I am surprised you emailed. The last time we spoke was before the nasty R./Z. business, which I'm sure you heard about. But you never contacted me after the firstname.lastname@example.org, which I took as a comment unto itself.
It goes without saying that life evolved into something entirely different for everyone since then. I don't feel particularly haunted or grudge-filled by the distant past. Regular life is just too chock full of other things to dwell on what happened so long ago.
Yet when I do look back, which I can't help but do now with your email sitting in my box, the truth remains that I was hurt badly back then. Being dropped by friends was an extra betrayal on top of a trauma. Given Z.'s personality and her issues with men, in retrospect I can see that she was going to rationalize a way to stick with R. no matter what. This has been an enduring lesson in judging character and choosing friends more carefully.
But you, C., I can't quite figure out. Because if I you think I'd lie about something as serious as a r.@pe, then why would you care to check in with me now? Yet if you suspect I spoke the truth, then how could you wait so long?
I doubt very much that C. will email back. I actually don't care if she does or doesn't. Ultimately writing back was for me, not her.
I lost a lot of self respect when I didn't report the email@example.com and pursue charges when it happened. At the time it was all I could do to hang on and do ... nothing. (Nothing being not drinking myself into a hole, and not killing R., or committing suicide -- all of which I contemplated for a time.) To go to the hospital, to talk to police and go to court would have required family support or other sane adult guidance that was completely lacking in my life. So when I lost friends in addition to being firstname.lastname@example.org, it was even more overwhelming. It cemented that secret belief I had that I must be at fault. I slunk away with my tail between my legs when people turned away. I didn't stick up for myself.
So both sending the email and not shrugging off the past hurts -- that's a big difference between now and then. It's like the 37-year-old me just told the younger me "Psst -- They are never going to apologize but you are still going to be ok. You will figure out how to live with the wrongness without having to rewrite your part of it so you are responsible for the horror."
Ever since baby loss woes splattered all over my life I've felt more of a mess than together. I still feel, sometimes, that I am waiting for the answer to the question why did this all have to happen? I still struggle with the idea that so much of it was beyond my control, and suspect I must be to blame. So it's comforting to look back at this early period of my life and realize I'm actually different now than I was then. Certain key questions that hung in my mind became resolved without any particular answer.
I can live with that scenario. I am living it now. And maybe I even gained a little something extra for the effort, beyond the damage and the dust.