Friday, August 5, 2011

One Day, One Room

Some of you House fans might recognize this as the title of the twelfth episode of season 3. I don't think it's really a spoiler just to say that House has a clinic patient who was raped. A lot of the episode consists of philosophical discussion about religion and abortion. I've already talked about my views on abortion here and here. What was more interesting to me from this episode was when the patient (who insisted on House as her doctor) and House talk about the "why?" of the event and the "why?" of the universe: why the Event happened to her, why things happen.

It made me think about my own situation and if I ever came to terms with why it happened-- or if I even cared. I don't know, truthfully. My parents, being some corrupt version of Buddhist, decided it was fate. They said they were told by a monk or a fortuneteller-like person that something bad was going to happen to me (because of something I did in a past life), and that this was it and they were glad it wasn't worse. That went in one ear and out the other; once I stopped living with them, I stopped having to put up with their version of religion. I would rather believe that bad things happen at random or because of my own bad choices than accept that my "past lives" dictate much of what I experience this time around.

After rejecting the "Buddhism" I grew up with, I don't think I ever came up with my own belief system, though. I still don't know if I'm atheistic or agnostic. I don't know if I believe in Fate. After the Event happened, it didn't occur to me to ask about why it happened when I was more worried about how I was going to get through the day or if there was anything worth getting through the day for.

If I hadn't seen this episode of House, maybe I never would have really thought about this at all. It's not a question that really bothers me. It happened. It wasn't the first time, but hopefully it will be the last. Why did all of it happen? *shrug* Therapy says the easier, or better, question to ask is if anything good came out of it. I suppose so. The event my senior year pushed me to get therapy for it and all the other previous events that I never talked about. The gravity and reality of mental illness finally touched my parents' consciousness, penetrated the Great [Asian] Wall of Denial and Disbelief, and they let me see a therapist and take medication. After the event happened, I turned into someone who lived day-by-day, which gave me a better appreciation of the little things in life once I could start to appreciate anything at all. I found purpose. I found an issue I really cared about, and I became an activist for women's rights and an advocate for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. When therapy helped me see that I didn't have to let being raped affect my whole life in order to validate my experience, I decided to become a veterinarian instead of a human-doctor because I finally saw how much animals meant to me, how much they helped me, and how much I wanted to help them. A lot of things happened because of what happened in the early, early hours of March 26, 2008. Some of them were even good. Does this mean the Event happened for a reason? Can I actually answer the question of why it happened to me? *sigh* Even after my rambling, I'm still left where I began. Uncertain about the answer, and unsure I even care.

It was part of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program D* and I did at the VA Hospital. The last unit wanted me to make meaning of the trauma. I guess when I was still deeply entrenched in the aftermath, I did spend some particularly bad times asking "why me?" out of bitterness and pain and despair. I didn't expect an answer then, nor do I think an answer would have helped. Come to think of it, maybe it was a rhetorical question for me, just an outlet for pain and self-pity.

I've always had some version of the Just World fallacy in my head, where good people always act good, good things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people. I still blamed myself then for what happened, even though I wanted to believe that it wasn't my fault. I thought since I wanted to believe it, it must not have been true. It doesn't make sense to actually wonder why something happened when you think it's your fault. Therefore, I must not have really been asking why it happened, and so my question was rhetorical.


I feel like I've rambled myself in circles and not really come up or come out with much. Maybe I just needed to write something because the TV episode numbed me and I wanted myself back. Maybe the numbness explains why I don't actually care about why it happened and why I'm not really emotionally connected to this post. I wanted an epiphany, but either I couldn't find it because Fate says it wasn't meant to be, I couldn't find it because I'm not good enough, or I couldn't find it because it's not there to begin with. Regardless of why, I still don't have an epiphany.

I think the conclusion I've been able to reach is that the concept of Fate confuses me. The alternatives are believing that my actions determine my life or that events happen randomly. If I believe the former, then how do I reconcile that with believing the rapes weren't my fault? Does this mean that I have to believe I have no free will in order to exonerate myself from my trauma?

Also, is it weird that I can write all this yet not really... care? Maybe it's just the numbness. I don't know. It's a little unnerving to have written a whole blog post yet not really feel any emotional involvement at all.


So far today I have had edamame for breakfast, watched House, and hugged cats. I think it's time to reboot my day and start over.


  1. It happened because some asshole decided they would rather exert their power than listen when you said no. Why you, I'm not sure. Maybe he thought you were an easy target? Maybe you were there at the time? I'm not in his twisted head (thankfully) so I do not know. Either way, he is an ass, and should not have done what he did to you. You have no control over other people's actions, you have control over your own actions, and no actions can justify someone doing that to you.

    Many hugs. I am sorry you are numb. I hope that you are feeling better soon **gives you cookie and bubble tea through the internet**

  2. Agree with above ^

    Instead of asking, "Why me? Why did it happen to me?"---as if 'it' was some cosmic unstoppable force---I think the better question is, "Why did you do this to me?" Asking this question helped me to get farther along with forgiving and forgetting.

    Bad things happen to good people. Of course, acceptance of bad things doesn't mean that their existence is justified. We must work for a better future, perhaps a future in which rape doesn't exist. We can't change the past, but we can use bad experiences to make us stronger---as an individual and as a society.

    Using "Fate" to justify what happened is a complete cop-out. It is a way of resigning to an imaginary prophecy. To be blunt: I knew your parents were very superstitious, but I never would have thought that they'd go so far (so low?) as to use Fate/Past-Life on their own daughter's assault. This justification, in fact, is another form of victim-blaming: YOU did something bad in your past life, and now YOU are paying for it. Seriously!! It sickens me.

  3. "The alternatives are believing that my actions determine my life or that events happen randomly. If I believe the former, then how do I reconcile that with believing the rapes weren't my fault?"

    I think Anonymous is right: it's not that binary. You can control your own actions, but not those of others; you can direct your life, but not determine it. It's incomplete control, which unfortunately is the least satisfying type.

    Maybe you haven't reached an epiphany now; maybe you second-guess yourself at times or emotionally disengage. That doesn't mean it will always be this way. There's still a great deal of life ahead of you. You've found a purpose in women's rights activism. You've learned more about yourself through therapy. You've found something you love in veterinary work. In my opinion, those are things to be hopeful about, and I think that each new discovery will better illuminate your beliefs.

    I suppose it's presumptuous of me, but I'm going to advise you to stop reading comments and go hug some more cats. Warm, furry things often help make stuff better, as you well know :-)

  4. I thought about this during my run yesterday, and came to the same conclusion as P above: you can still do everything right, but someone else's influence can still mess everything up.

    Two things can throw even the most carefully-laid plans awry: imposition of power, and "random chance" (things over which no single entity or group has any significant amount of influence).

    While the latter is not preventable, spreading risk (ie. insurance) can help. The former is what society can influence, and it is this we must work strongly towards. However, the thing that can be immediately influenced still requires a larger influence than an individual without amazing political clout ... so it may both help reason about outcomes, their cause, and what to do about preventing horrible events in the future.