I Survived; I’m Free!

A letter:

We were in 8th grade when “the incident” occurred. You were guys; so to you it was probably all in fun, a game of sorts. But to me, it was pain. My feelings were involved—I had liked you all at some point, and you knew that. That didn’t stop you. That doesn’t matter. You did a serious number on my self-esteem.

My trust: shattered. Like a glass hitting a concrete floor from 50 feet in the air.

My self-esteem: crushed.Like a boulder rolling over an ant.

Your words are super-glued to the inside of my brain. Like a tape they are on repeat, never to be forgotten, just turned down. Your actions are like a bad movie being replayed over and over again. Although, sometimes, the screen is turned off, granting me a brief reprieve.

Because of you, I learned that there is pain. Because of you, I learned not to trust. Because of you, I learned how to build walls. Because of you, I fell straight down—fast and hard.

But…

Because of you, I learned that there is beauty in pain. Because of you, I learned that trust should be earned. Because of you, I learned how to tear down walls. Because of you, I started fighting for my footing.

I’m stronger than I seemed to you, apparently, because I fought for my right to be here. Even when the odds were not in my favor, I fought—my strength coming from those around me, and coming from somewhere deep within me. I do matter. I do have value.

Albert Camus once said, “But in the end, one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.”

It’s true, you know. It would have been easier to give up; it would have been easier to just do what you said. But, that would be akin to me admitting defeat, which is not something I do easily. I prefer winning and coming out victorious. So I fought. And I fought hard. Even when the air was knocked out of my lungs again and again, I got up screaming through the pain, determined to prove you wrong. Because, let’s face it. I’m a girl; therefore, I’m always right.

I’m not angry anymore. I’ve grown up. I’ve moved on. I’ve forgiven. And now, I’m saying goodbye to you, to the bitterness, to the sorrow. I’m letting go. I’m free.

A lot can happen in 4 years; you grow up, you mature, you start seeing things differently. 4 years ago, I was a lot different than I am now—I was shy, I was quiet, I was broken. 4 years ago, I had my innocence ripped from me in a matter of minutes. All it took was minutes, and I’ve spent the last 4 years healing. I’ve spent the last 4 years trying to get the images of what they did out my mind; I’ve spent the last 4 years trying to get the words they said out of my head: “You’ll never amount to anything. You won’t succeed. You’re worth nothing.”

Nothing took the pain away more than cutting. So, that’s what I did. Multiple times a day, every day for two years. The wounds have faded now, but the scars are still there. The words they said don’t have as much of an impact anymore, but sometimes they come back loud, and I have to resist the urge to pick up that razor.

A lot can happen in 4 years. I entered Freshman year as quiet and insecure. I ended Senior Year as loud, and sometimes obnoxious, sometimes confident, but mostly insecure. I’m still broken, but I’ve seen beauty come from my brokenness. I’m beginning to see healing that is coming from the rain. After 4 years I’ve proved them wrong.

I SURVIVED! I’M FREE!

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2 Years

For those of you who have been paying attention to my life, today marks the 2 year anniversary since I last cut myself. In these last two years, I’ve learned a lot. Some of it is good; some of it is not.

When I first began to share my story, the general response of shock, terror, sadness was commonplace. If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry. I had no idea!,” I’d have at least $100. But, after some time, two more responses have become common: placing me on a pedestal, or resenting me. The former creates feelings of being unknowable. The latter creates feelings of knowing too much. That’s when I begin to wonder if I’ve said too much. Before a few weeks ago, I never ever regretted telling my story. Before a few weeks ago, I never doubted the help that it could give.

But that all changed. I can’t tell you exactly when it happened–maybe it was a series of events, maybe it was a few too many whispers behind my back–who knows. What I’ve been through has been used against me, many times. That doesn’t bother me too much, because I know that people will always try to hurt me. What hurts though is the talking about me behind my back, like I can’t hear, like I’m completely oblivious. Every time someone mentions “cutting,” people look at me; they talk about me. And, yes, I know. I have no idea what they are saying. That doesn’t necessarily make it hurt any less.

I get it, I’ve been open about whats happened to me (mostly because I can’t keep it bottled up inside. Sometimes because I think it will help people. But, I digress). I get that it’s hard for people to relate to what I’ve been through unless they’ve been through it themselves. But I’m still human. I have more accessible stories–I’ve lost family members, I’ve lost friends, I’ve had a parent that can’t always be there in the important times, I’ve been bullied. I can tell those stories too. I want people to be able to relate to me. I want to be accepted, to be loved, to not be judged. So, if I need to tell those stories, fine. I’ll tell those stories too.

But I can’t neglect the fact that I’ve had really dark times.

It’s all a part of me. Who I am. It’s made me who I am today. All of it.

So, yes, I can tell different stories if it will have me some heartache. But if you don’t like me for my whole story, then sue me (I’d rather you didn’t do that. You could just not be my friend anymore).

I’m human. I make mistakes. I want my life to be as normal as possible. That’s hard to do sometimes when my story is out there. If I could go and change the past, I would. It would definitely make it easier for me to “blend in.” I wouldn’t have this label on my forehead that says, “ex-cutter,” or one that says, “victim of sexual assault.”  It doesn’t make it easier to be who I want to be. Sometimes it makes it harder. I want life to be easy. I want people to not be afraid to get to know me, to talk to me if they are having problems. I’ll tell different stories that make me seem more human. I’d much rather have a label that says, “Lost a Grandparent, victim of bullying, etc.” I don’t know. I’m trying.

“And sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing. But I’m trying my hardest to figure it out. Because life is a mystery with all it’s unanswered questions. And you have to take the pieces apart, rearrange them, and put them back together in order to figure out the big picture.”

I’ve never, ever regretted telling my story. And I’m so very, very confused right now. And that’s really all I have to say.