Yesterday I shared my story, publicly, on Facebook. I’ve shared pieces of my story and I’ve even shared about my rape, but not as one post standing on its own. I was not prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions I would be taken on. Some may think, “Why on earth would you share such an emotional and vulnerable story?” Because it’s needed. I didn’t know it would come out in the timing that it did.
Last weekend, Trump’s crude and offensive tape was released and I kept trying to push it away. “Don’t let it affect you. It’s just politics. You choose how you respond to it. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go.” As the week went on, the emotions continued to build without me really realizing it. Friday night I started to get the intuition I needed to share and yesterday morning it was strong. “Write the post.”
As I sat down to write the post, I didn’t even really know what I was going to say and my intention was to only share part of my story. As I started writing, I started to think, “I need to share more. I need to share the parts that scare me. The parts that have brought me such shame for so many years.” Sharing about the STD that came with my rape has been one of the deepest sources of shame in the last 16 years.
Each time I’ve started to date someone, I’ve had to think to myself, “When do I tell them? How do I tell them? How soon is too soon? How late is too late? Each time I’ve gotten into a relationship, I’ve felt a sense of relief that I’ve been “accepted”. But, at the end of any relationship I would always feel dread and hopelessness — it’s only a matter of time before I have to go through my story and tell someone new…again.
**************************** 4 Days Later **********************************
4 days later and I’m committing to finishing this blog. I thought about trashing the whole thing since I couldn’t seem to find the desire to sit down and finish writing it but I decided someone needed to hear my story. So here I am, committing once more to sharing my voice.
Last weekend’s post surprised me in so many ways. As I typed up my story and hit “post”, a wave of fear and nausea came over me. I started envisioning all the possible negative comments that could get posted and I started to doubt my choice. I reassured myself, “Just don’t read them. You have the choice to read them, not read them, and if you react. Just don’t do it.” As the likes and comments started to pour in, I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. Women started speaking up and sharing THEIR stories. As story after story started to get posted, I found myself siting there sobbing. Not only was I not prepared for the support I received, but I wasn’t prepared to read other women’s stories. I wasn’t prepared for the messages that would start to come into my inbox with “me too”. Not only that, but as I started to respond to messages, the love and support continued:
“Thank you for sharing your story. It may be the most important thing I’ve read all year.”
“You are a true warrior and leader and you may never come to actually know it, but I truly believe that your post tonight significantly altered the future of many women, simply because you had the guts to stand up and speak out.”
“Thank you for sharing your story and that post. I can relate to it too much unfortunately. I thought about posting something similar and just didn’t have the energy for the backlash. You are a strong, positive, amazing person and I’m thankful to have you as a friend.”
That night, I was emotionally exhausted and all I could do was curl up in bed in my pjs and drown out my thoughts with a movie.
The next morning, as Richard left for work, all I could do was cry. I didn’t expect having him leave for work would affect me so much. I realized how much I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts and feelings because….it would mean I would actually have to face them.
I reached out to my friend, sobbing. “I didn’t expect to feel this way. I feel so naked and alone. Although I know it’s not true, I feel like everyone is staring at me, pointing and laughing, and it feels awful. Does sharing my truth ever get easier?”
“No. It doesn’t get easier, you just get better at dealing with the emotions of it. What you did was powerful and you’re finally understanding your true power. With that power comes responsibility and I think this is a pivotal moment in your growth journey and your success story. In order to truly be successful, you have you make the decision if you are willing to put yourself out there and lead.”
As I’m able to sit back and reflect, I’m still glad I made the post. I think it opened up a new way for me to help others speak their truth and deal with the emotions that come along with it. I have felt shame for so many years, but have never really had to deal with it until now. Breaking the silence, REALLY breaking the silence, was a huge moment on my journey to fully healing.