I want to strike back.
I want to gather my fear, my loss, my distress and my suffering – that whole great tangle of emotion and experience – into one big, dark, monstrous cloud and then unleash it as a ferocious, untameable, unpredictable storm upon the world. A storm that will upend hierarchies, reorder systems and right wrongs. A storm that will wash away corruption and abuse and leave behind the beginnings of a new world order. There are times when only catharsis will do. When I can barely hold myself back from spewing a vitriolic torrent-of-consciousness in response to the slightest of provocations. When all I can dream of are acts of destruction: gleeful, unrestrained, random outbursts of anarchic carnage. When I believe that the violence done unto me can only result in me too becoming a vector of violence, a force of anger and suffering wrought upon the world.
You see, I doubt he intended this, but, HE LIT MY FIRE. He thought he could play Vulcan. He thought he could burn me up, consume me and leave me just a charred, smoking ruin of a human being. He thought he was a god who could take my humble human life in his hands. But, he was wrong. He miscalculated. He played with forces that were far beyond his control, far beyond anyone’s control. Can we ever fully appreciate what another human being is capable of? I realised this too late and, perhaps he did, too.
He played with fire and, like most arsonists I expect, he unleashed a furious, determined force that he had not foreseen. He thought he could contain his fire to the bounds of my body, he thought he could keep it under control and that it would burn just as he desired. He thought he could strike the match and then simply watch me burn while enjoying the lick and dance of the flames from a safe distance. He believed he could soak up the pleasurable warmth without even getting singed, let alone ravaged. But, he was wrong.
Now, as I gather myself, almost a year and a half after the assault, I am beginning to understand the power within me, a power that I had never fully appreciated before. I also thought this flame lit within me would consume me. I thought he must be some sort of overlord when it came to this, that he knew things I didn’t, he seemed to have some sort of magical power to light fires and escape unscathed. It is not so. Firstly, there are consequences for him. They may be slow to arrive and they may not be equal to the deeds of devastation he committed but nonetheless he has not escaped unscathed. I am sure of this. But more importantly, this fire that he ignited does not obey his command.
It is a wildfire: a raging force of its own reckoning. It is undoubtedly a much greater force than I am and, certainly, it could extinguish me, in a flash, leaving only bitterness and cynicism in its wake. This is not the only possible outcome, though. I can see this fire as something else, not just a savage and brutal force of destruction but instead a powerful, impassioned impulsion to remake the world, to insist upon a brighter future, a better way of being. Although it comes at a cost almost too great to bear, the knowledge that the rape has inflicted upon me, a knowledge that is often so heavy and distressing that I am afraid to acknowledge it much of the time, a knowledge that never gets any less dangerous to live with, could just be the source of my rebirth, the foundation for my survival, the light that ushers me out of the ruins of all that I was, all that I had and onwards towards all that I will be.
And so, I strike back. Not at him, but through him. It is he who will enable my regeneration, who will provide both the fuel and the intelligence that will ensure that I am stronger than I was, who will give me the knowledge to make the best possible go of my second chance at life.