The last thing I heard about you was that you were in the hospital. Back then, when we were younger, we were both struggling with self mutilation. Still I never could cut as quite as deeply as you. While I knew what it felt like to be suspended over that great abyss - that desire for death - I had not the experience or the words with which to relate to you, to find you, or to stand with you in either body or mind. What I had instead was a dangerous combination of sexual trauma, privilege, and hormones. About 5 years prior to that evening we spent together I had been held against a wall and sexually attacked by a classmate. The whole three month episode of sexual violence really shaped who I was to become right as I was hitting puberty. That trauma was amplified as I grew into adolescence and became influenced by its raging soup of hormones.
After what happened to you, even though we were both minors and even though all of the adults involved decided it was not a rape, I feel like a big reason I was treated by doctors and drugs instead of cops and lawyers was because my parents had money, and I had privilege. As a minor, instead of being faced with the reality created by my own hands, I was put into a box and treated as another victim. I was shielded from the intensity and violence of my own act. While I was eventually able to come to terms with what happened, I am not the one who had to bear the scars of that night.
You did not deserve to be put into a position where you felt too scared to say no. You did not deserve to be treated like an object of sexual desire. You did not deserve to to be knocked down into that dark abyss by a friend, a peer, a classmate. Our society might not have the capacity to hold anyone accountable for the things that happened that night, so please consider this letter as an attempt to hold myself accountable to you, because if there is anything in this world that you do deserve, it’s an apology.
I’m sorry for not knowing what to look for when it came to you giving me your consent. I know that your mouth whispered yes but only in retrospect could I see that your body was screaming no. Ever since I was told that next morning how your parents had found you only hours after I had gone… the memory of how you looked, acted, felt, the things you said… it has all stuck with me. I walked away knowing that i did something wrong, knowing I needed to reflect in order for it to never happen again. Today, with the retrospect provided to me by my community, I see the path towards recovery from my history of sexual violence much more clearly.
It took me a decade and a half to connect what I did to you with what happened to me in 4th grade. While the path to where I am now has been marred by acts of self-mutilation in attempts to quell my own sexuality, today I strive to be a student in the communication of consent and the love used in facilitating it. I try to share with others the things I have learned, both my successes and my shortcomings. I hope by sharing an experience of being chained to sexual violence - and my path towards liberation from it - that future generations will be able to build a better world. It’s not right, the things I did was able to do to you. Please forgive me.
Our time together, my reflections upon it, bring me great sorrow and I relive our night together every time I become physical with a new partner. The fear that I would again miss the nonverbal cues of consent stuck deep into my gut from the instant I heard you had put yourself into the hospital. It brought out a fear of myself, but it is a fear I now have hope of overcoming. Thank you for teaching me that people speak in ways other than just with their mouth. Thank you for still being here to read this, if in fact you ever do.
The first place I ever found refuge from the violence associated with my own sexuality was in the meditative space of [our religious high school]. I didn't understand it at the time but it was there in our meeting of Friends that had I began the process of coping with my trauma. The structure of that community and its environment of peace connected me to the love in my own heart, a light which exists right alongside the darkness of my own trauma. Thank you for being a part of that structure. Thank you for being a part of that light.
Sometimes it feels like all my life will ever account to is the sum of light and dark in my heart. That if one side ever comes to totally dominate the other that I would become a drone, a slave to more rudimentaryinstincts. On the other hand, if both light and dark are in complete balance it means I would no longer be growing as a human being. As a wise gypsy once sang to me, “I know it’s a little dramatic / but the word for not changing is death”.
It is at this junction of my trauma and my love that I become most alive and unique. It is atop the greatest peaks on the ridge between light and dark that I find my deepest potential. When i meditate on this space, it is where I can hear my ghost whisper back to me which direction it wants to go. The light which shone through you and our meeting of friends would eventually come to save my life. Thank you. I love you.
Without events transpiring between us the way they did I may never have had the opportunity to face the darkness inside of me. Without knowing where I have been, I cannot know where I am headed. Without your light I would have no shadow, and without my shadow I become lost. My injustice gives me purpose as I struggle towards liberating my brothers and sisters, and my objective is to see that no one ever has to go through what we did ever again.
I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
I love you.