Firstly I would like to say, before I get started on the meat of this post, a big thank you to all those people on Twitter who have been amazingly kind and supportive to me over the past month or so. It really hasn't been an easy time for me, but some of you in particular have been absolutely amazing.
I would also like to apologise to those same people on Twitter, and any other followers, who have had to put up with my erratic tweeting/moaning/general misery over said month. Once more, thank you.
So, it's been a while.
My last post was before the trial began, and also mentioned how L had said something that lead me to believe she had feelings for me.
First things first; the trial. It didn't exactly get off to a great start, thanks to the fuck-up that calls itself an 'organisation' (what a joke-as my auntie put it; "they couldn't organise a bunk up in a brothel) - the CPS. Long story short the trial either had to start from scratch with a new judge the next day, or wait until next fucking March; guess which option we went for? It was exhausting. Every day I geared myself up for the fact that I could be called any minute, and for the irate two days; nothing. I tell you, sitting around doing shit all in that environment really takes its toll. Eventually, on the Friday (when the trial was due to end, fat chance) I gave my evidence. I can't really explain how it felt, to have to stand up there and be cross examined. I'd told myself I wasn't going to cry, but I ended up in floods of tears. To stand up there, having to remember what happened that night, what he did to me, what he made me do to him, in front of everyone, and to be basically accused of lying by the defence barrister...there are no words. I felt...exposed. So entirely vulnerable, like my heart was being ripped out and my soul, my character, was out for all to see and examine. I practically broke down at one point. I'd been told I could stop at any point for a break, but I knew that if I left that room I wouldn't want to go back in. So I stood my ground, and told my side. At times I felt anger; anger that I had to remember that night, anger at the things this woman (the defence barrister) was implying, anger at the man who I thankfully couldn't see but knew was standing so close. Fury, at times, threatened to overwhelm me, but I knew I could not break, would not break. Besides the fact that getting angry and 'smart' with the defence wouldn't help at all, I just knew I could not let myself be broken like that. So instead, I spoke through gritted teeth when needed and through tears when I couldn't fight them anymore. When it was over, and I was dismissed, I felt drained. I cried and cried and cried. My SOLO, R, who was nothing short of amazing, a rock to me, throughout, had been allowed to sit behind me while I spoke, so was instantly on hand to get me out of there. We left and my parents enveloped me. We all cried. Then the court broke for a short while, and after that, L was up to give her evidence. I was outside having a cigarette and she came out 5minutes later. Neither of us were sure if we were now allowed to talk to each other. That moment then, me sitting there, her standing there, just looking at each other, me wanting to badly to just hug her, was horrendous. Finally we were told, yes, it's ok now, and I didn't want to let go. Having been through something all too similar years ago, I knew the process wouldn't have been fun for her, all the more considering her hints of feelings for me. To sum up the next period of time, I went to my brothers with him and stayed there til all my friends who were giving evidence had finished and then came round to his too. Eventually, the court day ended and we could all be together. That night L and I spoke properly, but that's for later.
When court broke for the weekend, and indeed, right up until the verdict, it all seemed to be going well. Our barrister seemed confident, and even the judge seemed to be leaning towards favouring the prosecution.
But it was all for nothing.
"They found the bastard innocent."
Those were the words my father said, and then he started crying. The moment he came in the room, the verdict was written all over his face, the pain, the anger, and the sorrow. My mother was crying, my brother was crying, my SOLO was crying, and L had gone outside to cry. I didn't. I couldn't. I just felt numb. It wasn't for a few more minutes that it swallowed me, but even then it wasn't sadness. It was anger. That fury, that rage that had held its hand over me while I stood in court, slammed down on me. But I had to reign it in. I don't think damaging court property and premises would have been a good way to end things. I needed to get out of there. Nobody knew what to say. I certainly didn't. Over the next few hours, when I had presumed I would go into 'shut down', I found myself able to claw my way out for breath. I would not close down. We went home, and over the next few hours gradually more and more people came to see me and say how sorry they were. There wasn't much I could say. At least it's over.
Even now, I'm not 100% sure how I feel. Angry? Yes. Sad? Yes. Relieved? Oddly, yes. At least it's over.
The system let me down.
