*TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE* July 9, 2016
(image found on google)
There was always something wrong with yesterday. There has been something I had wanted to write about for as long as I could remember. It’s just a memory now but I want to get rid of it. And not to pass it on to you or burden other’s with tales of victim hood. I have long left the trails that led me to that place of brokenness. So I look back because I am a different person, at forty, a man instead of that boy....
I had moved out of my parents house and into the open arms of the reservation. There must have been at least ten people living in that rez house at any given time. I was 17 just turning 18. This is where my alcohol story began. Party after party.
My cousin was the same age as me, our birthdays just a few months apart. She is like a sister to me. I grew up visiting her on the reservation. We played on those dirt roads and in those wooded grassy places. It was and still is our home. Our home.
One morning, my sister shook me awake. I would awaken hung over from the party we had the night before. She told me to come because it was our cousin. I stumbled out of bed and followed her across the hall. Our cousin was laying in bed, just as you would expect anyone to be early in the morning, on a cold winter’s day. Covered up in a blanket on a single bed. She said “I’m bleeding...down there.”
I did not understand. I did not understand why they would wake me to tell me this. I stumbled on my words. I do not recall who told me the story about the night before. But I know that she had been raped by someone still in the house. Me and my sister huddled outside the room wondering what to do next. What do we do? We have no phone. We have no car. Everyone is passed out everywhere. There are no adults to tell us what to do or do it for us.
I run upstairs. I run all over the house to see who was there and if anyone was awake. There is no one awake. There is no one to help us. I slowly walk back down stairs with the full gravity of the situation upon me. I do not know what to do.
I meet my sister on the stairs in a panic. We go kneel by my cousin. My sister said the blood is getting worse. She pulls the blankets back to find a large pool of blood soaking into the mattress. In seconds my cousin begins to shiver, with her teeth chattering, she mutters “I am so cold. I am so cold.” I knew....I knew what that meant.
I instinctively jump up and at the same time grab my sister. “We have to go now!” And my sister is reassuring my cousin that we are going to get help and we will be right back - as I pull her out the door. We run. We only have time to put our winter boots on. We have no jackets. We are down the road to the neighbors. My chest is beating faster and harder then ever before. I can no longer feel my face. We run. I can only feel the cold hard pressure in my chest from breathing.
We bang on the neighbors door and they let us in. My sister is calm, collected, poised. I follow her lead and show no emotion. I say nothing as she speaks to emergency. Calm. Collected. Poised. I look in a mirror hanging on the wall beside me. My eye lashes are all white around my eyes. We struggle to run back. We have to walk at times. We cannot breath anymore. I feel guilty.
The next thing I remember is the ambulance arriving. They wake up everyone. They help carry her outside on the stretcher. I look out the window as I grab my jacket. I see him lean down to whisper something to her. I thought “how nice, words of support.” I’m in the ambulance as we meet her mother in a car on the road. We are at the hospital. The doctor comes to tell us that she has also lost a baby.
I do not remember what happened after this incident. All I remember is there was more drinking. There was more hiding another secret. We acted like nothing had happened. I do remember my cousin telling me the man whispered to her “Please don’t tell anyone. Please don’t tell anyone.” Her secret became his secret which became our secret. It was over.
A few years ago, my cousin came to visit me. We are now closer to forty then 18. We talked about this time for the first time in our life. I told her I remember. She told me she was so angry all these years about what happened. We didn’t know it then, but that was the beginning of the letting go. With every word that left her mouth she was regaining a sense of healing. She was regaining a sense of self again.
I relay this story to my mother a few months ago. She tells me a similar story from her youth. She was there, another time, another place, someone else was raped. One of her relatives. She had to get help. I told her how strange it was that it was the same thing. How strange it was that it was generational. We both sat there in silence, knowing that it was not strange at all. The secret spell had been broken.