I’ve been in theater since 5th grade. I’ve always loved taking the stage, nailing my lines, hearing the applause when I finish singing. But you see, my junior year was when I was in theater with him. And tech week happened to fall during the time that we weren’t “together” and he liked about 5 girls as well as me. He was so manipulative that week. He’d get me to “talk” in my car with him, he’d dump all his problems like me, and, me being the unfortunately compassionate person that I am, tried to help him. Even after everything he did to me, I was still trying to fix him.
Theater kids get a bad rap for being promiscuous. Now, most of the theater kids I know aren’t, but the rumors fly anyway. Its understandable seeing as a lot of kids end up crushing on cast-mates and we’re all way too physically comfortable around each other, resulting in many cuddle puddles and just random picking each other up and passing people around like toys. So far, nothing sexual besides jokes. However, he couldn’t seem to pass up the opportunity of being near me in the pitch black back-stage. He’d grab me from behind. I told him not to, so he begged and made excuses until I said yes, tears streaming down my face. Of course, he didn’t see that. Nor would he have noticed, even if the lights were on. It was all good and fair in his mind, as long as he made sure to compliment my ass. But then he started grabbing me from the front too. I’d shove him, but he’d wait a while and do it again. Thankfully I only let him get away with that a couple times.
It had been a whole year, but going back to that theater this year brought back so many memories. Everything seemed to trigger my ptsd. I was constantly freezing up. I sat in the tiny room that led from the audience to the stairs. It was enclosed by four walls and two doors, so it made me feel safer. I sat there and cried. One of my sweet friends came and I cried in her arms for about 20 minutes while pouring out my story. She convinced me to tell one of my closest guy friends. She thought he’d be understanding and I could definitely use the support, since at this point my best friend was one of only ones keeping an eye on me. He was one of the main characters, which didn’t give him a whole lot of time, but he tried to snap me out of my freakish flashback trances. So, convinced by her, I tried to tell my other good friend. but when I did, he took it really lightly. I think he thought it was something little, like I had just been groped once or something. I couldn’t talk about it much, so I don’t know if he’ll ever know. He’ll probably think I was making a big deal out of nothing and saying I had ptsd when I didn’t. As if I was over-reacting. I wish I could’ve told him, but all my words froze up and stuck in the back of my throat. It was like I was drowning while trying to talk to him. He’ll probably never truly know.
One other person knew that week, and he was my double. He was really understanding and tried to help me through it. Everyone tried. I felt so selfish thinking that it wasn’t enough. But how could it be? No one there understood and I couldn’t seem to voice it to them. How am I supposed to explain that I can’t stand big crowds, I’m afraid of people walking behind me, and I flinch when someone touched me? How do I tell them why church terrifies me because I’m scared he’ll show up there. How do I tell my mother that I don’t want to go on that church retreat on the off chance that he’ll be there. Or reason why I associate church, her favorite place, with someone so horrible. Scenarios run through my head late into the night. Different places I could see him. Who might be there to save me. What he might do to me if no one is there.
I’m scared of so many things now. Ironically, the dark is not one of them. The darkness is still my hiding place. My heavy blanket. A peaceful calm with enough shadows to shield my body from anyone seeking me out. A place I sing my beautiful melodies speaking terrible words to no one but the moon. I am hidden there. I am safe.