Let me rephrase that…
I happily missed my anniversary.
I was on my way to join a group of my favorite women in the world tonight and met one of them coming into our friend’s building. She had just read my October 19th blog post where I, for the first time, really publicly shared about my sexual assault story. A story which is now 17 years old.
When I wrote that post, I never for one second thought that it would be read by just shy of 900 people in 25 countries around the world. The internet is such a crazy thing, isn’t it?
I’ve shared that story before on a much smaller scale, but being bold enough to go public with it has led to a lot of stories from other people as well. It’s in being vulnerable that I always find the return on investment of vulnerability being gifted back from others.
But I posted that “way back” in October so when my friend mentioned that she had read it just today, I actually had to think for a second about what post she was talking about. To be quite frank, I’ve been randomly aware in the past month or two that I’m feeling much more free, and I’m feeling more peace about situations that even in October were still giving me trouble. I don’t know why that is exactly. I don’t know that it’s connected to sharing that story with you all. But maybe it is.
Maybe it’s because it’s not even close to being a secret anymore. Maybe it’s because the swell of support and positive reaction has made me go back and look through journals to rediscover who I was then and how I’ve changed. Maybe it’s because my pastor, after having read the post, asked me to share with him about my journey of forgiveness…and I really had to sit and examine whether I had forgiven and how that had come to pass. Maybe it’s because so many conversations I’ve had since October have finally convinced me that I really do need to write a book about my journey back to wholeness after that experience…and that people might actually care to read it…and that it might actually help them.
Maybe the choice to risk bigger released a new level of freedom.
When my friend mentioned my story today, I responded with…”Oh, yeah. That was a long time ago. Almost 17 years ago….wait. No. Over 17 years ago. The anniversary was last week and I totally forgot.” And I realized that as I told her I had forgotten, I also didn’t care that I had forgotten. And I realized that I wasn’t actually having a feeling about it at all. And that non-feeling really felt amazing. It felt free.
At the end of my days on earth, Saturday, February 27, 1999 might very well go down in my life’s history as my absolute worst day.
But I’m realizing as I type this that on Saturday, February 27, 2016, paying no attention to the 17th “anniversary”of that day, I spent the evening at an event celebrating the journey of getting lost and being found again. And there was a beautiful song that’s lyric, “everything rises” made me ponder how thankful I am that I feel found again. That the darkness has given way to light. That life has risen.
It’s not like I’m pretending that this story isn’t a part of me. It’s deeply a part of me. But as I share more of my life with you, as I think about telling even more of my story, I feel my feet planted more firmly now than I have in a long time…maybe in forever.
And I want to say this to anyone who has gone through a trauma and might need to borrow someone else’s light for a bit: You will never forget that this thing happened to you. You just won’t. It’s part of you now. Don’t try to pretend that it isn’t because pretending will only let it come back and slap you in the face or knock you on your ass when you least expect it. You will hurt some days and you will cry some days. And some days you will hurt so much that you won’t actually be able to feel anything at all. But little by little, day by day, you will rise. And you will discover chances to be grateful and to notice how much loveliness and beauty surround you. And then, one day, you might be talking to a friend and realize that this thing doesn’t have a hold on you anymore…at least not in the same way it once did. And you will be happy that the sun is shining bright and the horizon looks beautiful.
(This post is a part of a series called 40 Before 40. 40 random thoughts on the 40 days before I turn 40 years old. If you have a post suggestion, send it on. Creativity is collaborative and I’ll take any writing prompts you want to send my way.)