These are words I have heard over and over again. These are the words that have consistently affected my life, they were an attempt to convince me I was worthless, that I deserved nothing more then what was happening.
They are the words that were whispered to me when I was raped 6 years ago. They were the words that kept me chained to the idea that I, in fact, was not worth helping. They were the words that kept me pretty much silent for years. They were the words that held me back. But on October 28th, 2012, in a park in my hometown they didn’t hold me, I held them.
Taking the photograph with Grace was everything I thought it would be, but still don’t have the words to explain exactly what it felt like. In a way it was like telling a secret. But instead of whispering words that were told to me in confidence I was screaming a lie that I was forced to harbor. It was incredibly liberating. The things that were said that night stayed with me after all of these years, growing heavier and heavier. Without even the slightest realization I had grown to fully believed the terrible words he had spoken. I have been struggling for 6 years because I felt like I was worth nothing. For 6 years I carried around this weight that I didn’t even realize I was holding on to. On October 28th I was able to get shed a bit of that weight and lessen my attachment to that day. Those words will always remain with me, but for the first time, I wasn’t being held back by them.
On the few occasions I have really told anyone my story I have been told I am strong. I always resented people saying that because I never felt strong. I felt like most people say that because they didn’t know what else was appropriate. “You must be strong”, became a very superficial response to me. The way it came out of these people’s mouths was so forced; it felt so obligated, that it got to the point that I dreaded hearing it.
The way I explain it is that a lot of the time I feel like I am just surviving, there is no “off” switch to this post-rape reality so I have learned to take it day by day, step by step. I saw this “strength” people were talking about as being closed off, too cautious, guarded. I saw minor slip ups in my recover process as huge setbacks. My strength was just a defense mechanism, keeping me from ever starting my recovery processes at all.
During my teacher training I told my yoga teacher my story. She and I had a conversation about how I could begin to grow through my experience instead of fighting it. A little way into our talk I told her my thoughts on my “strength”. She cut me off and looked at the ground, shaking her head, she said “you are so strong, Kae. So strong.” For the first time ever those words felt genuine, she truly believed that I was strong. Not strong because I was raped, but because for the first time I am actively trying to recover and because she knows how hard it is for me to let myself feel the emotions that come with being a rape survivor. And she is proud of me for trying. I thank her so much for that.
For the first time I really believed that I must be stronger for working through this.