Sometimes I wonder if I’m too hard inside.
We won’t say dead. I’ve felt dead inside, and this isn’t that. It’s more of a Dull feeling. Ever since I came back, I’ve just felt different. Part of me is worried that this is just some bullshit feeling and I’m being dramatic without realizing it. Maybe in three years I’ll look back at 2015 Khalilah and roll my eyes. For now though, I’m here.
I don’t want to see people as much. Part of it is because we’re all rushing around, constantly, and don’t have time for meaningful interactions. At least for now, I’m kind of over asking people how they are and then lying quickly to each other about our lives or emotional states, before moving on and away. I’m over going to parties to see friends, but instead getting felt up by random guys, and still somehow not being brave enough to push them away from me. I’m tired of freezing up in important moments, then replaying them over later and trying to change the memory to make myself feel better. Maybe I did push him away. Maybe I punched him in the face. Maybe I gave his leg a cool tap and walked away, saying, “You’re too distracted” over my shoulder. No, I didn’t. I feel bad, and guilty, and I don’t want to feel the way, so I make myself feel Dull instead. But then the dullness sticks to me, in other moments. Moments that could be meaningful.
I’m in the bathroom before our dance group is about to perform, doing my makeup in the mirror. I’m actually sharing the mirror, with another girl I know. She asks me how I’ve been, and I tell her the truth: I’m weird. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s reverse culture shock, but all I want to do is stay in my room and not interact with too many people because everything comes at you at once and it’s all so very overwhelming, and it doesn’t really mean anything, anyway, and what incentive do I have besides class and work to go out into a campus that cares more about its rights to use illegal substances than it does for the slain Muslim students, or the AfAm department, or any black lives? She listens and makes the right noises, and asks if she should do a cat-eye or leave her eyeliner the way it is. I tell her to try extending it (she does, and it looks better), and ask how she’s been. She tells the truth: she’s very stressed, because she’s committed to all these activities, and school and work are getting crazy, and all her friends have so many problems, and they’re leaning on her for them. Are you taking care of yourself, and your own problems, too? I ask her. Well that’s the thing, she says. It’s hard, and I wish my friends would think of that, too. And then both of us have finished our makeup and someone’s knocking at the bathroom door, and in the lull, I leave. Should I have stayed? If it had been last year, I probably would have. Maybe I just trust people more to take care of themselves now, and I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
I’m at dinner with my friend. She’s telling me about how some girls want to post pictures of known rapists and assaulters around campus, so that everyone can be aware. They won’t even need to say why their pictures are posted; they can just put them up. I think that’s a great idea, and I hope they do it. She tells me about one guy who broke into a girls house, came into her room, and assaulted her while she was asleep. I picture myself waking up to someone sexually assaulting me, and burst out laughing. It’s probably the best laugh I’ve had in a while, and it just keeps going.
“That is so terrifying and awful that people have an evil creature named who does that. The guy’s an incubus,” I say.
“I know! And wasn’t it that not even vampires way back when could do that?” She says, “They couldn’t enter your house without permission. So you’re worse than a vampire!” We laugh so more. We don’t find it funny. But it’s too appalling and horrendously frightening an idea to do anything else. My system has shut down to everything except laughter.
When I’m done, I think again about how my reactions to things have changed. It used to be, when I was little, that Rape was a bad word. It was a word you were afraid to say, precisely because you didn’t understand what it meant. You didn’t understand how something like that could be possible. And what was sexual assault?
Now, though, it’s part of my weekly vocabulary. It’s gotten to the point where I can have someone tell me she’s been assaulted, and my first thought is, “Oh, you too?” I’m not shocked by it. If anything, I’m shocked if it’s the first time. There’s something deeply fucked up about that. You shouldn’t become jaded to body violation.
Maybe I’m not. It still bothers me when men take liberties with my person. I want the rapists and assaulters the hell off of my campus. Actually, I want more than that. I want to light a hundred matches, and burn each of them out on the violator’s dick. I want to put him in a box and force him to listen to the screams and cries of whoever he’s assaulted, not during the actual event, but every time afterward, when she’s had to relive it in her head. At the very least, I want to punch each of them in the face. But I know that this will never happen. Even if given the opportunity to, I wouldn’t do it. I think that some part of me has just accepted that this is going to happen, and expects it to continue unchecked, and the rest of me doesn’t have the energy to stop it. That would require a lot of energy, and many feelings. Too many for the dull person I can feel myself becoming.