[note: includes spoilers]
[trigger warning: rape, murder]
I know I just wrote about how I can’t watch movies. I know. But people close to me recommended that I watch this one in particular (“Just try and watch it!!!”) So I did. It was tough for me, but I’m glad I saw it through.
The movie is called “Luckiest Girl Alive,” based on the novel by Jessica Knoll, and starring Mila Kunis. Kunis plays Ani, a girl trying to build a new, perfect life in NYC—fancy job, rich fiancé, the works. But the trauma she experienced as a young girl keeps coming back to haunt her in flashbacks and memories, disrupting the perfect persona she has crafted.
Ani, formerly known as Tiffany, was gang raped and experienced a school shooting in her youth. This, undoubtedly, deeply impacts her psychology as a person. She commits to reinventing herself and keeping her past hidden, but her mental health catches up to her as the movie unfolds. She ultimately decides to tell her story, which sets her free.
I relate to Ani—in fact, I felt like I was watching myself throughout the movie. I’ve never been gang raped. I’ve never experienced a school shooting. Her trauma is a lot worse than mine—I am not trying to equate them. But I have experienced sexual abuse as a child. And my senior year of high school, at a place that was supposed to be a safe refuge from home, a female teacher was raped and murdered in the building by a student. Murdered. Former classmates from my hometown reading this know.
After that disturbing year, I got to Harvard and I tried to do what Ani did. Start over. Reinvent. Suddenly I was the hot new shiny freshman girl, invited to parties left and right, hanging out with the cool, rich final club kids. I loved this new life. No one had to know anything. I relished in being a part of this new elite social class—I wanted this to be my life forever.
Until things started to slip through the cracks.
I vividly remember this one instance during freshman year. A bunch of us were in my friend’s dorm in Thayer, just hanging out, being cool kids. Suddenly, someone drunkenly grabs my arm a little too hard—not aggressively, not on purpose, but it’s enough to send me into a spiral.
Immediately I’m in the shared women’s bathroom down the hall, tears streaming, trying to hold myself together. My girl friends are consoling me, desperately trying to help and deeply confused. Fucking fuck, my armor had been cracked. I wipe my tears, face red and blotchy from crying, and got my shit together. No one had hurt me. But that was all it took.
Or, on a lighter note, that time at the Fly Club fancy Wine Seminar-thing. I was a freshman, the date of a senior member, and naturally they sat me down next to the hosting sommelier. Eye candy, right? (Cool to me when I was 17, disgusting to look back at now that I’m 27).
The host asks me: “So, honey, what kind of wine do you like?”
I try to laugh it off. I didn’t drink in high school largely because of my mom’s addiction. “Oh, I’m only 17, haven’t had much drinking time yet to know what I like and what I don’t,” I say, chuckling lightly.
The man laughs too. “Ok then, what do your parents like to drink?”
I don’t know any wines besides the bottles I see laying around on the floor of my mom’s room. “My mom really likes yellowtail.”
I could tell by the expression on the men’s faces that that was the wrong answer. Dammit, another crack in the armor.
Well, I’ll tell you what—the purpose of this blog to smash that fake armor all the way open. Into pieces. Like Ani, I’m sick of living in shame and fear. Like Ani, I’m telling my story now and reclaiming my identity. And it feels damn good doing it.
The goal of this blog is also to come to terms with my past. It’s to have a voice. And sometimes—not all the time, but sometimes—it’s to take some power back from the people who have wronged me. And I’m just getting started.