In recovery from rape, there are are many important milestones, some more important than others.
There are 2 days that seems to be from the more important ones for me.
The first one is the day in which you know that you CAN’T.
That isn’t attached to anything- you simply can’t anymore.
You relinquish the fake feeling of control that avoiding the subject of SA gives you. You stop pretending that you can keep going just as if nothing had changed in your life. You stop pretending that you can use that as the best challenge in your life and get out of it unscratched, unbruised and uncaring. That is the day that you let yourself be vulnerable and say what really happened to you. Not in a matter-of-fact way, as if it’s as important as going to the store. In a real way, with every tiny ugly feeling hiding behind it. For me that day was now more than a year ago, somewhere in the last april or may. One would think that I would remember the date, but that isn’t so important. I remember the moment though. The gut-wrenching feeling of crying for 5 hours until I can even pronounce the word rape (or stutter-cry through it anyway) and admit that it has really happened to me.
I had said it before, of course. Once I implied it, once I admitted it while drunk, and few times I admitted the situation and almost said it, but instead lied saying that I managed to safely get out of it. Before all those instances, for the first 6 months, I reluctantly searched abuse and sexual abuse forums when I felt lost, and then convinced myself that it’s not what happened to me. Then I promptly managed to push it so far down my mind to start thinking that it really didn’t happen. So that is the first moment in which I really realized that isn’t something from the movies, and that it happened to me, was that day, those 5 hours. That’s when I gave up. On trying to pretend it wasn’t happening…but also on thinking that I can do…well, a whole lot of stuff. I just felt exposed, like I had peeled off all my skin and I was bleeding, and by my own choice at that. THAT day can feel like one of the worst days that you’ve had (the occurrence of the SA excluded).
But that is in fact a good day.
THAT is the day on which your true recovery begins.
The next most important day comes far later.
It’s the day in which you start to realize that you CAN.
The day in which things stop being about getting away from your past and start being about your present and future. The day when you realize that rape is one of those things that you can’t always control, prevent or get out of….but you can get over. The day that you realize that you aren’t as twisted or as broken as you think you were. Or that even if you are, that isn’t fatal, or final- that it’s a feeling that you can overcome, piece together everything that looks broken. The day when you start thinking that you aren’t anymore working just to minimize the bad days, the bad choices, or get better. It’s the day when regardless of the past, you start to see that you can have a good life again, may be amazing life, and that you are strong enough to fight for what you want again.
For me that day is today.
I’ve done countless changes in the past year or more. Some good, some not so much, but they pushed me forward. I’ve been satisfied with the results I’ve gotten sometimes, not always. I’ve started dreading less my days, even occasionally enjoying myself. But true belief was lost on me. I was still- I am still- fighting to fix some things that I did to my life when I was trying to run away from what happened to me- gaining weight, eating junk food daily, watching TV compulsively. I’ve worked when I could on minimizing those, but at the back of my mind that was it- a fight to MINIMIZE them, not eliminate. There is nothing exciting in that, it’s just a struggle. You can’t slip up, you can’t wait, you’ve got to change…
But the thing is, when I moved to another country and moved in with my boyfriend(close to half a year ago) I tried to give up chips. Since I’ve been here, mostly I stopped eating it. Yet, any chance I had money, and didn’t have directly on what to spend them, I would fight myself and end up buying it. In the months following that, I was doing slightly better, but bought junk food only every time I had truly emotional crisis. Compared to eating the same chips once daily, it was still good progress- but for me it was a slip up. It was one more proof of failing, and I stopped thinking there would be day in which I wouldn’t feel the need to eat as much chips. I made my piece with thinking that one day I will develop enough will power to eat it once-twice monthly and restrain myself otherwise.
In the past 2 months, I’ve slipped up only once in a while, and on few other emotional occasions managed to remind myself that even though I feel bad junk food isn’t going to help me with that.
Even then I don’t feel much good about it. I mean, what is so good about minimizing damage that you have inflicted on yourself in a first place?
But then we come to today.
I was writing / journaling some memories for myself- one of them was a part of the time when I started eating junk not as a nice indulgence from time to time, but as a daily habit to escape thinking about what happened to me. It started as that, and then until now, it was just so engraved in me to turn to potato chips daily, that I forgot it had ever been different. As I write, I remember that feeling. That addictive, painful, manipulative, compulsive feeling that chips can as well be the most unhealthy food ever, but I’ve GOT to have it. That I have no control. And now I realized that feeling was gone. It had taken me HALF a year, and more than a dozen slip-ups but I’m here.
And I know that I CAN.
I don’t have to have chips daily, even weekly, and one day I won’t even feel like I want to. I don’t have to drown how I feel in alcohol or TV shows. I don’t have to try to get to status quo and fight for even ground- I can fight for better life instead. For amazing life even.
Because I CAN.
And if you, like me, don’t feel that you can, just keep going.
You’ll get there.