I feel like I need to end this week on a higher note. For many in my current town, it has been emotionally draining. My past three posts… here is the first, and the second one, and then the third is here, have all been draining and dark.
I have to admit, I only have a couple of memories in life of not being a sexual abuse victim. The memories are fantastic… one includes kittens in my mom’s first apartment after leaving my dad… but they were before I was 4 years old, so I didn’t get to collect a lot of them.
So, 43 years of being a victim/survivor… how in the heck can I be so happy now? What got me here?
I don’t remember ever being without it. I really always fill up with it, and it helps me collect a lot of fantastic memories. I believe, if I sat down and counted all my memories, putting them in “horrible” and “fantastic” columns, “fantastic” would win.
I had a pretty typical high school career as a loud-mouthed, big haired, 80s girl who wanted every single person as a friend. I laughed a lot. I was involved, and social. I loved high school.
I also loved just about everyone. I was given that gift because I also wanted nothing but love from others. I craved it, and still do, if I’m being honest.
My ability to smile and laugh and be just plain silly most of the time comes from my desire to really be that girl.
I NEVER wanted to be the victim. Being the victim was never fun.
Before any victim/survivor reads this and says, “Well, good for you… I wasn’t that way.” I want to be clear, all of us are different. We all handle trauma of any kind differently. I have friends who have been abused and they spent most of their lives abusing themselves.
And, it wasn’t always rose-colored glasses on my face. I also spent A LOT of time trying to get guys to love me. I changed my personality all the time. If they weren’t gushing over me, I felt unloved and became cling-y. I wanted anyone to love me and really didn’t care if I loved them. From the time I hit the real dating years of high school, I dated jerks most of the time.
I truly only had one good boyfriend before I met my husband, Jason. Really, just one. He is still in my life. He and my husband hit it off right away. The girls just think he is goofy. (I put that in here in case he reads it… I’ll move on…)
I also had an endless number of angels come into my life. Each and every one of them got me through all of it. Almost all of them had no idea about my abuses, because I had a lot of training on how to hide it. And… again… I NEVER wanted to be the victim.
My high school best friend’s dad treated me like a daughter, and included me in so many fun activities with his daughters. I had a manager at Bob Evans who co-signed a loan with me so I could buy a car. I had grandparents who always assumed I was going to go to college and have a successful career. They didn’t ever sway from that belief and made sure to remind me of it often. While my relationship with my mom is complicated, she did all she could, working three jobs at times, to take care of me.
These people and so many more added up to a hope for me that good people existed in the world. Good people would love me with no strings. These are the people and memories I cling to in order to remain hopeful.
I know I tend to gush about him a lot, but I would be remiss if I didn’t add my husband to the list. I really, truly, never believed a man like him existed in this world. Sometimes, 17+ years after meeting him, I am still in disbelief he is real. Jason does not treat me as less-than. He has never treated me like a victim. Jason just does not see me the way I see me. I love the person he sees… and am surprised to see her. More on him in this blog. Oh, yeah, and in this one.
Now, some of you may be reading this, and again, saying, “Well, good for you…. I don’t have that.”
You are the ones I want to hold on to and help the most. Because there are many angry, evil, disgusting people who are reading #MeToo accounts, and passing harsh judgements on the actions of the women or the timing of their stories, and those comments are silencing so many more victims that need to find their voices in order to heal.
Just to be clear: It does NOT matter how long ago your abuse happened. (those comments piss me off the most) It does NOT matter what you were wearing. It does NOT matter where you were. It matters that a person took something from you without permission. He or she took you physically, and he or she also took your trust, sense of security and self-worth.
I know that if you read social media, you will see men and women trying to tear down and destroy victims for choices they made. However, I also know you will see men and women who want to lift victims up and defend them to the ends… even if they have never met them.
The state of this country can easily deflate many, and I’ve seen it deflate some that I love. However, when you live in a world as a victim/survivor… one that will collapse if you don’t have hope… you are specially trained to keep going, to not lose that hope.
You see, it is not lost on me that I had support. I know how lucky I am. Despite my nightmares, or the fact that my single mom and I lived in poverty, or my distorted view of what love was…. loving, kind people have always been put in my path. Their value for me is bigger than any number I can attach.
I just know there is more good than bad.
I want any victim/survivor reading this to know, I know there are people out here that want to wrap you in love and kindness.
I just know that if you are hurting right now, someone wants to take that hurt away.
I don’t have all the answers, and in fact, I feel like I have very little to offer.
For some reason, though, I have confidence that if victims and survivors continue to speak out, empathy will grow in even the most cynical of places.
I feel strongly that if victims and survivors stand up, and find solid ground, no matter how small the land is, they will change the world…. one story at a time.
Since I am just a girl, sitting in front of a computer (sorry I love Julia)… I will say this:
I am not equipped with the magic potion to fix this. All I can do for myself is to look to others for inspiration. Would that work for you?
One woman I have always admired, lived her life without sight, hearing, or speech. Yet… she had hope.
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. Helen Keller
May you all have, or find, both…