So earlier this year, I did some math. I realized this March it will be 15 years since my life forever was changed.
That brought a bunch of different emotions. Shock, anxiety, disbelief, pride.
So here is the thing...each year, the beginning of March has always been the time my past has hit me the hardest. Call it a morbid anniversary.
As I've progressed in my therapy over the years, I have still always allowed myself tears and anger between March 3rd and 6th. It's always been my way of being okay every other day of the year because I knew I could allow myself those few days.
Some years have been harder than others. (A lot harder.) But there really hasn't been a year that I haven't still had extreme anxiety and tears. I've worked hard to move past everything that happened to me, but I still have lingering emotions. Each year, the beginning of March, I've never been able to escape without remembering so vividly lying in my bed down in St. George bawling. Bawling and praying and pleading to not wake up the next day. Those are some pretty intense feelings to have come flash back to the surface.
This year, I knew I needed to push myself for better. 8 years ago I started working hard to deal with all that happened to me. (Yes, you read that right....it took me 7 whole years of stuffing my emotions in the back of my closet before they came raging to the surface and knocked me down. Hard.) And I have worked hard. Shoot, I ran a freaking marathon 8 years ago to help parallel the work I did emotionally. (Read about that HERE) I've learned the importance of forgiveness, and that forgiving someone does not excuse their behavior. I've learned that I am a hell of a lot stronger than I ever imagined I could be. And...I've learned that there are many that have experienced the same horrible thing that I've opened up about.
Rape is not okay. Ever.
Rape is not a joke. It is never, ever funny when I hear people using the term to talk about a team dominating another team, etc.
Rape is real. And lives are forever changed by this four letter word.
Rape is something a lot of people are afraid to talk about. I honestly think that is why I had such a hard time dealing with what happened to me. I thought I was forever ruined. I figured I had no hope for a happy future. I questioned if I could have fought harder in the moment Or maybe not put myself in the situation. I have lived and re-lived the situation over in my head a million times.
There are many things I wish I would have learned before I was raped. The biggest message that I want to shout from every roof top across the world:
YOUR VALUE IS NOT DETERMINED BY WHAT YOU DO,
OR WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU.
The love of God is there for YOU, no matter your past, or your future. No exceptions.
It took me a long time to realize that I am no less of a person because of what happened to me. And, I've learned that I'm no less of a person because of choices I've made since.
This is why I share my story. Over, and over, and over again. Because if I can help one person out there know that they have value, then it's worth it. We all face hard things in life. Ridiculously hard things! And one of the hardest things in life is to forgive people when they have never apologized, or when they wrong you further than you ever thought possible. But I promise you, holding on to anger and bitterness only hurts you.
This year, my focus is on spreading love. Self love. It's okay to love yourself for who you are today. I don't care what you've done, or who's hurt you. You get to make a choice today to look in the mirror and love.
Over the next 2 weeks I will probably be sharing a lot about my feelings on this subject. And I'm proud to say that I've chosen to do differently this year from March 3-6th. Instead of staying in bed, or crying, or eating my feelings away....I'm choosing to celebrate. No, I'm not planning to celebrate what happened to me. Instead, I celebrate that I fought to live.
I'm celebrating life and living and breathing. I'm celebrating hard work, and self worth. I'm celebrating choices, and the choice I made over and over (in my darkest moments) to live. It wasn't easy. But I look at my life today (which is far from perfect) and I'm grateful. I'm grateful I chose to live.
Please, if you are in one of your darkest moments....know that the light will come again! Life is worth living, even through the dark. Because man, when the sun shines again it is so good!