Everyone, the police, the barrister, all my support workers, even the judge knew the right verdict, but the truth is, with rape cases, convictions are hard to get. At the moment the figures show that in rape cases, the prosecution level stands at 6 per cent. 6 PER CENT. Women are encouraged to come forward and report this abominable crime, but for what? For the hell of reliving it in a public arena, being called a liar, watching the hell their family goes through as they learn the details? The system is quite frankly BULLSHIT. That man's fate was in the hands of people who have no idea of the torment, the pain, the agony of living as a victim of rape, and they set him free, because there were doubts. I fully appreciate that the jury system may save countless innocent people from prison, but it's plain to see that it is riddled with failings. At the backs of the minds of every one of those jurors was the real possibility of sending a man to prison. How can you claim that would not have had an effect? Strangers cannot be impartial. Maybe there isn't a clear solution, but when only 6 per cent of these evil men are convicted, how can anyone say our justice system works? This 'justice' system hasn't only failed me, and rendered me scared to leave my house in the knowledge that he is still allowed to walk around, free and innocent in the eyes of the law, but it has failed hundreds of women, and will fail countless more. It makes me furious, it breaks my heart that anyone who goes through what I went through, which wasn't even as vicious as this crime can be, have such a small hope of justice. I am now supposed to move on with my life, build a future, but how? Everyone told me how I was right to take it to the police, that I was so brave to take it to court when so many wouldn't, but would I have simply saved myself the pain of those words: not guilty? Would it not be better for women everywhere to exact their own brand of justice on those bastards by having extensive counselling and building happy, successful lives? Of course it would, but it's not that easy. How easy would you find it if, as in my case, your virginity was ripped from you? That act of love, of giving yourself to someone so completely, with so much trust, that you had always warned the chance to give, was stolen from you? How easily could you move on, even if the bastard was incarcerated, let alone if he was allowed to walk away scot free? The justice system is a failure. Men who steal are convicted. Men who rape are not. Rape is stealing a woman’s right, rape is an evil act. The cunt who ruined me apparently considers rape to be 'when the man is violent and beats the woman up and stuff', according to his evidence. Is that not what rape will mean to too many more? The justice system FAILS US.
And I am lost for words.
What more can I say? What more can any one person do? One person who can't even leave the house and go into her local town centre because she knows HE lives nearby! Some small mercy, some small, small solace could, I suppose be found in that fact that his name was published, his address, his details. Anyone who reads the local paper and has the slightest bit of self respect wouldn't go near him. He will be the one who people know was accused, and I can only hope that others can see the truth, even if the court couldn't. I hold onto the conversation overhead by my mother in a local shop - on a day when the headline in the local paper read 'WOMEN WARNED AFTER TWO SEX ATTACKS IN TWO DAYS' my mother heard one woman say to another as they perused the headline; "well it's like that bloke who lives round here, they found him innocent but he was guilty as sin".
Small mercies, small hopes.
6 percent. Gone.
So now I have to move forwards.
My attempts to continue an education I desperately want but am unable to pursue in the full time manner due to previously mentioned inability to leave the house without feeling terrified, and my crippling body hang ups thanks to the weight that has piled on with the depression, have also been scuppered. The local college, that I did attend until it became impossible for me to do so, have the monopoly on local A Level evening classes...which you can only complete if you're aged 19 or over. What a joke. But I won't start on that now. Suffice to say we are battling on this one.
But there's one more battle that will not be fought anymore.
As some of you will know, over the last few months my grandmother has been in and out of hospital with various problems, and has been really very ill. As of last week, she had accepted she would not be able to return to her own home, and faced losing her leg. Then she lost the use of one of her hands. Then her kidneys packed in. Then she lost blood flow to her foot. Then the infection in her leg started spreading throughout the rest of her body. Then it was realised, that it simply wasn't fair to let her keep fighting, and in so much pain. The doctors and my family agreed it was best for her to simply make her comfortable. And then yesterday, she slipped away from us.
