- 4 years ago
Bees, you’re the best listeners in the world. You don’t know me, but something compelled me to share my story with you today. I know it’s long, but this is why I believe in angels. I do want to warn that this could be a mild trigger for those who’ve experienced sexual assult.
Five years ago this Christmas season, I dropped out of college. I was burned out and embarrassed, and I arrived back in my hometown a little disillusioned and very confused. I had no plans and no idea what I wanted my future to look like. My best friend from high school was throwing a party at his mom’s apartment three days before Christmas, and I knew a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a few years would be there. For a girl who had a hard time fitting in at university, a night with the “old gang” seemed perfect.
There was a lot of drinking, a lot of dancing, a lot of reminiscing. I went out to the porch to get some air, and was pleased to have been followed by someone from school I didn’t know quite as well, but whose face was familiar. When he offered to bring me another drink, I was pleased. It was harmless flirting at first-occasionally, he would lean in close to me to hear what I was saying. He would touch my arm or my shoulder when he was talking to me. When he offered to refill my drink, I let him. When started to kiss me, I let him. And when he led me inside and down the hallway to find someplace “more quiet to talk”, I followed him.
There are a lot of things I don’t know or can’t remember about what happened next, but there are a few things I do know. I do know that there were a lot of people there that night, and that no one noticed we were missing or knew to look for me. I know that even if had been able to scream, the music was loud and it’s not likely someone would have heard me. I know I said no. And I know that when I woke up the next morning, I was bleeding and sore and I felt ashamed.
My best friend pleaded with me to call the police, to report what happened, to go the hospital. Because we were all underage and had all been drinking, and there had been pot at the party, I didn’t want to get his mother in trouble. I was terrified that we would all be punished. In my a small Midwestern hometown, and I knew the more people that knew what had happened, the higher the likelihood that my father would find out, and at that time, nothing seemed more humiliating.
I lost part of myself after that happened. I didn’t care what happened to me. I was a textbook case of acting out, of taking needless risks, of sleeping around. I was a virgin before that party, and I wanted to wait for the man I would fall in love with. After the party, it didn’t seem like there was anything left to save. I was a pretty hollow girl.
Fast forward a year, and it’s Christmas time again, a season that was never my favorite but that was now proving difficult to survive. 11 PM on Christmas Eve found me running all over town, getting last minute stocking stuffers and replenishing my wrapping paper supply. The only place open was, of course, IHOP, and I decided to stop to recharge.
He was there. Freaking small town. He was sitting in a booth across the restaurant, and he saw me walk in. He looked at me smirked. I wanted to run. I wanted to sit in my car and cry. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of seeing how much he was still affecting me. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, to sit in that restaurant and ignore my rapist, but I did it. He eventually got bored, and when he finished his meal, he left.
I was destroyed, sitting in that booth. I felt like there was no one I could talk to, no one who could possibly understand the complexity of what I was feeling, what I’d been feeling for a year. I finished my food and wanted to crawl home. As I paid my bill and got ready to leave my tip, a little old man came over to my table. I had noticed him during my meal, sitting in the corner in a ratty old coat with a cup of coffee. He had that look of the streets on him, he wasn’t particularly clean and I assumed he was homeless. I noticed him, but I hadn’t given him a second glance.
He came up to my table and asked me how my night was. I said it was fine. He looked right at me, and he said, “God understands. You don’t know me, but I need you to know that you are not alone, and you never will be.” That was it. He didn’t say anything else. I left the tip on the table, I got in my car, and I drove home.
Two sentences. Two simple sentences that changed my life. Maybe I’ve never told anyone this story because it sounds so corny, but I truly believe that I got a Christmas miracle that night. And when people debate whether or not angels are real, I don’t say anything, but I think about that night every time.