In daily life, I’m doing alright. I have a pretty prestigious job, even if it doesn’t pay what I’d like. I recently earned a master’s degree in counseling. I came through a very stressful year that included a cancer scare, a layoff and six months unemployment to find myself on a whole new career track full of possibilities and truly unexpected privileges. It’s not a job in the field I studied, but I volunteer after work to keep my toes in that pond, too. I live with my girlfriend, who really is more than I deserve to have. She is my best friend, my true believer and my kick in the pants when I sorely need one. My parents have always been loving and I’ve never doubted their love.
Yes, I’m doing pretty well.
I’m haunted by these things now, though I wasn’t always. I’m haunted now because the wall I’d so carefully built between them and my daily life is being chipped and pried apart. It’s crumbling now under the weight of the volunteer work I’ve been doing with other survivors of sexual assault, and the longer I work with them to find their ways out of the shadows, the harder it is for me to keep the wall from falling down around me.
As the wall falls, the haunting shadows merge with the daylight on my side of the wall. I’ve noticed changes. Things I tolerated before I can’t anymore. Things that never bothered me trigger me now. And I obsess…
Because I am a counselor, I’ve sought out the help of one. I’ve started speaking with her regularly about what I’ve been through, and what perhaps I will need to go through to make the hauntings end.
This blog is about all this. About what was and what I want to be, about how I got to this point and how I go forward. It’s about what rape is and what it does to a person. About how we learn to survive and how we hold ourselves back, sometimes even more effectively than others would hold us back. And it’s about the things that make me feel shame, because that is the one thing that threatens to keep me in the shadow more than anything else.
I’ve had enough of shame. Shame only flourishes in the dark and in secrecy. So be done with it.
This is how I begin.