Sunday, April 25, 2010

A story that needs to be told

I have been sitting here for hours trying to figure out how to get the thoughts that are flooding my head out.  I have started and re-started this post several times.  Someone might say that if it is so difficult that maybe I should take that as a sign that I should not post these thoughts, but that is not the case.  I just have to figure out the best way to say what it is that is weighing on my mind.  Its a touchy topic.  Its a deeply personal and private topic.  It is not something that I have shared with many of those close to me.  

I feel compelled to share because I know that there are many people out there who have been through this or something very similar.  Ah, who am I kidding?  I mostly need to share because if I don't I'm not sure I can fully heal.

16 years ago, I was a single mom with 2 Littles to watch over.  I was also quite the drinker.  Not every day, but definitely binged on the weekends that I had no Littles to tend to.  On one of those weekends it was business as usual.  Go to the club with a friend, get good and drunk and then go home and pass out.  That is usually how it ended up.  Until one night when things didn't exactly go as planned.

Here's what I remembered the next day.  I went to the club, I got separated from my friend and then I recalled standing outside after the bars had closed and having a complete stranger ask me if I was ok and if I needed a ride. The next morning I awoke to a severe headache, a large egg on the back of my head and bruises on my neck.

To those of you reading, it is probably very clear that I had been physically and more than likely sexually assaulted.  To me, at the time, I had messed up big time.  I had had sex with someone because I drank too much.  I couldn't explain the bump on my head or the bruises on my neck, but I was pretty sure that I was never going to tell anyone what had happened.  Everyone would know that it was my fault for drinking too much and for leaving with a stranger. Even though I didn't remember leaving with anyone.

So I filed the attack away and went on like business as usual.  Went to work on Monday with a headache and faint bruises on my neck.  I made it 3 days before a fellow employee finally cornered me and asked me why I had been acting so off.  Apparently I wasn't very good at pretending.  She was an angel.  She had been through a date rape experience and she encouraged me to go the doctor and then to the police.

Some of the details of the attack had been coming to me over those 3 days.  I remembered where the attack had taken place and I remembered who the person was.  It was a friend of my friend's boyfriend.  I didn't remember his name, but I knew that I could find him if I needed to.  I kept that information to myself.  I didn't want to find him.  I didn't want him to tell everyone that I had willingly left the bar with him.  I didn't want to get my friend involved.  So I told her that I didn't know who he was.  Just some guy from the bar.

My co-worked told me how I would feel so much better if I reported it.  She said that I would feel more empowered and safe.  She went with me to the police.  I did not feel better.  I felt embarrassed and ashamed.  The police officer was very kind.  He assured me that it was not my fault and that I shouldn't feel bad.  Then he had me take him to the scene of the attack.  All I could do is shake as we walked into that wooded area.  More details came to my mind, but I couldn't share them.  Too disgusted.  He found some evidence and then told me to go right to the ER and get myself checked out.

At the ER it was determined that I had sustained a concussion.  I was not pregnant and I would have to wait for the HIV test to come, but the attacker had used a condom, so I should be thankful for that.  I went home feeling dirty and ashamed again.  I never talked to the police after that.  I couldn't even see that I had been viciously attacked even after I had been told that I had a concussion. In my mind I was still to blame.  I asked for it.  I filed the experience away and every now and then I would bring it up in one of my many stints in the counselors office. I even had been able to embrace the notion that it was not my fault and I thought I had moved on.

But today my thoughts kept turning back to that day 16 years ago.  I found myself getting more and more emotional about it.  I knew that I had some more healing to do.  I recently began the practice of Reiki.  I'm not going to go into what Reiki is right now, because this post is getting long enough.  Simply put, it is an ancient Eastern energy healing technique for the body, mind & spirit.  I knew that I needed some healing in the area of this past trauma, but I had no idea what that meant.

This afternoon, as I performed Reiki, the memories of that night came flooding back.  Things that I had long forgotten and some things that I had no idea I even knew.  I was finally able to understand why I could not remember so many details.  I had been drugged and I had been mislead to believe that this person knew where my friend was and would take me to her.  I had been a victim of a terrible, brutal crime.  I relived all the pain and fear of that night.  For these past 16 years any tears that I shed about that night were tears of shame and guilt.  Today, for the first time, I let the tears fall freely for the pain that I experienced  that night.  I cried silently, so that I would not upset my family, but I didn't hold it in.  I released the experience.  I felt fear, pain (actual physical pain) and anger. I felt vulnerable and small. Nothing I felt tonight has resembled shame or  embarrassment or disgust.

