Lost Sleep and 13 Reasons Why

The bedroom was too warm and I had drank a full bottle of tea in the late afternoon, but those weren’t the reasons I couldn’t sleep. The skin covering my heart did little to protect the fast beat, my right arm shook slightly from lying in one position too long, waiting for tiredness to envelope my brain. I wish I hadn’t binge watched it. Inwardly, slight embarrassment peppered my thoughts that I experienced such a strong reaction.

It’s fiction. Get a grip.

I wanted to believe that Hannah Baker, a made-up teen character conjured from the imagination of a male author, was not going to be raped before she decided to end her life. The entire premise of 13 Reasons Why is untangling how and why the events and relationships surrounding a teenager led to a decision that dragging a razor across her skin in a bathtub was better than finishing high school and enduring the shit years of young adulthood.

But rape. Rape is one of the reasons why Hannah Baker commits suicide.

I closed my eyes during the rape scene in the last episode, once I knew the scene was coming.  I didn’t need one more visual of sexual violence embedded in my memory. Not because I was raped, but because both in my work and in my personal life enough people have been raped that I sometimes I had come to believe that

Rape is inevitable.

But it’s not. It just feels that way. Like knowing an entire premise of a popular Netflix show is based on a girl’s suicide and then watching an actress ascend a long driveway toward a party— it feels inevitable how the narrative will go before the razor blades.

There’s no way to look at my 7 year old son and 2 year old daughter and do anything but worry the years away and hold fast to the truth there is nothing I can do except be there every step of the way so whatever shit the world tries to put inside them, I make myself available—an empty sanctuary for them. A place to be loved, for them to confess without judgement, and bathe in compassion.

Is that all I have? Is that enough?

Hannah Baker is not a real person, but the story is as much in the world as my children. The co-existence of those truths kept me up past 3am last night. I laid there thinking of their futures and tried to unsee the moment where I thought the scene was over and opened my eyes prematurely and saw the last seconds of Hannah Baker’s rape: her face turned to the screen, dead eyes, violated.

As I write this, my toddler has awoken from sleep, crying out for someone to hold her.

I go. Practice.