Question: Do you identify yourself as a victim or a survivor?
A favorite quote: "IF YOU'RE GOING THROUGH HELL, KEEP GOING." Remember that... it's helped me through the worst of my worst.
Raped twice. The first was insane - years ago... a friend of a friend. Never met him before that night, but saw him almost every day after that. It was planned... the way he acted all night - the things he was saying and doing... afterwards, it all made sense. I was his target. Lucky me. The second rape: A guy I used to work with... a "friend." Awesome.
I have a blog, too, which has helped me purge every dirty little secret. It's anonymous. Only a few close friends have the site address. My other readers? All survivors from all over the world… different cities, states, countries, continents… of all ages, shapes and sizes... some readers are boyfriends or husbands of women who have been assaulted/raped... others are lost and confused parents, searching for an understanding of what their daughter is going through... others are friends of a survivor... and some just randomly stumble onto my blog... and... low and behold... have a secret to tell, too. It happened to them, or someone they know. The overwhelming emails, messages and comments from all these readers, being so grateful for sharing my story and experiences… they don’t feel alone anymore… they have a little more faith… a little more strength… a guarantee that they, too, can make it through the dark and be happy, healthy and whole again. Every message I receive from every single reader wraps my heart with overwhelming emotion… this is what I’m here to do… help you live to see another day. Because life is too great and too grand to not live it right this one chance we get.
The most important thing that has aided me in my ultimate daily survival is knowing I am not alone. Unless you have been the target of such a horrible, defeating, scary crime, there is no way to fully understand it.
Boyfriends have left me, not wanting to touch me after they know the truth... others have wanted more sex, almost as if it was a turn on. Of course, they don't get it... and then the breakup follows soon afterward... I sure know how to pick 'em.
I've had friends pick fights with me, telling me I "should just be friends with actual victims then"... some "don't appreciate me trying to look like a victim" and others say I’m “punishing them for living normal lives.” What does all that really mean? Fuck if I know; I’ve never associated myself with that word – victim… can’t stand that word, actually. I was a survivor long before I was raped.
Another’s misunderstanding, insensitivity and disrespect is not my problem - it's their problem.
I don’t hate these people for saying and doing these things… I’m actually grateful, for it has forced me to do a little more soul searching, and befriend the real enemy. People come and go in our lives for a reason, and sometimes, when someone loves you so much and is at a loss of what to say/do, because they see the pain you are living… well, love hurts. But it’s still love, regardless. It takes two to tango.
Truth #1: When people in your life say/do things like this, you begin to feel defeated all over again… but then you learn to create boundaries & distance to keep fighting the fight - a fight that they, obviously, cannot (and maybe never will) understand... and it's not your job to help them understand. It's your job to stay alive. And survive the past by living in the present... so you can have a happy, healthy & successful future.
Truth #2: EVERYONE will fall victim to something at some point in their life... to be naive about this is unrealistic. I only say this because we, as humans, living this one life we're given... we can't live it to the fullest until it's almost taken away from us... until we are, literally, staring death in the face. Whatever this experience is... it's different for all of us, as we are all different people living our individual lives in our own way. It could be a family death for one person, a rape for another, a car accident for another... whatever it is... the life-altering lesson will always be the same... you begin to search for a purpose, a greater understanding… life suddenly has value… you stop taking things and people for granted… you finally learn who and what you need to achieve your own ultimate happiness. Survival of the fittest.
Darwin was onto something...
Victim and Survivor stem from the same idea - it's all about perspective. Once you begin to learn how to change your perspective, each step gets a little less heavy... it gets a little easier to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving on... remembering it's ok to stop and rest along the way... this life isn't going anywhere... unless we let it.
We were given this life and these experiences because... well... that's for each individual to answer for him/herself... based on your own dreams, hopes & desires. Wishing you were dead all the while you are alive is no way to guarantee a future. I know, I've spent almost my entire life trying to finish myself. Too many attempts to count anymore... the last one: I woke up in an ER. Life was forever changed. Again.
I don't care what others think, see or feel about me... or my experiences. I used to. HELL YES, I used to. But now... this is my life… my reality. And I’m owning it. All my experiences, good and bad, have made me who I am today. And I am not alone. As fucked up, shitty and as PISSED OFF as I get hearing about other beautiful hearts & souls having to endure this awful experience... the truth is, we are not alone.
There is nothing worse than feeling alone in this world. It's a scary, fucked up world... and nobody should ever have to live it without the love, support and understanding of others.
You are not alone... I'm here. We are all here. We all know how fucking hard, scary, painful and awful it is to face our new reality.
Sooo... to all survivors, new and old... to those who have a grip on what's happened... and to those who are still searching... all I can do is BEG you to not give up. I've spent half my life denying the truth, running away from it, letting it control my life to the point where death was my best friend...
To know I wasn't alone... to know I wasn't going crazy... to know that everything I was feeling - or not feeling, for that matter - was okay... normal... I'm finally normal. Thank God.
When you're raped, someone has taken your life away without your permission... you're used, abused and thrown away. All they want is your body. And when they are done with it, they throw it away for whoever else wants it. And after a while, you begin to feel like that's all you’re good for - a body. Nothing inside worth caring about or paying attention to... that was how I felt, anyway... only good for sex. Nothing else.
It's a struggle to flip the perspective from Victim to Survivor... you have to re-learn how to live your life again.... how to communicate with people, how to do normal everyday things you used to do without being scared, paranoid or fearful of being attacked again... nobody can be trusted... nobody else gets it, unless you've been raped.
Relearning how to live again is not something that happens overnight. Remember that. So don't be hard on yourself. You're already living and surviving so much more than you can see and feel. You’re still here, aren’t you? That’s proof enough for me.
Learning how to survive your rape is like:
... peeling off the layers to an onion... the skin is easy, it peels right off... clear... barely there... what everyone around you sees... but then you peel of the first layer... and the second... the tears begin to come... the closer you get to the core, the harder it is... you have to remember to stop, let yourself catch your breath... wipe away the tears because if there are too many tears, it's too blurry... you can't see - and you need to see to move forward... you can’t keep walking in the dark, teary-eyed, or you'll fall down again... and your body is too bruised, broken and tired from falling down - you can thank your rapist for that... so fuck him, you're going to stand up because you still have your heart and soul - you still have what’s inside... he took your body but didn’t touch your heart and soul... and so, as you continue to peel of the layers, you're going to take your time, as long as it takes... and catch your breath, wipe a tear... and peel off another layer... this time a little slower because now you know what it's like to get rid of these life layers... and you're learning how it makes you feel every time you shred a little piece here or there... The most important thing to remember: You are feeling again… whatever it is, whatever the emotion – anger, pain, defeat, regret, anxiety – whatever it is, feel it… once and for all. You have to go through the bad to get the good. Everything happens in waves. This might be a bad wave, but another one is on the horizon… so feel, let it all go… and let the water wash away this one because the next wave will be worth it…
Be patient, dear survivors. And pllleeease take care of yourselves. NONE of you are alone... I'm here if you ever need to talk, as are so many others. I, too, counsel other survivors when I can... Life is definitely hard, but it's not impossible... nothing in this world is impossible. NOTHING. Surviving is our right. It's the one and only thing we are guaranteed when we're given this life - a right to survive.
Love you all... and promise me you'll keep fighting the fight…