Recovery Dictionary: T for When Should I Tell?

 One of the most basic, daunting questions you ask yourself, if you were ever raped and got through it: when(or if) should I tell this person?

It could be your partner, your family, a close friend. There are people that don’t tell anybody for decades. In my experience, holding the hard things in myself only ends up blowing up in my face later.

Anyway, I never had much of an answer to this question before, but I do have a tip now. I am in no way an expert, but if you need an extra opinion while you consider what to do, here is mine: relax, breathe, and follow your intuition. You will know the exact time.

* Disclaimer: this is not for those of you considering to press charges officially. Obviously this is a fully different decision that you have to make for yourself. This is for those of you that didn’t, for any reason, and sooner or later you do not want to feel alone in it anymore, and you want the people in your life to know about it. Some people anyway.

1.

For those of you new to my blog, I was raped 5 years ago. For the most part I have recovered, I believe, although there are still some sore spots to work through. There is also a lot of chaos I created in the way of dealing with it, in my life, things that I missed, and I am still trying to sort all that out.

In the time until now, I have told several people, including some guys I dated right after, selected close friends, my current long-term partner, and a few friends which I do not know that well, but I am already getting close with. It sounds like a lot, but I guess it was my way of dealing with things when there was too much that I couldn’t deal with.

But here is the thing: I didn’t tell my parents yet. I am pretty close with my mom and it’s an odd feeling that she doesn’t know about this part of my life. It also felt necessary at some point. Now, so many years later, and starting to actually catch up to my present, I am starting to feel I’d like her to know, and the reasons not to tell her are starting to feel more obsolete.

But still, thinking about telling her, there is the usual clatter of thoughts- remember that one?

You sitting across from someone you care about, and your stomach sinking at the idea of saying those words, telling that story. That inadequate feeling- is it really ME saying those things, ME that this happened to? The panic at the idea of how they will react, your brain going in all directions and over every scenario. The wondering if you can even get the words out…And the even bigger panic wondering how they will act after that. And whether you can handle their reaction, whatever it is. It’s a head spin, for sure.

And this is why, I’m going to say this once more:

Trust yourself. You will know when it’s time.

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Dance and Recovery from Rape pt. 1

I’ve been going to dance for about 5 months now, and I have been writing and drawing again. I can honestly say that letting myself create something, participate in something expressive, is sometimes harder than remembering the bad memories I have. Recovery has been an odd timeline, and I’ve been progressing, as best as I can. I’ve slowly gotten back to the “regular” life -sort of- I live with my boyfriend, I’m seeing friends, I’m working regularly (from home, but nevertheless). Dance however has been a whole new challenge. It’s making me see, and I see more than I can bare sometimes. Here is some ways in which dance has changed me in these past months:

Creating and Drawing

In the past months, I’ve been regularly stretching and practicing for dance classes. Sometimes going there is the best part of my day, and sometimes it freaks the hell out of me. But I keep going. I’ve thought that I’ve left parts of my life, the unwilling victims of my bad past- like drawing. For me, it’s hard to draw when I’m in tremendous pain, or when I’m so torn inside. I know drawing is an expression, and therefore I should be able to use it to express the bad too…but I am not certain I can let myself do that. Every time I try, even since I can remember, to draw in a bad moment, I close up. For all you know, I’ve got no feelings, I’m so freakin’ bottled up.

But dance cuts open through the walls in my life, and I have to either let it happen, or let it go. As it is, I let it inside. And lately, a new/old instinct is coming back to me. The instinct to draw, now even more unrestricted and better. I sketch with no aim at all, for the enjoyment of it. I make a landscape drawing with no idea at all, just dabbing into the tempera colors and enjoying the mixture of bright colors, mixing them and painting like a child. It’s not really about the result- I’m like a kid in a candy store, and I’m making every minute matter. It’s unbelievably fun and enjoyable- and as it turns out, my drawings end up just as good as before, if not better. I’m in love with doing that- and it breaks my heart at the same time. The moment I finish I’m elevated, and then suddenly- I want to cry. My chest feels like it will break. I realize I’ve settled til now. I’ve settled for a good life- but not a great life. I’ve settled for safe life. I’ve left drawing and passions behind me, because they make me feel, and I think it will break me. Truth is, bottling up everything within me, it won’t break me, but it’s much more unhealthy. I’m like an emotional time bomb that explodes at the slightest touch.

And that’s what dance is for me, every time. It’s so beautiful and elegant, so out of the dark corners of what happened to me, that I feel something breaking in me every time I go there. It’s the most powerful thing I’ve found lately. Dance is a language, and I can not express anything into it, if I cripple all emotions in me. I’m new there and for now I’m just concentrating on even getting the ability to do the moves- and even so, I feel the walls in me falling down. I feel, more than I would like to admit. It hurts sometimes, and I don’t want to ever hurt again- but I have to let myself feel things, if I want to dance or draw or do any art. Or else, I have to settle for a safe life. It’s not a bad thing, truly, there’s nothing bad about a safe life- but dance has let me see a bit further than that, and I don’t want to give that up…even when it hurts.

Body-control

I’m learning ballet. I’m over 20 years old and I’m learning ballet for a first time in my life. I’ve let go of the idea that I control my body a long time ago. May be even before I was raped I wasn’t always in control, I can’t be sure. I have a friend that asked me once if I feel like I’m weaker and more vulnerable because of what happened. It feels like a cruel question, because I don’t know the answer. Sometimes I feel that I survived what happened- and I have recovered a lot lately- so I am stronger. I’m pretty sure 2 years before, if anything like that had happened, I would have felt like I want to die. But whether I am stronger or not is a valid question- I’m stronger, yet at times much more breakable, shaky, uncertain. I think it will be a long while more before I get out of that. But ballet doesn’t let compromises. It needs you to be 100% in.

I’ve never been 100% in anything…but, I need this. It’s a struggle, every time, but after the first few classes, I already see some changes, tiny muscles in my body, agreeing a little more with what we are doing in class, parts of me following the movements in class in ways in which I wasn’t able to before. I’m improving, and that isn’t just a thing. That is saving my life. Being in a dance where every muscle in your body is involved and your control is a test- and it makes me a failure from start. I can see already that I’m behind most people there. Even if we disregard the fact that most of them are teenagers and this is somewhat easier on their bodies- a year of depression and laying in bed has made me weak and inflexible. My body just refuses to follow things, even easy things. But slowly, I learn to. I stretch out of class, try things on my own, and slowly my body starts to obey me again. I’d given up on that long time ago. I’d given up on that while I was lying under that guy being unable to move an inch. I’d given up then.

But now…now my body is becoming mine again. Sometimes when we try to do a certain move, it’s not even that I can’t move that way, but that I don’t feel my body there, like that guy removed all feeling I had in me. I’ve closed myself a long time ago, and ballet just needs me to open up. There’s no way around it. Slowly I begin feeling my back, my toes, the arches of my feet. Slowly I begin reconciling with my body again. It had betrayed me long time ago, when I couldn’t stop that guy from forcing me to sleep with him. I have betrayed my body my laying and eating junk and hiding myself ever since. Now we are finally reconciling.

To see my body do things I couldn’t do before the rape even, it’s the best recovery tool.

It shows me that I can still grow.

(to be continued)