Fortunately, we all got to say goodbye. Mum, dad, brother and I all went to see her the day before. At that point she did still seem to know us. I sat with her, on my own as I had wanted, not knowing what to say. Seeing her like that...that wasn't my Nan lying there. That was an old woman, so small, and old. I held her hand, and she gripped so hard. I told her I love her, and would miss her, and would never forget her. I told her that I would always remember her whenever I eat Semolina and Ginger Nut biscuits, and said "na-night nanny nicely, bye nanny properly" for that last time, though I didn't know it. She wasn't fully with it, and kept saying "must be quick, must be quick", but when I said "I love you" she opened her eyes, looked at me and said "I love you too." When I left the room I turned and looked at her, and her arm was still stretching out to where I had just been sat. I'm crying now as I write this, and remember the last time I saw her alive. None of us actually thought she would go so fast, so it was still a bit of a shock. When mum and dad walked through the door while I was drying the dishes and L came down the stairs after her shower, I knew there was no other reason they would both be here, home at this time. It broke my heart seeing my dad like that. He cried on my shoulder, but I couldn't cry. I just felt so utterly numb. I think I barely blinked for the next few hours. I've never lost a relative before; I still don't know if I'm grieving right. When I was younger, my Nan was such a big part of my life. I'd spend weekends with her, go out on day trips with her, and spend New Years with her when my parents wanted to see their friends. I will hold so many good memories of her, but sadly, also many bad ones. I can't fully yet banish the images of her over the last few years, each time she was in hospital, each time she got ill again. I've never thought of her as old, but at 85, she had lived such a long life. A fighter through and through was my Nan, surviving wars, heart attacks, a stroke, cancer, nervous breakdowns...but she couldn't win every fight. She couldn't beat time. I still can't believe she's gone. Until now, I haven't cried much, I don't know why, but believe me I'm crying now. I'm going to miss her so much. She can't be gone. My Nan, the invincible woman, how can she be gone? My dad is being so amazing, he's lost his mother but he's staying as strong as he can. Sure, I've seen him cry more this past year that in all the rest of my life put together, but he's the strongest man I know. My sister, who's living in Australia, got to say goodbye to Nan when we did, albeit over the phone. Nan knew who she was talking to. She was so proud of my sister, so proud. I only recently found out that the last thing my Nan said to my sister before she moved away was "if you're going for 3 years I expect I'll never see you again." My sister really wanted to come home the day she said goodbye to Nan, but she's now decided to stay out there, which we all agree is the right thing for her to do. All this does make me miss my sister, which I haven't really done for a while. It's hard that he doesn't know everything that's gone on this year, but it's the right thing in the circumstances.
So as it stands, Nan’s funeral will be this Tuesday coming. I've never been to a funeral before, and in a way I think I hoped I never would. I don't want to have to say goodbye. But my Nan will live forever, where it really matters; in our hearts.
I'll always love you Nan, and I miss you more than words can say. I hope you're as proud of me as I am of you, proud I had you in my life, proud that I had you as my Nan. You will be my inspiration, to keep fighting, to keep living as I want to. I will not let this beat me, I will not. You never did. No matter what life did, you held your head high and carried on. You loved your boys, you loved their wives and you loved us, their children. You loved so much, and I will miss you so, so much. We all will. You kept fighting. Right til the very end when you still kept trying to take those bandages off! I will make you proud. I will. I love you Nan. I miss you. Please stay with me. Please help me live as you lived- with love and kindness, as I knew you. Na-night nanny nicely, goodbye nanny properly. You will NEVER be forgotten.
You can't see how much I'm crying right now. But I think I needed that. Writing that, and crying now, I need to cry. I haven't done enough of it recently really. Mum keeps telling me it's ok to cry, and I know it is, but I'm always afraid I won't be able to stop. This year has been, without a shadow of a doubt, the worst of my life. I won't be sorry to see the back of it...but I think I'll stay at home this New Year.
As for things with L...well...!
I feel tired and worn out now but I know how therapeutic writing is for me, and I know if I don't do this now I never will.
Basically, on the Saturday before the trial I think it was, L sent me a text that said something like "I love you more than you realise" so I replied with "Are you trying to tell me something?"
