The flickering nightlight threaded in the crack of your doorway is a lighthouse. You’re eyes close and you’re there, high above the sea. The howling breath of the night knocks you over, cursing your safety. She whispers in front of a thunderous roar, laughing at you as you clutch to your favorite animal under the blanket. You open your eyes and see more darkness. You cry out for safety, waiting to be rescued.
When you’re a five-year-old, seconds are forever – an eternity when waiting for reality to save us from the boogeymen and monsters underneath our bed.
For some of us, the indelible line between fear in our mind and safety of what’s actually real, bleeds over. It’s a watercolored fingerprint of our suffering from long ago. What once was feared in the darkness on our bedroom floor, now breathes under our skin. No amount of time, booze, blow, sex, cupcakes or insert vice here will erase the reality of our past. It’s fucked. But do we need to be? Like, always and forever, fucked?
A survivor’s acceptance on the road to healing comes at a lofty price. It means rolling up our shame, lacing our truth with personal responsibility, and getting real about how as grown ups, we’re doing everything in our power to avoid getting real.
The most amazing, precious thing about aging in this tortured life of ours is that we have more control than we realize. Who we were as children does not mean that as adults, we’re destined to wear a neon sign flashing “VICTIM!”, “FUCKED!”, or “BROKEN!.”
My truth: I was raped at thirteen. I was a victim. My dad split when I was two, I was abandoned. My step-father was an ass. I was abused. I numbed my shit, I am an addict. I traded my sexy for power, I was a stripper. This is part of who I am – but it’s taken me countless hours and truthful tears to learn – it’s never going to be all that I am.
If you find yourself repeating old patterns, self-sabotaging your happiness, falling back on “it’s because….” – time to remember: we are not the sum-total of our suffering. We are empowered for having survived. Switch the hard wiring in your brain and work on the real you – not the person you turned into – or think you need to be – because of what happened.
“You have to crawl into your wounds to discover where your fears are. Once the bleeding starts, the cleansing can begin.” – Tori Amos
*If you or anyone you know needs help regarding sexual abuse, please go to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network).