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101 Things in 1001 Days: With Baggage

Friday, July 14, 2006

With Baggage

On a dark night in 1990 a stranger held a knife to my neck and sexually assaulted me. The only reason I was not raped was because I was on my period. He asked for proof. I showed him.

Afterwards, he robbed me of all my money and jewellery, and I was told, as he walked out the door, not to scream or he would kill me. He left. I screamed. I am still alive.

The next few months after the assault are too complex for me to write about here. I dropped out of university for a while. I withdrew into my shell. I felt dirty. I saw a shrink. But I never really discussed it with my family. I couldn’t bring myself to and I think they were faintly relieved that I didn’t – I don’t think they could have borne the weight of hearing the details so I spared them.

My assailant was found but never prosecuted – in the part of the world in which I grew up, things like this are ‘settled’ between the families. An apology suffices. It didn’t for me – but I had no other choice.

This is the baggage I have carried around with me for 16 years now. Sometimes its light and I carry it with ease – this means that many months go by and I don’t think about that night and what happened to me. But sometimes the baggage gets incredibly heavy and the weight of the memory threatens to crush me and it’s all I think about for weeks – just as I have this past one week. I lie in bed and relive every second of that night in my mind, just as if it happened yesterday. The memory is as clear as a running brook which never stops only not as pretty.

That night has left its little marks behind – little deposits of quirky behaviour which serve as a reminder. For example -

I don’t like anyone walking behind me. If I notice that someone has been walking behind me for longer than I am comfortable with, I stop and let them walk past. I am constantly on the alert when I am out and about, constantly. I have perfected the art of using the reflections in the corners of the lenses of my glasses to watch what’s going on behind me. I still brush my teeth for far too long – sometimes till my gums are raw and bleeding. Little deposits.

None of my friends know this. I never discuss it. And my husband and family never mention it or ask me questions about it. Sometimes I wish they would though so I can release this dam which builds up inside. But they don’t and I move on.

I am glad I can share this with you – the strangers in my life who know me so well and yet don’t. It’s made the baggage much lighter tonight. Thank you.



Blogger Kamsin said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I am so glad that in writing it you were able to lighten the load a little and I hope that other opportunities to set down this baggage will come along for you after all these years of carrying it. A powerful post, beautifully written. An horrendeous experience which should never have happened and which you shouldn't have to carry all alone.

Friday, July 14, 2006  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

This was very intense and raw. This must be heavy baggage to be burdened with. I am sorry you have had to bear it.

Sending you love and hugs

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Anonymous yak attack said...

Wow! It is amazing how sharing with strangers is often easier than sharing with close friends and family. Thanks for sharing, and I hope that by doing so, it lightens your load just a little.

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Anonymous alyndabear said...

This was so powerful, my heart aches for you. No-one should have to experience that, and the way that it was settled - would leave anyone with emotional baggage.

I hate to go back to my roots and go all counsellor-like, but have you considered sharing it someone who can try and work through it with you? Whatever you do of course is your choice, but I am glad that if only for tonight you have been able to share the burden.

Warm hugs,


Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Alexandra G said...

I hope with time it has helped to heal what you went through. Even if I had an enemy I wouldn't wish this on them. My mother didn't tell anyone for many years either about an assault she went through as a teen, and now that she has, I think it has helped her to feel less isolated. Even if you can't or don't want to talk to your family about it, I hope you always have at least one person you can talk to about it when you need or want to. Very brave of you to share it here. Blessings to you.

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Blogger John Tran said...

Thank you for sharing such a painful part of your life. My heart ached as I read your post. I am incensed by what that scumbag did to you. And he robbed all of your money and jewellery too! Such a despicable act.

Although I am glad that you are stronger and more vigilant after that incident, I hope you will not live in fear because of that idiot's actions. He's not worth it.

Take good care,

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Blogger sundaycynce said...

Wow, such strength you have shown all these years; and now too, to share it. I agreed exactly with what kamsin said. The others have also expressed the poignant and heartfelt sympathy we all are feeling as we read your post. I hope you can feel our caring and support.

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Anonymous susanna said...

I can't understand how a human being can hurt another so deeply... Not only were you hurt by this ass---- but your family...just an apology? I'm angry for you! And I'm in awe of your bravery to tell your story to us here.

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Anonymous Hundred and one said...

Thank you all so much for your kind words. You'll never know how much they mean to me and they have moved me to tears.

@alyndabear:I am now considering seeing someone just so I can talk about it and get it out of my system. Writing this post and putting it out there has helped at lot. Thank you.

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Blogger NuttersNotes said...

What do you say to that? Somewhere amidst it all, forgiveness has to play a role in as full a recovery as possible. How do you forgive someone so brutal? Yes, as the others before have said, my heart ached through the whole post.

Baggage....where is an incompetent airline to lose it for you when you actually need them to? My prayers will be with you tonight that this post that you so bravely made takes you far down the path to where it will be lifted from you.

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Anonymous gigergal said...

I understand only too well the kind of baggage this is. Well done to you for sharing it. It doesn't always lessen the baggage but off-loading it for a while sometimes helps.

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Blogger megg said...

Sometimes I truly can't fathom the kind of pain that people are able to inflict on another. I don't understand how they can think that it is okay - how he could literally have completely altered your life with his actions and 'an apology was enough.'

