It was one of those suffocating, hot Delaware days in mid-July. You know the type of weather I am talking about. So humid that it felt like you were inhaling steam instead of air when you tried to take a deep breath, and so hot that you could practically feel the heat from the sun burning your skin mere seconds after standing in it. Hot enough to make your skin crawl.
An Old Friend. Familiarity. Smiles in Photographs. Trust.
The moment whimsical compliments turned to remarks dripping with carelessness and lust. When seemingly innocent hand gestures and touches turned to fingers lingering for far too long in restricted, private places. Sacred places. When the once full bottle of red wine sat empty on the end table to the far right of the couch.
An Unrecognizable Face. Intrusion. Confusion and Forced Politeness. Doubt.
The moment when the same hands that used to high-five you after a job well done when the two of you were only kids became the hands that slipped the shirt over your head and undid your bra hooks as you silently counted how many he had left to unhook before it was thrown to the ground. When the same arms that embraced you and made you feel at peace at funerals after your grandparents died became the arms that forcefully pinned you to the carpeted living room floor of the apartment. When the same hands that clasped yours during prayer at Sunday School when you both were twelve became the reason you started praying harder than you ever have in your entire life because you want it to be over. You just want it all to stop, God. Begging and pleading as if you were losing the most important game of mercy you’ve ever played. When “no” doesn’t matter. Not the first time you say it and not the fortieth time you say it.
None of it matters anymore.
Comparing 105 pounds to 170 pounds is pointless because 65 pounds plus adrenaline meant there was not a fighting chance and at that point, survival was a priority. What I did not expect, however, was that physical survival would only be so much of a victory when it occurred in conjunction with emotional devastation. I was crushed under the weight of his body and everything that he wanted, but I never asked for. Pinned down with his hands and selfish need for something that was never his to take. Shattered by the reality that something like this could ever happen to me… did happen to me. When your world as you have always known it collapses before your eyes and safety is nothing but an illusion that only people with rose-colored glasses believe in.
Guilt. Shame. Self-Blame. Inhuman. Dirty. Incomplete. NUMB.
All things I felt as I stepped out of his car six hours later and walked up the steps to my front door. I had walked up those steps a million times but that day was the first time I noticed all of the cracks in the cement sidewalk. Everything was broken.
I haven’t stopped fighting since that day. For a long time, the only tangible evidence of brokenness that could be found was in my eyes in the photographs and videos he snapped of me in those innumerable moments when I was so paralyzed by vulnerability, desperation, and fear that I had no choice but to lie still and take it.
Flashbacks. Panic Attacks. Nightmares. Drunken Binges. Distrust. A PTSD Diagnosis.
The walls of my safe places are torn down and in creeps the doubt about all intentions of even the people closest to me. Shattered. So broken that sometimes the pieces are too jagged to even pick up off the ground to try and piece back together and it wouldn’t matter if I did because I will never look the same again anyway. But slowly, I am learning that that’s okay.
Hard Conversations with People That Love Me. Therapy. Writing. Grace. Believing that there is light in everyone, even on the darkest of days.
There are days when mid-July doesn’t even cross my mind. And there are days when the pain and trauma I endured are unrelenting and it does not feel as though I will ever crawl my way out of this.
Recovery doesn’t happen in a straight line, and there are no time restraints on healing. It’s difficult and exhausting. Oftentimes, I think about how it is downright unfair. I truly do not know if everything happens for a reason. If you were to ask me or the staggering number of girls out there who read my words and could feel the pain and embarrassment as though it happened yesterday, I am almost positive the majority of us would say we would have never chosen this.
But if reading this made one girl not feel alone. Made one girl not feel crazy for feeling the way she feels. Perhaps, that is the most positive thing that will ever result from something so unspeakable.
For those that read my words and cannot directly relate, but feel hurt for the sad state of the world that we are living in and as a result, feel compassion and sympathy for those that have had something so sacred stolen from them… thank you. Be the friend that listens and doesn’t judge. Let them talk about it when they want to talk about it, and be a welcome distraction for them when they don’t.
For those that read my words and could almost physically feel their hearts being torn from their chests because they’ve been there, they said no, they didn’t give permission, and they have been fighting like hell every day since… I am so terribly sorry. I am sorry that someone thought that they were entitled to your body and your mind. I am sorry that you weren’t treated like a human with rights and that you were devalued so much that you have questioned your self-worth so many times since then that you have lost count. And I am sorry that it made you temporarily lose faith in humanity and everything you once so strongly believed in.
As a survivor, I spent far too many years feeling numb and disconnected, crushed under the weight of trauma, and stuck in a seemingly endless shame cycle. Alcohol, smoking, unhealthy relationships & sexual patterns… you name it, I was stuck in it. Spinning my wheels in survival mode, wondering how anything like what I went through could ever be used for good. Asking if I would ever find purpose in the pain.
Three and half years later, I got a phone call that changed the trajectory of my life. I had done the healing work (will always be doing the healing work), and there it was… an open door right in front of me. The chance to help others learn how to co-exist with their pain and start taking steps towards healing. The purpose in the pain. Becoming a trauma-informed coach was honestly the dream I never knew I had. It took years of desperately searching for hope and peace for me to find my path to healing.
You are not alone. You are not less than or incomplete or dirty. You are worthy, and you survived.
My hope is that you learn to live and operate under the beautiful truths that you are more than enough and that you have everything you need inside of you to start healing.
“You either walk inside your story and own it, or you stand outside of your story and hustle for your worthiness.” – Brene’ Brown
Connect with on Instagram @ _healwithmeg_. My inbox is always open and I am always more than willing to hold a safe, empathetic, and compassionate space for you.