I'm shaken, but I am also healing.  I am finally, after 16 years, feeling all that I should have felt that night.  I am finally seeing what happened as the tragedy that it was.  I feel safe and protected and I know that I am going to be fine.  I am being guided through this healing process from a combination of sources.  Both divine and human.  I am not doing this on my own.  This is bigger than me, but I am stronger because of it.  I am a little freer today and little lighter knowing that I am loved by many and that I will not be judged by this event any longer.

There are people that I know that are going to read this and they will probably going to be taken aback and maybe feel awkward around me, but that is ok.  Healing doesn't just need to happen to those of us who have experienced this.  It needs to happen to those who are affected by it in any manner.  I don't want people to look at me and feel sorry for me, I want them to look at me and think how amazing it is to heal from something so sad.  I have more healing to do, but I know that I am up for the experience.  I am ready to let my spirit shine and be fully free.  That day is coming.

I don't know how long I'll keep this posted.  I may decide tomorrow that I don't want to expose myself to others this way.  For today I will hit the 'publish post' button and I will hope that what I have gone through can be a beacon of light for anyone who may have experienced the same thing and just wants to heal once and for all.

If you have gone through any kind of physical and/or sexual attack, please tell someone.  Allow yourself to heal and to see that you are a beautiful, shining soul who only deserves to be loved and safe.

Just my thoughts.


Caroline said...

This is so important to write. You are so very brave. And in order to heal, you can't hide this. I too am a reiki practitioner. Reiki is powerful...and the past won't hide now. You are letting this go so you can heal and heal others too. Thank you for writing this. xo

Anonymous said...

You posted so I'm going to comment. Please don't delete your post. The story needs to be told; the problem lately is that the teller feels vulnerable while teaching with the story then deletes it. Deleting is your is telling. I am listening.
I will share with you, and your readers, that I lost my precious virginity at the age of 20 to stranger rape. Sucked. Violent act, still have physical scars, probably have emotional scars left to heal.
I'm a Light worker--my entire life has been devoted to helping people to heal. *This* experience was something I later used in inspirational speeches to others; and for years I worked with the local rape crisis line and domestic violence shelter.
However, the consequences of this experience have followed me throughout life. I have Faith and allowed it to shape me through this among other experiences. I am sure much in my life stalled and many paths were redirected by my subsequent choices. As I released, I was able to heal.
In the Fall I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Right. I believe in the mind/body conenction. So, I had some healing to do. Many directed me toward chakra healing; and of course any unresolved issues I had were held within my 2nd chakra manifesting in cancer.
I manifest what I need to heal in life. I needed to heal this once and for all. As I do, my life expands more, my heart is open and full, my faith is strong, I realize that each day truly is most precious and I am using all of this to share what I have while I am here on Earth. Some days what I have is "meager" as in a smile, some days abundant as in facilitating a miracle...but you know what? I truly wouldn't trade even the painful moments, maybe especially the painful moments, because these moments now are more beautiful and authentic due to them.
Jill..there is nothing to be ashamed of, to hide. Please look in the mirror and see what those who love you see--allow yourself to feel loved, safe, comfortable, worthy of the beauty, peace, joy, abundance, sacredness of all surrounding you. Light a candle and let the Light remind you of the warmth in your heart; the warmth you share on these pages and in various ways in your life.
This is the story you wanted to tell; thank you for sharing...Much peace....

Anonymous said...

What a journey you are on. What courage you have to share it. It feels to me like your Spirit will soar more freely now. What a privilege to read your words.

shiny mamaof6 said...

Caroline - Thank you for reading my post. Reiki is amazing and I am so grateful that I got on this path of healing. And it is so so awesome that we share a common connection through Reiki.

Joy - You are such a beautiful soul. I am so touched that you chose to share your horrifying experience here. You are a strong woman and I am blessed to have you in my life. The world needs more Light workers such as yourself. Thank you for loving me and making me see the importance of self-love. Keep on shining!

Wholeselfcoach - Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts here. My Spirit does feel like it is flying a little higher today. Peace to you.

Gastenator said...

First off ((hugs)) to you, Jill. For experiencing what you did, for living all those years with that "secret" and for now--having the courage to come forward and tell your story.

I can't imagine anyone who would look at you differently or feel awkward around you. This was not your fault.

Thank you for telling your story. ((hugs))

Lance said...

