“My editor and I fell in love with your blog last summer. It was so truthful, so raw, so what women need today!”
Back in May, an online magazine reached out for an interview. I was in the midst of event planning, high-key boo-loving, and desperately trying to play catch up on life and this little ole blog of mine. So in other words, it came in the most perfect yet not-so-perfect time. Hearing those words up above made my heart smile. It’s not often that you hear from larger publications, so to hear that they understood my mission? That compliment was golden.
We made plans to have a phone conversation, and after about three days of scheduling, it finally happened. The conversation began with laughs, compliments, a little bit of small talk, but it quickly transitioned to business.
“I’d love to possibly interview you on your sexual assault and how you’re coping now.”
“I don’t think I can do that right now, but I’m pretty much up for anything else!”
I replied trying to keep a positive spin to the conversation.
“It’s important others hear these kind stories for victims.”
She made a boo-boo. Victims, no. Survivors, always.
And then the convincing and selling began. She spoke about a few other women who had agreed to speak about the topic. She asked me if I could elaborate on the details. She asked me if I could share tips on how to recover. She attempted to flaunt the idea of the exposure until,
“No. I can’t. I’m sorry, I’m not what you’re looking for.” We hung up.
There are certain stories I hope to tell multiple times in my lifetime. Stories of me meeting my future husband and him thinking I was batshit crazy but still fell in love with me anyway. Or stories of the nonsense my closest my friends and I created in college and in our twenties. Maybe a few life lesson stories such as why one should never test the patience or the sanity of the homeless people on the NYC subway, or even better, how to survive NYC when NYC is trying to swallow you whole.
Those kinds of stories I will share whenever and wherever.
But my sexual assault? My “rape-story” as she so affectionately put it? That will never be one of those stories.
Not now. Not ever.
That story will never be one of those things that I stand on a table and shout from the top of my lungs. I can’t do that. I’m not there yet. Three years later and a good couple of thousands spent on therapy, I am not ready.
Because that story took the breath out of those very same lungs seven years ago. The breath I still sometimes can’t hold onto when I am reminded that it happened. It’s a wound that doesn’t fully heal. It’s a wound that is often reopened when I don’t need it to be. It’s that thing that stops me from having sex, which sucks because, well, I really like sex. It’s that surprise party you begged your friends not to throw you, except it doesn’t come with gifts and dancing. It’s an event that has changed every aspect of my life and that story, that piece of me, that scar, is just not for sale.
It takes a very strong woman to be able to endure the reliving of painful events. It takes an even stronger woman to write about it. Because in case you hadn’t learned from the Maya Angelous or the Toni Morrisons, writing provides another life for these hard to share stories. In case you couldn’t pick up on it from the Ericas or the Sheridens, having such stories bathed in pain and power on the internet, takes a pounding to your soul and sometimes your brand.
Yes, the world needs to hear our stories. The world needs to be educated against its ignorance and sometimes its downright disrespect and negligence, but I can’t be that teacher. Not now, I’m not ready. I can’t assume that position for publicity, or for the sake of an interview, because the one and only time I wrote about my experience on my blog, it gave me headaches and high blood pressure for weeks. Having it still available to be viewed, to be pitied, to be taunted, still unnerves.
That piece of me is mine. I own it. I’m so very selfish with it. And I’m sorry, well no, I’m not really, but that story is simply just not for sale.4