Monthly Archives: August 2014

the girl in the corner


I don’t want to do that. That seems like it could just stay like that. Avoiding her seems to be working so far. I just don’t want to work that hard. I don’t think I ever need to face her now.

Those are things I said in therapy this week. It’s hard to admit that, to read those, and to feel like that.

It seems that I could be standing in my own way right now. The former me, the pre-me, the ashamed me is hiding in a corner. She’s trying to get out. But she’s shoved way back in the dark where nobody would dare to go to drag her out. And I just pretend she’s not there. In fact, I really never thought about her as a separate person who needs to be discussed or healed in any way. She’s a separate person to me and I’ve been ok with that because nobody has ever pointed her out to me. Very few people have ever seen her or know she’s there. And then all of sudden this week a giant light lit up right in that corner and I was stunned for awhile. And now I can see her so clearly. She’s the reason I don’t have my maiden name, but instead a name I created for the me I like and the me I am most comfortable with being each day. Nobody needs that girl in the corner, least of all me. So why unlock the door and clean out the cobwebs at all? I mean, I like the me I am today and life has been really wonderful most of this year. Right?

But can I really rediscover me AND avoid the girl in the corner? Maybe for a while. Apparently my therapist feels that is unlikely to be a good path to a healthy future. Of course, she is probably right and she makes good points. But I just feel like I’ve done SO much work already and doing more isn’t really what I expected to have to do. After all, I made it through a 12-week group which included A LOT of really challenging steps and the ENORMOUS moment when I made a full disclosure of my sexual assault to my peers. I’m healed, right? It’s over, yes? I mean, that is what a lot of people say–it’s good that is all behind you, now you can move on, at least you don’t have to think about that anymore, and now you can be done with therapy.

In some ways, those things are what I was thinking would happen after group just as other people thought. I did take a break from my individual therapy after group ended because I didn’t feel I needed weekly support and processing if I was done with group. I was just waiting for my original therapist to come back from maternity leave so I could go in for a few weeks to tell her how well group went and how much I was able to get in touch with the vulnerability that was hiding inside me and holding back the healing. And I was feeling so thrilled after that disclosure and group that I sometimes couldn’t imagine what I would need to talk about anymore with her. I made it through the messy feelings I had before deciding to move out, I worked through how I felt living separately from my husband, we worked on our marriage to see if there was still a marriage for both of us, and I struggled and then faced the decision that-at least for me-it was no longer a marriage I could remain in and be happy. I worked hard in therapy to come to terms with the fact that my marriage was over and worked through my feelings of failure and grief over the ending of the marriage. Therapy is the reason I felt confident enough to go into group and was the support I needed to get in touch with my individual feelings which came out during the group sessions.

That IS all behind me now. So what would I even need to say? I’m healed and happy. I’m successfully navigating my life as a divorced woman with two kids. I bought a house and have a job and lots of supportive family and friends. I’m even dating which I really didn’t think I’d even consider for a very long time yet.

But…there she is, that girl in the corner. Peeking out once in a while now because the past and present are colliding in some ways. And because with some of the major shame lifted off my shoulders I can see other layers of me that need healing. Layers that I didn’t recognize as needing healing because sexual assault clouded everything else and took over who I was since it happened.

She was just sitting there looking smug during last week’s therapy session. And I ignored her until my therapist said, “so let’s talk about the girl you just pushed off into the corner, how is she feeling?” What??? How did she see that?? I’m sure you know by now that I have some issues with inappropriate laughter. So naturally that’s what I did, I started laughing. And then I got choked up and realized that she really is there in that corner. She’s another piece of me, the former me, the me I put away a LONG time ago and never really wish to see again. My therapist wondered if that girl in the corner is really hurt, or angry, or scared, or all of that and more. She suggested writing that girl a letter, giving her a break for what she went through, and trying to understand that girl in terms of what I would expect of someone who is the same age today.

I haven’t written a letter, but I keep thinking about that girl. I know it’s true that I don’t give her a break. That I don’t respect her and that, in fact, I don’t even like her or recognize her as having worth. She’s pissed off and has reason to be, but instead of having compassion for her, I punish her for not being good enough. For not being better. Smarter. For not seeing what wasn’t right and making better choices at 15, 16, 17 years old.

