Five years ago I was attacked in my apartment.
I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say, I was a victim.
I spent the night in the hospital, I spent the next several months living in fear. I spent time at free clinics, at therapy sessions, and at the bottom of various bottles.
I was angry, I was scared.
But I survived. I managed to climb up and out. I found a way to not live in fear, to be open, and to not blame others (or myself).
Five years later, I am happy. I am settled. I am engaged to a wonderful man, I am pregnant with our child.
I have a life that bears no resemblance to that of the girl I was back then.
I have distanced myself from her, that girl who opened the door on that fateful afternoon.
I have distanced myself from her trusting invite of the “maintenance man,”
I have distanced myself from her moment of shock and paralysis that made her feeble attempts to fight almost laughable.
In fact, he did laugh.
I have distanced myself from the girl who sobbed, face down on the bathroom floor, who gave up because it hurt too much to fight.
But her shadow is never far, sometimes I see her in the mirror, her eyes wide, her skin bruised.
But there is a part of her, or myself, that I cling to, that was –somehow- there.
The part that sat up, who pulled herself up against the wall, who thought about letting herself go hysterical, of screaming until there was no more sounds in the world.
But decided not to.
That woman who got up, on shaky legs… it took four tries… and washed her face.
The woman who cleaned herself, who called for help, who sat in a hospital waiting room for hours and who maintained her dignity throughout photos, exams, and embarrassing condescending questions.
That woman who moved, who changed her life, who took self defense classes, again and again.
She isn’t perfect, that woman I became, she struggled. She gave into misery and made bad choices regarding her diet, her sex life, her behavior.
But she grew, and she continues to grow…. And the woman I am today, the mother I am becoming, well, she couldn’t have done it without that bit of inner strength that was found five years ago.
It changes us. It never really leaves us.
No matter the distance.