In every GP appointment and counselling session over the past year, I always asked for a time scale. “So when will this all go away? Next month? Next year? Next decade?” I was obsessed with putting a date on the end of my pain. And each time I asked that question, I was always frustrated at the lack of response. It makes sense that when you are suffering so much, you would want to have an end date to look forward to. What I have learned though is it doesn’t exactly work like that, but that’s OK.
My last post explained that I am writing this blog one year on from my rape to give others support and hope. This is because one year later, I really do believe I have become so much more calmer, stronger, and well. After writing that first post however, I became concerned that others would read it and feel like they should have “totally got over it” after just one year and would feel anxious if they still felt like they were falling short of this goal. I’d like to say that while I do feel so much better and I am able to look forward to the future, my rape still affects me here and there, albeit to a lesser extent. But this is something that does not concern me as much as it did.
If you are a rape survivor, you have physically, mentally and emotionally experienced a major life trauma. This is why I think that it is unrealistic, like I used to, to expect that you could write a date in your diary for a morning when you could wake up and magically, your mind would have erased all the painful memories of the assault as if it had never happened. It is unrealistic because it did happen to you. While you won’t ever forget what happened, I believe it does not have to dictate your whole life. Instead of concentrating on making it “go away”, I have found that is important is to focus on the small steps forward you are taking. For me, these small steps are things like realising it has been a week without experiencing any intrusive memories, or becoming excited about an upcoming event, or feeling motivated to achieve a goal.
I’ll always be a survivor of rape, but I am so many other things as well. I am a fierce, loyal friend. I care a lot about others and seek to make the people in my life happy. I am dedicated and passionate about my career. I am also a gym goer, a runner, a drawer, a painter, a reader. I am even an online shopping addict and a Netflix binger. There are so many more parts to me, and to you, than what happened that night. You might not ever be able to make that piece of you disappear, but there are so many other pieces of you that are much more important. You are worth more than your trauma.