Letter about not having language and how surprised I am by the hopefulness

6th of September 2019

Hi A.

It was good to see you yesterday. I hope you made it home safe.

I have so many ideas I want to write about, and now it Friday, I’m supposed to upload a letter for you and I have no idea what to write. All the good ideas feel so far away.

About our book. About the things we write about. The man I write about. It takes up a lot of space in my mind. He takes up so much space. Even now. Five years later. He still shows up in my nightmares. His voice and his hands are still so clear in my memory I sometimes forgets he isn’t here.

He was the first person to make me feel loved and cared for. He gave me hugs and comforted me when I was sad. He let me have meltdowns and shutdowns and just held me tight till I was calm again. He carried me to bed if I fell asleep on the couch. We fell asleep together watching movies and the closeness was nice. And I miss something like that a lot these days. And every time I miss a hug, or falling asleep close to someone, or someone who will hold me while I cry and make me feel cared for and not alone in the pain, I think of him. And I hate him.
All the things I miss is a reminder of him and what he did and how much I never know if I’ll ever feel safe again. Because safe isn’t safe. I felt so safe with him and I was the opposite of safe. And now I don’t know how to trust that feeling ever again. I don’t know if I could ever trust physical closeness again. I don’t know if I’ll ever be free of him for real. It feels like I can never have the need for closeness and care fulfilled. In part because I have no idea how to become close with a person and I don’t know if I’ll ever find a person I could become close with. But mostly because I can’t imagine any closeness that isn’t a reminder of him.

Language is very important to my understanding of the world. I know some people have it differently. But for me language is how I understand everything and the limits of my language becomes the limits of my understanding. That’s why finding the words aromantic and asexual was so important to me. I finally understood myself. I finally felt like these parts of me that had always existed stopped being some indefinable thing, hiding by shadow, and became something tangible that I could pull into the light and talk about. That’s why giving myself permission to talk about myself as autistic was so important, and the diagnosis was an important step. So much of myself was things I didn’t understand because I didn’t have language. And I feel like I grew and became more myself as I found the words that describe me.

But on the other side of that, is that I never named the actions of the man who raped me. I never talk about it. I say and write the word rape. But the specifics of what happened is left in that dark place where language doesn’t exist. Because I didn’t have language for it at the time and I never wanted to have the language. I rejected the words needed. My mind doesn’t contain the words for the body parts involved or for the actions he did or made me do. And even though I remember it I don’t understand it. In a way I am still trying to dissociate away from it, even in such a small way as how I think of it.
I dissociated away from so much. So much that happened and was real. And I chose to not be present and to do my best to forget. I never repressed it. I didn’t name it rape, and therefore I didn’t understand it as wrong. I didn’t name it sex either. I just pretended it didn’t happen. That the time he spend doing those things to me wasn’t real or that I wasn’t real during those times.
I don’t know how to chose to have language for these things when I’m not sure I want to understand the reality of this. If I truly understand I won’t be able to run from what happened. And I’m still running. No matter how much I pretend not to.

There is a quote from Doctor Who that I love.

“There’s a lot of things you need to get across this universe. Warp drive… wormhole refractors… You know the thing you need most of all? You need a hand to hold.”

I love that quote. I think that the whole you need a hand to hold thing is one of the biggest things I’ve learned in the last couple of years. It’s not that I don’t believe that some people feel better on their own or that no one can make it on their own. It’s just that I used to believe being alone was the best thing for me, that I never needed anyone else. There were years when just the idea of a hand to hold made me feel disgusted. And now (in part because of the man who raped me) I have learned that I am more social than I ever knew, that I might actually like a hand to hold and that travelling through life might be a whole lot better, healthier and more amazing for me if there is someone I can share the journey with. Someone who also needs me to hold their hand and share their journey sometimes. And that’s very new, and very scary and very hard to admit. And as weird as it might sound it became so much easier to admit when I found the word aromantic. It makes sense to me, but I don’t feel like explaining this here now.

I am surprised by how positive and hopeful these letters turn out. It’s not because I feel as hopeful as I might sound. I think it’s because I know you don’t have a lot of hope right now. And I can’t sink into despair knowing you need hope. And if you need hope I’ll try to find some and carry it for you like a light in the dark. Because you are my friend and no matter how dark it gets, if you need light I’ll find light, and when you need hope and someone to believe in you and this and in getting better I will find those things too.

I know this might sound stupid, given what I just wrote. But I don’t think I am capable of lying in writing. Not these letters. When I have to write of light I have to find and feel the light, to write it. When I tell you I believe in you, I feel that in every fiber of my being. Because I can’t write it if I don’t. And that is why writing feels like such an emotionally draining thing for me. I can’t get the words to flow out of my fingertips if I don’t feel them and believe them. They need to feel true. And I am telling you this because I need you to know that these letters matter. That you matter. That even if you needed it or wanted it I wouldn’t lie to you here.

I am not saying I am surprised by the hopefulness of these letters because the hope is false, but because I don’t feel the hope very much in the rest of my life. But I feel it here, I believe in it here. Maybe because I try to carry hope for you and know you’ll call me out if I don’t find a way to extend that hope to myself even just a little.

I feel like so much is so dark right now, and I don’t want to add to that darkness. I refuse to pour more darkness into the world right now. I can’t do that. I might feel all the darkness, but pouring it out into the world and spreading it feels untrue to who I am and who I want to be. I want to make the world a better place. I don’t do that by letting the kind of hopeless darkness I contain spread. I do that by carrying light and hope despite the darkness. And these letters help me (and force me) to do that right now. And I never imagined that would happen. I imagined letters full of darkness, and it feels wrong to write all that darkness and give it more space than it already has. And that is why I am surprised.
I can’t promise that won’t change. That there won’t be days I need to vomit all the darkness out in words on these pages. And if that day comes I hope there will be space for that too.

That’s all for this week. I’m thinking of you.

Looking forward to hearing from you.