Originally posted on LaGoesWest.Wordpress.com fall 2016
This is, now, my truth.
Not too long after starting my own business, I was at a networking event. This was something I was doing 3-4 evenings per week at that point, to try to get to know people in this place completely foreign to me, after making the insane leap of starting my own company (with very little money, connections, or gameplanning) so soon after moving most of the way across the country from my friends and family. This networking event seemed like any other at a swanky professional club in the valley. I was dressed conservatively and professionally in a nice shirt and slacks, trying to stay close to the couple people I did know, while talking to new possible connections and colleagues. I had 1 glass of wine then switched to soda waters just to keep having something to do with my nervous hands. Unlike most events though, this one changed the course and depth of my life forever. Because at this event I was drugged and raped.
I don’t think I can describe to you how many times I just tried to type that sentence. How unbelievable it still feels to me every time it comes out of my mouth talking to a close friend or to my therapist.
I’ve been through a lot of truly tough things in my life (my life overall is so incredibly blessed, sooooo fortunate, that I really try not to dwell on the challenges), from family members and really close friends dying, health struggles, job changes, picking up and moving across the country when I thought I had my life pretty mapped out where I was. And though those things are truly challenging, and I would never minimize them to anyone going through them, this trauma has been much…different. Much deeper and rattling. You see, through those other hard times, I still knew sort of knew who I was deep down (as much as a young person can, right?!). I may not have the job I want, but I could find (or create) one to succeed. I may not have my amazing friend right by my side any more, but I could share memories of her with my other girlfriends and talk to her in my own way. I couldn’t instantly heal my stupid health issues, but I could try my best and to listen to my body. I could meet people in my new home and put one foot in front of the other. I could see challenges and struggles as times to offer it up and see an opportunity for growth. But rape. Rape strips all of that from you. Because when some asshole deems you as less than human (as someone must to be able to in order to try to destroy someone in this way) you question it too. Who am I? Am I really a beloved and worthy human being? Do I deserve love, happiness, or even to live?
You see, it’s a big, ugly ghost that follows you around every damn day. A ghost made of both who you thought you were and you used to be, and of all the dirty, unworthy, shitty thoughts you carry within yourself now. It taunts you every single day. It’s an evil unlike any other. Nothing I could have had nightmares of would have come close to the terrifying, shaking doubt of this. Nothing has tried to steal my identity and self worth the way rape has. Nothing.
For me, it was also the one type of hardship and evil I thought I had total control over. I couldn’t control death, or the happiness or job security of people I loved. I couldn’t control some of the giant disasters happening in our nation. But I could damn well make sure I was never raped. I was confident! Aware! Careful! See, I was the girl at age 15 as a black belt in martial arts school teaching women how to keep this from happening. I was yelling to the women defending themselves against a fake attacker in our classes to fight harder, that their life was worth it, that they COULD survive and beat his ass.
And they did. And their life is. And they CAN and DID and WILL survive.
I thought, on my worst day, it was an evil I’d have to fight off. Never did I think it was an evil I’d have to recover from. Cope with. Lose myself in. Daily look in the face and tell it hasn’t beat me.
That’s the level rape affects a woman. It’s realizing evil will find and try to decimate you no matter how you prepare for it. Imagine yourself waking up every single day trying to convince yourself you’re just worthy of walking on this planet, much less, worthy of accepting and being loved, happy, or successful. This is why, my dear friends, I cannot be silent in this time of political and social turmoil. Before a few months ago, I really thought I was recovering from this trauma pretty damn well. Then Brock Turner happened. Then the Donald Trump happened. Which turned into more discussions of Bill Clinton. Which made me want to curl up in a ball and hide forever and regress in the healing process. But I can’t do that (even though girrrrrrrl, it’s so damn tempting many days). We all have our causes. And for me, I simply, 110% refuse to accept that our country is okay with anyone leading our nation who is okay with assaulting women or being an accessory to assaulting them. I will not be silent about that. #sorrynotsorry. We deserve better. Don’t we?? Even on my worst day, I will fight for that. If not for me, for YOU. Always. Rape can try to take everything from me. But it won’t. I damn well promise you…
There are definitely days where I grind my teeth into (apparently complete) oblivion, get stress migraines that floor me, that I drink too much wine to cope, that I cry trying to read myself affirmations in the mirror that just acknowledge I’m a worthy human being and have to do my mascara for (ugh!) the 4th time, that I cannot sleep because of such nightmares and anxiety, that I pray to just somehow help me find a light in this somehow, some kind of reason this possibly could have happened to me, so that I can keep going and press on.
Some days, aka today: all of those things are my truth. And you know what, it’s shitty, so freaking shitty, but it’s okay.
Because literally nothing else I have ever or will ever encounter, will ever be as demolishing as this. Will never spark such a fire and passion and anger and path in me the way this has. Assholes, beware: your time is limited. We will face you. Survive you. Beat you. You don’t own us. You don’t own me. And not for much longer will you get away with treating a human being as anything less than the perfect, incredible person they are.
To my fellow survivors, thrivers, risers out there: Let’s acknowledge that some days blow. I think, honestly, that’s the biggest lie I tell myself: that healing from this stupid insanity was and “should be” 1-2-3-4-5, when in fact it looks much more like 1-2-3-2-3-2-1-4-3-2-4… If I’m being truthful, I think my rape will always haunt me. But I’m counting on the fact that I am one damn strong lady. It hasn’t broken me yet, and haha you fucking asshole—it won’t. I will not feel like super woman every day. But you know what, every gosh darn day, I’m alive. I deserve to be alive, and I have a lot to do, a lot of people to help. So fuck you. I’m getting outta the fire alive. And I’ll never stop fighting to help others do the same. You are worth it. Every damn day, girl. Don’t, please don’t, stop fighting. Rise. Fight. Show them the fire I KNOW you have in you. It lights all of our paths, and that’s what we need today. Even if some days we are trading who lights or holds the fire, there is always a path.
I have that fire, and literally most days, that’s what I see as the only possible “positive” or “reason” to come of this mess. I’m unapologetically sassy and combative now. Bye, Laura of yesteryear who just smiled to please everyone, this current girl ain’t got time for that. We have major issues to handle. We WILL stay in the fight till the final round. As Mandisa says: you might be down for a moment, feeling like it’s hopeless, but that’s when it reminds you, you’re an overcomer.
Don’t quit, don’t give in, you’re an overcomer. I believe in you. Whatever your struggle, your calling, your personal fight, I so very much believe in you and your journey. Press on. I hear you, I love you. On your brightest day, on your darkest day, I love you and I am here for you. Because you are worthy. No one will change that, ever.
But really, okay? (‘ Cause I see you, girl who is just like me, shaking her head like this is for everyone else. You are worthy. EVERY. DAY. Whatever your journey or your struggle. You freaking rock, and you have such an incredible purpose.)
P.S. Sassy Laura says: You fucking deserve this. Don’t run and hide. Fight with me. When darkness comes to town, we will trade off being lights. Because we are survivors, who are completely worth it. Don’t forget it, okay? Now let’s go. We have a lot of work to do!