What a brave and courageous post. Your words are hard to read - hard for me to fully think that it's possible for this to happen. Even though I know that it happens all too often. Jill, your story is an important one - in that it brings healing to not only you, but to others who will read this.

Your light shines brightly, today and always. You are a gift, and today my heart aches for you in what you endured...and rejoices with you in who you are today and the love you share so freely.

Peace and love,

Elizabeth @ If She Cry Out said...

I think memories sometimes come flooding back when we have new tools and new support to deal with them. And I think it takes time to work through this because some parts of this are more about wisdom than psychology. We need the extra perspective of years and spiritual growth to handle this.

I'm incredibly glad that you could let those tears fall and feel your feelings of anger and vulnerability without turning them against yourself. Though it may feel like a reminder of how much healing is to come, it is also a sign of significant maturity and recognition of the truth of what happened.

I know I've worked through my own rape story in pieces over the last 15 years. I was raped at age 30 by a stranger who forced his way into my car and strangled me to the point of unconsciousness before raping me. Like Jchristin I find that my story and the wisdom I've needed to develop to make sense of it are important gifts I can give to others and also a source of creativity.

I too hope you won't delete your post. The telling is for you, but the hearing is for others. I think it is important for people to see that rape survivors can be normal thoughtful beautiful caring people, like yourself. That at least is what I see when I read your posts. This post doesn't change that one bit.

I don't know if you are looking for resources to explore this further but one of the best books I've found for working through rape experiences is "Resurrection After Rape" by Matt Atkinson. There's a link to a pdf version of the book here:

What sets this book apart for me is that it didn't try to tell me how to heal, rather it gave me a road map for finding my own path.

The Beckos said...

It takes a special strength to show your vulnerable sides. It takes incredible depth to be able to see past the pain and find yourself again. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Life is busy and we (I) often forget that we are shaped (not defined) by our past experiences. I'm very glad to know you.

(I mistakeny posted this on another post of yours. It was meant for here.)

shiny mamaof6 said...

Rachel - Thank you for letting me share this with you. I really appreciate the support and the hugs. You're a good friend.

Lance - Your thoughts here are a big help in this healing process that I am in. I am blessed to have such an incredible blogging community to share this journey with. Thank you.

Elizabeth @ If She Cry Out - Thank you so much for leaving your thoughts here and for sharing your own tragic rape story. I am filled ever so much more with warmth from the kind words you have left. I don't feel that I will delete the post. I really can see how it can be beneficial for others to read.

And thank you so much for the reference. I will look into it. Blessings to you.

Kelly - I love how you say "we are shaped, not defined, by our past experience". Thank you for leaving those words here. Thank you for letting me share my story with you.

Angela Sweetland Bass said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I think we all feel vulnerable when we decide to show those parts that we keep hidden from the world. There are parts of my life where I still feel shame even though I 'know' I should not. Blessings on your healing journey.

Love, Angie

mermaid said...

In shamanic tradition, this trauma is not just shared by the person, but the whole group. I feel the words' sharp edges, and I bleed with you. I also feel the softness of the tears, and they are watering a beautiful being inside.

Can you see her? Can you feel her? Can you hear her?

She aches to be free, and you have so honestly, so graefully done that today.

May the journey of healing continue, and may you know that this blog tribe of yours trembles, cries, sings, and dances with you.

Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord said...

Jill, you are dearly loved --- not for who we think you are, but for who you TRULY are.

I'm so sorry for what you went through. Your words here, though, are a beacon of hope for others.

Thank you... And I love you.

shiny mamaof6 said...

Angie - Thanks for the blessings. I hope that someday you are able to let go of the shame you hold on to. I love you.

Mermaid - You are such a wise and caring soul. I am blessed indeed to have this blogging tribe. It makes the healing that much easier. Thank you for your thoughts.

Megan - Thank you for offering the love that you do. And know, that I love you as well.

Christine said...

That sounds so scary! I think most women, if not all of them, have a story that needs to be told. Including me. Your story came just after I stopped being hiding and being in denial and started HONESTLY confronting some things about my past as well. Thanks for sharing this. And congratulations on becoming that much more closer towards healing.

shiny mamaof6 said...

Christine - Healing happens so much faster when these stories are released. I hope that healing is happening for you as well.

Stark Raving Zen said...

Just here to say I love you.


septembermom said...

Jill, your story is important. Others will benefit from hearing your honesty and witnessing your vulnerability. You are a gift, my friend.