“Was it rape?”
“Can you clarify?”
“[person’s name]…the first time…”
After skimming back through Amelia Zachry’s book, Enough: A Memoir of Mistakes, Mania, and Motherhood, I asked my therapist the above question early one Friday evening.
The following Tuesday, I sat in my therapist’s office feeling lightheaded, weak, and uncomfortable in my skin. My therapist, Dr. C., asked about the book. She wanted me to tell her about what I had read and noticed. I provided some background information about Amelia’s early life and dove into the part I needed to discuss. Dr. C. was given more details, but I will share this in my blog.
One night, Amelia went out with friends, was handed a drink by someone she knew, and woke up on a disgusting bathroom floor in a cheap motel with her “friends” telling her how awful she was. Amelia believed them. Shame devoured her. She distanced herself from her family, avoided people, and, as best she could, dealt with the guilt, shame, and embarrassment—understandably with dysfunction. I say that knowingly and with compassion because shame causes us (me) to do some ugly things.
I finished telling Amelia’s story and sat with my sadness. My therapist then asked me to tell my story. She wanted me to tell it the same way—as if I were summarizing a book. I was to tell it in 3rd person, which felt weird.
“College was one of the best times of my life. I had friends, played soccer, and could choose what I wanted to study and learn. When graduate school started, I felt lonely and isolated.” I went on to explain my roommate situation and the move I made in December to live with friends who had a room open up for me.
“It was too little, too late. I was depressed. My professor took pride in never hospitalizing anyone, so he had my roommates do it. While there, they packed up my stuff and kicked me out. My brother drove my truck full of stuff back to Michigan, and I lived with him and his family for a year.” I sat there for a moment and felt the emotions I was holding. Some of my fondest memories are from living in my brother’s farmhouse. It was a healing place. In hindsight, though, I could see some things that set me up for what would happen when I moved back to Pennsylvania for school.
“I realize now how I was fighting to belong when I returned. First, I sent an email to one of my professors responding to each and every one of the accusations he had made over the 12 months I had been gone. Then, I searched for a place to live in Pennsylvania for weeks. I had a reputation, and no one wanted to risk a dead body in their home. Finally, after moving back, I had to sit down with my professors and prove I should be in the program.”
When we fight for our worth and belonging, we are far more susceptible to flattery, bribes, attention, perceived love, etc. I didn’t go out drinking, have someone hand me a roofied drink, and wake up on a bathroom floor. In my own version, I had someone take notice of me, accept me, and ultimately claim me as their own.
I couldn’t talk about what had happened. I wanted to. I needed and need to. I need to feel it. And I need to be able to say it so someone can help me grasp it—to normalize my experience or tell me knowledgeably that what I am describing is, in fact, typical. As it is, my story feels too different from Amelia’s. The thing I need to remember is Amelia went through the same thing. She struggled with the shame and blame, too—as most survivors probably do.
Amelia’s healing journey has given me a little shove in the right direction. Although this is about the same place in my journey where I tend to get stuck, I have some momentum this time, not much, but some. Thank you, Amelia. And thanks to Dr. C. for her patience and compassion.
Disclaimer: I want you all to read Enough: A Memoir of Mistakes, Mania, and Motherhood in its entirety, so I provided only the information necessary for my own story. The description I gave is about 1% of the book. I cannot emphasize enough how the other 99% provides context and moves Amelia (and readers) from despair to hope. So, I hope you read my short summary but understand it is insufficient and incomplete. Buy the book, read it, and find belonging and hope for yourself—and others. (I was not asked to endorse or try to sell the book for Amelia. It’s just that good).
To buy Enough: A Memoir of Mistakes, Mania, and Motherhood, go to Amazon or Amelia Zachry’s Website.