Trigger warning: Sexual abuse
On an unseasonably warm day towards the end of January 2019, I walked into my therapist’s office to do something I had been terrified to do for most of my life: Confront the relative who had subjected me to chronic sexual abuse during my childhood. It had taken a year of therapy, months of planning, and a lifetime of eradicating the hot shame I felt to get to this point. I went into the confrontation feeling incredibly anxious, overwrought, and scared, resulting in being internally transported back to being the people-pleasing, shy child I was growing up. Despite these fears, I was fully able to assert myself and left feeling powerful, strong, and free in a way I had never felt before. I wrote down lessons I learned from this monumental life experience in my phone that night on the bus ride home. These affirmations stuck with me and helped me heal now, over a year later. Here is that list in full:
Today I realized that my wings have not been broken but were merely clipped, and that repair is possible.
Today I realized that I can put my demons on tranquilizers while working on ways to keep them permanently at bay.
Today I realized that I am fully capable of confronting whatever adversity life throws my way.
Today I realized I am strong, brave, and powerful, not the weak, meek, and feeble-minded person you thought I was and will always be.
Today I realized that I deserve to be heard and that my pain is valid. Despite your attempts to quiet it, my pain and story were always worth listening to.
Today I realized that I am not to blame for what happened to me, that it’s not and has never been my fault. The blame, shame, and guilt should always be laid at your feet.
Today I realized that experiencing sexual abuse is something to never feel ashamed of and that I am made up of so much more than those experiences.
Today I was the person that a younger version of myself, a confused and depressed little girl and teenager who was drowning in unresolved trauma, needed. She would be incredibly proud of the awesome adult she’s become.
Today I realized that the coping mechanisms I used to survive were necessary and okay.
Today I realized that telling someone of the abuse you suffered years later doesn’t invalidate those experiences.
Today I realized that healing is possible and that there is light at the end of a seemingly never-ending tunnel of aftereffects that trauma presents survivors with.
Today I realized that healing is a work in progress and that this courageous step was only one step taken on that road.
Today I realized that I deserve to heal and live a full, happy life.
Today I realized it’s okay to not be able to forgive and find ways to move past traumatic experiences instead.
Today I realized that my sexuality is mine and I can choose what happens to my body.
Today I am thankful for therapy and the introspection it has provided me with as they have immensely helped me make such an awesome stride and begin a true healing process.
Today I am an unashamed survivor who is transitioning into a healing warrior daily.
Confronting your abuser(s) is not for everyone and can be a re-traumatizing and unsafe experience. Always choose to heal in ways that are safe, healthy, and restorative for you. Know that you’re always worthy of the protection, love, and safety that you weren’t afforded in the past. Know that you can give that to yourself right now and for the rest of time. You and I are braver and more courageous than we ever thought we were.