I know where the sad comes from.
I sank into the blue couch that was placed in front of my therapist who looked at me through worried eyes as I described the debilitating sadness that I have become numb to. With a blank stare I said to her, “I think it’s just a part of my personality, no matter how good my circumstances are, no matter how many pills I take, or sermons I watch, I think there will always be a piece of sad in me.” I went on to tell her about a vivid memory I have with my friends, we strolled down butterfly lane laughing as we made our way to the beach. One of the girls brought up the subject of death, a concept that I have become comfortable with (maybe it’s because I believe in heaven, maybe it’s because I’ve been suicidal since the age of ten, maybe it’s both). Casually I said without hesitation, “If you were to give me the option of life or death right now and told me that no one would be affected by it, I would choose death every time.” Before they could address their concern I downplayed my morbid comment with a giggle, and like always I reassured them that I was okay, even joyful, there’s just a piece of sad in me. I’ve learned to live with it and I’ve become accepting with the thought that I’ll always carry that with me, but tonight I realized that that is no longer the case. Because I now know where the sad comes from.
The broken soul of a fifteen year old girl has been buried deep inside of me, but has failed to completely vanish. My experience with sexual abuse is no secret and it is a part of me that I have learned to be proud of. Unattached, I can nonchalantly say to strangers, “Oh, I was sexually assaulted when I was fifteen, but I’m over it now, don’t feel sorry for me.” That line has now become rehearsed, but what people don’t know, what still brings tears to my eyes and makes my hands tremble, are the details within the story; the thoughts and emotions that were trapped inside of a fifteen year old girl. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to return to the girl I was before the assault, but sometimes I still look at other 15 year old girls with envy. I envy their innocence, their purity, their confidence, the light in their eyes, and I hope they hold onto that as long as they can. I pray that no one ever hurts them the way I was hurt. Typically the biggest stressors of students in their junior year of high school are the SAT, AP exams, and who they are gonna take to prom. My biggest concern junior year was if my assaulter was going to return to the school. And that’s where the sad comes from.
The rumors that were spread between classmates in ignorance to the truth of my experience, the looks of judgement that I received in the halls, the shame and guilt that caused me to tear my skin with a razor, the panic attacks that occured from the fear of seeing him, the nightmares, the flashbacks, the betrayal I felt from the those who I trusted to protect me, the words that silenced me in my desperation to be heard: “I’m going stop you right there because I don’t want to hear it,” “No offense, but he’s not coming back for you,” “Well, you were in a relationship,” “Why didn’t you tell someone while it was happening?” All of it continued to eat away at my soul until there was almost nothing left. I have grown to be okay with people not believing me and having no desire to hear my story, but regardless I will continue to proclaim it until my lungs run out of air. The sad will no longer linger.
So here is my battlecry and this is the story of the war I have fought and won.
I am reclaiming what you stole.
I am reclaiming my strength: I survived what I thought would kill me and I am building a beautiful life out of a graveyard of pain.
I am reclaiming my dignity: the fear that came as uninvited hands grazed my skin cannot compare to the countless nights that the arms of Christ have comforted me.
I am reclaiming my confidence: I am so much more than an object used for sex, than a body created to please...it has taken me years to realize this. I am brave, I am strong, I am powerful, I am an overcomer, and I am indestructible.
I am reclaiming my body: I no longer look in the mirror and see the shadows of his hands. I see a temple. I see a home for my lungs that allow me to breathe the ocean air. I see my heart that pumps life into my veins. I see arms that allow me to hold my loved ones. I see strength in the body that has healed every bruise, every cut, every wound, and although there are still scars they are reminders of the battles I have won.
I am reclaiming my voice: Every testimony I share, every poem I write, every blog I publish, is a reminder to those who tried to silence me, of the light they will never dim.
I am reclaiming my worth: I am worthy of love. I am worthy of respect. I am worthy of receiving the same love and kindness that I give to others. I am worthy of life.
The sad is gone. The war is won. And this is my battlecry.
Learning, Evolving, and Unashamed
- Callie Smith