25 February 2012

A mere reed, ripe for breaking...

 Warning:  This post contains sensitive content (rape).

Over the last few nights as I have laid in bed trying to convince my body to sleep, there has been a scene which constantly plays itself out in my mind.  Actually, there have been several scenes in fact... two which stand out in particular.

My daughter was conceived in a rape situation.  When it happened, I was in the middle of therapy for sexual abuse which occurred when I was 6 years old.  In retrospect, I feel I was in a vulnerable state and thus it was easy for men to abuse that vulnerability.

This rape was actually the second, or third time I had been raped in a matter of three months (lost count).  The first rapes occurred during a relationship which was toxic.  I literally became another person during the three months we were together - looking back it was only a prelude to what was to come later that year when I found myself pregnant.  When I met M, I thought he was the most beautiful person alive and I thought we were "in love".  I was 19 years old and totally naive about the way the world worked.

In the three months we were together, he gained absolute control of me; he decided what clothes I wore, what I ate, what I would do in my spare time etc.  If I did not want sex, that didn't matter.  I was his for the taking.  The day I fought back he dumped me.  I was a mess... started cutting my wrists, my depression which had at that point been dormant for several months, returned with a vengeance and I wanted to end my life.  I can still recall sitting on my bed in the house I was living, with the bottles of pills around me and in my hand, crying as I rang the emergency psych line.  Deep down, something inside did not want to die and so I reached out for help.  I went back into counselling with the psych team while continuing the therapy for my sexual abuse.  Life started to look up; I visited my grandparents up North and besides the dirty feeling I couldn't shake, everything else was well.

Returning to Christchurch, I joined a group at my church for survivors of sexual abuse.  I wanted to hear how others survived with a view to moving forward.  Perspective is a wonderful thing.  Something my very young 20-year-old self lacked back then.  In hindsight, I don't believe this group helped much.  It fed on the pain and did not do much for me to help me move forward.  On the last night of that group, we decided to go out to celebrate the fact we had come to the end of our 'journey'.  We hit the clubs and had a fabulous time dancing and singing to all the songs we loved.  At the last club we were at, I bumped into A, someone I went to school with and had at one point, had a crush on.  We had seen each other a few times in the previous weeks at the same club and had had a couple of drinks together, chatted and generally just been friends catching up.

On this night, as I was leaving, he asked if I wanted a lift home.  Sure I replied.  No alarm bells went off in my head.  This was a friend offering me a lift home - he even offered to drop my friend home.  She was dubious and I wish I had taken her advice.  I trusted A, he had looked after me at school - there was nothing I felt I needed to be wary of.  The car was full.  We dropped my friend home first and then proceeded to his house as he was getting things ready for a day of skiing.  When we arrived everyone dispersed to their homes (they lived in the same street apparently) and one of the guys went upstairs to get some sleep as it was still only early in the morning.  A suggested we do the same and he invited me to his room.  Again, my gullible 20 year old self didn't feel there was anything to worry about.  It wasn't the first time I had crashed at a male friend's home and nothing had happened on the other occasions.

When he first made the moves, I was flattered and then, realising what was going to happen, scared.  I said 'no' but to no avail.  When my 'no' was ignored (and I was held down - this guy was huge compared to me!) I literally froze and tried to think of anything but what was happening.

When it was over, he offered to take me home.  I sat in the car staring out the window in disbelief this had happened again.  Arriving at the place I lived, he gave me his number and said he wanted to catch up again.  Robotic, I bid farewell and walked inside as quickly as I could.  Being early still, I went into my room and stared at the wall.  The dirty feeling was back with a vengeance and as there was no one home, I sat on the floor of the shower after scrubbing myself raw for 40 minutes.  Gathering myself up out of the shower, I fell into bed and slept.

That night I went to a birthday party and tried to forget the events of that morning.  I didn't think there would ever be reason for me to remember them.  The morning-after-pill crossed my mind but I thought I wouldn't need it.  Oh how young and naive I was!

Two weeks went by and my monthly which was an exact and accurate calendar of its own, did not show up.  Since they had first forced their welcome, they had been every 28 days - not one day more.  I was now at day 30 and I felt a slight panic sneak in.  Although I knew this was preposterous and unlikely, my mind dramatically wandered to something more serious.  Something was wrong with me.

A few days later saw me going to the toilet to check every hour.  The dramatic thoughts were pretty much gone and I knew, in the pit of my stomach, I was pregnant.

