In this video, Mercy shares a powerful account of how a phrase spoken by her grandmother has shown up in her life as a survivor. (Self-care alert: this video contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault).
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Self-care alert: contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.
"My grandma is the smartest woman in the world. As a little girl, she was my calm before the storm. She wore pink rollers in her hair. Always smelled of pancakes and maple syrup. There’s something special about that time.
I remember the first morning I woke up I couldn’t have thoughts. I felt like I’d been awake all night. I knew I was high, like I couldn’t think. If I could think, I think I thought it was great because I could only feel my body. That was really, really high. So I thought maybe I was just really, really high. I don’t know. It was just different. That’s just it. I don’t know.
As I close my eyes, I can see her ironing my papa’s socks, telling me stories or love and life. That moment that just disappeared out of my head, I’m really used that moment getting plucked out. I’m really used to people messing with my head. Anything she’s ever told me is tattooed in my brain. On the days I would cry to her about monsters under my bed, she’d say, “Oh, Sarah Anne, you have to make do with what you were given.”
So, I can tell. So, I can tell when memories just go poof, or zap. It’s annoying, and incredibly dehumanizing. I remember that moment like I remember drinking my first cup of coffee, or riding my first bike, or figuring out that Santa Claus isn’t real. And with that being said, I became buddies with the bogeyman. The fight was too much work, and my soul grew tired. I was comfortable with pain, became very clear I would not be saved, and waiting was pointless.
And I remember with the intensity similar to that of déjà vu, it comes all at once, and you kind of want to declare it. Déjà vu! As if screaming it can make something happen. As if. As if any agency existed at all. I tried to sit by and watch the little girl inside of me wither away as my soul cried out to be healed and reclaimed. They close their eyes and cover their ears, but I must make do with that I was given.
But today I remember that moment, I must make do. That moment when I must make do. I didn’t remember what happened. I must make do. It almost feels blissful. I must make do. I have to find joy in the small things. Beauty under the rock that I called home. As I watched my girlfriends go to school dances and pep rallies, it was my job to find happiness in my struggle. Remembering, then not remembering the not remembering, when my body was pumped full of feel good now that nothing else mattered. Others were at the mall, but I was dancing with demons. And it didn’t matter how many times I’d been pumped full of cum that night, learning how to stroll down a razor blade. I didn’t even remember it, while monsters with pink earrings plotted on my pure heart. How convenient. Trash became dinner, and my new tribe was zombies that roamed the earth. All of a sudden, my value was between my legs. My value was between my legs. My lies are oh so pretty. As long as I was a sex kitten, comfortable parking down a dark alley, and I got to eat. Brian didn’t have money problems. I was trying a lot more drugs. If I could just stay buddies with the bogeyman, then I’d have a place to lay down and have nightmares. If I could just make do with what I was given, then I could have this fake sense of family, and my present could become pretty.
I remember feeling trapped, at least not allowed to leave at this point in our relationship. He had dominated me sexually, extensively, beyond any measure of consent, especially for a 14 year-old. Punches start to feel like kisses and hopefully I can make it out of this haunted house. He started to turn into this demon-like figure. He started raping me. He held me down. He choked me. He raped me harder, harder yet. Slamming his giant penis into me. This demon on top of me. Holding me down, sucking my soul away, filling me instead with whatever he saw fit. No tears, no cries for help. No asking to be saved. Those drugs he put in me, sometimes I wish I knew what they were. There were so many. There were so many different feelings he made me feel. I didn’t know. I didn’t even know what consciousness was. Even more at some points, why would I want to? What would come would knock me out one way or the other.
I’ve been so rapeable for so long, I think they can smell it on you when you walk by them in the mall, food court, or at the gym. It’s like they can smell the stink of his semen all these years later, like somewhere it’s still rotting inside me. It feels that way a lot of times. I feel really broken emotionally, physically, psychologically at times. So, stress, that all I can do is stress more with agency. That’s probably why I work so much and overcommit myself, because it’s an under-commitment for me. Nothing else will make this ridiculous sense of imminent doom and chaos go away. But to work it down and out… Think about how sometimes I shit myself coughing too hard and how it’s really not funny how I don’t really feel much down there, how I bled so many times crying over the toilet, sometimes wanting to scream, sometimes actually screaming. Blot, blot, blot, splash, splash. Take a look. See all the spots. God help me, what have they done? What have I done?
Who am I even kidding? I never blamed anyone but myself for any of it. People like Brian and many more men after him, and men before him, have trained me to be this way. This was and even sometimes is my reality. I don’t know how to escape it. I don’t know how to breathe outside of it. I don’t know how to exist outside of an existence bult for me. I don’t know how to feel special outside of exploitation. I don’t know how to feel valued outside of sex. I don’t know how to feel satiated outside of instant gratification. I don’t know how to feel respected outside of violence and pain. I don’t know how to feel understood outside of manipulation. I don’t know how to feel validated outside of grief. I don’t know how to feel normal outside of hate. I don’t know how to feel calm outside of dead. Just my granny’s words: “You have to make do with what you are given.”"