That’s my word for this week. I mean let’s be honest, I’ve been sitting around reflecting on my life for the last two years, but it’s only today that I realize how important that word is to me.
This week I asked publicly on Twitter, “What advice would you give to someone whose afraid to admit they’re being or have been abused?”
I got a ton of great answers that I’ll scatter through this site, but what hit me was…”look at how far you’ve come?, you’re healing yourself,” and then I was reminded instantly of the super powers that come with being abused. Yup. I said that shit, I own it. Being abused turns you into an instant Soldier, a Super Hero who fights against the darkness and shame to escape the fucking fight. And that makes me amazing. You too for that matter.
When we are in for the fight of our life, after we’ve been abused, we often forget to think about everything we’ve learned about ourselves. I’ve been raped, beaten and tortured so much that I don’t worry about what could happen anymore. I am too busy trying to show how grateful I am that I made it through another night without being abused. I am too busy trying to show myself how grateful I am, that I am still alive. In this moment, at this time of the world’s history.
Life could be a lot more difficult for me. I could be homeless, selling my body on the street to survive. Not trying to shame Sex workers here, but they don’t have the most luxurious comfortable lives when they’re homeless living on the streets. Life can be rough for those women, but I am not living in that situation.
I am here, instead, in my warm apartment, watching the Superbowl, enjoying a toke here and there and crying because the Chiefs are up at sixteen with the 49’ers up at twenty, worrying that the Niner’s aren’t going to win the fucking game.
I don’t have it that bad. Life is pretty good, in this moment, but I am always reminded that it wasn’t always so kind to me. Life was hard for me, it’s hard for a lot of people, and that is why I am grateful.
I am one of the lucky few who made it out of a world filled with gang rape and sexual abuse, and I am here to tell my story for yet another day. You don’t get to be grateful when you’re busy trying to survive. You’re too busy trying to figure out how not to piss off your abuser. You’re too busy hoping you make it through another night. You’re too busy trying not to kill yourself.
When you are living in the midst of chaos and abuse, you’re doing anything you can to just fucking survive, and part of that isn’t sharing your story, let alone admitting it to yourself. It’s too fucking overwhelming and too difficult to admit to what you’re going through.
Because what if, and this is a totally valid fear, the people you tell support your abuser? What if no one believes you? What if you’re a man and no one wants to admit that men can be abused too? Or what if you are the wife or girlfriend of a cop, and no one believes that cops can be the bad guys?
What if a thousand things, that prevent you from facing your reality and doing what you can to break away from the cycle that keeps you being abused.
What if you live? What if people do believe you? What if they help you move out and away from your abusive partner? What if you escape? Then what?
Then you reflect.
When we first escape those situations filled with abuse and chaos, we are so often so focused on getting out, that we don’t or can’t take the time to reflect on how it is we got where we are, and we fucking have to. It’s only on starting to be aware of how much we’ve survived and sacrificed, that we’re able to finally start to heal.
You learn to focus your mind, on surviving the next step, that’s step one. You’ve been assaulted or abused and now you are no longer in that space, what’s next?
Little chunks again. You take time to reflect, and you move on to the next step, but at no point during the first few months or sometimes years, do you take time to reflect on what happened to you.
A friend of mine once told me to play back every bad thing that ever happened to me, until I could look at those memories without being afraid anymore. I was fucking terrified and told him he must be smoking crack or something. Considering he was in recovery, this was probably not the best response.
None the less, over the last two years that is what I’ve been doing, and it’s been a mental fucking mind fuck from which I am surprised I survived. I think reflecting on the memories was harder than the abuse, because in the stages of the abuse I was active. I was working, I had something else to focus my attention on so I didn’t have time to think about it.
Not working, or at least working from home on this blog has given me the opportunity to really digest it all, and it was a fucking lot. But I survived that. I reflected so hard I left bruises on my body, but I fucking survived that shit. And so will you. I tell you this because reflecting is legit the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do.
You have to think about every single time you were ever afraid, ashamed, beaten down, broken, and you have to forgive yourself and that can be the most complicated part of healing.
“What the fuck do I need to forgive myself for? I didn’t choose to be abused.” – Me
No, you didn’t, but you didn’t fight back hard enough, you didn’t end the cycle sooner, you didn’t kill them when you had the chance. You didn’t stop it. And that will fuck with you, it will be the fault of you because somehow, someway, there should have been something you could have done.
I often, partially because I love fiction, consider my abusers to be characters in a video game, sometimes they take awhile to break down and defeat, but eventually you get there. Eventually they show you their weak spot, and you can take them down and escape their hold and you did that.
You survived, and you have to keep reminding yourself of that fact, that no matter what you could have, would have or should have done, you got to where you are, free, at fucking last. You made it out. When you learn to accept that, everything else seems to fall into place.
Accepting that your reflections are part of your past, and can no longer hold you back, everything else seems to make sense. I highly recommend smoking weed during this process, it cushions the fucking blow.
The first part of all of this however, is admitting that you have been, or are being abused.
You can do this Soldier. It is a lot less painful that staying in the cycle. It’s a hard road once you jump off the speedway, and there are going to be some bumpy landings, but you can do this.
I believe in you.
Siddha Lee Saint James, Krisya Ohana Elder