This next blog needs to be handled very delicately. Mostly for myself but also what it can bring up for others. I write this with the purest of intentions and that is, to share a story that reflected a person that I once told myself I was.
Last night I was at a bar watching a friend perform. A group of guys walked through and one of them turned instantly and looked at me. He then started to stumble over towards me. I wasn’t quite sure what to do because I was mindful of overreacting. I wasn’t scared but I was definitely not comfortable. He reached his hand out and grabbed my cheek, I quickly slapped it away and quite sternly told him to back off. He walked away without another word to say so it was all pretty mild. I had a friend standing next to me who was furious but it didn’t so much bother me. I shrugged it off to him as I was all good because I trust myself and blah blah blah.
I actually thought that I handled it quite well and I was applauding myself quietly because all this guy did was touch my cheek and I went into protection mode. I shut that shit down in a hot second which was leaps and bounds better than the reaction I gave the man who raped me years ago.
This one particular night I had a friend stay over with me, we had been out drinking and I had locked myself out of my apartment. We called up a guy we knew who lived near us that we had partied with a few times. We promised if he came over and got us into my apartment we would stay up and have some drinks with him. We did, and after a little while I did a Houdini and took myself up to bed. I always sleep with my door closed and this night was no different. At some point, I woke up to this man inside me. I had not instigated it, I had not been in any way romantically linked to him and I had NOT given him permission to share my bed let alone have sex with me. I was passed out fast asleep and he had found his way up the stairs, into my closed bedroom and I woke up to him raping me.
Sadly, this is probably a story all too familiar for a lot of women out there and some men too. The part that I have held the most shame over however is my reaction.
I apologised to him that I couldn’t have sex with him.
I was so afraid of hurting his feelings and rejecting him that I apologised and made up an excuse to why I couldn’t continue having sex with him. I’m writing this now so full of sadness and disbelief for who I was at that time.
A woman, so inexperienced with how to receive love of any kind, least of all self love. You see, my self worth was so low that I didn’t even know I was being raped. I did not connect the dots until years later when I opened up to someone about it. I thought that I must have led him on. I thought that in some way I had asked for it and all I was concerned about was him feeling rejected and humiliated. At no point did I question how I felt because at that point in time, I didn’t feel like I even had a right to realise that it was not ok.
I was a woman so depleted of self love that I disregarded some pretty basic needs. I knew no better so therefore could not have commanded better for myself. I didn’t have the tools available at that time to be kind to myself and understand when something was not ok. The scary thing about this is, you would never have known it to meet me.
The work I have had to do on myself to release shame and anger, to instil boundaries and to do so in a way that is loving and compassionate to myself and others has not been easy. This is not just relating to the experience of rape. It relates to all the other experiences where I have allowed people to treat me less than I have deserved. You see, even though I have always held myself in a very confident and strong manner, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have my challenging areas in life. Just because someone is strong, it doesn’t mean they are without shitty experiences, they just deal with them in different ways. They realise that this is a calling to give more self love. When you hold on to the shame and the injustice of it, you give away your chance to heal and to move on.
I look at myself today and it would be true to say that I have much stricter boundaries in place. But you know, as I write this, I realise that I’m still working on them and that is ok, Rome wasn’t built in a day as the saying goes. The key I have learned is the more self love you give, those boundaries present themselves to you more clearly. It also allows you to give yourself and others more compassion and forgiveness.
Hindsight is a really wonderful tool that once upon a time used to debilitate me. I would have an experience occur that I didn’t enjoy and I would beat myself up wondering how I let myself go through this and what did I not do in the moment to avoid this. But I understand now, hindsight is a gift that allows us to see more of what we want. This comes equally with the experiences we do want and the experiences we don’t want. In each instance, it is an opportunity for us to refine and to get more clear on this. What is shows us is what we can do next time differently to improve the outcome.
Today I watched a show on Netflix, Nanette with Hannah Gadsby. It inspired me to no end and I highly recommend you watch it. It inspired me to share my story because I want people to use me as their hindsight. I want people to see that you can have some shitty things happen to you and they don’t have to define you. I want people to know that you can have a really happy and fabulous existence despite the lowest levels of self hate you might be experiencing.
I want people to know that I have felt suicidal in my past. I have felt that the world forgot me, I have felt that I was not worthy of love, I have felt that I was not worthy to call a man out for raping me, I have felt that I was not worthy of standing up for myself when I was treated with less than I deserve. I’ve felt the lowest and darkest places that life can take some people, and I turned it around. I now live an extremely happy life, full of wonderful people and most importantly full of an immense amount of self love and personal joy.
I write these things with the intention of people reading it and feeling safe. I understand that in life it really hurts to be open. I understand how fearful it is to feel like you are all alone and that life seems to work for others but not for you. I understand that it is scary as hell to show the parts of yourself to others that you can’t even accept yourself. I understand this, I have lived it and I’m sharing it with you because I want you to feel that it is ok to let yourself feel this way. You are not alone in this! Every single person in this world feels like this or has felt like this. The saddest part is, we all try and hide it from one another. The best part is, it’s a choice and we can turn it around in a second by simply administering some self love.
How? Just put your hand on your heart and take a deep breath. Set yourself the intention to give more self love and the rest will present itself.