After three years,

I wonder if any of this matters. 

Have I really learned anything by throwing this around in my head for so long? Have I really decided what any of it means? 

I don’t know what happened three years ago. When I used to think about assault, it seemed so black and white. It’s either assault or it isn’t. It is all at once. You know it when you see it. 

He was my dear friend. I was attracted to him. We spent most days together, confiding in one another about our failed relationships and going on adventures. We were friends. Black and white. 

Our movie nights don’t end the way they used to. His hand is on my leg. He locks the door, puts his hand in my mouth. I wonder how I got to this point. Now we are gray.

I drove home and cried in my bed, but I don’t know why. I could never tell him no when I was scared, when I was tired, when I didn’t want to. Why couldn’t I tell him no? We were “just friends,” after all. 

But what about the times when I did want to? All the nights leading up to that point when I was burning for him? 

My experience was not one in which a stranger emerges out the dark alley. Mine was gradual and as gray as it gets. I didn’t say no. Shouldn’t he have sensed that I was uncomfortable? Does it matter? I was never raped or anywhere close to it. But I was afraid of the consequences of saying no to someone I cared about. 

There are stretches of days when I feel totally back to normal. There are stretches of days when I cry, feeling as though I have lost something very dear. Who knows what? There are days when thinking of him sends waves of guilt and panic coursing through me; there are others when I miss him. 

This past September I bought a “Me Too” pin to put on my backpack. It was a way for me to acknowledge the validity of my own experience. It was a courageous statement.

This month I realized the pin had fallen off somewhere. I imagine someone picking it up in a parking lot, reading those words, and their minds never once thinking of a story like mine.