Puberty, Quasi–Consenting, and Cutting
(From an Instagram Post, December 2018.)
When I was going through puberty my mother sat me down one time and told me a story. She said this story was to help me be extra careful as I shifted into womanhood. One night when she was 16, growing up in Pittsburgh, was going home alone, and waited by the tracks to catch the next train. A man approached her. He somehow convinced her to go into a more secluded area of the station, raped her, and took away her virginity.
My mother does not wear a bra, she does not shave her legs or underarms, and was almost through menopause by the time I turned 13 and got my first period. She is ill, an artist, and a slave to her inverted circadian rhythms, so she sleeps all day and paints at night. In the evenings, I wasn’t allowed to wake her before she was ready each night. Doing so made her very upset and increased her pain, or, the better scenario, she was just be too out of it from the medications to know what was going on.
So, I navigated my way through adolesence on my own. I made countless messes in the bathroom attempting to shave, I went by myself with the money I earned babysitting to buy a training bra because I was so embarrassed that there was nothing between my chest and the semi see-through shirt that was half my Catholic school uniform.
I read the directions that were inside the tampon box, felt stupid because I still was confused, inserted a tampon and left the plastic applicator inside me, and played through a basketball game staining my shorts and cringing with discomfort.
Fast forward to 16. It was May or June, school was almost out and I was a junior at my town’s public high school. I had been seeing/kissing a senior for 2 weeks. He was a hockey player with an anger problem his parents had him in therapy for. One night a girlfriend of mine threw a house party. I drank a couple of beers and then the senior boy showed up. He pulled me into a bedroom, locked the door and announced he had just gone to 7-11 with his buddies, bought condoms and will be super angry if he doesn’t have sex tonight. It would be really embarrassing for him to have bought those condoms and then have to report to his friends that he couldn’t close the deal. Also, he was about to graduate high school and refused to start college as a virgin.
I acquiesced his request. I had never had sex before. Is this the way it is supposed to happen? I cried the whole next day. I couldn’t figure out what I was feeling. It was like my mind couldn’t connect to my body. The one thing I could feel was a giant vacant hole in the center of my chest. It felt vast, and it was cutting off my oxygen supply. I couldn’t talk to anyone about any of this. The following day, I got a call on our house phone. It was him. “I cheated on you,” he said matter-of-factly. He explained that he had been to another house party the next night and rolled around on the front lawn making out with a girl from his senior class. “So, this is probably over,” he said.
“Okay.” I said. And hung up. I had an AAU basketball game to go to that day. More tears, wiped those away, left for the game. Played the whole game. We lost. I played terribly.
A few weeks later I mustered up the courage to ask my mother about the night she was raped and lost her virginity by the train tracks.
“Oh,” she said. “I made that story up. It was to protect you. Remember I told you that story was to make you extra careful?” That night I started cutting my wrists.
I am almost out of characters for this post, and it is really hard to write about this stuff, so I am going to stop for now. I’ll write more about cutting in a future post I promise. For now, I just want you to know, if you have gone through something difficult like this – everything is going to be okay. If you are cutter, you CAN stop, and you can find solace and peace in other ways. If you did not have support in the past, you have support now, and there are people and resources out there who care about you and want you to be happy. Sending you love today.
Then, the next day I posted this in response to everyone’s outpouring of love:
December 28th, 2018 –
Thank you so much everyone for your kind words and support yesterday and today. Yesterday’s post was terrifying to put up! But I wanted to do so to help others know they are not alone, and it seems to be doing it’s job, so for that I am so so grateful!
I am so happy and feel so blessed to be connected to so many good people! I am so grateful to know there are so many like you out there in this world.
Keep spreading your light and keep providing support to those who need it and I want to join you every day in this quest. I love you.