To be honest, I was mainly joking! I didn't think she would reply with "Well yes I am, but it's not the right time to tell you are it?” In the lead up to the trial, we didn't talk much about it, but apparently it was obvious to my SOLO and the other police officer in charge that something was going on! After Friday, L came home with us and stayed the night. I think we were all feeling on a bit of a strange high, I know I was. Having done my bit, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted, and we all relaxed with a few drinks. When we went up to bed conversation eventually came to what had been said in the texts the other night. Long story short (ha! I hear you cry!) she told me that she had feelings for me and wanted more than just friendship and I said I wasn't sure how I felt, but that I know I love her and she's my best friend and I don't ever want to lose her. The weekend was...interesting. There was a new level to our friendship that we both had to get used to, but it was nice. Flirtier jokes and comments, and texts between us that sometimes shocked me and made me grin a little at the same time. But it was nice. And after the trial, I came to realise that I did feel the same for her. I would be lying if I said that when I first met her I didn't find her attractive, but as I knew she had a boyfriend I pushed any feelings like that aside if ever they came up. She truly became my best friend, and life would seriously have been shit without her.
But then, after the verdict, things seemed to change.
I know it wasn't easy for her either, and she sat in for his evidence which undoubtedly brought back a lot of unpleasant memories. She went away the next weekend as she had already planned, for a friend’s house warming party, and when she left things didn't feel right. She said she needed some time to think and we'd talk when she got back. Only we didn't. And then she had to go back up to Essex to see him again. And then her closest brother was rushed into hospital, where, as far as I know as she isn't telling me much, he still is. There's also the matter of P, her brothers best friend who she had a thing with a while back, is really close to and is completely in love with her. And basically, it would seem she doesn't know how she feels. He knows about how she says she feels for me, and he was more than a little shocked apparently. Other than him, no one else knows. I just don't know what to do. She's obviously been spending a lot of time with P recently because of her brother, but it's hard. I'm trying to be understanding, and be there for her, but when she doesn't tell me what's going on and when she doesn’t talk to me, it's hard to know what to do. She keeps saying there's a couple of things she's wants to say to me but she also doesn't want to, and that if I push her she won't say anything. I also now know she spent the night with P last night, and whilst she says nothing happened, that he was just there to talk about her brother and then they had a fair few drinks and he just ended up staying, and while I believe her, I'm just struggling. They have a lot of history that I know about, and whilst she says she loves me and misses me when she's not with me, when she's on the phone to him or texting him I find it hard to even be in the same room. I haven't spoken to her about it, because with everything going on in both our lives I don't want to upset the balance, but I just don't know how much more I can take. I don't know what's going on between us, between her and P, I don't know how her brother is, and she won't talk to me. She's says she knows she can talk to me about anything and that I'm one of the few people she trusts, but then seems to be holding so much back from me. I don't think it’s just 'jealousy' but I don't know what to do. Blame it on my star sign Taurus or whatever, but when I fall for someone I fall hard. This is only the second time I've ever felt like this, and the other girl I badly fell in love with decided to cut me out of her life when she found out I liked her. I so don't want to lose L, but I don't know what to so.
Things are just stacking up again. When the trial ended, other than the feelings I had over the verdict, I also felt relieved it was over. But now, I think I'm not dealing with it as well as I thought, and now Nan’s gone and the situation with L is getting unbearably painful for me and with everything else, I'm just starting to feel overwhelmed again. I've already regrettably reverted to 'old habits' as it were once and I just don't know what I'm doing most of the time. I can't switch off, can't relax, can't breathe, can't sleep brilliantly again, despite this glorious new bed. Most days I'm walking round with my head working a mile a minute and freaking out. Mainly about L if I'm honest. I'm just worrying about everything. I don't think my medication is helping massively at the moment, and my psych nurse was planning to change my medication soon so I'm worrying about that too!
Part of me just wants to get fucked hammered and pass out, part of me wants to go and smash things, part of me wants to curl up in a ball and die, part of me wants to scream and shout and cry, but no one part of me can decide what I actually AM going to do.
So right now I'm lying awake crying, worried about L because she was going home tonight to meet with her brothers doctor to discuss his situation and I haven't heard from her, worried about mum and dad, worried about how my brother's coping with Nan being gone, worried about my sister on her own on the other side of the fucking world and wondering what the hell the last 3 months of this shitty year are going to throw at me now.
But other than all of that, everything is rosy in this Finch's garden.
Time to get some sleep now I think. Apologies for the length of this post again, as you can see a lot has been going on since my last post so it was sort of necessary. Thank you once more for your support. I just hope it can be enough.