Swimming in the Flood
I never made a move on the first boy I ever loved. And I didn’t on the second.
Both apologized to me when they got a girlfriend, and I pretended I didn’t care. I told myself it was my fault because I didn’t make my feelings clear.
I asked the third guy I loved if I could stay at his place when I happened to be visiting his city. He forgot that he was going to a group singles date, and took me along because he didn’t know what else to do with me. Then he got me drunk, and led me to his place.
It didn’t feel right when he asked me join him in the shower, and I said no three times. When he kept asking, I thought I had to say yes because he liked me, and I liked him. I thought it would be okay, because I thought only people who liked each other did this sort of thing.
Instead, he took me from behind, and made me cry. He was rough, and was angry when my body shut him out. I gave him a blowjob to make the pain stop, and he looked at me in disgust because I spit out his seed.
It was my first time.
Then he stuck me on his couch, went to sleep alone, and I lay awake watching the darkness of the night give up to morning trying to figure out where to go when I was in a city I barely knew.
I was forced to stay with him the next day, and he never spoke to me. Not even when my train finally came.
When I got home, I felt dirty. I couldn’t shower. I couldn’t go near the bathroom, and I brushed my teeth in the kitchen sink.
I lost ten pounds in a week, and I continued to berate myself for wanting someone who would treat me so badly. I hated myself because I cared about what he did to me.
I wanted to shake it off.
He only spoke to me three months later when he asked me for a favor. I hate that I helped him because I thought it was my fault for saying yes, and not pleasing him. I felt guilty I was so awful, so I obliged.
From then on, every conversation I had with a man was drenched in that shower, the droplets clinging to every word. I was soaked in the shame of what had happened to me, unable to tell anyone because for fear they would say I deserved it; they would say I got what I wanted.
Trying to forget what he did to me, even as it was hard for me to even breathe the words, I asked the fourth man I ever loved out.
And even though I was sick and in pain when he visited me, he hurt me over and over every night because he thought it would make me like sex if I just got used to it. He asked me questions during foreplay that all sounded like “Is this enough? Can I just put it in you now?” Instead, I gave him blowjobs, and coughed in the kitchen so I wouldn’t wake him. He told me I was fat, defending the comment by saying self-improvement was something we should all strive for. He made me wear lotions to get rid of the cellulite, and demanded I hold his hand after he yelled at me. He wondered why I couldn’t get wet for him when I knew he hated my body.
When I tried to dump him, he told me I couldn’t because he still liked me.
The next man I loved slept naked next to me, and I turned him away because he moved my hand toward his penis the day my grandpa had died, and the day my ex had sent me a hateful message. He did this after he tried to sleep with my friend, but couldn’t because she passed out from the alcohol he gave her. He is somewhere else, happy, and we don’t talk about the time he came at me like a wave when I was already drowning.
I did not love the next man I tried to be intimate with. I liked him. And even though I felt like every step I took with him was like wading through a flood, I tried.
He was the first to ask if I wanted to make out, and the first to respect me. Or at least, he tried to. When I said yes, he immediately stuck his tongue in my mouth, and ground me into the couch. When he touched me, I couldn’t feel it, and I wanted to. Then he took off my clothes, his hands fiddling with the clasps before I could answer. I felt guilty that I could feel anything, so sucked on his nipples and wanked him off. He told me it was amazing, and then he drove me home.
He kissed me when I left the car, but waited a day and half to contact me again.
I felt his cum on my hand for hours afterward, no matter how many times I washed it. I didn’t wash myself for three days. I couldn’t. Every minute after I felt his slimy seed coat my hand, and I relived the shower. It wouldn’t go away.
Two months later, he told me he regretted hooking up with me; that he liked me, was attracted to me, and loved how interesting my conversations were, but just felt that our relationship “vibe” didn’t match up. He said he was in a bad place when he took me further than I wanted to go. Then he highfived me for asking what our relationship status was because he was too passive, and left.
All these times, I convinced myself that I was in the wrong. That I threw myself at them. I liked them, so it was only natural that was the next step to take even if I wasn’t ready. But now, I can fully recognize what this is. This is rape, I tell myself. It’s not only the first event, it’s the waters flooding around you with every microagression, making it harder and harder to stay afloat.
What’s worse, is that we’ve trained ourselves to never tell these men they are in the wrong.