2. (content warning) instead

Listen, I tried to write to about something nice.

I made myself a list of soft things, like cotton balls and marshmallows and cheek kisses. I thought a lot about that space between yourself and the people you love. How it fills with a different kind of air.

I will write about those soon.

But today this is in my heart.

Yesterday I read a call for those who were sexually assaulted by guards at a prison where I did time. They were asking people to fill out a claim. Today, for me, friends investigated the call to see if it was legitimate, and it does not appear to be so. I don’t often talk about this experience, even with myself. I never say, so bluntly, that I was sexually assaulted in prison by a guard.

Instead I say:

One time, I lived in a box made out of grabbing hands. The floors, the ceilings, the walls, were full of empty palm. The box is a type of ghost-maker. It tried to turn me into a forgotten breath, into a vapor, into a gas. A gas can change shape, can fill anything– even a small and unworthy hand. I fought to stay human.

Instead I say:

In a place where there are no real mirrors, you notice yourself in anything that reflects. I remember catching myself inside a badge. A bright badge, reflecting the large unblinking eyes of something familiar. It could have been a deer, it stood so still. It stood so scared. The shine of the badge gleamed like false light, like wet wax, like office fluorescence. It was hardly a reflection at all, but I knew it was me. I tell myself the whole thing could have been a trick of light.

Instead I say:

I knew a man who made a prison from his power and size. His fingers locked onto anything he wanted to pocket, and he wanted to pocket me, wanted to lock me, wanted me. I learned that I am hard to catch. Hard to keep. I learned that I can slip and scurry, and scuttle, and hide.

Sometimes now, I see a precious bug run across my apartment, away from my big-footed stomps. I watch as it disappears right before my eyes– creepy and crawly, and fast. I pray for it.

Instead I say:

Because I do not believe in the linear nature of time, sometimes I talk to my past self. I tell her that the day she saves herself, the moon is out too early, caught in a daylight conversation with the sun. I tell her to move twice as fast that day. I tell her to look up, always. I say the moon stayed up just to watch over her. I remind her to say thank you.

Because I do not believe in the linear nature of time, sometimes, I remember this and start moving. Restless, and fast. I hold my chin up. It’s practice so I’m ready for the memory.

I practice so I’m ready for the memory.

I start every day by thanking the moon.


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23 thoughts on “2. (content warning) instead

  1. I can’t “like” this post because the contents are too hard and I hate that this happened. But I do love you. And I understand the need for “instead”s… Sometimes when I tell a hard story too plainly and directly I feel like I haven’t done Justice to the depths of what really happened. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 5 people

    1. 💕 Thank you for reading. I normally shut comments off for post like this because I feel like it must be stressful for people to think of what to say 😂 but in the spirit of Pepper Season, I’m keeping everything open. I’m thankful you understand the safety of insteads but I’m also sorry you’re familiar with them. 💖

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautiful post Ra… although not soft, it’s being soft with yourself. Feeling this experience again, putting it out there, maybe this time, just for you to disconnect from this most horrendous memory loop… it’s time for it to rest in infinity, to distill it in all its glory and thankfulness as it has made you the most magnificent person you are now. Many of us have had similar experiences at some stage in our lives… I was one of the lucky ones who doesn’t remember… but its there now lying to rest in infinity❤️ Did you update the pepper list with my blog? I’ve began visiting the others… but slowly as time is quite precious now, going so fast. Much love to you dear Ra x

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Oh my goodness. ‘I practice so I am ready for the memory’ – your words are killer. You manage to describe it and not describe it all in one breath. There are a million women who can relate to you and feel the pain in your words as if it was their own, because it is. It is. Sending so much love. I relate to you and this post and you did it so much justice. ❤

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Dearest Sister…Investigations into truth always lead to deeper truth! There is no linear time. All of your sisters from forever ago all the way into infinity stand with you as touch this memory. We hold you softy so that this memory can be massaged out of your heart, out of your mind, out of your body and placed on a page. We, your Sisters will always join you in your truth! We walk with you because that’s what Sisters do. Lean on us…you are so loved 💜

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I feel a mix of heartbreak and rage that someone dear to me has been cruelly hurt. I am pushing the latter away because that would be me causing you hurt, something I would never do knowingly. Rather, I will focus on my friend’s strength and resilience, her ability to restate pain into kinder words for herself.

    There are few people I hold in as high regard as you. I will force the rage into a box, and focus on the love for my friend. I will crave healing for her, and give what support i can from half a country away. Dearest, Ra, you are loved intensely by many for how you move through the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My dear sister — thank you for keeping the replies open for this and for your reply to Janelle: you are keeping everything open. Thank you, for opening your heart to me. And this, it confirms something I held gently in my heart, when I saw you that day, that fateful day, and said words that I can’t remember and was so so glad to see you, even though I knew that we would not have you near for a while yet. There was something in those eyes that said you were in there, in there behind the pain of the day. Behind a different pain. A pain of having to wear something you never wanted and shouldn’t have had to put on. I pray that you can, with time, begin to peel away that thing, and this is a start.

    But, what makes me want to rage, almost more than the happening, the not-marshmallows and not-deer eyes being seen and not-scurry-bug is that the call you received to file a claim was not legit. That somewhere out there is some other kind of bug, a parasite of larger measure.

    May that one get stomped by bigger feet than all of the feet of those who love you. Including me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You are the strongest, bravest, most authentic human being that I know, ra💜. I’m sending you all the love I can conjure in this moment 💜 🫂❤️🫂💛🫂.


    Liked by 2 people

  8. Yeah, I am frustrated and angry that this happened (no that’s not enough to say how wrong it is) to you. May you heal tremendously and may the sparkle in your spirit join with that lovely moon because I feel gratitude that you are here with you (us) that was a typo I kept, even when words are …..


    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m so sorry this happened to you. This is your space and you should never feel obligated to post something warm and fuzzy. Like the sky, life is not always filled with sunshine. When the light fades, darkness consumes. We can’t, and shouldn’t, ignore that. Though you are a dinosaur, you’re human, as well, and letting things like this out of your heart and mind is cathartic.

    Hugs to you, dinorawr.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. So much love ❤️ I’m not sure what to say except love you but I’m so glad you were able to write things out in a way that makes sense for you. Dinah is right, we stand with you and will always ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Gutted. But not surprised. Not surprised that it happened. Not surprised at your strength even when you feel as if you’re falling apart (then and now). Not surprised that *you* survived. Not surprised that you’ve made poetry out of it. But still gutted.
    Hugs my friend. I will thank the moon for you as well.



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