Freedom in Speaking Up
This has been a subject that I had kept a secret for the majority of my life, a secret I kept from everyone. The first person I told was my husband because I felt too ashamed and embarrassed to tell anyone else - always trying to sweep it under the rug as if it had never happened. A secret that had caused me internal turmoil, pain and agony - something that would refuse to always stay kept away in the closet. At age 7, I was molested by a former family member.
Of course, my mother had always told me what good and bad touching was and if anything ever happened to tell her immediately. However, when that time came, I was too reluctant and ashamed to tell her. She was a busy single mom trying to work a full time job and get through nursing school. She was also trying to take care of her boyfriend at the time, which they later got married and divorced, who was an alcoholic that would get drunk and physically abuse her. I felt that I didn’t want to burden her with anymore than she was already going through.
Hindsight is always 20/20 and I now wish I had told her then. Not telling her has caused her more pain and guilt than I could have ever imagined as a mother - and that’s the last thing I wanted to do - cause more pain. Feelings that if she had known, she could have done something about it. Questions like why didn’t I tell her and the guilt of her feeling like she should have known. The internal pain inside that I had I always tried my best over the years to cover up and pretend it never happened.
However, every now and then it would bubble up and rear its ugly head - especially if I drank. That's how I ended up spilling the beans to my husband - we were drinking one night, having one of our deep conversations. Back then I couldn’t afford cable so we would just sit up for hours and talk about life, love and everything in between. One night it just came out of my mouth and then I burst into tears. What was wrong with me? Why would someone do this? I was a little girl that had already had her father walk out and felt broken and unwanted.
Over the years, I have worked through my internal turmoil, feelings of confusion, shame and perception of being unwanted. Those feelings are not totally gone, as I read this aloud I still have tears streaming down my face. Yet I have found my freedom and strength in sharing my story. Not wanting to be a victim of those circumstances - instead finding a way to walk out of what felt like a pit of flames that I could let consume me or walk out of the flames a stronger warrior. That strength didn’t come right away - it took a lot of time and reflection.
The biggest freedom was deciding to share my experience with others. A decision that was hard and what I thought would be painful, instead gave me the most freeing feeling I could have ever imagined. It no longer felt like I was being held down by those chains with my feet in the fire - instead of sitting down and being quiet about it, pretending like it didn’t happen and having those thoughts race around in my head.
Sure, I could try to get revenge and look this guy up on the internet and put him on blast, but what would that do for me? Instead I choose to share this story for the millions of women all around the world that have been through similar experiences - to let them know that they are not alone and they don’t have to be consumed by the fire inside. All the incredibly strong warriors out there that feel like they can’t share or talk about molestation or sexual assault - you are not alone. The more I share and know there are others out there that have been through that hell, the more I find there are so many other warrior women that will stand with you.
Today’s post was supposed to be about something completely different, however as I was listening to the radio this morning, Kesha’s song Praying came on. If you haven’t heard it, I encourage you to take a listen. These strong warrior women that refuse to sit down and shut up are inspiring so many more to speak out and feel that freedom for themselves. The freedom of not keeping a secret, the freedom of rising up like the strong warriors that they are, the freedom of speaking the truth. I am so grateful and inspired by these women that find their own warrior strength - it takes courage and bravery to speak up, more than these abusers will ever know that we had inside.
If you have been through a similar experience, know that you are not alone. I stand with you as the strong warrior woman that I have learned to be. I have your back, so you can feel like you can go ahead and cry out - there is freedom on the path of walking out of the flames like the strong warrior that you are.
I love you - xo Renea