Courage in the form of Silence (Trigger Warning)

I haven’t gotten too much into this subject, because I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard to talk about this. I was sexually assaulted by two of my male classmates in 8th grade while one of my friends watched and filmed me. Not only did she not help me, she showed a bunch of people that video of me being cornered, being groped, and having my dress ripped off on of my side.

I developed PTSD after that. I didn’t quite knew I had it despite the nightmares and heighten awareness around guys. It wasn’t until 9th grade where a boy cornered me in the music room, locked the door, and pressed his body against mine that I froze before bursting into tears. I went to a psychologist after the incident, and she told me it was PTSD.

It’s been hard dealing with PTSD, especially when my trigger is males. It used to be so bad that I couldn’t even shake a guys hand nor hug them. Overtime, my PTSD started to get better with the help of CBT. That didn’t last for long. On May 28, 2016, I was sexually assaulted and then raped repeatedly by my ex-boyfriend. The PTSD came back full-blown. My parents and some of friends weren’t the most supportive people either. They all blamed me, and they did so for every single sexual assault that have happened to me. By now, they just tell me, “If you get ‘sexually assaulted’ so many times, isn’t that your fault? You must be doing something that makes the guys want to do that. I don’t know if I can believe that you’re really the victim in this thing”

And now I get to my point. I didn’t realize what my ex did was rape until I attended my college’s orientation. After that, I joined one of the group therapies on campus where survivors come together and share their thoughts, feelings, and experience while supporting one another. I was nice to have people there that understood what it was like. Due to my schedule, I can’t attend this quarter, but something has been weighing on my mind.

March 3, 2017 – Friday Night

I got to the frat party with my friend early. We were the first one there. There were these two pledges that were on duty, meaning that they could not drink. Long story short, one of the pledge fed me a lot of alcohol. I threw up in the bathroom about 26 times in 30 minutes. After that I kept throwing up even more, but he kept insisting that I had threw up all the alcohol and that I should drink more now that he’s off duty.

I will admit I wanted to drink more even though I knew I shouldn’t, and him as well as the other guys pressuring me on did not help. I ended up drinking more and found out that my friend had left me to go off with some guy one hour into the party. I felt abandoned and upset, and instead of being mad at her, I decided to drink more to forget about it. Now, no matter how much I drank at this point, I threw it all up in the bathroom.

About 3 am or so, most people were leaving, and I didn’t want to be the only one there without a ride. I told that guy that I was gonna leave, but he insisting that he will come back to my dorm. He knew that my roommate was gone for the weekend, and he became so aggressive in his demeanor. His girl good friend called me an uber to send me home, but he tagged along while we walked there.

I was sober up pretty much at this point believe it or not. The elevated sense of awareness kicked in and my body had went into survival mode. I acted even more drunk as a way to draw attention to myself and to make sure the girls weren’t going to leave me behind with him. It worked pretty well until he became even more insistent. He got into an argument with his friend were he said “____, ____, come on now, we known each other since what? Highschool? Help a brother out”

I heard him loud and clear, and I remember her saying “____, you’re a great guy. I know you are. And I really want you to get this pledge. Don’t just risk it all because of one night okay?” and he said “But come on, _____. I’m just going to take care of her.” Luckily for me, she refused to let him. We attracted quite a lot of attention outside, and another group from the party walking to the frat house saw us and got involved.

This is the point where the guy got even more insistent on bringing me back to the frat house to ‘take care of me’. Now at this point, some of you might wonder why I assumed the worse of him. He was running his hands up and down my back this whole entire time. He constantly fed me alcohol and wouldn’t let me leave alone. It was clear that he wanted something out it. It got so bad that the other frat guys had to get involve and tell that guy to chill out. It was ugly.

March 4, 2017

I got back to my dorm after crashing at one of the girls’. I went to the ER shortly after feeling dreadfully ill. I ended up with alcohol poisoning, and my body went into an insulin shock. My guy friend that invited me to the party texted me asking if I was okay and what happened. I had just found out at this point from Facebook that he was the VP of the Frat.

