(tw: rape, cheating, domestic violence)
When I was raped in college, I spent a long time blaming myself for what happened.
I must have asked for it because I had a tank top on. Maybe it was the bootcut denim pants?
I shouldn’t have smiled at him; he probably took that as a green light that I wanted him.
Maybe he wouldn’t have thrusted past my pleas to stop if I hadn’t worn so much makeup or that hot pink push up bra.
When boyfriends cheated on me, I justified it because of something unkind I had said to them. Or maybe it was because I didn’t like the same sports or activities that they did?
It was my fault they talked to other women while we were still together because I was unable to provide the companionship or validation they needed.
There was something broken in me that forced them to seek wholeness in someone else.
I even went so far as to explain away the boyfriend who choked me in a drunken rage at a party; he obviously didn’t mean to.
But for the alcohol that he and his teammates guzzled that night, he wouldn’t have bruised my neck so badly.
It wasn’t his fault. He didn’t remember it in the morning when he sobered up, so it’s like it never even happened, right?
It took me a really long time to realize how toxic it is to assume all of this responsibility. Sure, the night I was raped I could have been more aware of my surroundings and not gone off by myself with a guy, but I know it could’ve still happened even if I did and said all of the “right” things.
I could have done a lot differently, but the truth is, by assuming all of this responsibility, I led myself to believe that I could prevent things like this from happening in the future.
The sad reality is bad things happen and trying to shoulder the brunt of “why” it happens isn’t healthy. While taking accountability for one’s actions is crucial to growing as a person, if taken too often, it can lead a person to feel irrevocably broken, and that’s simply not true.
We are all a little broken, in one way or another.
Some of us have scars from surviving bad things. Some us are are still struggling to work through feelings of inadequacy and resonance of brokenness.
Some of us think we’ve successfully trudged through pain from our past, and without warning, it surges without signs of stopping.
Today’s one of those surge days for me.
I turned the stereo up (does that make me sound old? It’s Pandora haha).
I cut my hair (eight inches gone, short).
I put on makeup and then immediately cried all over it.
And then I literally picked myself up off the kitchen floor and reminded myself that it’s okay to be a little, or a lot, broken.
We’re all going through a lot right now. Some of us have lost our jobs and found new ones. Some of us don’t know where this month’s rent will come from. Some have had to adjust to zoom meetings while juggling childcare and short-fused spouses. Some of us have lost loved ones to COVID.
Some of us have lost ourselves in the throes of 2020 and are trying our damnedest to find some semblance of normalcy as the world teeters into oblivion.
So from one broken soul to another, I hope you find the glue to piece yourself back together again soon.