.
I went home, and promptly passed out. I am not sure how long it was before I heard the knock on the door. It could have been hours, or it could have been only minutes. I perked up, expecting a little package to wake me up. I went down the stairs to answer the door.
I know I should have looked through the peephole. I know I should have asked who it was. I know I should not have just opened the door blindly. In my defense, I was wasted and I was a junky. How many times before had I flung that door open excitedly to find the package I was waiting for standing right there? I know I have more sense than I did that night when I just flung the door open.
Suddenly, there is a gun in my face. Two guys I have never seen before tell me to shut the fuck up as they let themselves in. I had let my long hair down for the night, and they grabbed me by it and pulled me up the stairs. The next day, I had rug burns where I was drug up the stairs. When we got to the top, they started asking questions.
I remember they told me my husband owed them lots of money, and I think they said it was several hundred dollars. They told me they were going to get what they were owed. One guy was obviously in charge, and he ordered the other guy to take me into the front room. The guy in charge began to ransack my apartment as I was pushed into another room.
I struggled a little, and the coffee table came crashing down as I fell. The guy pushed me down on the couch. I could hear dishes breaking in the other room. I heard everything I owned clattering to the floor. I heard stuff banging against the walls. There was destruction going on just past the room I was held hostage in.
And the destruction of my life started in the room I was held in. I remember looking up at the stranger after he pushed me onto the sofa. He was on top of me, and I remember looking at his face. I had never seen this man before. With one powerful swoop, he pulled off my pants. I remember wondering what was going on.
Next, he ripped off my underwear. I am not even sure if I struggled much at this point. I remember being so shocked that it seemed I could not react in time. When I felt him inside me, and saw him on top of me, I kept thinking...this is not really happening. I remember thinking over and over...this is not really happening. Then, they left.
I was left there, crying. That was the last thing I remember before I passed out. I think I wanted to call Liam, but I was just so drunk.
I woke up on the air mattress with the phone in my hand. I had pissed myself in my sleep. I woke up with a terrible headache, and smelling of whiskey. I got up to change my pants. Looking around at the destruction in the apartment, my memory flooded back to me. It came in short bursts, like images flashing on a screen. The memories were so fragmented by alcohol and fear, that I was not sure exactly what happened.
The apartment was a wreck. They were obviously looking for something. Every drawer was emptied out, and everything was overturned. Our lock boxes for our take homes were smashed to bits. Broken glass was everywhere, from dishes and from the coffee table. My keys were at the bottom of the stairs by the door...and the car key was missing.
I looked outside, and I realized the Jeep Cherokee was also missing. After surveying the damage, I just broke down. I called Liam, and told him what happened. He told me to call the police, and then call him back.
The police did very little. They took me to the hospital, and they fingerprinted the apartment. They just considered it to be a crime against a junky, and they did not really care. They apparently found no matching fingerprints. Although, the intruders were not wearing gloves and their fingers were all over that apartment. The police felt I owed someone money, and I deserved to get raped. For the record, a lot of people I knew felt that way.
Years later, I am just now starting to forgive Liam for leaving me there unprotected in a situation he knew was so dangerous. So many times over the years following the rape, I did things to get back at Liam for this particular crime. When I violated the rules of our relationship, it felt like a little bit of that gnawing hole left by the rape seemed to disappear. Now, I know that each time I lashed out, a little bit of my soul was gnawed away. Now I know, that those pieces were not being replaced but instead more of myself was being taken away. In the years following these incidents in Savannah, my life plummeted in more ways than one. I cannot completely chalk it up to the rape...but I know so many of the holes within me did, in fact, begin here. In Savannah. My life began to unravel that night, and I aided it along, just pulling at the loose string. I aided it along by pushing these memories further into my mind. I aided it along by striking back. You can never get back what was lost, but you can move forward. So, here I am, moving forward, finally...from these demons that have haunted me for years.

3 comments:

  1. Heart rending! You are an extremely strong soul and from all I read on your blog you've earned your sobriety and life inside out. No one deserves what happened to you. All I can say about your attackers is that "what comes around goes around." It is so postive to read your blog now present day to know hopefully nothing like this will ever happen to you again. I pray that it never happens to anyone but that isn't the world we live in. God bless you!

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