A part of me didn’t want this pledge to lose his pledge. A part of me was scared that if I told my guy friend, he wouldn’t have believed me. So I decided to keep silence, yet again, like I always did.

April 5, 2017 – Now

I started getting nightmares again. I had trouble sleeping at night. Once a week, I at least get a nightmare of my ex raping me in my dreams and/or a dream of me bumping into the frat guy and him trying to confront me or talk to me. This has been going on since that night, and it’s becoming an emotional and physical toll. I saw that same frat guy two days ago on the Ring Road because this week was requirement week. He is now an active member.

I broke down in tears while I hid at Langston library after getting a pretty bad panic attack. I did, however, got the courage to see my guy friend that’s in the frat. When I did go talk to my guy friend, that frat guy was there and tried to approach me. Good thing, that guy backed off after seeing that my guy friend. Even then, I still feel so scared, especially when my guy friend invited me to their rush party this friday. He really wants me to come, but I’m scared I’ll bump into that frat guy and he’ll try to approach me. It’s sad to say that I don’t feel safe with this frat anymore.

I’ve always felt fearful on campus ever since that night too. I try not to mind it at all, because it wasn’t like I was sexually assaulted or anything. But it still scares me a lot because of what it reminded me and because of how it triggers my PTSD. But I’ve been trying to remind myself that even though I’ve been silent about it, I’m not weak or a cower. In my own way, I am still courageous for going on about my day the best that I can.

I think I’ve been silent for so long that it has also build me up to a stronger person that’s speaking out against such behaviors and such mindset. That’s why I think I might tell my guy friend what happened, because it’s not just about me, but about other girls. I would hate for other girls to go through what I had to gone through. Even if I might be overstepping my authorities here, I want my guy friend to know that such thing exists in his frat and that it should be really called to attention.

So in a surprising way, courage has been built and strengthen by my silence, and I’m grateful for that.

 

Frat Party + Alcohol -> PTSD

I am still in the middle of breaking down as I write this.

I feel sick to my core. I feel disgusted at myself, and I don’t understand why I’m being so harsh on me when no one should be so mean to themselves.

I arrived at a frat party, also the first ever college party in my life, with my friends. One of them were my suite mate and roommate while the other was my roommate’s friend. Well, first of all, I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and although I am not diagnosed with Social Anxiety, I do have symptoms of anxiety where I have a hard time emotionally and physically communicating with people.

At the party, I just didn’t know what to say. All my friends are more social than me, even though some of them were sober. It seems like people just approach them and they can easily talk to them. I felt alone and left out, because it seems like everyone wanted to talk to them instead of me. If I try to have a conversation with someone, my friend will just come and dominate the subject. And then suddenly, they become closer to each other, and I’m just an awkward third wheel.

I suffer from PTSD due to my past experience of sexual assault. It wasn’t until almost a year ago that I was raped that my progress really back tracked. In the past, my PTSD was so bad that I couldn’t even talked to a guy. I was always paranoid that they were going to assault me one way or another. It got better to the point that I could talk to them and shake hands every now and then. At one point, I actually got comfortable enough to the point of hugging them and crying in one of them’s arms. However, after I was raped by my ex-boyfriend, everything changed.

I am back to square one. I don’t know how to talk to guys. I’m terrified that they will take advantage of me both physically and emotionally. Going to a frat party did not help. It actually made it worse. Being surrounded by a bunch of dudes that just drinking and smoking made my anxiety worse. I was constantly scared of what may happened to me or to some other girls or even my friends. At last, my PTSD kicked in the minute my roommate disappear off with a frat boy to hook up with him somewhere else. Even though she said she’s consenting. Who the fuck knew at the moment especially when she’s crossed faded?

I’m terribly scared even now. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who to turn to. I really feel alone on my campus. I don’t have friends I can express this too, because they either go “aw I’m sorry, that’s so sad” or “maybe you should see someone about this” I do see a therapist for my PTSD, my anxiety, and my depression. This just feels like a curse I have to live with. Always fearful that someone is going to assault me. I know it’s illogical, but when is anxiety and PTSD ever logical?

