Today’s post is the first story of healing for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Remember, everyone’s journey is different. This is meant to let people know that healing does happen and to identify all the different ways and all the different areas that your life can grow and change.
***Please be aware, the following is a story of someone’s journey through sexual abuse and healing. You may find aspects triggering. If you need help, please contact RAINN @ 800.656.HOPE(4673).
If you have a story you'd like to share for SAAM, you can find more info here.
How I Know I’m On the Healing Journey…
First and foremost, I now have HOPE and I BELIEVE in the healing process.
My body and soul have been awakened. I experience life with my senses to a much greater degree.
I SEE things I never saw before, my eyes are WIDE OPEN. I notice birds building a nest and I relish in watching that process. I see butterflies while on a walk and notice their pretty colors and their newfound freedom. I think about where the butterfly came from…being wrapped in a dark cocoon, not knowing there was a whole new world they were about to embark on. I see the brown desert floor pop with new green foliage after a good rain. I see the most beautiful sunsets as though they have been deliberately hand painted. I notice the dormant plants suddenly come back to life and bloom with beautiful flowers and I recognize the same is happening to me. What I see is no longer grey, dark, gloomy and drab. I see bright lights and vibrant colors.
I SMELL things I never noticed before. The smell of creosote after a nice rain, the dirt after a summer dust storm, fragrances in office spaces and stores.
I HEAR things I didn’t hear before and I LISTEN to them. I hear the birds chirping and singing, hummingbirds and bees buzzing, pods snapping off of trees, kids playing and laughing. I hear lyrics in songs that speak directly to me.
I am able to DO things I couldn’t or wouldn’t do before. I can eat alone in a restaurant and not feel completely self-conscious. I can shop by myself in a clothing store and not feel inferior or like I don’t belong. I can walk around the neighborhood without looking over my shoulder every 5 seconds. I no longer have to put-on the “happy mask” everyday. If I’m sad, angry, depressed or mad, I can feel all those things until they resolve; allowing myself the time and space for that to happen. I don’t have to push them away because they are not safe. No more fake.
I know I’m healing because I no longer have a panic attack and anxiety every time I have a memory pop into my head. I don’t allow the desire to push it back into the deep, dark black box in my head to win. I allow the memory reminding myself that it is a just that, a memory. Even though it is horrible and disgusting, it cannot hurt me like it did when I was a child and this is different now. I’m no longer a helpless little girl. I’m a grown woman and I can take back my life. When I allow the memory rather than working hard to stuff it down, it is fleeting.
I am learning about my basic rights as a human being and about self-care and I practice this. I am leaning how to say “no”. That I can change my mind and that’s okay. That I can put me first and that doesn’t mean I’m conceited or being selfish; that it is actually my responsibility to take care of me. That I have an opinion and I am entitled to it. I can step out of my comfort zone by taking risks and trying new things with positive results…and that it is not the end of the world if it didn’t turn out so well. Realizing that I can have thoughts but that doesn’t make them beliefs. Knowing that others can have thoughts or even beliefs about me, but that doesn’t make them true.
I know I’m healing when I feel lighter; feeling as though this heavy cloak of armor of pain, agony, defeat and hurt is coming off…and letting it go.
Accepting that healing from the abuse and its impact is a journey and not a destination. Giving up on all the control I thought I had to my higher power. Crying out for help when I need it rather than stuffing and suffering in silence.
I can let go of the shame, the guilt, the dirty feelings, the belief that I am damaged or innately bad. Those feelings and beliefs do not belong to me. I did nothing wrong. They are not mine to own.
I no longer feel like the HUGE secret is written all over my face. When out in public, I walk with confidence with my head up and looking ahead rather than down at the ground.
I can say “no” to a family function without making excuses or telling lies.
TRUST…I can trust myself and my decisions. I can trust my initial gut response or instinct in any given situation.
I know I am healing because I have a new desire to pay it forward; to help others begin their journey by sharing my experience. It feels like a natural thing to do. To help others realize your life can and will be different from what you’ve always known; you just need to take that first step and ask for help. I want to be a shining example to others, as a couple of very important women have been to me during my journey.
I’m healing because I realize what happened to me is no longer my identity or who I am. I am so much bigger and better than the lies I believed about myself. I am a new force to be reckoned with. No longer a victim, but now a SURVIVOR. I’m not only alive and breathing but…I am LIVING, LAUGHING, LOVING, AND FLOURISHING.
Are you ready to BELIEVE and begin your JOURNEY? It is never too late to take that first step.