When I was a freshman in college, I got drunk, deliberately drunk. Just to see what all the fuss was about. And while I was still drunk, I ended up walking across campus and encountering a group of young men who attacked and raped me.
I don't remember much of that night. I have vague memories of being pushed around from guy to guy; then being thrown to the ground and hitting my head on concrete. I have another memory of trying to escape down a flight of stairs and feeling someone grab me from behind and pull me back up. And that's it. That's all I remember.
I know the rape happened. The physical evidence was obvious. My body was covered in bruises; my arms, my legs... my inner thighs. But I don't remember the actual rape. Nothing. Just those few images in my head; of events that must have occurred either before or after the rape. Nothing of the rape itself.
I know the rape happened. I went from being a virginal goody-two-shoes, to being carelessly promiscuous. I went from being somewhat shy and standoffish, to actively seeking out sexual partners. I went from flinching away from touch, to using my hands and my body to seduce men into fucking me. Using men one after another to try and prove something to myself. But I never remembered what that first sexual experience felt like.
I know the rape happened. But I don't really know. How can I know what really happened if I can't remember it? What happens when you know that something is real, even as your brain refuses to acknowledge its existence? What happens when you can't resolve the conflicts within your own thoughts and behaviors. What happens when your own mind denies what it believes?
You begin to doubt your memory. You begin to doubt yourself. You begin to doubt reality.
I know/don't know the rape happened. How can I know if I was really raped? How can I know if I really am the person that I believe I am? How can I know what is real?
When I no longer know what reality is.