If there was a shortcut to healing from rape, I would have found it. I tried it all. Escape only created more need to escape because all the trauma was waiting for me at the other side. Denial confused the hell out of me because eventually I lost track of who I was and what I felt. Treading water in the hope that the trauma would pass all by itself only froze me in stasis. Half-assed therapy was even less effective.
I tried everything except walking through the horror and feeling every part. I was The Original Perpetual Victim, not because I’d been raped, but because I refused to do the work involved in getting beyond it. I had a legitimate reason for my pain. Nobody denied that, but I had no real excuses for insisting on a short cut out of hell.
They say there’s no such thing as a perfect victim. I will tip my hat at that one. Rape is a harsh trip, and none of us can get past it perfectly the first time. In the same breath, I have to say that the only way out is through. It involves work. It involves pain. It requires you to glare at the harsh, harsh heat of reality because there is only one way to move from surviving to thriving: by not avoiding the facts and raw feelings.
Every survivor must look at the truth of their past, tolerate every intolerable feeling, and process every tiny sliver of shame.
It’s not for pussies.
I spent 12 years drowning. I spent much of it close to suicide. I wish someone had told me that if I stopped insisting there was no water and just started swimming, I would get to the other side of the lake. There’s an island there, and the beach is the whitest you’ve ever seen.
I lost so many years to pretending there were no tears. There was no pain. Useless, useless years.
Then I put on my boots and worked. I’m not going to lie about how easy it was, but within a month, I was already feeling a lot less traumatised. Within a short year, my isolation was gone, and I was living the normal life I thought was impossible for me. I learned that you can come back from rape.
Emily Dickinson wrote, “Hope is a thing with feathers that sits on the soul and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.”
There is the key: hope never, ever stops singing. It’s right there inside you. Just look a little harder.