Trigger Warning: I will be mentioning sexual assault, rape
Today Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified about the "alleged" assault she is a survivor of by Supreme Court Justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. He "allegedly" assaulted her at a party while they were in high school. The length of time between then and now is irrelevant. He claims he doesn't remember the way she has re-told the chain of events, and why would he when he wasn't the one harmed? Don't we as survivors tragically remember the worst days of our lives in explicit detail long after the sun has risen and set many, many times? How many of us have to see our abusers keep their jobs and their public respect when we've seen what they're capable of?
When I turned on the live feed, seeing her sitting at the table waiting to testify made me cry. I thought of her bravery for doing so, and I thought of all people who have tried to confront their abuser, who have tried to tell someone to help ease the pain of it, and especially of those who keep in inside for fear or shame or a multitude of other emotions. I am this person.
Because, yeah, #metoo.
A few years ago I shared my story of an incident that happened to me at Baylor while I was in school. The first time I shared it I explained I never told anyone because I knew no one would believe me, and even I knew I couldn't do anything to help myself. The overall feelings of helplessness, bitterness, guilt, rage, worthlessness, fear, and like no one could ever truly understand or help, bore down on me for years. As "Cranes in the Sky" put it so perfectly, "I tried to drink it away, I tried to dance it away, I tried to change it with my hair. I tried to work it away but that just made me even sadder. I slept it away, I sexed it away, I read it away."
I was sexually assaulted again a few times during this period of running into walls and finding only myself.
None of that filled the void of confronting myself and allowing myself to feel all of these things. I had to stop using unhealthy situationships disguised as balms and tequila shots disguised as bandaids to ease the sting of my supposed failure and weakness. I channeled my rage to finding ways I could warn others and ensure abusers and rapists faced, at the least, a public form of accountability through shame and ostracizing from the communities they frequented. And it hurt much more when people came to their defense or gave them space to occupy where they could likely harm more women. Their clout meant more than the truth of those who survived and were tired of feeling unsafe.
The truth was and is that I always had power, and it's more than ok to process everything I feel, no matter how conflicting or scary, in a way and timeline that worked best for me. There was a quote floating around online that says, "healing is nonlinear," and I like to remember that on days like today. I finally now feel like I've healed enough to not let these feelings control my energy.
One practice I want to share with you who are reading this and feeling the same, who have maybe cried today, and the last year, too is one that has helped me gain closure and empower myself.
Whenever I have unresolved feelings with someone or someone has hurt me, I write a letter to them. I try to put all energy I've felt about them into this letter. I end it with, "I release you from me. I release myself from you and this energy. I promise to work to be better after this release." Then I go outside and I burn this letter while I pray and repeat the last lines to myself. And I let it go. I often still have lingering feelings after this ritual, but I have noticed the act of doing it helps me feel more in control of my life and how I respond to triggering things henceforth.
I wish you all love today, and every day. I believe you and I stand with you.
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