An Open Letter
To Anyone Who Has Ever Heard
A Part of My Story
I see you.
You’re the person posting on social media
Of your shock and grief
Regarding the suicides of Kate Spade
And Anthony Bourdain.
I see you.
You’re the person who says suicide is not the answer.
That if I’m considering suicide, then I haven’t tried hard enough.
You’re the person who says, “You just have to be positive.”
“You have to move on.”
“You are doing this to yourself.”
I see you.
I saw you when I told my mother that I wanted to kill myself
As a first grader
And she said I just wanted to get out of going to school.
I saw you when I went to teachers for help
Because I couldn’t deal with the confusion
Of being molested as a six year old by family friends
And they said that I had an active imagination.
I saw you when I told my doctor that I didn’t have an eating disorder
As an eleven year old
But no one would consider that it was the Adderall.
The insanely high amounts of Adderall I was taking
Because it’s much easier to say your kid has A.D.D.
I saw you when my fifth grade history teacher tied me down to a chair
In front of all my classmates
And made an example out of me.
Forcing sandwiches down my throat
Every single day
Until I choked and vomited
As a lesson
Of what we do to little girls who won’t eat.
Instead of just listening to them.
I saw you when my entire high school slut shamed the girl
Who accused my boyfriend of raping her.
The only reason she came out in public
Is because she was trying to make sure the same thing didn’t happen to me.
We tell girls that it’s on them to make sure rapists don’t rape again.
But then we silence them.
We ridicule them.
We duct tape their mouths and send them back
Into that dark, dark hole they crawled out of
On their hands and knees, trusting
That we, as a society, would make it right
If they just told the truth.
And then we claim that we never saw it coming
When they try to kill themselves.
We don’t have any answers
Especially not for you
Except that suicide isn’t one
And you were too weak to fight for your life like the rest of us.
I saw you when he raped me
And you silenced me, too.
I saw you when my English teacher lectured me in front of my entire class
About being an attention-seeking liar
Just like that other girl.
As a lesson
Of what we do to young, developing women
Who try to set the record straight.
Instead of just listening to them.
I saw you in my sophomore year of college.
You were in the grocery store, in the soup aisle.
I had just finished my psych final.
It was cold outside, I was wearing a knee length parka.
You seemed friendly, kind
And I felt ashamed for not wanting to trust you
As you insisted on carrying my bags to my truck.
We became really close friends.
We had Thursday Scandal Nights.
We had four hour long study sessions at Starbucks.
You brought me blueberries because you knew they were my favorite.
I wondered what my mother would have told me
When you started to choke me in my sleep sometimes.
I wondered what my first grade teacher would have told me
When you would slap me with your genitals when I sat down to put on my shoes.
I wondered what my fifth grade history teacher would have told me
When you poured hot coffee down my chest when I told you
That maybe we shouldn’t be friends anymore.
I wondered what my highschool teachers, classmates, principal would have told me
When you raped me.
I saw you when you ate the pancakes I made for you in my kitchen
The next morning.
You said no one would ever believe me
Because who makes breakfast for their rapist?
I saw you when I had a nervous breakdown.
I was screaming for help.
Please, just someone listen to me.
Please, I just need someone to believe me.
I need to get these words out of my lungs
Because I can’t breathe with this tape over my mouth.
I saw you when my mother told me that how could I do this
How could she trust me?
When I clearly bring these things upon myself.
How could I be so humiliating to her?
I saw you when my dad didn’t say a word.
He just hung up the phone.
I saw you when I was twenty two years old.
I had left Texas and moved to Wellington, Florida.
The elusive, exclusive place to be for aspiring riders.
You were my trainer, I wanted to trust you.
I saw you when you tried to pimp me out to your friend
I saw you when I was hazed, tortured, humiliated for several months following
I saw you when you said I was too strong willed to be a good student
Because you couldn’t break me
So you passed me onto someone who could.
I saw you when I was twenty three.
You said if I slept with you and your friends, they would give me horses to ride.
So you discredited me to anyone who would listen.
You made sure that everywhere I went in that wretched town
That town I had moved to, to be safe
To start over
That I would fear for my life.
I saw you when I was twenty four years old.
I was trying to save up enough money to provide for my two dogs
And my retired horse
So I could kill myself.
I just wanted it all to be over.
At the last minute, I took off towards the other side of the country.
To find reasons to live, to see humanity
To find some way that all of this would make sense.
I missed horses so much that I took another horse job; I became a groom.
But I didn’t know how to braid mane and I wanted to do a really good job.
So I asked for help.
I went to sleep that night in my hammock, in my grooming stall,
Watching over the horses in my charge
Because I wanted to make sure I did the best job I could.
Because maybe I would get to ride again.
I didn’t want to let anyone down.
I saw you when I woke up to you trying to pull my pants off.
I saw you when I woke up to you groping my chest.
I saw you when I turned to face you and you just smiled
As you stood up and buckled your belt
And walked outside.
I saw you when you brought me coffee
And I knew no one would believe me.
I saw you when I went to the police station
After finding out that you nearly beat your ex-wife to death.
I saw you when the horse show staff said it was my duty to file a police report.
You said it was my responsibility to make sure he doesn’t assault anyone else.
Even though you let him work there.
You let him live there
With a record a mile long of assaulting women.
I saw you when the deputy sat me down and told me
That if I didn’t press charges, if I didn’t do “the right thing”
If I didn’t protect them, more girls would suffer
And it would be my fault.
I saw you when he told me there was “nothing you could do”
Because there was no REAL penetration.
“This isn’t severe enough.”
“You’re not a real victim.”
“You’re not enough of a victim.”
You just left me there, outside the police station, with a cold cup of coffee.
I could hear the officers laughing in their office, eating lunch,
As I curled up into myself, clutching my case number
And the piece of paper for ‘victim’s resources in California’.
California – the state I’d always dreamed of moving to and working in.
I wound my truck through the mountains in Oregon,
Hoping the crisp, pine-scented air would pump life back into me.
I sat in the woods, trying to figure out where it all went wrong.
But when did it ever go right?
The shame, the secrets –
I’m taking it all off.
I’m not afraid of you, my vulnerability is not a weakness.
I’m going to tell my story.
This will be your weight to bear.
You can’t claim to want to change the world
And find answers other than suicide
While simultaneously shunning people into silence
Because you are too uncomfortable
With the pain
You have caused
By not listening.