“When we deny our stories, they define us.
When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.”
– Brené Brown
I think there is healing power in publishing stories, even if they are anonymous.
Right now, most of my stories lack how it ended. I am not sure why. These are the things I remember.
I cannot place exactly how old I am. It was either third or fourth grade. I was at my Aunt’s, left in the care of my cousins. I remember being scared. I have memories of hiding or trying to hide. I have memories of trying to fight those who were trying to take my clothes off. My next memory is trying to hide behind furniture with just a shirt on. My memory is being trapped in a room and he keeps showing me his penis. I keep covering my eyes. I don’t remember how it ends. I don’t remember leaving the room. I don’t remember the adults intervening. I cannot remember.
I remember my older brother used to lay on top of me under a blanket. He would pull his shirt up and mine so that our skin was touching. I remember not liking it.
When I was about 17, my older brother would hand me alcohol and marijuana. He got on top of me. Had his hands up my shirt and his face muzzled in my neck. I do not remember leaving the room, but I remember throwing away my favorite outfit.
Another night, after I went to bed, one of my brother’s friends came into my room and got into bed with me. I tried the best I could to stop him. He pinned me to the bed.
In high school I dated a boy who was very controlling. I could not look up in the hall without him accusing me of wanting other boys. I would be interrogated after classes about who I spoke to. He repeatedly asked over and over if I was a virgin or not. He would drive by my house slowly and randomly, even after we broke up. I never thought I let him bother me until I was about 21, living on my own and started having nightmares about him.
When I was 19, we moved into an apartment that had me, my older sister and my older brother. My older brother had his friends over. At one point the kid who came into my room when I was 17 came into my room again and pinned me down on the bed. Later another friend of my brother’s came and pinned me down on the bed. I remember eventually locking myself in the bathroom. I remember how hard they tried to get me out.
I spent my whole life pushing these memories away. I developed an eating disorder and engaged in self-harm. On two different occasions tried to take my life. I have gone through periods of serious alcohol abuse. As a woman in her early 40s I am deeply saddened over how much control keeping these experiences dormant, pretending they never happened, has affected the path of my life.
I have just begun to acknowledge the reality and consequences of spending my life blaming myself. I have just begun to acknowledge the role it has played in my living in fear of the world around me and the trust I have for my own reality and in others. These memories have haunted me for a very long time, silently dictating. I cannot change my history, but I can change my future.
When you are a teenager, whether or not you are intoxicated, there is no invitation for someone to take advantage of the state you are in. I did not invite anyone to touch my body. Our culture needs to change where they are casting blame. We need to open the door for young girls to speak about their experiences so they can begin to heal as soon as possible. Make sure they know you believe them.
I have children now, both a boy and a girl. They are taught the same things about sex, their bodies, and what is acceptable versus what is not. We need to change the way we teach our children.
Image credit: Quotefancy