I don’t know if I will ever get over my fear of men. It really destroys me that even though I miss having guy friends, I’m really scared and it’s not me choosing to be scared. I don’t know what I can do about it. I feel like I’m really stuck, but most importantly, I just feel alone. I feel like I’ve just been suffering alone. I know I have to be strong, but being strong is so hard when you’re trying for others and not trying for yourself.

A part of me just wish that maybe some day someone will notice me and notice my pain. And they will tell me that I don’t have to hide it anymore and that it’s okay to show it and release it. I just want to be loved and to be understood. I don’t even think I’m making sense anymore. I’m feeling so tired. I just want to cry myself to sleep.

 

Switching Out of Biology

So many people have been discouraging me in the past two weeks to not switch out. Some of them even told me how the struggle is part of the process and how I should just power through. Many people I’ve told thinks I’m switching out because it’s too hard for me, which in honesty is really amusing to me.

Biology is not hard for me to understand. I’m really fascinated by it, especially the Microbiology and Immunology aspect of it. There’s just something about microbes that intrigue me. Maybe it’s just the irony of how we, humans, have the weapons and the abilities to kill anything we see, yet we are killed by the things that we cannot see.

But to be 100% honest with you all, Microbiology was never part of my plan. I was in 10th grade when I was already panicking about what I want to go to college for. This guy I had a crush on at that time really loved Microbiology and Marine Biology. In fact, he is actually studying Biology right now at another UC. After spending so much time with him, I was convinced that Microbiology was something I want to pursue. However, as time went on, I started to change my mind.

A lot of counselors, therapists, psychologists, and life coaches I’ve seen asked me if I ever considered going into Psychology. They told me how I had a great insight for someone my age and how I’m a great listener as well as a very empathetic person. I shot down the idea at the first because I had little doubts that someone like me could ever handle other people’s emotions. But I think the idea always lingered in my mind.

When senior year hit, I chose to take a special english class offered at my high school. They called it Global Connection; it was an English and Civics class combined. We studied a lot of social issues as well as social behaviors. We were looking at the legal system in details as well as multiple different case studies domestically and abroad. We had to explain why certain events happened using many different social-psychological terms. One of my favorite topic to learn in the class was actually the Holocaust and the rise of Nazi Germany.

It intrigued me and made me think about why people do the things they do and how people behave differently when they’re in a group environment. Thus, psychology slowly started to become something I wanted to learn. For my senior project, I decided to do research on whether students prefer individual therapy or group therapy and how much of their decisions were impacted by the media. It was very challenging. I conducted surveys and learned first-handedly that wording matters a lot.

Interesting enough, I learned all about that this quarter in my Intro to Psych class. I was really surprised and had the “AH HA” moment where I realized that there were so many experimental mistakes that I made. It also made me wonder if the results were even accurate to begin with. Maybe sometimes in the future, I will conduct something similar again to see how different things might be.

Besides Psychology, social justice became something that’s important to me too. I actually participated in one of the Black Lives Matter protests in Oakland, California earlier this year. It was my first protest, and it was one hell of an experience.

And of course, mental health has always been a big thing for me ever since I was a child. I really want to help people. There are so many things that I’ve been through in my life so far, and there are so many mistakes I made and so many lessons I had to learn from to get to the place I am today. Even now, I’m still constantly working to improve myself. I want to make sure that some people have the resources that I am so grateful to have had in the past. I want to let people know that they always have a choice. I even want to help children who suffer trauma of any kind.

There just so much that I want to do in this area that I don’t even think Biology is in the picture anymore. Yeah, Microbiology and Immunology is still fascinating, but I can just take a class in it or just study about it on my own. After all, some professors suck at teaching, and you end up reading and learning the material all on your own. So I much rather get a degree in something I love and something I feel passionate about.

