I hate February.
I was born in February. Late February.
I have many trauma anniversaries. Probably at least one for as many days as there are in a calendar year. It’s hard to imagine that nearly three decades of abuse wouldn’t have covered all 366 potential days.
But something about February is always harder than the other months.
Maybe it’s my birthday. The beginning of it all.
I know there are traumas around my birthday, as there are around all holidays and celebrations. I know I was always hurt on or around my birthday. Not only by my parents.
I was date raped on my birthday in senior year of college. And there was an earlier incident…
Yesterday in session, I was flipping through an old journal. I opened the page to February 5th, 2002.
The entry is one sentence long:
I think I was just raped (?)(!)
I had, in fact, been raped. I was locked up in a psychiatric hospital and my roommate, Marie, assaulted me after an apparent miscommunication over the price of cigarettes. I thought they were a gift. She thought it was an exchange – smokes for sex. I refused to pay.
She took the sex anyway.
I knew that happened in winter, but I didn’t realize the date until I saw it written in Julia’s handwriting and I only know what happened because she wrote about it. It is still not a memory I can access.
Which is how I know about most of my life – from the pages of journals and from poems and drawings and collages and little pieces of a life puzzled together by many different parts trying to make sense out of absolute chaos.
Here is what Julia writes on February 7th, 2002 after telling her (our?) counselor, Kim, about being assaulted:
I want to die. I called 911 from my social worker’s office (whoa, I feel so ashamed). The police came last night. Kim stayed late to be with me. I was in her office when the staff talked to Marie who FLIPPED the fuck out! She stormed out of the office and ran to Kim’s office. Kim kinda shoved me under her desk and blocked me. Marie was SO pissed at me. I was terrified. Then the other staff restrained her. I was just huddled under Kim’s desk shaking like crazy. Once Marie was gone, Kim shut her door and came over to me and held me in her arms. I was fucking hysterical.
So then the police came. Kim took me to the lobby. The officers refused to disarm and since you cannot have a firearm on a psych ward, they didn’t interview Marie (she’s not allowed to leave the “secure” part because of what happened). They said they’d do it later. Needless to say it was horrifying and humiliating. They were such assholes and I know he didn’t take me seriously. Whatever. It wasn’t my idea to call 911 in the first place. They gave me a complaint number and said they’d be in touch. I can’t believe this is happening.
February 8th, 2002:
Kim says I should tell my Mom what happened. She clearly doesn’t understand my Mom. My Mom won’t care. She’ll be pissed. But Kim thinks it might be better if I am honest with her right from the beginning. I guess I could try.
February 9th, 2002:
I’m gonna call my Mom. Marie was discharged today which is good because she kept staring at me through the double doors of the secure area. Creepy.
I called my Mom, which I knew was a bad idea but I did it anyway. It went fucking AWFUL! I told her what happened and she started screaming at me. She said that she ‘cleaned’ my apartment and found the letters from my girlfriend so she now knows we’re a couple and she’s disgusted. She said that she did not raise me that way and she’s ashamed of me. And her response to what happened with Marie? ‘That’s what you get for being a dyke.” I HATE HER!!!!!
February 18th, 20002:
I never heard back from the police. Kim told me to call the station and check in on my case. I gave the lady my complaint number and she said, “I’m sorry, but we have no record of that complaint number.”
I don’t even know what to say to that. It’s probably for the better anyway…
February 25th, 2002:
This has been the hospitalization from hell. One among many. I’m leaving tomorrow, on my birthday. They don’t even think I’m better, or safe (I’m still on five minute safety checks for Christ’s sake!). They said they won’t even give me back my shoelaces or contraband until I’m ‘on the other side of the door’. They are just sick of me. I’m hopeless.
I’m making a promise to myself right now – I will NEVER be hospitalized again. I would rather die.