I didn't want to think about that.  What it would mean.  How everyone would react.  My best friend and I visited the family planning office so I could get a pregnancy test taken.  I watched the door intently as the seconds ticked by and when the nurse walked in she looked and me and just nodded.  I felt nauseous.  And the feelings of fear had nothing to do with the fact I was growing a miracle inside me.  It was all to do with what I knew was coming - I may as well have been branded with a scarlet letter that day.

Returning home in a state of shock and fear, it was then I remembered there was someone else in this with me.  The mirror in the bedroom I had was a semi full length.  I stood looking at myself for a few minutes before lifting my top to stare at my back-then beautifully flat and slim belly.  I stared in wonder at it, before running my hands over it.  This was the day I started my conversations with my baby.  I told her (although I didn't know it was a her at that point) I would always love her, it wasn't her fault for what happened and I didn't care anyway.

From there, the rest is well known.  My choice, my decision to raise her became null and void.  My body became public property with everyone and anyone feeling they had a right to dictate to me what I should do.  At first, I was fairly resistant - but as the days wore on and the relentless lectures continued, I fell into a heap of severe morning sickness.  I discovered there were people praying this would go away, that I would miscarry.  It was a living nightmare which has never really ended.

Now I find myself wondering how I can ever tell A her story.  Because this is not just my story; we share it together.  She was there right from the start - she had no choice and neither did I.  I believe this was why our bond was so strong.  Isolated and alone, I turned to my belly to talk to.  To tell her I wanted to raise her, to tell her all the amazing things we would do together.

I know this is her story and she has every right to know it and of course I am not someone to hide the truth from someone.  My concern is HOW to tell her when the time comes.  That is one of the scenes which plays out in my head night after night, preventing sleep and haunting me with the knowledge that this will hurt her.  How does a mother tell her child such a story?  I do not have any intention of keeping it from her... but this is a question that has plagued me for many years and is only becoming more persistent.  How?  How do I hurt her to tell her the truth?  Will she think this is the reason for her adoption?  Will she understand how much I wanted her regardless - hence the lengthy court battle for her?  So many questions.

This is just some of the reason why mothers cannot ever get over losing their children to adoption.  The law may take from us, strip us of our legal responsibilities however there is a much stronger force than man's law and that is morality and ethics.  The law has never been known to uphold ethics or morals - you only have to read the news and see murderers and rapists walk free to see that.  And yet, while it strips away any legal tie we have to our children, it does not take away our natural motherhood from us in which we have moral responsibilities.  So whilst our children grow up away from us, not knowing who we are, we do not forget them and many of us are aware one day, we will be called to account for those moral responsibilities.  So how can any of us just 'get over it' when 'it' is never over and could come up and knock us over at any moment?  There is no finality, no end.  Even this rape - I thought it would be over but because of Amber's removal from my life, the pain of that event has stayed forever.  The other events I have been able to move past.  They happened and they are gone.  But this one, it is never over because one day I will have to relive it all again as I find the way to word what happened so Amber can know how she came to be.


  1. Oh sweet Myst, how I love you. I wish I had the words to take away your pain.

  2. ((Myst)) You will find the right words.

    I don't think we ever "get over" rape, or losing our Mothers or our children. It's always there in the undercurrent...

    She will know you love her. The truth does not change- you fought for her, her adopters stole her.

  3. Myst, I cried as I read this. For both of you.
    When Amber comes, I think that you will know just what to say. I really do. Heavy sigh. Counting down this last bit of time , with you.

  4. You are right Linda. Rape changes something in us - it has affected alot more than I could ever realise it would.

    Its not that it actually bothers me on a day to day basis but I worry when it comes to telling Amber - how to word it so she understands I love her and do not want to use this to hurt her. And I would hate to think she was willingly placed for adoption because of what I went through.

  5. (((Waitin')))

    I appreciate so much I have others support on this journey although I wish we were supporting one another on a much less intense and painful journey!! Thank you xxx

  6. Ah Myst,

    My heart breaks so much for what you and your daughter have gone through. I get so angry when I think of all that has happened that neither of you EVER deserved.

    I agree with Waitin, when the times comes you will know what to do with your daughter because that bond between you two has been and always will be there.

    Till then, know we're here, we love you and we support you.

  7. Oh Myst,I didn't know your story, and it is heart-breaking. You are a strong and brave person to move on with your life as you have. We never do "get over it" no matter what else transpires in our lives.

    When the time comes, you will know what to do. I believe the truth has the potential to hurt the least, in the end. And you deserve to let the secret lift.



Comments are on. Polite, respectful discussion is welcome. Abuse will not be tolerated. Thanks :)