On Reporting

When Things Get Better

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Hair by Sherry, shoddy webcam shot by me

It happens slowly and with setbacks, but it happens.

One day you’re curled up on the floor with snot running down your knees, crying so hard you think you’re probably liquefying your entire brain, trying to hold a conversation with your boyfriend through the ooze that is your face…and the next you realize you can’t remember the last nightmare you had.

Things get better.

You get out of bed pretty much every morning.

Eventually you get out of bed and you go to work.

You hold down a job where you have to interact with real human strangers, and you don’t scream at any of them. You go from having a crazy episode every Tuesday after work to having one every two weeks, to not having them at all.

Things get better.

Then you go for dinner at your father’s house. On the television that provides background noise there is a movie about a woman who’s been raped. During the flashback scene you make bright and panicked small talk over her screams, which go on and on and on. You eat pineapple upside down cake while he shoves her face against a door and she screams. Those screams fill your brain. It occurs to you how angry you are that she’s screaming, that everyone on TV screams, that you never did.Later, when you flinch away from your boyfriend’s hand, both of you are surprised; it’s been months since this happened, and you’ve both forgotten what it’s like.

Nobody ever tells you that trauma gets boring. That you’ll be tired of it before it goes away, that when something sets you off you’ll think not this shit again. That you’ll roll your eyes at yourself even as it’s happening.

Things get better.

No, but they really do.

You accept that nothing will ever happen to the man who hurt you, that there will be no trial, no justice.

You accept that even though you thought it was unacceptable, even though you thought it would destroy you to do so. You reconcile yourself as best you can, and you get on with your life.

You tell yourself the best revenge is living well, and you cut off all your hair.

You tell yourself you don’t want revenge, and you dye your hair bright green.

You really love your boyfriend (he can even touch you now). You’re planning a trip to Ethiopia, and you’re writing a book at a rate of ten pages a day, and actually things don’t only get better: they get great.

One day you get a text from a friend. The police called to ask me some questions today, she says. It sounds like things might be moving along.

So you go to the station.

He was trying to go to Saskatchewan, they tell you. He got stopped and they told him there was a warrant out. He’s been in touch through his lawyer. It sounds like you have a good support system, but if you were considering counseling of some kind now might be a good time to pursue that, because when the trial happens, if the trial happens, but it’s almost certainly going to happen, you’re going to find cross-examination possibly a bit aggressive and upsetting, and why are you crying?

Isn’t this just what you wanted?

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