After ten days of solo travel, one hell of a podcast interview, and once again being contacted by many sexual trauma survivors, I am feeling free, sad, compassionate, burdened, happy, grateful, and like I need more coffee.
It’s true. I have ALL the feels right now. After my interview on the podcast, The Mental Illness Happy Hour, I have been contacted by sexual trauma survivors who are grateful to me for speaking out on the gray area of sexual assault that isn’t discussed much.
I have had multiple hour phone conversations with multiple people who are speaking to me about their own experiences, struggles, and pain. I wish I could say that all of that is easy for me, but I don’t lie. It’s hard, triggering and saddening…and I’m so glad that it is happening
It’s amazing to me that by sharing my most shameful moments, others feel they can too. I’d like to just say, “My job here is done! Time to move on!” but it’s not quite that simple. This conversation is just getting started and it is clear to me that I have a role. What the hell my actual role is, I’m not sure. But I cannot ignore that my voice has given strength to others and they keep coming back for encouragement, to tell me what they have been able to get beyond, and what they still struggle with the most.
I won’t hide from it, but I admit that I do have to have boundaries as well. I am one who is sensitive to the emotions of others. Talking to people about this stuff is freeing and yet difficult and exhausting all at the same time. Please don’t take that the wrong way. I am beyond grateful for this ride. I told my husband yesterday that I am not sure where this journey is taking me, but I am DEFINITELY on a journey.
I believe that when the Universe puts me on a path, that I should honor it and see it through. That is what I’m doing. I’m putting one foot in front of the other, making sure to be on the lookout for roadmaps and signs, and following where they lead me. It feels right. It feels good. It feels like it is bigger than just me and that is something that I’ve longed for my whole life…to be part of something.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that this thing that has brought me the most shame, humiliation, sadness and anger would turn into a large part of my journey. But now that I think about it, why wouldn’t it? It is actually quiet poetic that my burden has become my quest. I can’t imagine a more fulfilling way to deal with struggle. The struggle has become a source of strength.
A few days ago, I started a private Facebook group called, Sexual Trauma Survivors: We are not alone. I’m no specialist, but from all who I’ve heard from, it seems that no matter what the specific trauma was, it leads to the same emotional sickness in people. I hear the same words used over and over again: shame, embarrassment, humiliation, anger, anxiety, depression, inability to trust, fear of abandonment, self-hate, loneliness. I, myself, have felt all of it.
I am so sorry for all of the pain that each and every one of us dealing with sexual trauma has had to endure. My heart aches for you all, and for myself. But underneath that heartache is something that I rarely felt before I wrote that letter last Fall: a deep sense of hope. Hope that we can continue to find each other and talk to each other so that we can feel less isolated and alone. Hope that we can all heal. The most powerful thing that I have learned over the past six months is that we are not unique, we are not alone, and we are stronger together.
This month especially, let us be open to listening to others who are in pain. Let us make compassion our guides. Let us sympathize and empathize. Please join the Facebook group or share this link:
If you are dealing with sexual trauma, I encourage you to reach out for help and I urge you to encourage others who are in need of support to do the same.
Hopefully we can help each other heal and learn how to treat ourselves with the same compassion, kindness and sympathy that we so easily give others but are unable to give to ourselves.
We can learn to love ourselves.
Change is happening.
We got this.
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes. To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.