As a writer, I have always been able to find the perfect words to describe what I’m thinking and feeling. In the past eleven days, words have fallen short. The words I am writing now will fall short as well. They simply will not do justice to the heaviness that lies in my heart, nor to the panic that rises in my chest that I am forced to settle when I realize that this is my new reality.
You bounced back and forth like the morning light glinting from the crystals on my window that winter, sunbeams gently taunting me with promises of melting them all away. Not yet, they teased. Hold out just a little longer. So I waited, watching there until spring came, until my breath no longer spread warmth across the glass. Until birds chirped and flowers bloomed, while the ice solidified around your heart instead.
It is a well-known fact to those who know me well that I have always been hyper-aware of my own mortality.
In the months before delivering your first baby, advice comes pouring in— oftentimes unsolicited, sometimes helpful. From the functionality of each brand of diapers to the best ways to sleep train, you will learn how to let the right information soak in, as well as how to tactfully deflect a perfect stranger's questions and suggestions about breastfeeding, epidurals, c-sections and natural birth without rolling your eyes and begging to know when it became acceptable to discuss what another person does with their body. While you have to remember that most of these people mean well and are genuinely excited for you, very few of them will mention the darker side of parenting. The parts beyond, "It's tough, but you'll figure it out the second he's born—it's nature!" and, "You're going to be tired, but you'll be so happy you'll stay up just to watch him sleep!" Not everyone has someone that they can confide in and admit the more difficult things to, and this can be the most isolating experience of all. That's why it is so, so important to talk about it.
One of the most difficult things about living through an emotionally and/or physically abusive relationship is that you are given a new full-time job: restructuring years of learned behavior, and rebuilding your self-esteem. In the midst of finally gaining the courage to leave, it is easy to forget about the aftermath. Easy, in fact, to ignore the remaining damage...until you finally discover someone new, and along with them, fears you didn't even know you had. Sometimes, we are unfortunate enough to find what feels like the same person in different bodies, experiencing dysfunction over and over again until we become so discouraged that we give up on love entirely. But other times, there is a light at the end of the tunnel after the pain we have endured. When you finally meet a person who loves you wholly, including all of your broken parts, you will learn:
I wish I could say that my first experience with sexual assault was my last.