*Warning: this post contains graphic nature and references to rape. If you are under 18 or sensitive to graphic content, please do not proceed.
“In order to heal, we must first forgive … and sometimes the person we must forgive is ourselves.” – Mila Bron
Yesterday, I wrote about my experience of being raped. I expressed my shame, but today, I want to present a narrative of healing and finding peace.
HEALING FROM TRAUMA
Healing from physical trauma is often done a lot more quickly than healing from emotional trauma. Physical healing is often an automatic response from your body. You skin your knee so your body reacts and forms a scab. You break your arm and a doctor sets in a cast so that your bone can mend itself.
Emotional healing requires a bit of extra work. It’s not as simple as sitting back and relaxing. It doesn’t necessarily happen as automatic response. It’s a not a, “You break it, you buy it” sort of thing. It’s more like they break it and you still have to pay for it.
In cases of rape and abuse, the ability to cope emotionally doesn’t come so easily. You are stuck in a mindset that you are dirty. You are stuck thinking that you are worthless. You think that no one else will ever love you. These things can lead to depression and make coping that much harder.
I think questioning whether it was rape made is so much harder. Was I just a dirty skank? My ex had denied it and lied. He said he had never touched me and that it was in my head. But he also slipped up one day, I knew he was trying to make me think I was crazy.
Coping looks different for everyone, but for me it was a long process and I think I’m still coping a bit. There was denial, there was anger, there were feelings of worthlessness, and then there was forgiveness.
I FORGIVE YOU
Forgiving my ex did not come easily. If I ever see him again, I will walk in the opposite direction.
I had been angry at him for so long. I had harbored bitterness and resentment. It had made me become this person who was hard to be around. I would constantly think about how he needed to pay for raping and abusing me.
Anger and bitterness can turn you into a cold person. It eats at you. Staying angry would have been easy, but forgiving him took a lot of strength.
I didn’t want to hold onto the resentment anymore. It held me back from enjoying much of life. I couldn’t enjoy the moment because I was so hell bent on the past. Forgiving isn’t simply saying, “I forgive you.” If it was that easy, everyone would do it. It’s a conscious decision to squash your resentment. It’s a conscious decision to absolve the other person from their “crime.” And everyday after that, it’s a fight not to let the hate creep back into your heart.
I don’t think you need to forget though. It’s important to learn from the past. How can you learn, if you completely blackout their actions? I think it’s best to forgive, but still remember their words and/or actions.
I will always remember the rape in vivid detail. I will remember hearing myself scream and the pain. I will remember the tears that fell down my face. I will remember that I couldn’t move and get away. I remember being trapped. I remember his voice when he spewed venomous words.
I FORGIVE ME
Even in suffering some of the most horrible physical and emotional trauma, the person who is hardest to forgive isn’t your oppressor. The hardest person to forgive is yourself.
I’m the kind of person who will replay things in my head over and over again, thinking about what I could have done differently. I’m the kind of person who will say, “What if I had just ignored his flirting? What if I broke up with after this or that? What if I never met him?” Most of the time, I shift a lot of the blame on myself.
For so long, I blamed myself for being naive and weak. If only I had been stronger then I could have fought him off. If I wasn’t so stupid, I never would have even dated him. If I didn’t believe his lies, then I could’ve spared myself so much heartache. It was my fault that he raped me.
Forgiving my ex looked easy in comparison to forgiving myself. I self-loathed for years. I finally forgave myself in December 2019. I forgave myself after meeting Sir. When I met Sir, it showed me that everything my ex said about me was lie. Someone else could care about me. Someone else could want me. Someone else was able to see beyond the tough external shell and see who I really am.
The rape was not my fault like I had been led to believe. It took a great deal of strength to leave him when each time I was met with hostility. I wasn’t weak. I was strong.
Many think that rape and abuse survivors are fragile, but to survive and walk with your head held high is quite the opposite of fragile. Society seems to place a lot of shame on those like me. Many times, people don’t even believe us.
When we can breakthrough those stigmas, we can begin the process of forgiving ourselves. We can recognize that we aren’t defined by the actions of others.
I forgive myself for putting up with the abuse for so long. I forgive myself for not having the courage to call him out. I forgive myself for the self-hatred. I forgive myself for blaming myself for the rape and abuse.
Forgiveness is freedom.
The Sassy Sub Daily