TW: Sexual harassment
I’m sure that you’ve all heard about the inundation of sexual harassment accusations in the news these past few weeks. For those of you who may have missed out, here’s a CliffNotes version; Harvey Weinstein, media and entertainment mogul, was accused of numerous cases of sexual harassment and rape. A few people came forward and now the floodgates have bust open. Dozens of famous, powerful men have since been thrown under intense scrutiny for similar heinous acts. And the list just keeps growing.
Soon after, actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted to anyone who has experienced sexual harassment or assault to speak out. And so another overwhelming wave of posts took over the Internet.
Not only that but it created this bold movement of solidarity of all survivors of sexual assault. This has taken on a life of its own and has given people the chance to open up. Even for those who weren’t ready to or didn’t feel the need to share their story, just hearing others tell their stories was a big deal. It made the statement, “I’m not afraid, I’m not ashamed and I am not alone.” Which brings me to the whole point of this post…
This is something that is hard for me to write, but I wanted to share my story too. Very few people know about my experience and I kept it buried inside me for years. Now it’s time for me to uncover this trauma and come face to face with it.
I had just turned 18 years old and was at a friend’s house for a typical summer weekend hang-out. Only this time, someone had brought alcohol. To give you a bit of background – I don’t drink. I’ve never really been interested. I’ve only ever had any sort of alcoholic beverage on two occasions in my life and neither was very pleasant at all. But for once, I decided “Screw it. I’m going to drop my inhibitions and anxieties and have fun for once!” Usually I ended up leaving social gatherings in tears because of my anxiety. I missed out on a lot of things growing up because of that and for whatever reason, that night I threw it all to the wind. Because I never really drank before, I didn’t know or understand my limits. I ended up drinking way too much; so much that I didn’t feel in control of my own body but not enough to black out. I used to wish I had.
My friends asked my then-boyfriend to take me out of the situation – drive around for a while til I sobered up and then get me home safe. They trusted him and so did I. There wasn’t a single reason not to. I remember feeling like I was spinning in one of those teacup rides at the fair while we were in the car, minus the nausea. Looking back, I think the feeling was also vaguely reminiscent of the laughing gas the doctors give you when you get your wisdom teeth out. I also remember texting my best friend some very serious questions and concerns about pineapples and bananas. I don’t know how long we drove for, but I remember that after a while we got back into my neighborhood, so I thought that we were going to head home. We took a different turn than the one towards my street and ended up at our neighborhood pool. All growing up, a bit of a coming-of-age tradition with the neighborhood kids was to sneak into the pool at night and go for a swim. I thought maybe that’s why we were there? We drove to the top of the hill, nearby the dumpster. It was pitch black out and no one was around. Part of me thought that because we had stopped that I must be home, so I got out of the car and threw my shoes on the ground as I tried to walk towards who knows where. I remember my ex grabbed me to keep me from wandering off, I guess. All of a sudden we were kissing and in my head I thought “lol okay coolio”. But then it took a turn for the worse. Without getting too graphic and to put it simple; he took advantage of me. He was hurting me and he knew it but he wouldn’t stop. I feel like I was in a shock. Afterwards, he dropped me at home and kissed me goodnight as if nothing had happened.
I’ve struggled with this for years since it’s happened. I’ve been through so many stages of getting some closure. I used to genuinely blame myself. I was immature enough to get myself stupid drunk and I mean, I never explicitly said “no” because I’m an idiot. I didn’t make a big deal about it because what if I got in trouble? Or worse, what if he got in trouble? Plus, it was probably normal – I’m sure this stuff happens to couples all the time and they work through it. I just needed to stop overreacting. Stop worrying so much. I’m so stupid all I do is overthink and ruin everything. Everything’s fine. I felt that way for a very long time. Although I know now that it wasn’t my fault by any means, I still have trouble coping sometimes. I might get triggered by something so obscure and that will bring all of the memories flooding back.
One thing that I have come to realize is that the main reason that I let all of this trouble me is because I still identify with it. I have labeled it as “mine”. Yes, it did happen to me; I’m not trying to invalidate that or deny its occurrence. But the past is the past – it’s time to let go. Healing is vital and to do so, I know I have to just let go. I am attached to this event and these memories. I now try to un-teach myself the habits that have been ingrained into my mind for as long as I can remember. Just take a second and STOP. Step back. Focus. The ego takes on these labels and makes it seemingly impossible to clear the mind.
I heard a pretty good analogy from The Enlightenment Podcast by Dr. Robert Puff. Life is like a movie. It is something that you watch and enjoy. You may react or feel a certain way when something or another happens and that’s fine. But realize that it isn’t you. Don’t claim it, don’t identify with it and don’t hold onto those events and experiences. By doing so you’re essentially saying “this is MY event and it affects ME”. If we become able to watch and be detached, life simplifies.
The mind tends to dwell on things and as I mentioned before, we’ve been programmed to claim things as our own and to identify with them. That is the ego. That won’t help at all. Instead, we’ve got to try to get to the root. Break away every other aspect and get to the very foundation of what life is. That foundation is you. It’s you, just being. Just be. Simple as that. Oftentimes the simplest concepts are the hardest to put into practice and this is no exception. Even though I know these things to be true, trying to follow them in my daily life can be difficult. But I’m getting there.
I was sexually assaulted and I am still here. I have and will continue to grow stronger every single day despite the scars that have been left behind. I am going to allow myself to let go; to free myself from the walls that I have built from my identifying and labeling this experience. All is good. We’ve go to learn to flow with life because all is good. We all face hardships and pain, but realize that that’s all it is. They are transient. Face it, acknowledge it and allow it to pass.
I know that that is by far much easier said than done. At least I know that for me, now I know and understand that idea, it’s something that I can remind myself of every time I start to feel some type of way about this or about any other hurts or worries in my life.
This was my little bit of input on the whole situation going on right now. When it comes down to it, we are all here for each other, you are not alone and together we will heal.