I’ll keep thinking about how I want to handle that girl in the corner. I know from my disclosure how she got there and I think I know why she’s trying to step out. I’m not looking forward to it and I’d really rather forget she’s there.

But I’ve got to face everything if I really want to move forward completely. And I really do.

I’ll look at the girl in the corner and I’ll help her come out of hiding. I know I have to do it. I know it’s time.



Moments of doubt


Moments of doubt come at me when I least expect them.  Sometimes without me even knowing that it is doubt.  These moments feel like many things, none of them very pleasant.  I get tired of these moments.  I get frustrated and lazy and anxious.  I get unreasonable and crabby and negative.  I want to do nothing and just wait for the moments to pass.

Sometimes they do.

And sometimes they don’t pass very quickly, but fade into the background of my days.

I love to laugh and even on my worst days I can normally be found making jokes or having a good time.  But I still may be feeling lost inside.  Struggling.  Lacking the vulnerability that allows for full healing.  I ignore the moments and hide them in hopes that they will pass quickly.

Thankfully, I haven’t had many days like that for awhile and that is really nice.  The disclosure still comes to mind when I think of how far I have been able to go toward healing and not having to go back to certain doubts and certain thoughts that keep me from rediscovering the full me.  That disclosure seems so long ago and also seems like it was just yesterday.

Seeing The Monument Quilt was powerful for me.  I’m certain that it was not a mere coincidence that when I found out about the quilt, it was only weeks from being displayed in an area that I could travel to very easily.  An area that had additional anxiety and healing qualities for me.  It would be displayed on the very campus of my assault.  It never crossed my mind ahead of time that the location would keep me from going to see it.  I never felt a moment of doubt leading up to that day.

And then it was the very day I was to see it.  And then the doubt and the tears came as I decided I didn’t know if I could go.  But more of the fight inside me took over and I went.

I read stories and looked at the designs people made to release themselves from some of the burden of being a victim and becoming a survivor.  It is always difficult to read other stories.  I find myself thinking that some have suffered so much more than me and, at times, it is difficult to see other stories and not let the terrible doubts of rape culture creep into my head as judgment.  A terrible feeling and one I don’t allow to stick around for long at all.  It is so easy to pass judgment, on myself and on others, but in those moments it is SO important to remember that all suffering is terrible.  ALL trauma is true for that victim and I absolutely believe in every one of those people and their stories.  Our stories are no worse or no easier than others, no less rape and trauma.  The mind is so complex during trauma that many leave a situation not even fully understanding that what they experienced is rape.  THAT is why it is so important to believe someone if they tell you they were assaulted.  And to stand by someone who may be turning to you for support if they aren’t even sure that something happened or that what happened really was rape.  The feelings a victim experiences are so full of guilt, disbelief, shame, and so many other things, that many deny that it happened at all.

I believe.  I support ALL survivors.  And I was honored to see the quilt.  I’d like to reconnect with my group members to make a quilt square, but I’m not sure if I will or not.

I’m glad to have overcome my moment of doubt to see it.  There were squares for each city where it is being displayed and on those squares were blank fabric where anyone could write.  Part of my message was this:

It happened here and I will leave it here.  

And I am glad that I could do that.


What needs to happen




Read that a few times.  Give it some thought.  Now think about something that has happened in your life that you tried to wish away — the loss of a relationship, the death of a person in your life, an injury, a complete loss of a home from a disaster, domestic violence, alcoholism, child abuse, rape.  Now read it again.

Did those things NEED to happen?

There are several times I have struggled with this type of statement throughout my life, but clearly one of the most significant times this bothered me to read is after the rape.  WHY would anyone say that such a horrible thing would NEED to have happened to me?  Is there anything more awful than saying that NEEDED to happen to me?

A bitter pill to swallow for sure.

Except I completely agree.  Now.  Maybe not right after it happened when I was devastated, angry, disgusted, sad, suicidal, and horribly traumatized.  But now that I have gone through so much of my healing process, I can say something very close to that.  I can’t quite get to it NEEDED to happen, but I can say…

All things happen for a reason.

Is that the same as NEED to happen?  I don’t know.  In my head it isn’t the same.  But I do understand that all things happen for a reason.  And my being sexually assaulted is no exception.  I would not be who I am today if it hadn’t happened, that I can say for sure.  And after all that I have been through, I CAN say I like who I am today.  I want to be even more like the me I feel inside, but I am currently very satisfied and like the person I see in the mirror.

