I Can See You Through Your Mask

I don’t believe in coincidence. In fact, I recently saw a post online that sums up my beliefs on the subject matter. It says, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous,” and I couldn’t agree more.

The thing is, while we may not always have the reasons as to why a given occurrence is taking place, we can account for the fact that it is taking place in existence. The moment is real, and chances are there’s some form of a lesson, intention, or purpose in the event’s manifestation.

Today is Sunday, June 6, 2021. To you that might not mean much, but to me, it’s significant.

Sunday, June 6, 2010, exactly 11 years ago was the day that I was raped.

I had zero intention of posting today. I didn’t plan on releasing my song No Comment today, but it felt right. I didn’t plan on waking up before 7 am on both Saturday & Sunday this weekend but it was what my body wanted. All I planned on doing this weekend, but more specifically today, was whatever my body, heart, mind and soul needed.

Apparently I had some shit to do.

Last week I wrote a piece for Goalcast about Lady Gaga’s experience with psychosis after sexual assault. Lady Gaga was raped and impregnated by a music producer at 19 years old and then had a psychotic break years later. In the piece, I reveal that I experienced a psychotic break after rape as well. This is an aspect of my mental health experience that I had never specifically written about before but recently had been feeling like sharing.

Again, timing is everything.

Three days ago, on Thursday of this past week, I had what people would call “a day.” It began innocently enough. I was craving some Tim Horton’s for breakfast so I walked down to grab a coffee and everything bagel and headed back to my place.

Checked the mail when I got home and saw that my “Move From My Aura Fam” T-Shirt from Jungle Flower’s Pride of The Ancestors Shop had arrived! I was excited! This day was bound to be lit.

I made my way upstairs and began working right away, taking advantage of my early start on the day. I finished writing my article and then the phone rang. It was Amazon Prime delivering my Maya Angelou poetry book and external DVD drive. I ran downstairs to grab the package and then back upstairs to open it.

I connected the DVD drive to my computer and after some troubleshooting began watching my Bubby’s Holocaust testimonial interview. I recently just got a copy of the DVD back in my possession and I wasted no time illuminating my screen with the beautifully heartbreaking image of my late grandmother recounting the human rights abuses she experienced surviving World War II.

Some time after wanting to go back into history and both hurt some evil people and protect my Bubby from pain, I finally figured out how to connect my bluetooth headphones to my laptop. I called my mom to test them out on FaceTime. After she told me it sounded like I was underwater I frustratingly called Best Buy and spoke to someone about my second exchange within the week.

I began preparing the box to return the headphones at Best Buy’s downtown Montreal location when one of my brothers called. We spoke for a while as I got ready to leave. I then got dressed, put on a pair of baggy jeans and my new “Move From My Aura Fam” shirt, and then I went to exchange the headphones.

Leaving Best Buy, I got back on the phone with my mom and started walking towards home. Except I had to stop by the SQDC on my way, so I decided to go to the St. Catherine Street location nearby instead of the location closer to my place.

I chose wrong.

I began walking towards the weed dispensary when 2 men began following me. They had been sitting reclined on some steps and as soon as I walked by they got up and began walking at a short distance behind me. I felt uncomfortable, but it was also broad daylight on a busy street, so I felt safe enough. Still I kept periodically looking back to see where they were.

I arrived at the SQDC and began waiting in the line to get in, continuing my conversation with my mom on my new headphones. As the creepyish men behind me caught up to me one imitated when I said “what, what” to my mother, and then kept walking.

‘Okay, guess they were aware of my existence after all,’ I thought.

Just then I heard a loud knocking on the glass right next to me from inside the SQDC. I quickly turned my head to the left to see what was going on. And that’s when I saw him. All 6’2, 6’3 of him with sunken shoulders.

It was my ex who raped me.

It took perhaps a millisecond longer than it would have under normal circumstances for me to register that it was him under that mask but I knew instantly it was him.

Unmistakably him.

In that moment I don’t know if I realized the multitude of options that laid in front of me. There was only one option: get to safety.

“Mom, __________.” I blurted out to my mother, saying his name out loud. Just then, I noticed a young woman standing right next to me in a black dress approaching the window. My ex/rapist was trying to get her attention. I didn’t care. My body didn’t care. My mind didn’t care. My spirit didn’t care. I was gone.

I instantly turned around to face the opposite direction and began walking fast, almost in a march, in a straight line until I hit the end of the block. Then I crossed the street and disappeared until I was out of sight up the next block.

I stopped midway, realizing I may have been passing up an opportunity to speak my mind. It was not that I was afraid, it was that engagement was not the smart move. And the situation necessitated me making the right move. I’ve made enough wrong ones with him before, and it’s 2021 now, 11 years since I met that jerk. It’s only a couple of months since I have published my book about the rape and relationship called Do You See You? He could have reacted in one million and one ways. And, in addition to knowing what I know about him, I don’t want to see how an abuser whose been called out for one of the most socially taboo but yet legally sanctioned criminal acts would react to being called out in person.

So I walked.

I slowly made my way to the SQDC closer to my building. Then I had to pick up a ginger ale at a restaurant because I was experiencing pains all over my upper body. I made my way home and let the fact that I just saw my rapist alive, well, and kicking it free in a crisp white T and pair of red basketball shorts sink in.

He looked just like he used to look like, only this time when I saw his eyes outlined by the mask hiding his nose and mouth below, the narrowing of his eyebrows combined with his inner darkness were impossible to hide. As soon as I saw him my eyes went straight to his eyes.

I could see him. I could see him clearly.

Separated by a piece of glass, standing one meter apart I had 3 options.

Option 1: knock back on the glass, give him the finger, and call him out on being a rapist.

Option 2: punch him.

Option 3: walk away.

Option 3 overtook me. In my Pride of The Ancestors shirt, I had no doubt that my ancestors were guiding me in that moment. It was as though I had no control over my feet, they just began moving.

There was really no Option 1 or Option 2. Just option 3.

Gotta keep it moving.

I woke up the next morning upset, frustrated, feeling both helpless and powerless. I knew that I had done the right thing by walking away but I somehow felt unresolved.

As I tried to brainstorm ideas of what to do, it hit me!

I then researched organizations that serve women in crisis across Canada. I selected 5 organizations out of so many that spoke to me on a personal level and called the donations department of each. I told each of the representatives who I was, what the book. was about, and that I wanted to donate 2 signed copies to their organizations. I made contact with 4 out of 5 of the organizations so far, and all of them were grateful for the call and the donation.

While they were thankful, I was brimming with a sense of justice. This was justice. This was the closest I could ever get to it within the confines of our society and system. Sharing my book with the women and individuals who need to see it the most is directly tied to what I want to be doing. Seeing the man who violated me triggered me into positive action. It had its negative effects, I’d be lying to you if I said that it didn’t, but in the end it pushed me into positive and productive action.

I don’t know if he saw me. Or if he did, I’m not sure if he recognized me. I was wearing very baggy clothing which I don’t always do, and definitely didn’t do when I was with him. I was wearing a mask as well, so its possible that he may not have known it was me even though I was standing so close to him. I do know one thing though.

I saw him… through his mask I could still see him.

And you wanna know what I saw?

Someone who is not worth my time and never was.

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