When I went back for my second session I had to read the letter I wrote out loud. Normally I have no problem reading or speaking in front of anyone, or even large groups of people but this was harsh. My throat was dry, my eye’s threatened to over flow and my hands shook. My therapist asked “Why is this so hard for you to read aloud”.. my answer was simple “if I say it out loud then it’s all true and I can’t run from it anymore and I can’t hide from it anymore”. I’ve talked about the rape before, to a few people, I’ve even blogged about it but that’s as far as it goes. I’ve never delved into the feelings left behind, the aftermath. Like telling a story that you’ve heard before, it’s just a story until you live it and then tell it. Then it’s your soul. As I read out loud all I could think of is how sad my life has been, how I’ve been betrayed and lied to to the point of believing it all. Then I started to feel angry followed quickly by defeated. I slumped in my chair and just sat there, listening to her talk to me about how I felt and what was going through my mind. I wanted to crawl into that dark place in my mind that keeps me protected but she wouldn’t let that happen. She made sure to force me to answer the questions, gently but she gave me no choice.
One of the things we talked about that day and previous sessions (but not in great detail) was what I refer to as Angry Shannon. “Who is angry Shannon?”. Well, she’s mean. She will cut you down with words in an instant. She will rip your head off and chew up and spit it out. She will shred your heart into a million pieces and will never bat an eye doing it. She doesn’t cry and she gets angry when I try to cry. I keep her pushed down and locked away. She tries to come out every now and then but I fight her every step of the way. “Why do you keep her locked up?” Because if I let her out everyone will know that I’m a horrible person.
Another one of the questions she asked was “If you had answered his question differently, do you think what happened would have still happened?”. I thought for a moment and then answered “Yes”. “Why” she asked. “Because I deserved it”. I heard myself say the words but my brain started screaming at me. YOU DIDN’T DESERVE THIS!!! But how do you convince yourself of that after you’ve believed for so long that you did deserve it? I guess that’s something we will work on in future sessions.
We talked more and more about angry Shannon and when she would come out. She asked very specific questions and I started to see where she was going with them. Angry Shannon really isn’t angry, she’s protective. She’s only ever out when my anxieties are through the roof and or my fear is rising. She comes out to protect my body, my heart and my mind. Looking back over the years she’s only ever come out when I needed the extra strength to get me though something. This made me feel better. I said something out loud I hadn’t let myself say ever, even to myself. I really am a nice person who didn’t deserve the pain that I have endured. That I only strike back when someone strikes at me first. What I said to him did not warrant what he did to me and me fighting back didn’t mean I deserved more of it. Maybe this is a step in the right direction. Maybe one day I can look in the mirror and not see what I see now.
My homework for the next week was to write down some of my core values. I thought about them every day. I thought about how most people would say “I am nice” or “I am beautiful and smart”.. my list is completely different.
If you have been sexually assaulted, even if your not sure because you might have started it, or your married to your attacker and by being married you think it’s not rape.. please call them. There is help.. and even if you are married… NO MEANS NO!