I woke up this morning in a weird state of mind. I was running late to work, I was exhausted even though I had slept more than usual, and I was noticeably moody. No matter how much coffee I drank, it wasn’t helping. To top it off, I walked into work this morning and realized that in my hurry to make it to work; I had put on my flip flops instead of my work shoes. I wasn’t sure why I was experiencing all of this on the same morning … until I looked at my phone and saw what the date was.
Today marks exactly three years since I was sexually assaulted. Three years ago, I was lying in a hospital bed in the emergency room scared out of my mind. Three years ago, I learned what it felt like to have my safety, my voice, my body, taken from me.
This happens every year. Every year I suffer with more severe flashbacks than usual, more mood swings, more overwhelming emotions of fear, sadness, pain, abandonment… My mind tries to take all of the memories and anxiety and make me feel like a victim all over again.
I wish I could say that this year is different. That I have grown emotionally and that I am strong enough to not let this day effect me like it has in the past. But I can’t. I can not tell you with any honesty that I am strong enough to not let this day get to me.
Today sucks. It is an annual reminder of the day my life, my body, and my mind changed forever. It breaks my heart. It makes me frantic, anxious, fearful, and overall just emotionally unstable. I’ve never hit this day without crying or screaming because, damn it, this sucks. It. Fucking. Sucks. No one should have to know what this feels like. No one should have to live in fear that someone they know or care about may hurt them. A trauma like this is emotionally scarring. This is going to be with me forever.
Here’s what I’ve learned about dealing with emotional anniversaries regarding trauma…. it will never not hurt. You will never look at the calendar and see what day it is and not feel at least a twinge of pain. You will see that date on the calendar and, even if just for a minute, it will transport you back to that exact moment in time when everything changed.
I don’t have to let it control me, though. I can make a conscious choice and effort to go on through my day, living it to the best of my ability. Yes, I’m sad. Yes, I’m afraid and anxious. That’s OKAY. I don’t expect to be able to just magically turn it off. And no one else should expect that from me, either. If anyone ever tells you that you should be over your trauma, at any point in time, I want you to kindly tell them to fuck off…. because, no. No no no no. No amount of time is too much time to be upset about something that utterly destroyed you.
I’m allowed to be upset. My body is allowed to have a natural reaction to the memory of the trauma. I’m allowed to feel everything that I’m feeling today without feeling ashamed. I can keep reminding myself that I am safe, I am loved, I am not alone and STILL feel all of the emotions that come with the trauma. I refuse to belittle myself because of a completely acceptable and natural reaction to a traumatic situation.
I refuse to allow myself to live in the mindset of a victim. That is not what I am. I am a survivor. I am a warrior. I refuse to be reduced the just a “rape victim.”
October 5th will always come. More years will go by, and it will still show up. It will still remind me of what I went through, and that’s okay. It will also remind me that I am a survivor. That I have the ability and strength to make it through whatever situation comes my way. Even if I feel like giving up, even if I feel like its going to kill me, I can still come through. I will come out of it alive and stronger and I know that’s cliché, but damn it’s the truth.
I guess, what I’m trying to say is that its okay to feel all of the emotions you’re feeling. If you feel like you can’t make it through this, just give it a little more time. Allow yourself to feel everything, but remind yourself that you’re still alive and you’re still breathing. Don’t let anyone tell you not to feel. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s been enough time that you should be over it. Handle this anyway you need to.
It’s been three years. That’s 1,095 days of survival. And I think that’s amazing. Even though today is filled with dread and heartache, it is also a day to be celebrated. I survived and I’m still surviving. And that’s amazing. So, even though I will live this day with some sadness, some anxiety, and a lot of terrible memories, I will also celebrate the fact that I’m alive. I will celebrate the fact that I can use this to help others, to become stronger, to make a difference.
October 5th marks one thousand and ninety-five days of living after I wanted to give it all up. And that’s something worth remembering.