I go to a monthly support group for women who have been sexually abused. I started going a few months ago at the recommendation of my therapist. It is really nice to have a group of women that I can relate to. Prior to this, I didn’t realize that other people felt the way that I do. However, the few times I’ve been, it has been really triggering for my trauma memories. Last night was no exception.
One of the things we discussed was the “why didn’t I…” thoughts that come with sexual abuse:
- Why didn’t I tell anyone?
- Why didn’t I fight back?
- Why didn’t I say no?
The list could go on and on. I’ve written about this some before in my post about The Dreaded Five-Letter Word. But today while I was listening to Taking Back Sunday (one of the greatest “emo” bands of all time 😃), I started thinking about the lyrics: “I never said I’d take this lying down.”
I was really little when my abuse began. And because it occurred so frequently for so many years, I really thought it was normal. And to be honest, it wasn’t until I was several months into my trauma work that I realized my sexual abuse is considered “severe”… I thought everyone’s sexual abuse was like mine. Apparently, that’s not the case.
I was in 4th or 5th grade before I realized that normal siblings aren’t touching each other (and then some) on a regular basis. And I think by the time I realized that, I was too afraid to tell. Just because I didn’t tell, doesn’t make what he did to me ok. It doesn’t mean that I said I would take it lying down. I am a warrior. Even if I didn’t fight him when I was little, I fight every day for myself now. I fight for myself to be as normal and sane as possible, even on the days like today where my flashbacks are frequent and tormenting.
It is easy for me to get caught up in the guilt and shame that comes from being sexually abused. It is easy for me to hate myself instead of hating him. It is easy for me to feel fully responsible for what happened to me. But instead of taking the “easy way out,” I need to remind myself that even though I didn’t say “no,” I also didn’t say “yes.” And I need to remember that I didn’t take it lying down (or propped up on my elbows); I fight it every fucking day now.
Trauma work is the hardest thing I have ever done. It takes courage and strength, and some hell of good coping skills. It takes being a goddamn warrior every day, even when you’re on the ground. And today, it’s ok that I skipped yoga and laid in bed all morning because…well dammit I fight for myself every day and today I just needed a break, and that’s ok.
Several weeks ago in my restorative yoga class, we did Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 supported on the ground by blocks. It was pretty unique and cool (minus the fact that Warrior 2 on the ground, with my pelvis forward and legs spread, made me feel unsafe). In our Warrior 1 on the ground pose, the instructor said, “We can still be warriors, even when we are on the ground.” That quote has really stuck with me. And today, when I am struggling so much to keep the flashbacks at bay, I need quotes like that to help me remember that even though things are hard right now and I feel defeated, I am still a warrior.