I am shocked and humbled by your story. You have been so brave and strong to let us in on this. My only advice is that when you are strong enough to talk about it, go see someone who isn't emotionally attached and get it out. Know that you have been heard today. Sending you love and support. xoxo

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Living Part Deux said...

I hope that being able to tell someone - even if we are a sea of unseen faces - has given you some relief and comfort. I understand protecting people you love from the details, but somehow, that makes them part of the barrier to your healing. I hope you can find a way to talk to them or to someone who can give you more relief and more comfort. My heart breaks for your pain, for the weight you have carried around for so many years. I'm sending you much warmth and support.

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Anonymous Hundred and one said...

@Nutster,gigergal, megg and living: We will never understand why one human would set out to hurt another - it remains a mystery to me.

It's just amazing the warmth and support your words give me. Reading all the comments throughout today makes me realise that although we are strangers we all share each others pain, joy, confusion and laughter. Your words have given me much comfort amd I thank you for that.

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Susannah said...

Some bruises take a lifetime to heal don't they - i have so much respect and awe for your posting today. such a brave move to talk about something so brutal and devastating. i'm glad to see you mention you're considering seeing a counsellor (i've been seeing one for the last year and it has been so helpful, i really do recommend it). Talking and sharing the burden (with your loved ones as well, i sense is needed - i understand how those we love not listening to us, shying away from the truth, can only add to the pain we carry) will help you to heal - never to forget, but to *heal*. sending you my love this evening x

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Blogger GreenishLady said...

Others have said such beautiful things to offer support, comfort. I want too to thank you for your courage in sharing this experience here with the "strangers who share our joys and pains". It is an honour to stand as high witness to your truth, and your expression of your pain. Be well.

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Michelle said...

I am so sorry that you had to suffer though the horror you described. I'm glad that writing it helped.

Sunday, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Lucky Candice said...

I have similar baggage but I'm not ready to share (am I?). I have it tucked deeply away within. It gives me courage to read your blog. You are truly a survivor. Oh, and I have my quirks too, but I'm finally outgrowing them (there is hope!!).

Love the blog -


Sunday, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Jemima said...

I've pretty much been crying since I read the words 'with baggage' because I also have baggages that I can't verbalise. Fortunately I've perfected the art of stopping the scream before it leaves the lungs. I can cry all night without disturbing anyone's sleep.

I found out I couldn't even say it to my anonymous blog with my licky fingers, so I admire you for being able to speak freely. We are bigger than the consequences.

Sunday, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Belle said...

I am so amazed by you. I trully am. Believe me when i say that sharing this has helped someone with their baggage. Remain strong.

Sunday, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Gemma said...

Do you also remember how brave you were...are?

Sunday, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Kristine said...

Thank you for being so real, so honest and vulnerable. I hope that by sharing, you can exhale and unload these bags you carry. Sending love and healing thoughts your way.

Sunday, July 16, 2006  
Anonymous hundred and one said...

Wow! Wow! Wow! I am so overwhelmed! The love I am receiving from you all has left me at a loss for words. Again - thank you so much.

Sunday, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Tammy said...

You are a brave and courageous soul. My heart aches that you had to go through it. My prayer is that someday you can share this with loved ones that are near. Until then hugs and healing are my wishes for you.

Bless you!

Sunday, July 16, 2006  
Blogger lisrobbe said...

I am sorry that you had to endure such a terrifying moment in your life. I am glad your sharing it has lightened your load a bit and I hope you comtinue to move forward and gain even more strength that you appear to show through this post. I hope that your assilant will get what is coming to them as well since justice was never truly served.

Monday, July 17, 2006  
Blogger ian russell said...

a sad and shocking experience, i can only guess at your feelings and pain over these years but it saddens me also that we create cultures where incidents of violent abuse can seen as defiling the victim. i fear we are all to blame in this respect and i feel ashamed of it - no you are not dirty nor a lesser person in any way due to your ordeal. on the contrary, reading your post makes me believe you are greater than most people i know!

i agree with those who say you shouldn't carry it alone. my thoughts are with you now, continue to be strong.

Monday, July 17, 2006  
Blogger gkgirl said...


that is hard to hold onto.
and equally hard to dispose of.

so scary.
and your words conveyed
so much.

Monday, July 17, 2006  
Blogger christabelle said...

Oh my God! i just stopped to say hi but I must say I am really amazed by you, I hv seen pple who has gone thru what u hv and couldnt hold thru, so u are strong, bless ur heart 4 that.

I must tell u the guy that did that to u has a heavier load, whether he chooses to accept it or not, he sure does.

Dont wori dear, time they say is a healer, and I'm glad u've found the courage to share it with ur blogging friends: that means ur already on ur way to a healing.

bless u!!

Monday, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Onada said...

hey girl! thanks for sharing. despite how hard it may have been this shows how strong you've become as a result.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006  
Blogger LondonBuki said...

Wow... I agree with everyone. Hopefully, blogging about it has helped you in a way.

Take care and may God continue to give u strength.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Verity said...

Thank you for your bravery and honesty in sharing this. I'm glad that we are here to be your audience, and that it helps to lighten your load.

Thursday, July 20, 2006  
Blogger paris parfait said...

I'm so sorry you had to endure that terrible experience. No doubt you've helped many other women with your powerful words here. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story.

Saturday, July 22, 2006  

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