There are words that once uttered cannot be taken back. Because they’re such a crystal-clear reflection of who you are spiritually, that no explanation in the whole wide world can erase them, other than, perhaps, “I was held at gunpoint and coerced to say it.”
I am a lover of words. I feel words deeply. I think about the meaning of words constantly. I lose myself in nuances. I use words consciously. Words tell me what I need to know about the person in front of me. So when I hear claims that “wrong words” were used, and one’s deeply disturbing remarks were not a reflection of that person’s beliefs, but mere semantics, I call bullshit. And that’s a mild word.
I am a survivor of rape and domestic abuse. I wasn’t kidnapped and held at gunpoint, but I was repeatedly abused by a man I chose to be with, and lost several years of my early youth recovering from that abuse. So when I hear an old, self-righteous, privileged jackass, with primitive views of the world, classify rape as “legitimate” (which means there’s also “illegitimate” rape–attention survivors, you should get a stamp of approval on that rape and get your rapist to sign a certificate of authenticity, just to make sure it’s legitimate and you’re not just crying wolf) and spew nonsense about what a woman’s body does when she’s raped, I burst into flames of rage. My blood boils. I clench my jaw so hard I’m afraid I’ll break it. And I curse a storm in my head in the hope that the rage will stop.
And in that rage, I can tell you exactly how it feels to be raped. How your heart beats so hard you’re sure it will burst any second; and how after a while, you will it to break. How your skin crawls and every inch of your body is a massive, raw nerve ending that you just want to scratch off. How your soul struggles to stay alive as it drowns in a stormy ocean of shame, humiliation, self-hate and despair. How you suffocate as you try to not throw up your internal organs. How you ask yourself over and over what it is that you’ve done to deserve this. How you feel like garbage when he’s done with you, and you wish you were dead, because being alive hurts too much. How you know your life will never again be emotionally intact.
But I know the rage won’t stop. Not until men who believe they have the right to make choices for women die out, women who defend those men die out, politicians who think they own women’s bodies die out, religious fanatics who claim moral superiority die out, and debates about absurd claims that should be dismissed with a smirk and an eye-roll no longer exist and those who make the claims are rapidly shipped off to get treatment.
Which means the rage will never truly stop. It makes me sad that I will not live long enough to see a spiritually-illuminated world; that humanity will continue to roll in the refuse of small minds well beyond my passing.
Despite all the words I’ve just shared, despite the rage brought on by other people’s words, I’m not bitter. I can still love and be emotionally present. Philosophical sadness does not equal bitterness; it’s not synonymous with the inability to enjoy life. I’m lucky enough to have healed, grown, and learned from my past, and I can tell you that these old words are truer than true: what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger. Just the way scar tissue protects an old wound: it’s not always pretty to look at, but when you poke at it again, it no longer gives in as easily as the first time.
P.S.: If you’re looking for rage explained in more vivid detail, read Eve Ensler’s words.