The "What If" Game

November 22, 2012
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I dread nights. It's during the inevitable time before I fall asleep that I'm in the most pain. It's the most all-consuming, permanent kind of pain, and it reminds me daily that I'm not better, even after a day of pretending that I am. It's at night when there is nothing to distract me. My mind takes a meandering, agonizing path for which I have no control, a path that usually wanders right into my sleep, settling itself into a nightmare that wakes me up and starts the process over.

It starts by going back to the worst day of my life: September 2nd.

I try, fruitlessly yet earnestly, to get into the mind of my perpetrator. Did he really know what he was doing when he sexually assaulted me? The more I think about it the more apparent it becomes that he knew exactly what he was doing. When we first met he told me that he was waiting until marriage to have sex. I trusted him, and I never would have expected it. I was so confused when I realized what he was doing. I told him to stop and he knew that I wasn't kidding. I can remember so clearly the look on his face. It was scary because I had never seen anything like it and I haven't since. He knew I wasn't kidding, but he didn't care. How could he not care? How could anybody not care?

I could think about just that for a long time. I was 15 and I foolishly believed that the world was a decent place. It didn't make sense that this could happen to me. No, this wasn't supposed to happen to me. But it did, I know because I spend every night trying to figure out why.

He doesn't make any sense. Actually, none of this makes sense. I had always believed that life was a really simple equation where you received consequences as direct results of your actions. Back then everything was plain and simple, black and white. Everything made sense. But if people get what they deserve, then what did I do to deserve this? Everything that I used to believe doesn't fit into the new puzzle piece in my life; I was raped.

Isn't it infernally ironic? He made me feel so mature because he was almost 3 years older than I was and because we talked about dirty things, when really the thing he liked so much about me was that I wasn't mature at all. I was so naïve. I made it easy for him. I never ask myself “Why didn't I know better?” but instead I tell myself “I knew better.” That hurts so much more. It reminds me that it was in my hands to stop him. I knew better. I knew better. I knew better. I knew better than to say those things, to do those things, to go along with that. My parents raised me to be smarter than that. What in the world made me think that I was so wise?

When I lie there at night my thoughts always go to the million wrong decisions that I made. What if I had listened to my friends when they told me that I shouldn't talk to him? What if I never met up with him at the mall that day? When he told me at the last minute that he was coming to see me, what if I had told him that it was too late? What if I had typed “we're over” instead of “I'll meet you outside”? Could my fate really have been held in a 21-character text message?

I remember looking into his eyes and being scared because they were so empty. To this day it scares me to think about it. What if I had listened to my instincts when they told me that he had bad intentions? I was nervous to go into the bathroom when he suggested it. What if I had been honest and told him that I didn't want to? What if I had run away as soon as I was uncomfortable? What if, after he told me to “be quiet” for the 5th time, I had decided not to listen to him?

What if, what if, what if: I could play the “what if” game forever.

I should have screamed and fought the second he kept going when I told him to stop. Why didn't I? Because I was scared that he would hurt me. Well guess what? He hurt me anyways. In fact, I can't imagine a way he could have hurt me more. He took something from me that I will never get back. In less than 10 minutes he caused the things I now battle every day: anxiety, flashbacks, PTSD, self-injury, recurring nightmares, and depression. In less than 10 minutes he ruined me.

Just going to school is hard for me now because I see everyone else and I know that they are just like I used to be. They are so lucky. They get to be these kids who just have fun and try to get good grades and make the varsity sports teams. They're over there, where everything is all fun and games. But I am over here, remembering a time when my biggest problem was getting in a fight with my parents, losing a volleyball game, or failing a history test.

In less than 10 minutes everything changed. I went from being this girl who plays volleyball, tries hard in school, and likes math class to this broken girl who cries herself to sleep at night, cuts where nobody can see it, and hates more things than you could ever imagine.

But don't you get it? I just wanted to be the girl who plays volleyball.