This guy told me that you don’t have to have passion in what you want to do nor do you need to love what you do. To him, the job that makes the most money is what is going to get you far in life. I still remember responding to him that I couldn’t live that way- that life is too short for you to do something you don’t love or feel passionate about just so you can have lots of money. Life is just too short for that. Money doesn’t buy happiness, at least not in that way.

Money can buy experiences, and in return, those experiences can give you happiness.

But at the end of the day, it’s those experiences that make you happy. So why not live doing something you love and live experiencing all the good and bad things that may come with it? Life is always going to be a struggle in one way or another. There are always going to be obstacles in your life. If you want the best of everything, you’re always going to be a fixated on achieving such perfection. And what happens when you cannot gain it? You beat yourself up. That’s what normally happens. We gotta let go and just have faith in where life takes us. After all, there is just too many variables we cannot control.

If any of you are questioning what you want to do, be honest to yourself. Think about what is going to make you happy and is still going to be something that is financially plausible. The goal is balance: doing something you love and making enough for you to live comfortably. It might hard, and it might even seem impossible. But promise yourself that you will be just fine and just remember this whenever you feel overwhelm

Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats

– Voltaire

 

When You Break

“When you break, you don’t crack first, you shatter spontaneously”

That’s what life has taught me, and that’s what college has been teaching me in the past few weeks I’ve been here.

It would be a whole lot easier if I were a leaky pipe; my stressors, my insecurities, and my emotions can just leave me so effortlessly without me having to worry about it. I mean sure, I will feel like there is a hole that needs to be patched up, but at the same time, it sounds like a much healthier alternative.

I am a dam. Everything in my life just gets stuffed all the way in the back. I feel the weight of my world resting on my shoulder, always nudging me and shoving me forward to do something. And by that I mean anything than lying on the floor or the bed, contemplating about the purpose of life. I know for the most part, I’m strong; after all, I am a dam. I’m built to be strong, and I’m meant to be strong or so I tell myself.

But have you ever seen a dam break? That shit is crazy. I am my own hurricane, my own tsunami, and my own volcano. I have the ability to destroy everything in my path. We all do. Everyone is capable of fucking up their own life and fucking up other people’s life. I’m not any different than you are. I would like to think so. I would like to think I’m this special person who gone through things that nobody has ever gone through, and therefore, decide that I am truly alone in this world and that nobody will ever understand.

I’m not that special though, and you’re not that special at least not in that way. Everyone of us is unique. We experience things, we perceives things, we do things, we think about things all differently, etc. But just because differences exist does not mean a lack of understanding and a lack of willingness to understand automatically follows.

Sometimes we just aren’t ready to understand. We aren’t ready to understand the world when we can barely understand ourselves. And that’s perfectly okay. We like to think that things happen in a linear way; you do this and you get that. BAM. Without realizing, we start to expect that everything occurs that way, and it’s just not that simple.

There are so many variables that factor into the moment itself. We can’t account for all of them. We can try to, but we can’t do it all. Now, I have to admit. At this point, I have no idea where I’m going with all of this. Originally, this is supposed to be a post about breaking down, and look where it got me now.

I’m telling you. Somethings are just out of our control. So instead of focusing on how to control the things that affect us, we should focus on how we want to response to it. That’s one thing you can control or learn to control. Because life is always gonna throw shitty moments at us- that’s just life being life.

But there is also just so much more to life than figuring out what you want and who you are. Maybe life is just about connecting with not only ourselves but with nature too. Maybe life is just as simple as breathing and enjoying the sunrise and the sunset or as simple as hearing the birds chirp and feeling the drop of rain falling down on your skin.

Maybe all it takes is to have faith in the uncertainty that has yet to come and to have faith that no matter what, you will make it through. And I know you will make it through. You are strong. You will be coming in like a wrecking ball and knocking down all the insecurities you have ever known, and it won’t be easy.

But I know you can do it.

Because even when you’re breaking down, you are still standing. You are still fighting. You are still strong. Because even when you feel like you have exhausted everything, your heart continues to beat. It continues to beat.

So let that beating act as a metronome. Let your life be the instrument. And let that music you hear be the happiness that you will receive.

 


 

Photo Credits: Me!