16. On do overs, what in your life would you want to do over?
I have given this a lot of thought. Not what I would do over, but whether or not to share it. I have been told that when you share something hard, you are burdening others and it is selfish to do that.
There are times I believe that. And other times I think that sharing helps to achieve understanding.
It’s simple really: I would not be a victim for so long.
As a child, I was a victim of abuse at the hands of a trusted adult and I held on to it. I did not transition into being a survivor for decades.
Being a victim is about more than being victimized, more than the act that created the victim. It is about more than the moment, or moments. It’s about the way that it completely changes your life’s path. The possibility that was your future. The beauty that was your past. The innocence that you deserved.
And in time, being a victim is about finding a way to heal. It’s about finding people to help you heal and then, letting yourself be healed, moving your life from past to present.
The biggest leap for me was in taking control of the responsibility for what happened next. Much of my younger life was spent trying to forget. If I ran fast enough, created enough other chaos, I could outrun the memories. The shame.
And then, when I slowed down, I steeped in the stew of the truth without confronting it and kicking it out of the way so that I could fully live my life.
I wrote a story once about a woman who lives in a potato sack. There, but not really. Able to see, but not really. Feeling not worthy of being warmed by the sun. And somewhat invisible.
Perhaps if someone had been held responsible or had taken responsibility it would have made a difference. Maybe then I would not have felt that job was up to me. Maybe.
After I stood in court and told my story, I had a glimpse of what it felt like to be a survivor but my path was quickly blocked. A man stopped me on the front steps of the courthouse and blamed me. Confirmed my greatest fears.
I am proud of my 12-year-old self for finding a way to survive. That girl was a survivor. I am proud of my life and what I have accomplished, how I have lived it.
But I allowed parts of me to remain wounded for too long. I did not forgive myself for those who came after me for too long. I wished it was not me for too long.
I wished for a do over for too long.