Nothing will ever be the same.

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Makala said...
Apr. 3, 2013 at 8:23 pm
I love your writing style. You make the piece flow and very easy to follow. As a person you as suffered through similar events and who also suffers from depression, anxiety, and self inflicted wounds I know what you mean by this wasn't how things were supposed to be. Also, I too look back wishing you could change the past but sadly you have to learn to leave with it. It is easier said than done though.
Laugh-it-Out This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 2, 2013 at 7:26 pm
Wow deep. Left me speechless in an awkward kinda way. I understand the meaning of personal memoir, but this is just PERSONAL! On a more writing-y note, beautifully written, and I am sorry that this has happened to you. But so long as you know that it gets Better I hope that you have stopped the cutting and started to unravel yourself from that whirlwind of depression. Hang in there. It all works out in the end
Literature_Darling said...
Mar. 26, 2013 at 12:45 pm
Very good. Watch your commas there were some errors and it got a little repetitve, but beyond that it was really good. 
therabidrabbit said...
Mar. 23, 2013 at 5:41 pm
"he doesn't make sense. actually, none of this makes sense." very well written, i thought it was a good length and definitely made me reach deeper than "just a story." 
Apollo77 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 7, 2013 at 10:01 am
I like it, it drags on a little, but that's okay... I know this might sound really wrong, but I'd have liked more description- not in a grose way but to give the story more color. Also, i'd like a time scheme, how ong ago was this? that's minor though- really great!
Sakuya This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 6, 2013 at 8:26 pm
I like how you actually explain why you've become what you have(which I'm sorry by the way many teenagers go through silent battles, I know because I have as well) instead of just leaving an open-ended question. Even when people do recover, your last sentence says it all. "Nothing will ever be the same..."
WhenItRains21 said...
Feb. 5, 2013 at 10:29 pm
Wow. Very few pieces leave me speechless, and this is one of them. Not only is it extremely brave to write such a cathartic, personal story, it's very well written. The sense of self-doubt comes out in the tone beautifully, and the last bit about volleyball is chilling. 
Bookish said...
Feb. 5, 2013 at 8:49 pm
I think you tackled a difficult theme very well. You used your horrific experience to draw attention to the plight that rape victims are put in without sounding whiney or over-the-top tragic. I think you have a nice conversational flow to your writing.  You do seem to have a few redundancies in your writing, for example: "It didn't make sense that this could happen to me. No, this wasn't supposed to happen to me." And, "He doesn't make any sense. Actually, none ... (more »)
E.J.Mathews This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 2, 2013 at 12:31 am
I want to start off by saying that I'm really sorry for what happened to you. Trust me, things like this do get better. Soon, you'll find somebody who will really love you, and never even think about hurting you. With that being said, I thought you're writing skills were amazing, and that you told this tragic story very well. Excellent job.
Crunchman99 said...
Jan. 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm
For starters, let's just say I hope that this isn't written from personal experience. You, my friend, are one of the lucky people to actually get to me using a piece of writing. I've read depressing stuff, but THAT... that was depressing. Don't get me wrong; I love that! One of my personal sayings is that if music or creative writing don't stir emotion, there's no point. Keep going; this was really good, and I don't say that lightly.
Crunchman99 replied...
Jan. 28, 2013 at 4:53 pm
Edit: If you hate me for saying that, I don't blame you. I just now noticed that it was in the 'personal experience' section of the nonfiction. Now that I realize that, I seem like an incredible jerk when I say stuff about it being 'really depressing in a good way'. At least, I do to myself. Anyway, I still do like the style and impression I get off of it.
Sketched97 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 31, 2013 at 10:39 pm
Yes it is from personal experience. But thank you! Your comment means a lot.
KateyKat said...
Jan. 14, 2013 at 6:03 pm
I love your sense of writing though osme parts kind of lost me. Lol we have the same picture! Keep up the good work and see you around!
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