Maybe it was hard for you to read these last few weeks.
Maybe you’re tired of reading about it; tired of seeing it.
But I can’t help but wonder if there is so much silence because of one little word; one little word that is heavy – the word “uncomfortable”.
It feels like an overshare. At least that’s how I feel most people view it.
It feels… taboo. Like talking about sex in public. (gasp).
I have to admit. I feel uncomfortable too. I’ve felt uncomfortable for over half of my life now.
For awhile it was when the word “rape” was used as slang. People would say things like “Woah! The officials in that game were so awful; our team got raped.” Or for awhile it was used whenever anyone felt like they got the short end of the stick and I would hear people randomly yell “Raped”.
It’s an uncomfortable word. Today someone shared a piece about Maya Angelou. And for the first time since I was 16, I felt like someone was speaking exactly what I felt.
“When she was 8 years old, Maya Angelou stopped speaking. She silenced her voice because she thought her voice had killed a man. For almost five years, she spoke to no one but her beloved brother, Bailey.
The man she believed she had killed with her voice — her mother’s boyfriend, Mr. Freeman — had raped her. After she testified against him in his trial, he was convicted and sentenced, but released from jail. Four days later, he was found dead. Murdered. Probably by Angelou’s uncles, her memoir implies.”
I don’t cry often. But tears were running down my face.
I’ve never read something that so completely, and yet so simply, describes what I’ve been feeling for over 17 years.
The feeling of wanting to be free from what weighs on me – what follows me into the bedroom at night, into my dreams – what my husband has to talk me down from.
The feeling of wanting to tell everyone because my life will never be the same; but hearing the voice of the Vice President of the college I attended saying, “Do you want to ruin his life?”
It’s the curse. The curse of being raped – or as that same Vice President told me, “You weren’t raped you were sexually assaulted. Be careful with terminology”. Here’s some terminology “Fuck You!” – (Sorry Mom). Is what I wish I had said, but I didn’t. I didn’t because my thoughts were drowned out by a terrible voice that hasn’t left my mind in over 16 years. A terrible voice of shame.
And so, I felt that no matter what path I chose, I would lose. Except there came a time when he was telling and I wasn’t. I remember walking into the library on campus, and a group of Pastor Track Men sitting at a table called me Jezebel. I went into the bathroom in the basement and cried. I didn’t leave until the student on duty at the library came around to check before locking the building.
So today, when I read what Maya Angelou had written, I felt less alone.
Finally, someone gets me – someone who wrote a book back in 1969 – over 15 years before I was born.
Maya Angelou… I can’t wait to meet you in heaven someday. In heaven where I won’t have to carry this anymore.
And that’s what it comes down to.
It’s uncomfortable to talk about.
But we need to. Not to normalize it, because it is something that should never be normalized.
But, so that people who have to choose between two paths – the path of sharing or the path of carrying – don’t choose a third path.
The path of ending.
There was a time when it was all happening – I thought about what it would be like; what it would be like to not have to think about it anymore.
What it would be like to never have to be called Jezebel again.
But I chose life.
I have this amazing friend. Her name is Amanda. And though we don’t see each other often, she saved my life; I wish I could tell her somehow. But I’m just not good with words. Which is ironic since I’m a writer. But it’s a different type of words that I can’t seem to form at times.
I wouldn’t have survived without Amanda. She is brave. She is strong. She does not take anything from anyone and man I love that about her. She took another friend with her and marched right into a school admin’s office and told him exactly what was on her mind. I never felt alone with her around. She was always so fierce – so brave.
This week I did something brave. I wrote into the local newspaper and I shared my thoughts on what is happening with the sexual assault allegations.
There are comments on the post that of course attack my line of thought; but I don’t care.
“Haters gonna hate”.
Because today… today I am uncomfortably free.
Today, I am who God says I am. Music is a big part of my life; deep down in my soul. Songs are often attached to moments in my life. And these past few weeks it has been this song: Lauren Daigle “You Say”
May you find freedom knowing that God loves you; more than any of the voices in your mind that tell you that you are unlovable.
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