Okay, so I’m not going to go into all the horror and sad details that people always want to hear but at the same time don’t want to know. Suffice it to say, I’ve created my shirt for The Clothesline Project. Often times, I hear from people how they’ve suffered and overcome what was done to them. Each time I hear it, I’m happy for them and pleased they’ve come to terms and “moved on.” It’s a great feeling to claim one’s own body and use it as you choose without any latent feelings or discomfort. It’s a feeling I wonder about though.
My healing process has been different from others it seems. I have never sat down with a therapist and rehashed every sordid detail. Why would I want to relive all of it? Every therapist I have visited with has either shown too much interest or made me feel like a freak with unreal stories. As if they can’t imagine a human mind could conjure up such acts. Obviously, they don’t watch much CSI: SVU. Nor have I felt a need to run out and forgive my abuser by blessing them with happiness and joy. Instead, I’ve chosen to let go of the pain I am able to, and from there, move on. People always say, “You need to let it all go.” Well, I think I have, until I go in for the annual women’s exam. I think I have until I watch a particularly graphic rape scene in a movie. I think I have until someone tells me absolutely wonderful their sex life has always been.
Instead, I am able to talk, candidly, about what happened to those who want to listen. I’m able to help those who have just begun their journey to healing by showing them how to be honest with their pain and not keep it quiet to appease the many who “don’t really wanna know.” I don’t walk around with a victim stamp on my forehead and claim to be “over it all” and “moved on.” But I do recognize that it makes me more cautious of my encounters with men. Although many tell me it’s not normal or healthy, I was also told by someone who’s opinion matters more to me, that it is perfectly normal After all, if burned by fire, would a sane person continue to stick their hand in the fire without some apprehension, if they ever did again?
So do I claim to be “HEALED” like a televangelist would pronounce? No. That’s just silly. I do claim to be amazingly well. Scars don’t heal and some injuries people suffer from for the rest of their lives. In America we only see the physical hurts as something to live with forever. If someone loses an arm or a leg, we build them a new one and pray the “phantom” feelings don’t drive them mad. In the case of abuse, rape, violence, and mental subjugation, we judge people based on our own ability to overcome what was done or not done to us. If they don’t measure up, we insult them or ignore them, but we never ask them to speak. If they do, we order them to stop because our own sensibilities are hurting causing us to feel sad or guilty. We tell them not to share the names of their abusers, or to go talk to someone who is paid to care.
Abusers walk free and enjoy the happiness bestowed on them by the “power of social forgiveness.” The old adage says “Forgive and Forget,” or the other often tossed around, “To err is human. To Forgive is divine.” Neither of these truly applies in this situation. I prefer the often unused but more accurate, “Forgiveness is not forgetting. It is letting go of the hurt.” I have let go of the hurt, but my body will remember it when touched. Synapses will fire in my brain when exposed to images and stories. These are as involuntary as an itch on an amputated limb or a dream of running when the legs are paralyzed.
Depressing it may sound to some, but in truth, it’s a great thing. At least now I know it is only a memory. Something that won’t hold me back, but can also give me the strength to keep moving forward. Talking about what I’ve been through, is for me, a part of my healing. Ignoring or trying to pretend that I have no scars makes me feel fake. Just because I can and do talk about it does not mean someone else is in control. For too many years, I was told to keep silent so the abuser could continue to do his work. I’m in control now, and I will talk. Silence, not memory, is the ally of abuse.