The most common question I get is, “What you were wearing?” As if that makes a difference. I was in 8th grade, and my whole life I had been taught that, as a woman, I have to be careful what I wear because it could be distracting to boys.
I was wearing jeans and an extra-large hoodie if you must know.
The second most common question I am asked is, “what did you do to provoke him?” Nothing. Unless you count him asking me out and me saying, “no,” because he was a jerk who slammed my locker shut every day, who used to pull my hair because he liked the way it curled.
Now before you say, Boys will be boys, or, that’s how he shows you he likes you, let me tell you that I grew up hearing that if a guy is mean to you, he likes you.
“He’s pulling my hair.” He likes you.
“He stole my ball.” He likes you.
I took that to mean that if someone is mean to you, they must like you.
“He beat his wife for years.” He loved her too much.
“Why didn’t she leave?” She loved him too much.
For years, I was mean to my body: I cut myself open. I watched myself bleed. I starved myself. I belittled myself because I believed that in order to love my body, my being, I had to first be mean.
Meanness, I thought, was the way people showed love: Love is born out of hatred; Abuse is a symbol of love.
How messed up is that?
“Why did you do this to yourself?” I was trying to love myself.
“Why didn’t you leave?” Trust me, I tried. But something pulled me back.
You’ll be ok.
People like to believe that most sexual assaults and rapes are committed by strangers. However, that’s not the case. (Trust me, I’ve done the research. I know the statistics. 1 in 5. 1 in 7. I wrote a 12-page paper on the prevalence of rape in society and the way society treats the victims and the perpetrators. Sometimes, society doesn’t get it right).
I knew the guys who did this to me. I went to school with them. I saw them every day before and after until they dropped out. Win for me.
I graduated High School. They didn’t.
I am going to graduate from College soon. I’ve come a long way.
The things they called me, the things they told me, still echo in my ear.
You’re asking for this.
You’ll never amount to anything.
Nobody will ever love you.
Maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s not.
But I love me. It’s taken me years to get to this point. It’s taken me years to realize how beautiful I am I have the advantage of knowing where I’ve been and can compare it to where I am now. And with all these facts laid out before me, how can I not love me?
There are days when I want to go back in time and say to my 13-year old self, It’s ok. You’ll be ok. It will get better. I want to take her by the hand and show her the people she’ll touch, the people she’ll meet, the lives she’ll change. I want to tell her the story of her 19-year old self going to Guatemala, sharing her testimony with a group of Junior High students, and leading a young Guatemalan teenager to Christ because of her story. I want to tell her about the hard days and the sad days and the in-between days. I want to remind her that one day the sun will come out, and she’ll feel better. I want to tell her that despite the cyclic nature of Depression, she can get through this.
I’ve learned life is beautiful, and I want her to remember this.
I want to tell her that one day she’ll learn about the power of words, how writing can change a life. When she discovers this, she will have found what she wants to do with her life.
I guess those guys must have been wrong about me then.
My 13- year old self would love me.
My current self loves me.
God loves me.
He’s the One who called me back that day.
You’ll be ok.
Some days I have to remind myself of this, especially on the days when the weight of the world is on my shoulders.
God loves me anyway, and I’ll be ok.