If I hadn’t been sexually assaulted, the rest of my life would have been different, I think we can all agree on that.  I would have stayed in school where it happened which means I would not have reconnected with a guy who later became the biological father of my son.  And that means I wouldn’t have my son, which would be NUTS because he is so awesome and has been an enormous part of who I did become and who I am today.  If I hadn’t had my son, I wouldn’t have moved to the town I grew up in to be close to my family.  And that means I would not have met the man I later married and he wouldn’t have adopted my son.  I wouldn’t have my daughter and the 20 years of memories that we made as a family.  And that would be sad.  Because my daughter is also awesome and I can’t imagine life without her.  Because we made a great family and had SO many fabulous years together. I wouldn’t change that part of my life at all.  The years I spent at home with our kids and building a relationship with my husband were GREAT years.  Now, there are many reasons why my marriage didn’t work, but I cannot say that me being sexually assaulted wasn’t a factor.  It was.  So I guess you could say that if I hadn’t been I might still be married, but you really can’t say that because of all the other things I listed which would have kept me from meeting my husband in the first place!

This next thing is difficult for me to say because I really don’t have any terrible feelings about my marriage ending.  I would say as divorce goes, ours was perfect.  We still have many nice conversations, can go out with our kids together, and we take care of each other dogs all the time for each other.  And I am very thankful that we get along that well and have respect for each other.  Clearly not everyone is that lucky.  Which makes it feel a little icky to say…If my marriage hadn’t ended, I would not be this happy.  Ewwww.  I don’t like to say that and considered deleting it.  But I can’t, because it is true.  I let myself fall by the wayside for most of the years of my marriage. I didn’t take care of me and I accepted things I would never accept now.

I lost me.

And now I am found.  And there is NO way I would give that up.  Ever again.

If my marriage hadn’t ended, I may not have ever reached the point in my healing that I currently feel and understand.  And going through that healing makes me the person I am today.  A MUCH more confident, healthy, satisfied me.  A me that has made so many awesome connections through telling my story and working through the challenges.  A me who has helped myself and others have an understanding of shame.  And an understanding of how to begin to let go of shame.  A me who is able to trust again and who is more willing than ever to step out of my comfort zone.

A rediscovered me.  A happy me.  A loving me.

If my sexual assault would not have happened, I wouldn’t be sitting in this cabin today in this beautiful place.  Reflecting on all my past and what I hope for in my future.  I wouldn’t be dating.  I wouldn’t have met the guy I look so forward to talking to and spending time with as much as we can.  And today, that is REALLY difficult to imagine because he has become so important to me AND to my continued healing.  He gets me, sometimes even when I don’t.  Starting a new relationship with this much exposure to what happened to me has been terrifying in many ways.  I can’t hide from it.  I am really thrilled that I don’t have to hide from it.  I can talk about it, answer questions about it, get mad about it, cry about it, and discuss it openly, with acceptance for his input.  And that is truly awesome.  WE are truly awesome together.

So today I am going to say…NOTHING has ever happened that didn’t need to happen.  And that’s ok.


Bucket lists


Healing wishes. After our disclosures in group we each wrote and read a healing wish to the person who disclosed that day. It was so powerful and so wonderful. One in particular really struck me as it was read to me and I hear it in my head sometimes when I’m having a bad day. It included a wish that I be able to dance freely again without holding back or feeling shame. Oh how I would love that!!

I was thinking about that healing wish this morning because I saw a Facebook post of something I’d love to do, but likely never will because of fear. Fear I wouldn’t have if I had not been through my sexual assault.

So I started thinking about bucket lists, and although I just feel irritated when that phrase is used, I understand what value it has for people to make a list of things they would love to do in their lifetime. My list isn’t necessarily things I haven’t done, but things I’d like to feel comfortable doing again. Without fear. Without shame.

With “reckless abandon.”

A list of things I’d like to reclaim or do:
1. Dancing
2. Go to an Eminem concert
3. Wear clothes I love
4. Feel sexy
5. Walk at night
6. Love my body

There’s probably other things too. Sometimes in a situation I’ll think “the old me would have done that.” Sometimes in those moments I feel sad or angry or even scared.

I wanna be me again. ALL the way me. But sometimes that feels like it’s just impossible.

I’ll keep trying. I have to try.