❌TRIGGER WARNING ❌
I’ll start my story at 8 years old. I was living in Albuquerque, NM. My recollection is that we moved there somewhat suddenly from my hometown of Milwaukee, WI. I don’t remember much about New Mexico. I know it was warm, dry, everything moved a little slower. The dirt was red & you could make clay out of it. I remember loving the art & being interested in the culture. I have fond memories of Santa Fe & often think about going back for a visit, when I feel emotionally ready that is…
My memory gets foggy as I try to recall the incident…
I was at school. I was 8. There was a boy that was my age, maybe younger, that would flirt with me. I was totally grossed out, because I was 8 & boys have cooties. He did not take it lightly, there were obviously some issues there. He told his older brothers, at which point I’m assuming they planned their revenge. The rest is a bit of a blur. I remember waking up, somewhere outside on the ground near my school, alone, confused & scared. I felt pain but at the moment I didn’t know why or where it was coming from. I didn’t say a word to my mom when she picked me up. To this day it’s hard for her to talk about so I’m lacking details that only she would remember. We went from school to my grandma’s house, it became impossible to hide any longer as the pain was unbearable. I screamed while using the bathroom & my mom took me to see a doctor. This is the hardest part to talk about. I remember the doctors examining me & asking me questions. When they asked if anyone had touched me I turned & looked at my mom. The look on her face, I’ll never forget it. My mom describes me as catatonic at that moment, but it’s actually my clearest memory of the entire experience. I had been sexually assaulted. At 8 years old, by this boy & all of his brothers.
It would change my life forever. All of my relationships, innocence & stability. The way I trusted, or let’s be honest, my lack of trust in everyone from this day forward. I stopped eating, had horrible nightmares & had a total breakdown. The scar remains but today I am STRONGER because of it. I am STRONGER than my abusers. There was a time when they were winning, when they had full control over my life, but not anymore. Here’s the problem & why I’m now doing what I do for a living, it took from age 8 to my mid-twenties to seek & get the help I needed.
There were very few options presented to me outside of therapy when I was 8 & none of them were tools I could use to become stronger, to get my power back. It wasn’t until I was much older that I not only utilized therapy but also mindfulness techniques. Instead of pushing my feelings down & numbing them, I was recalling everything, every painful detail. I was talking to my mom, doing what I could to get details I so desperately needed to move on. Then I meditated like crazy, journaled about things I wasn’t ready to talk about but was definitely ready to process privately. I learned about how emotions, pain & trauma get stuck in our bodies & cause illness. Then I moved my body, A LOT! Sometimes I’d do yoga & cry harder than I’ve ever cried. It was working its way out of my body. I joined groups so I could talk to other women who had been through what I had. I bought workbooks & did the homework, it was hard but necessary. I listened to podcasts, read books about other people’s stories & just continued to process.
The thing, however, that helped the most, was talking about it with other survivors. There’s something about this process that makes you feel less alone, less foreign, less alien. You start to realize you have a place in the world, a voice, even though you’re “different.” In the last year or so I decided that my story can change other people’s lives. I’ve gotten so many messages from other women who have been through what I have, thanking me for sharing my story. Stories are the fabric of being human. They teach us valuable lessons. They need to be heard, they need to be shared & we need tools to process painful situations vs. stuffing them down or numbing them. We need to open the floor, as a people, a safe space to talk about our traumas & mental illness. No more stigma, no more victim blaming. Every story matters, it’s time to step up & hold space for one another. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share some tools that I’ve found to be incredibly helpful with processing this kind of trauma.
Last but not least, talk to someone about your story. Someone you trust. A therapist, psychologist, help line, whatever feels safe for you. Message me, that’s why I’m here! Journal about it, get it out on paper, then rip it up or burn it. It feels good, trust me! Join a support group of women who have been through what you have & feel held. Buy workbooks, or just books about this particular trauma & learn how to process your pain in a healthy way. Just know you’re not alone, there are lots of people that care. You can get through this, you can come out the other side stronger, you can get your power back. Be gentle with yourself, it takes time, trust the process. Never hesitate to reach out when things get dark, you are not alone & it does it get better. It will heal, even if you can still see the scar ❤️Stay tuned for tips & stay strong, you are not alone!
Photo by: @heidizumbrun