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I was five. I was a happy little boy in tee-ball. He was 14. The team would wait in the dugout for our parents to pick us up from practices and games. The 14 year old showed us pictures of men naked together, men who were confident, powerful, and violent.

I was six. I was a happy little boy in coach pitch. He was 15. He would have us strip down to our underwear and race from the dugout to the fence and back. It was exhilarating, hoping that the cars from the road couldn’t see us. 

One day in the dugout he said we should do some of the things that the men did in his pictures. I don’t know if I volunteered. I know I was excited. I didn’t know then that I would daily relive this moment in flashbacks every day and night, even now. He orally raped me. He did it in front of my friends. He did it so confidently that my flailing panic did not stop him, so powerfully that I could hardly breathe, and so violently that the back of my head bled from the gravel beneath me. Afterwards, he cried. He blamed me for what happened. He told me I was gay. He told me gay people should be punished. He told me I was going to hell. He told me he would kill my parents if I told them. He told me that they would kill me when they found out. He told me my parents would hate me and probably kill me if I told them.

I was seven, eight, nine, ten, and eleven. I was miserable. He was sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen. He would find me in school bathrooms, underneath bleachers, in bushes, in his car. He gave me snickers bars, smarties candies, and dollar bills. He gave me slaps to the face, punches to the groin, choke holds until I passed out. He pimped me out to others for their pleasure in the locker room showers, underneath the bleachers, and in cars, which became my hell. 

I was eleven. I was scared and scarred. He went away to be a missionary. I didn’t resent it. I was free. I tried getting caught in a riptide, getting hit by a car, and falling into a canyon. With all the bad things I had done, I didn’t want to be stuck with suicide. I wanted to die, accidentally.

I became silent. I lost myself in The Boxcar Children, The Secret Garden, in a world through a wardrobe, in a school for wizards and witches. My life slipped away between the pages of books. 

I was twenty. I was a happy missionary in Eastern Europe. I listened to a woman tell the truth about her rape. The fiction I had created broke into a million pieces. I was broken, inconsolable, dirty, and unworthy. They sent me home. The nightmare of isolation was over. The healing began.

I was twenty-two. I was on top of a bridge looking at the railroad tracks below. I called the police instead.

I am twenty-five. I sleep with stuffed animals. I sleep with the light on. I lose consciousness in classes. I hide under my sheets for days at a time. I can’t eat hot dogs, bananas, or burritos without practicing vigilant mindfulness. I meditate. I drink tea and take baths. Mostly, I read. I live alone. I am broken, but clean. I cry, but I am worthy. I am graduating and going to law school. I’m proud of that. Some days I wish I was dead. I’m alive. I’m most proud of that.

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