His name was Tyrone.
Or was it Tyrese? What I do know is that it is a grace of God that the memory of his name was stolen from me too. Stolen along with that Fourth of July night in Billings, the year I turned twenty-one, when he dropped a date-rape pill into my drink. There weren’t any fireworks that night.
Among the few moments of relative lucidity that night were these:
-He was some kind of a beef salesman (and I a lifelong vegetarian) in town for work.
-At one point I was puking into a toilet in what must have been his hotel room bathroom. But seeing myself in this brief moment that surfaced from the blackout, it was more like I was hovering over my poor vomiting self, watching pitifully like an angel with just enough power to assure that the man didn’t kill me. While the man stood in the corner, watching, waiting for me to wipe just enough throw-up off my mouth to be sexy enough to resume pounding and grinding me into the meat he handles and sells for a living.
-Then he on top of me, his belly protruding as if it led his whole life and lusty moans.
-He dropped me off at dawn in front of my dad’s where I was staying for the summer, said, “We’ll play tennis.” And sped off.
Is it the chemistry of gamma hydroxybutyric acid, the drug used to summon unconsciousness when one doesn’t want to have sex with willing consent, that not only creates blackness for twelve hours but bores holes and chasms into the mind days and years after consumption permanently altering the cognitive process? Or is it the trauma itself that does this?
I write this with a red pen in tiny, barely legible handwriting today, years later, on what truly is the longest night of the year. Red, as if denoting one giant mistake on the masterpiece of God’s creation. Tiny and sloppy, like my self-worth and brain for the past decade following that night. Night, which should have been one of the shortest of the year but instead rolled into my longest: the dark night of the soul. The saddest thing about falling from innocence that night was one more thing I remember. Sometime before the drug kicked in fully, I called my mom. I remember he asked to talk to my mom. Dear Mother. That is when the angels would have wept. I don’t know what was spoken, but is it possible that evil can concentrate so densely in the heart of one man that he actually could have told her what he planned on doing to his daughter, her firstborn, all patriotic-night long? That question haunts me more than anything else about that night, yet as you can see eleven and a half years later, there are several questions left unanswered, voids only the light of God can fill.
And here is the one I most hope to be, not answered, but FULFILLED, so there no longer needs to be a question:
Rape stories retold by the victim are manifold, and a number of them even promises forgiveness to the perpetrator. So if we are living in such an advanced age wherein we know to put away childish things, take responsibility for our actions, and become men of integrity who use our talents to better humanity; then why do we never hear one, not one, “I raped. I beat my breast now with tears. I am so sorry.” story? Is there really so little redemption in our world? One might deny the above premise and say we do not live in an altruistic age and we cannot expect so much from man. I hear you. Reading many of my blog posts that are not direct poem-prayers to God, you can easily see that I tend toward a cynical view of mankind, not just present, but throughout-time-mankind. It is a foreign, often monstrous place that lives so far from Kingdom principles (aka Love) that some days I really want to give up and go back to heavenly Home.
But light shines here too. You poet-friends who meditate on one single branch of the willow and share how its wisdom can save humanity; the elementary school that puts on a special assembly to honor its beloved janitor; sufferers from Alzheimer’s who put on headphones and a flood of memories awash them as they sing along to “I Got Rhythm” and “Old Man River”; the heavenly reminders of newborn babies; and on and on and on.
In a few days we celebrate the birth of Christ, the Light of God, coming into our weary world. And despite thousands of nativity scenes scattered all over the world throughout this season, the significance does not lie solely with the baby in the manger; Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Light in our own dark and broken hearts. Christmas is not a holiday usually given to celebrate repentant rapists, but it can be. What is amazing about the love of God is that on this earth, the Light, which is the only ingredient needed to become whole men and then serve fellow men, that Light is available to EVERYONE, no matter what atrocity was committed in the darkness and deadness of sin.
That is all I hope for you (let’s just call you Ty) and all others who are sorry for their acts but don’t know how to begin to expiate for them. Let the light that Jesus born in Bethlehem stands for permeate your hearts beginning right now. Fear not for your souls, but atone for your acts by apologizing to those you harmed, and if that’s not possible, apologize to those you could have harmed. I never ask for Christmas gifts but for a transformed heart by the light of God, I would save up for twelve years to behold.
©2016, Amaya Engleking