I have to say that over the last few weeks I have done a tone of reflecting and the other day I read this quote that seems to sum up all kinds of things for me.
"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." — Maya Angelou.
What a powerful quote that is for me. For years, I did just what I knew how to do to survive. After being raped at 14, I learned to do anything so that I didn't feel anymore hurt. I learned to lie to friends, guys I would date, my family, anyone really so that my story always came across like I chose to engage in sexual behaviour. Looking back even my diary plays it out that way. I was lying to myself; and again "I did then what I knew how to do".
I can go back in a instant to that day. The fighting, the pulling, the protesting, the kicking all of it comes back to me in an instant. I flash back to his mother walking in on it and yelling at me that I was a whore, a tramp, a slut, not realizing what her son was doing to me. She stopped the trauma with her arrival but then cut me deeply with her ignorant words. I remember gathering my shorts and throwing them over my swimsuit and running like I have never run before to a friends house. I had a choice to make in that moment when I got there, tell her the truth about what he was doing or tell her only the second half of the story. I really felt I wouldn't be believed; I told her only the parts about his mother walking in. Never indicating that I was forced, that he had taken something from me that would take years to get back.
As I look back now, so many of my choices can be traced back to protecting myself from reliving that moment. It took me so long to realize that the incident was over, the pain was real but didn't have to take over my life. Recently, I reconnected with an old high school friend, we dated seriously through high school, he was always there for me, truly a good guy. Distance from going away to University and many complicated events lead to our inevitable end. But the most important thing he did for me was teach me that I was worth more then I was giving myself. He taught me that I could do better, be better. When he met me, I was on a bizarre downward spiral. My grades were dropping and I was withdrawing from my friends and family. I had put on a considerable amount of weight from my inactivity. And yet with all the good he was doing for me, I still deep inside felt I didn't deserve to be happy, that I wasn't whole. I told him often that I had issues, but would never ever tell him what they where. I thought he would think less of me, even though he had always been supportive. I often sabotaged our relationship. He could never understand why I was doing these things. I could never explain, explaining would have required telling him what happened. So last week, we were chatting on line, and we got to talking and he asked me what all my stuff was that I was never willing to tell him. And I told him. And I felt such relief. Relief because he finally knew why. Relief because he was the one person I felt needed to know. Relief because I had made enough progress mentally to tell him. And he said, what I should have known he was going to say all along, I am sorry that happened to you. Such a simple sentence, such a powerful impact.
And so yes for years, I have been doing what I knew how to do, but now I know better and I do better.
Thanks for reading,