Say what, Marcella? (Maybe I am as crazy as I once thought I was.)
Stick with me for a moment. When I was searching for a way to show people what my experience with date rape was really like, every story I could find was told from a perspective I couldn't relate to (too clinical, etc) or the characters were too polarized. The victim was pure (and I'm not referring to physically) while the rapist had evil in his heart and in his eyes.
I might have been a virgin but I had never been the personification of purity itself. If I was going to open myself up in an attempt to communicate what I'd been through, I realized I couldn't whitewash any of my actions or refuse to see the good in my ex-boyfriend/rapist.
I had to look into my personal abyss.
Actually, I had to dive in until my abyss was as real and as close as the walls, ceiling and floor around me. Despite fear of what I might learn about myself, I forced myself to remember every detail of the moments where I felt the greatest shame. I opened myself up to pain when I wanted only to shut down. At times it seemed like I was only punishing myself. But once I started writing, I made a promise to myself that I would see this through to the end.
It was worse somehow to relive the best moments of that relationship and to remember so clearly what I loved about that guy. (Man, he knew how to French kiss. A pure girl wouldn't like something so shallow, would she?)
I wasn't writing in order to heal, but a funny thing happened as I unlocked all those memories and turned them into a story. I began to see why I took too much blame for what happened. Sometimes I was manipulated into taking the blame. ("You led me on.") Sometimes I simply believed what most people around me believed. (All rapists are wild-eyed men who jump out at you from nowhere. The people you know can all be trusted. It's the girl's job to stop the guy when he's trying to go too far.)
The healing effect wasn't limited to my feelings about my rape, it included a change in attitude toward irrational actions I took later. My craziness had roots and I had finally started digging them up. The more roots I exposed, the less power they had over me.
I still have some craziness in me, but now I let it out through humor and through stories.
The paradox is that by letting myself think the worst of myself, I found the self-respect I'd lost so long ago.