After Dylan kicks me out of his house with the hopeful message that I will “find someone to deal with my fucked-up shit”, I’ve finally had enough. I don’t know how or what I am going to do, but I know that I have to stop putting myself in situations where I lose control and allow men to treat me like dirt. I’ve been allowing men to treat me like a one night stand or not to come close to me at all. No more. I have been an idiot for way too long – it’s time to take control.
I stop working in Cape Town and go back to Port Elizabeth.
It’s time to become me again.
On my last day at work, I look at the people there and wonder how they live their lives so full of missed connections.
I tell one guy, who has always stared at me, that I’m leaving. He says: “If only I had known it was tonight…” You would have what? I wonder.
How many missed connections make up a life?
I don’t understand. Why do people always let life pass them by? Why do they never act on anything? I practically throw myself at another guy and tell him to come out with us. I find him interesting because he’s serious and witty at the same time, and because he’s religious. He’s a Muslim and I watched him fasting during Ramadan. I admire it. I like that he’s devoted to his spiritual life. He never shows up.
There’s a destructive force about being young, about figuring out what you want to be and what you want your life to be. I wonder how anyone makes it out alive.
That night I dance with my work friends in a bar. Until I look at them and feel disillusioned, like we are all trying too hard to be people we aren’t. Like we are lying, not to each other, but to ourselves.
I wonder if anyone else notices it. In spite of this, I leave work with a sense of completion. The job gave me all that it could. Structure, routine, a reason to get up in the morning. I couldn’t have handled pressure this year. When I walk out of the office for the last time at the end of August, I find that I don’t want to look back.
I drive out of Cape Town on my favourite kind of morning: grey and misty with just the slightest whisper of a drizzle. I scratch my injured knee. Two weekends previously I had fallen, tripping over a leaf on the way out of the gate of our apartment. Mackenzie and I had been on our way out on the Saturday evening.
I was wearing black jeans and some of the material got stuck underneath a fold of skin as I landed my whole bodyweight on my knee. I let the tears of pain flow as I put on another pair of jeans to go out. We were going for burgers.
At Café Royale, I went to the bathroom to inspect the wound again. I lifted the piece of skin with a pair of tweezers and shuddered with pain. We had bought some Dettol on our way to the restaurant, and I put some on it. Underneath the top layer of skin congealed red blood cells stared at me. I bandaged my leg up again and went to eat my burger.
I had to go to the Mediclinic twice for the wound. When they asked what happened I said “nothing”, because I was just being myself. It doesn’t bother me anymore. I know it’s going to leave a horrible scar but that’s just part of me being me.
I put my car into gear and face the empty road, filled with the knowledge of who I am, unable to hide it anymore. No matter how battered or bruised I am – I am okay with being me.
The body seeks truth. I have experienced this in various ways this year. I become physically ill when I have to tell someone that I was raped. My body reacts negatively to people who have not dealt with what happened to me. I can only give a small part of myself to those who don’t know what happened to me.
In order to survive, we all tell lies. Because of the enormous human capacity for self-deception, we may fail to recognise when we are lying, or when we are living authentically.
We all have the basic human right to keep quiet about something that is only our business. In the name of privacy, we don’t have to share all of our experiences with each other, but privacy and secrecy are dangerous in a patriarchal society. They keep us trapped and perpetuate false myths about women. We think there’s something wrong with us instead of turning the microscope on society. It’s when we realise we share experiences that we can challenge old lies and create space for a new truth.
There is joy in making the private public, the shameful silly and the personal political.
Someone said: “Some things are better left unsaid” with regards to my writing about my rape. In our culture, where people go out of their way to shock and to be perverse, does our apathy really mean that some things are better left unsaid or does it just mean that society is desensitised? Sometimes people use shock so that people will think about a phenomena in a different way, but this is not my aim. Honesty is my aim, to honestly portray what rape is, for one girl, in the rape culture of South Africa. And if you don’t think that deserves to be portrayed in a country where almost every woman can tell a story about how they or someone they know personally has been affected by rape, then, honestly, what is worth talking about? What is there that is worth fighting for?
I want to reclaim my status as someone who was raped. I am sad for those people who find it easier to judge my actions than to judge the actions of a rapist. I am not in the wrong.