By: Shannon Beasley
“The program you are about to watch depicts dramatized violence and rape, viewer discretion is advised.”
I always wondered why irony had a stunning way of creeping into the corners of my life. From subtle events to giant life changing happenings, it’s there. Sort of sitting in the corner like a shadow or those cumbersome plants in doctor’s offices.
I was raped. In flashes of light and rips of fabric. In muffled screams and salty tears. In a violent, disgusting way… by a violent and disgusting man.
And that was the warning I heard echo across the meticulous room from a television set that cost more than my car.
And here I sit now, tearing a loose piece of thread from the sleeve of my dingy sweater and watching it unravel. Thinking about how I’m kind of like that thread. Small and out of place, waiting for someone to rip me out. And when they finally do, I unravel everything. Instead of snapping, I keep getting longer. And, in the end, I may be broken, but so is your sweater.
“It’s okay to feel guilty, Charlie. It’s okay to be ashamed.”
“Yeah, I don’t think it is,” I say, still pulling at the string. “It wasn’t like it was my fault. Was it terrible? Yeah. Did it fuck me up for the rest of my life? Yeah. Am I angry, scared, and scarred for life? Of course I am. But it wasn’t my fault. So, am I ashamed? No. Of course not.”
“Well, of course it isn’t your fault, Charlie. No one is blaming you.”
I scoff and roll my eyes.
“Except for everyone blaming me.”
I looked up from the string, and saw, for the first time, my therapist a little bit puzzled.
“Who is blaming you, Charlie?”
“Society,” I say, easily.
“Why do you feel society is blaming you?”
I smile at her, an unfriendly smile.
“They think rape is a sex thing, these people. They think it had something to do with me being somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be, they think it has something to do with what I was wearing, what I was saying, hell, even how good I look.”
I watched her tilt her head even farther to the side.
“Exactly. You don’t. I hope you never do, either.” I focus back on the string. “People expect me to be devastated. To the point where I hate myself, because someone was violent towards me. But I don’t hate me. I like me, I think I’m alright. And that’s okay. Sure, I had to pretend not to hate me until I really didn’t hate me anymore, but that’s life after being hurt like this.”
“So, you’re saying you’re alright?”
She seemed baffled by this. Completely unconvinced that I wasn’t making a mess of myself.
“No, I’m not alright. I’m unraveling. But that’s okay. I may be an unraveling thread, but I’m a thread that’s too damn strong to break. And unraveling is messy and complicated and painful and… ugly. But it’s necessary.”
You see, I will keep unraveling. Until the only thing left of this sweater is a giant string of thread.
And with this giant string of thread, I will make a brand new sweater.
“So, Charlie, you plan to just keep unraveling?”
“Yes,” I smile, “and viewer discretion is advised.”