I’ve been on a mission for years now, trying to digitize my family’s photos, films, videos, commencement programs, concert ticket stubs, etc.,. This is part of a huge family archive I’ve been trying for years to organize and also part of a larger, general purge of detritus and awesomeness that Chooch and I have collected separately and together.
While sorting pictures I’d not seen in at least a decade, I came across pictures that stopped me cold. I was clueless as to whether or not to scan them or toss them, so I took them to therapy the next day. I explained who they were and why I couldn’t just toss the photos in the bin like I’d been doing with other photos of friendships untended in the quarter century since I graduated from high school.
One was of a girl that was rumored to have passed away years ago. I accidentally confirmed a few days previously that she had indeed passed away. If my math is correct, she was only one year out of high school at the time of her death. Melissa was one of my dearest friends in junior high, but we grew apart when my love of the punk rock/new wave/romantics/whatever you want to call it. It’s actually when I embraced that my primary interest in life was music itself, not just as a soundtrack to stuff going on.
She was and remained very much in to boys, and the ones she liked seemed like douchebags to me. We drifted apart, but I don’t believe there was every any animosity. A bit of, “You’re weird now,” is the worst, I think. Even so, there’s no denying the true nature of our friendship. We were close and we were loyal. I’ve thought of her often over these years, and it breaks my heart that she had such a short life.
I never did find an answer on what to do. At home, it occurred to me after I’d chucked them in the bin, that if someone had photos of my mother or Chooch’s brother, I’d love to receive them. I supposed that her parents, if still alive, may like to have the digital copies of the snapshots, so I’m scanning those and will send them on a path that should get to them or any other family that may want them.
The other photos, well, those are tougher. I was raped when I was 19 years old by a Trusted Friend. It happened after a night of staying in with movies and drinking with people I’d known for years. In the case of my Trusted Friend (TF), I’d known him about half of my life. I became friends with him through a best friend, also in middle school. He was several years older. During senior year and the summer before, he and I were part of a group that spent a lot of time together, drinking, going to concerts and generally acting like dumb asses. Seriously, like dumb asses. Even still, the girls were fiercely protected when the group of us would sneak into bars and dance clubs. I felt safe with TF and the other guys in our group.
Then, after high school graduation, I moved to Virginia with my family. I later found out that TF and another friend had also moved to the DC metro area. We naturally started making the long drives back and forth to ‘party’ and have fun, slowly building a larger group sprinkled with a few long known and trusted friends.
One late and very chill night of staying in and watching ‘B’ movies, this Trusted Friend raped me. While going through all these boxes of photos, I came across a few pictures (so far) of him, now referred to as Trusted Friend Rapist (TFR).
I told T-Pain that I didn’t know what to do with them. I didn’t want to carry them around any more. Hell, one of them is from the evening of the rape. I don’t know why I still had them, other than I’d never done a purge of snapshots from high school and now is the time for digitizing and purging.
I asked what she suggested for catharsis, because I’m not just tired of carrying the photo around. I’m also tired of carrying around the unresolved rage in the pit of my stomach. T-Pain says, with disgust in her voice, “I think you should just burn them.” A classic, and the first solution that had come to my mind when I found them.
Later that day, I took them out of my purse and put them to the side. I’d figure something out later. There’s a fire pit, but it’s not set up. It would be a hassle to set it up. Or I could burn them over a bucket of water. Also, a hassle, since I can’t carry a bucket of water. My birthday was the next day and I just wanted it done. I didn’t want to carry the damned things into my next year.
I stood up, looked at each picture and tore the stack up over the trash.
I tore them into tiny pieces.
I let them fall through my fingers to the bottom of the trashcan.
I was so tired that I have decided that I’m done.
I am done.
He doesn’t get one more moment of my life.
Not a single one.
I’m no longer a secret rape victim.
I’m a rape survivor, dammit.