“Stayed in bed all morning just to pass the time…..
…Its too late baby, now its too late. Something inside has die and I just can’t fake it.”
~Carole King, “It’s Too Late”
********* Trigger Warning: This was originally drafted on the 1 year anniversary of my sexual assault, October 21, 2016.*********
Do you ever replay things in your mind and wonder if a split second decision, leaving 5 minutes earlier/later, choosing a different route, listening to a different radio station, and so many other of life’s smallest moments could’ve changed your fate?
I torture myself. I go over every detail of that day and I wonder how I could’ve changed the course of my history. I lie awake staring at the cracks in the ceiling above my bed and go over every mind numbing, meniscal, isolated second of that day. I had slept somewhat later that morning. The combination of too much chardonnay the night before, a late night (out of character) outing that kept me out until nearly 1 am, and a personal shit storm of a shame cloud due to personal decision making. I swung my feet over the right side of my sunlit grey warmth of my bed as I did every morning and staggered to my Keurig in the kitchen.
I had the best of intentions to make it a great day. It was one of those amazingly gorgeous Fall days in Michigan that you hear Tim Allen voice over on ” Pure Michigan” commercials. I had paused to take in the splendor of fall foliage from my balcony view. I was still clad in my nightgown, and popped open the screen to let my cats slink out wide eyed to the balcony. I saw the date on my phone as a familiar morning message broke my face out into a smile. It was about to be “Back to the Future 2 Day” tomorrow.
I go over this scene of my ordinary, unassured bliss from that morning over and over in my head. I ask myself a million questions all starting with “what if?” I revert back to the them of the same movie I would share a horrendous occasion with, how can I go back in time and “undo” my future?
- What if I had swung my legs over the left side of the bed?
- What if I had gone out for coffee, walked to the bagel shop down the road?
- What if I had gotten up earlier and gone for a long walk or run?
- What if I had turned off my phone and let my mind think free of interruptions??
- What if had stayed home the night before, and not created the guilt hiding in the back of my mind?
I once read a statement by the late Christopher Reeve regarding the days leading up to his accidental fall from a horse that left him paralyzed. He was a huge movie star at the time-handsome, wealthy, happy, athletic and in his own “unassured bliss.” Reeve stated in the interview that he saw a man in a wheelchair not too much before his life altering incident and had pity for the man. He describes his actions of almost being arrogant or “better than.” Reeve stated in this interview that he had reflected deeply on this one, brief moment, and pondered if he had thrown bad karma into the universe. He wondered if that moment helped lead him to his physical sentence of being wheelchair bound.
I deeply relate to this interview as I have tortured myself with the same shaming thoughts as I replay this moment over and over again. It was a beautiful day outside, but I was not in a beautiful place in life. I was lying to myself, to others, I was not performing at my full potential and settling for relationship behavior that I knew deep in my heart was wrong (and I had said I never would have engaged in.) I had committed some “serious girl on girl crime”, as Tina Fey would state. Do women wish each other such harm? Had I put bad energy into the universe, “planted a seed”, that I deserved to be punished for?
I assimilate further in my darker moments, is there such a thing as “rape karma?” I define it as “torturous, self-inflicted victim blaming that I can nightly impose on myself. Its a brand new term of hell that I have branded myself with. Let’s be honest most of its self inflicted by replaying the BEFORE that day mixed with a special recipe of horrifying victim blaming after the fact.
I had been listening to John Lennon with the door open that afternoon. Music specifically chosen to let my mind think, and in an odd way of deep reflection. The mid-morning warm embrace that left me feeling lonely this afternoon had sparked months prior with a dance to John Lennon on vinyl. I had no idea that would be the last embrace either. I can see myself pacing my living roon, pondering what I should do that evening. I had waited to charge my laptop before dinner. Pacing and listening to music.
Why didn’t I go pick up the books I had on hold at the East Lansing library? I had been dying to read “Rising Strong,” why hadn’t I just gotten up and traveled the few blocks? Why hadn’t I picked up this book, sat outside, and let the late afternoon sun hit my face? My face was raw, pure, and unmarred that day. Afterwards, would always carry a faint scar I would try to hide-reminiscent of brutality and forever marked. It may have been the last time I was vulnerable to allowing my naked face to hit the sun. Before I externally and physically showcased my internal self.
Where is my Delorean? Why do I hear Carole King echoing in my brain that “it’s too late?” How do I go back in time and change the days, hours, minutes, seconds that became my fate? 10, 20, 30, 60 seconds? How much could I change? How many seconds was I unconscious? How many seconds do I need to correct in order to not wake up broken on a public sidewalk. How much further do I need to go back to not dance to John Lennon, how much further back do I need to go?
You could argue that the nightly “Kate beatings” are reminiscent of the film “Ground Hog Day” instead of the previous title. Of course I know I didn’t deserve this, but did my actions leading up to this magnify the risk? What could I have done differently? Where in time did my destiny become apparent? WHY can’t I stop blaming myself and reliving that day when I can’t sleep?
Victim blaming topped with a whopping side of PTSD is deep. The reality in life, is that we don’t get “do overs”, we don’t get time machines, we never get to know what split second decisions we made would have full blown consequences, consequences that would lead to a less desirable fate. When things do go horribly wrong though, I will quote Carole King, “something inside has died and I just can’t fake it.” I reminisce in that day because something inside of me DID die that day, and I can’t fake my reality.
The only plus side is I will probably never, ever take a beautiful sunny Fall day for granted again. Ever.