Strength. You know, I never realized how strong I truly was until a couple years ago, and I feel as though I’m still trying to figure it out. Being a survivor… has changed my view on what I can overcome. I honestly thought the trauma would kill me. Either that it would kill me that night… or that I would succumb to the depression of it all one cold, dark night.
But I’ve realized something in the process of growth and grieving. It was a night where I felt like I lost all my power, where I felt that I had lost my voice, lost my identity. After that life-changing night, I felt that I had no idea who I was anymore. And then… gradually… I realized that I am still a fighter.
I know that on the night in question, I didn’t contact the police, I didn’t visit the ER, but that doesn’t mean that I just lost myself. I think for me… that was (and sometimes still is) a source of shame and guilt. The fact that I didn’t do the things that I thought I was “supposed” to do. You know, they tell you, if you get assaulted on campus, go to the authorities, go get checked out at the hospital, etc. Well, I did none of that. I was too afraid. I was afraid of retaliation, afraid of going in front of judges and detectives and telling a story that may not be believed. Theres still lots of stigma surrounding survivors of sex crimes, and I felt so ashamed, so guilty, so devastated, so frightened. I felt as though my innocence was gone, my life was forever ruined.
But here I stand, 4 years later, and I am seeing that strength that I had since I was a baby. The strength that I clung to when I was 10 days old, in the intensive care unit. But now that strength is more formidable, a more visible presence.
It was hard to find.. for months after the assault… I felt so weak. But today, in September, despite the bits of anxiety that still invade my life at times, I am starting to see this newer version of myself.. It feels like it is slowly emerging, making itself known at some random intervals throughout the day. I see it when I’m working, and I feel accomplished at work, or when I wake up and I feel positive that the day will be a good day. Or when I leave a therapy session, after working out a really tough problem. I see it when I think about something that seems really really scary or when I see how much I am “adulting” at the young age of 28. The strength is there, I guess I just need to do some more searching to fully believe in it. But that is a good start.