If you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you that I talk about my life a lot. I always have something to say, whether it’s sharing an embarrassing event that’s happened to me, talking about my favorite TV show, or opening up about things I’ve gone through in order to help someone else.
Yet, despite my transparency, there are pieces of my life that I’ve felt were too dark to discuss.
It’s been easy to talk about the days when I tried to shrink my body into nothing more than a fleeting object. I had no problem admitting when my mind couldn’t seem to calm down. I didn’t feel any shame speaking about the days where getting out of bed seemed like climbing a mountain.
But when it came to my trauma, I became more of a locked diary than an open book.
For years, I believed that my abuse was something I needed to keep secret. It happened, and therefore I should just be able to move on. Nobody outside of those involved needed to know. When the thoughts of opening up to people crept in, I would get mad at myself for even considering that as an option. While deep down I knew that it wasn’t my fault, shame always found a way to sneak itself into my mind:
“No one would look at you the same if they knew what happened to you.”
“You should be embarrassed.”
“How could you possibly love yourself?”
“Just let this be behind you already. You don’t need to attach your perspective to all the attention it already received.”
Over the past six years, there have been days when I hate him more than I can stand.
When nothing but anger flows through my veins, and the only thing I want to scream is, “Why?!”
When I’m reminded that there are people out there who don’t know my name but know my body.
When I’m simply the unnamed victim in a news story.
When I feel like I’m just “that poor girl.”
There are also days where I miss him unbearably. I think of all the milestones he’s missed and wonder if he’d be proud of me. I wonder if he thinks of me at all.
It’s a constant war with my emotions.
Slowly, I began opening up to people I knew I could trust. I put myself in the narrative and invited others into those dark places with me: counselors, teachers, and friends. The past year has been filled with therapy and learning coping skills and tears. It’s also been filled with learning.
Learning how to use my voice to say what’s wrong.
Learning that there are ways to show that my body is my own besides depriving it.
Learning to give others grace, but more importantly, learning to give myself grace.
Learning to hear the truth, even though some days it’s harder to believe than others:
I am not what happened to me.
I am not a reflection of his actions.
I am more than the victim the world portrayed me to be.
I am worthy of love: true, unconditional love.
Heaviness is a part of my story, but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve the light.
Hope always seemed like something abstract to me. It was out there, somehow, just maybe not for me. But now I’ve learned that it’s a tangible thing. It’s the slice of pizza that I eat when laughing with my closest friends. It’s going to a soccer game with my coworkers, letting that experience replace the thoughts of him that come up whenever the sport is mentioned. It’s taking my life back, day after day, as I wake up and say, “I am worth the fight.”
Because I am.