Some days I can’t be touched, not even by animals. The thought of someone’s fingertips on my skin makes me queasy.
Some days I cry because I want to be held so badly that my skin physically hurts.
It’s not easy to think of me as a survivor of assault. I know that. Remembering that my body was a space I had to reclaim, time and time again, has never made my loved ones happy. But I want to be seen fully by the people I love. I want them to understand, almost viscerally, the ground through which I had to claw myself in order to become the woman I am today.
I relish the idea of being known to my depths and I’ve been fortunate in that there are a handful of people who can throw my voice from their mouth. I am lucky. And even they don’t want to hear about all the nights I spent peeling other people’s fingerprints from my skin.
So why do it? Why remind you of where I’ve been, of the shape of the bruises that still ache when I move?
Writing is the only thing that makes sense to me. It’s the only cure, the quickest way back to normal, the most trusted record of who I am. And for years, I wrote without sharing. I wrote for myself, chronicling every breath, every misstep, every victory. Now, I write with you.
My father told me I share too much – that my words could, at any moment, outlast me in the worst ways. For a moment, I was scared. But then I flipped through my journals, through the pages that questioned and wept and burnt for something, some sign that I was meant to live and create, some proof that my pain could matter somewhere outside of myself… and I couldn’t look back. Writing is all I can do.
It is a selfish practice. I can’t sugarcoat that. I am trying to rip experiences from the walls of my ribs, the good and the bad, so my lungs have more room to expand. But sometimes I read comments and secret messages, written for my eyes alone, and I remember that I’m not the only survivor you know.
I don’t have a tidy ending to these thoughts, only a promise that I will keep creating as often as possible and I will be honest. There are good days and there are bad days. I’ll continue to share both.