I feel as though I should preface everyone about my upcoming article in the Cincinnati Enquirer. All my previous pieces have been pretty upbeat and what my editor will term, “slice of life” pieces. I’m proud of all my work; I wouldn’t submit them for editorial consideration if I wasn’t. And while I’m usually (or at least attempting to be) an upbeat person and that’s reflected in my writing, there are times when my writing (which is my reality) is not always upbeat. It can be raw and sometimes painful.
My next article being published is one such piece.
This piece touches on a very sensitive topic and it’s not one that I take lightly. To me, it’s not a joking matter, and while it can still technically be considered a ‘slice of life’ piece, it’s not a slice of life that I want anyone to have to suffer through.
My next article is on the topic of rape, specifically my rape that happened almost 17 years ago.
Some of you may already know about this in my life, but many do not. And it’s not because I don’t want to or can’t talk about it. Quite the opposite. I don’t like to “be a drag” or a “Debbie downer”, so it’s not a topic that I will go out of my way to talk about for that reason. But it’s a topic that NEEDS to be talked about and people need to know more about it. Not just specifically my story, but so many other victims which have had to keep silent about their story.
I didn’t write my story to gain pity from people or for you to feel sorry for me. I don’t want you to coddle me or treat me any differently now that my story will be out there for everyone to see. What I want is for my story to inspire change. I want my story to give hope to the hopeless, a voice for those who cannot speak, a comfort to those who feel like they are alone. I want a discussion to springboard from this article where people can feel safe from judgment and hatred and blame for coming forward with their life stories. I wasn’t as fortunate so many years ago, and I don’t want people to continue to suffer through this like I did for so long.
So with that being said, please keep an open mind. Please remember that there are so many people that suffer, sometimes silently. There are people that keep a smile on their face, despite what is truly going on in their lives. Remember that everyone is fighting a battle, sometimes visible, but oftentimes invisible, even to those who know us best.
I’m thankful I was able to finally have the courage to tell my story. And while it’s not been a secret story to everyone in my life, it’s now a story that everyone in my life will know. And yes, being that vulnerable is scary. It’s intimidating. But it’s necessary. Sometimes you have to go through the fire and the pain and the torture to find your true self. Without pain and heartache and sorrow, you could never know the depths of love and strength that surrounds you.
One of my favorite quotes says this: “Often it’s the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your higher self.” In order for me to learn, and grow, and become a better person, sometimes I have to go through the pain. But the only way I can do that is if I don’t let that pain and trauma DEFINE me. I can’t let those situations pull me down, never to get back up. Those situations need to become my refining fire. They need to be used as a way to better myself, to find the greatness that can come from within me. I’m stronger than what is challenging me.
I’m not a victim anymore. At the moment of my trauma, I was the victim. But I won’t allow myself to be that person anymore. Telling my story is my way of looking tragedy in the face (so to speak) and saying, “You have NO hold over me. You won’t defeat me. I’m stronger than you.”
And through all that, I’ve found strength immeasurable. On the days I feel I can’t go on, I push harder. In the moments I think that I’m going to lose it, I find it, and then some. When I feel as though I’m a failure and worthless, I look at myself, hard and long, and find that I’m a jewel of rare distinction, and that I have more worth than the pain which tries to tell me otherwise.
And you can too. You aren’t alone. You don’t have to be silent. There is support, everywhere around you. You just have to be willing to step out and ask for it. And that’s why I’m telling my story now. Because I don’t want anyone else to ever have to suffer through life and these trials like I did.