"I can't watch that. I tried. I can't."
And suddenly the tone of an otherwise friendly conversation changed, as often happens with someone who knows my story. There was the stammering apology. Followed by the awkward not knowing what to say to me. And, always the worst part, the air of pity that sweeps in like a thick, choking fog.
I stopped the conversation immediately.
"Don't do that. It's ok. It's not something that you think about on a regular basis, and that's ok. But the truth is that the things that have happened to me actually change people's perceptions of me more than they actually effect my daily life."
This conversation has replayed in my head several times in the few days since. What I said was true. Rape changed me. It shattered my reality & changed my view of the world. But I am not broken. I am not hopelessly damaged goods. I do not need pity or for people to feel like they have to treat me as fragile glass.
I'm sure people mean well when they do that, but it's actually the reason I don't tell people. It changes they way they look at me. It alters their perception of me. And, sometimes, their reaction may alter my perception of them.
The inability of some people to get past this condescending attitude has, in the past, interfered with relationships &, quite honestly, is the reason that very few people know about my history. It affects me, sure; but it doesn't define me & I don't want it to shape who they see me as. I don't need to be fixed.
Just like everyone else, I am perfectly imperfect. Judge me on who I am now & how I choose to treat other people, rather than some detail if my past that was beyond my control.