Please Note: This post may be very triggering for survivors of sexual assault. If you are in any way triggered, please call NSW Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 424 017 or National Sexual Assault, Domestic & Family Violence on 1800 737 732. Continue reading
present participle of gain (Verb)
Obtain or secure (something desired, favorable, or profitable): “gain confidence”.
Reach or arrive at (a desired destination): “we gained the ridge”.
Blog posts on Valentine’s Day seem to generally be one of two things: Single people bemoaning being alone on a day when romance is shoved down their throats, or people in committed relationships who choose not the celebrate because it’s such a commercial venture (but secretly, they’d love to!). This post does not fall into either of those categories (though, I do find myself wishing I was celebrating this year!). No, this post is something else all together. It’s about the first (and only) time I have ever had a guy send me flowers on Valentine’s Day…
It was 2006. I was 15, turning 16. And I’d just started going out with a guy who was more than 2 years older than me. These details are important, because they’ve shaped how I react to Valentine’s Day. I got a note to come down to the school office, and low & behold, there was this beautiful professional arrangement of red long stem roses and baby’s breath that had been delivered to the school, for me. I can’t remember exactly what the note said, but I do remember it being signed “Your Secret Admirer”.
My immediate reaction to the roses should have been a clue – I felt more embarrassed at this ostentatious arrangement than delighted. These weren’t the flowers a year 10 girl normally receives especially from someone she’d only been going out with for four days. In fact, I think he must have planned them in advance, because a week earlier he’d still been in a relationship with my best friend (though we were already emotionally involved on the side…)
My point is, I think he wanted me to feel embarrassed. It was the first of many times I would be confused and uncomfortable with something he did. It was the first of many times that I remember not feeling 100% sure of what was going on. You’d think it would be the loooong MSN chat sessions, but no: this was out in the open, designed as ploy to both humiliate me and draw me in. And it did! I felt special and mysterious and wanted, and the same time as I felt weird and uncomfortable…and for the first time like I had somehow done something wrong (when I obviously hadn’t.
So Valentine’s Day for me is strange. A mix of being left out for most of high school (no SRC flowers for me, sigh) and uncomfortable and wanting to participate so badly…Because the only flowers I’ve ever received from a man on Valentine’s Day were from my rapist.