In my high school senior English class our teacher had us write many personal essays to prepare for our college essay. For the unit final we had to write passionately about an event that changed our life and read it to the class. When I was 16 I was raped by a guy my friend set me up with. I didn’t tell anyone at the time and now, 3 years later, I have just started becoming open about it to some close friends. Anyways, I wanted to use this topic for my school essay but I didn’t want to read a rape experience to the class. So I decided to turn my feelings into a metaphor and not mention the event but just the feelings. I am hoping some of you can relate. So heres the piece that I titled Shattered:
When I was young I trusted everyone. When my mother told me to never talk to strangers I always wondered why. I never knew what it felt like to be lied to, to be let down, or to have the feeling as though someone was deceiving me. Some say that trust is a good trait to have, but like everything in life, too much of a good thing is not necessarily beneficial in the long run.
In hindsight, I am surprised how long my trust lasted in a teenage world full of lies and deceit. It would take sixteen years for my innocent and naive view of people to change. When it did it was like salt in a wound. But this was no ordinary salt. There was physical pain but the physiological pain hurt the most. No matter how hard I tried to make the burning stop the salt would not leave the wound. I would say, “stop!” but nothing would stop. I felt useless and humiliated and anger built up inside me, but there was nothing I could say or do.
Then came the numb, the emotionless paralysis. During this time there were no feelings, no emotions. I was at peace. But the peace did not last long and it never returned again for the entirety of my existence. I did not want to understand what happened, I wanted to be young, I wanted to be gently told not to trust to strangers by my mother and take the warning, not question it. But my trust was shattered.
It shattered with the power of a hurricane on a simple glass windowpane. The glass was broken in pieces allover the floor and it engulfed me and held me captive on my bed. The sharp glass pieces glistened like diamonds in the sun, but they were the farthest thing from diamonds. They were jagged and would inflict a pain I could not bear.
So I stayed on my bed. I remained there for days. I could not go to school, reach my homework, or see anyone with the shattered glass trapping me. After a few days I decided to try to get up and try to leave. I took that first step into the glass. It cut into my feet with the pain of a million knives but it was the emotions that hurt more. The images came flooding back of what happened and I could no longer stand on my own two feet.
I looked into my mirror and I did not see myself. I saw someone who was broken. I knew I needed to pick up the pieces but how to do that, I was not sure. I prayed for help but there was no one there, it was just me, a sad broken reflection in the mirror. I looked dead. My face was red and puffy like I was crying but there were no more tears. My hair hung limp like string from a rag doll. As I looked at myself, I knew it was not me. I grew angry that someone could suck the life out of me as they did.
But why should I let them? I was never one to let someone else win. I needed my life back. It was in this moment I accepted that I was alone. I could pray for as much help as I wanted, but at the end of the day, it was me that was shattered and it was me that had to be put back together. No one could do that but myself. I did not need a crutch, I did not need invisible faith, I needed to stand on my own two feet no matter how much it hurt. As I stared at that shiny crystal glass strewn allover my floor, I remembered how it used to be sand before someone turned it into cold, sharp glass. I knew it could never be sand again, but I knew I had to make it smaller and less sharp. So I jumped, with all my anger and pure, cold hatred. All the emotions came back; my trust, the betrayal, the anger, the loneliness, the self hate, and all the darker questions of why I was even here.
As I stomped the glass became smaller, more broken and it did not hurt as much to walk on even though some remained in my feet. The next day I went to school for the first time in weeks. As I walked the glass dug into my feet. As I saw people who no longer knew me it hurt more. Every C, D, and F I received in school triggered my anger of someone’s betrayal effecting me so much. But what hurt the most was when someone said they cared about me but they did not. Those simple words, “trust me” would slice through me with an emotional pain that I cannot compare.
That was my sophomore year of high school. I am now two years older and a senior but there is glass still in my feet. It still hurts every time I walk but with every step forward it becomes smaller and more like sand. I know the glass will never fully leave my feet, but for some strange reason I want it to stay there. I now want to remember what hurt me. Because if I do, it can never hurt me again.