I Don’t Hide in the Darkness of Shame or Guilt Anymore

I didn’t know how much the things that happened to me that one night would shape not only my life but the person I was for so long in my life. I kept my secret hidden and tucked away and hoped that strength in who I was in my life would help it all go away. I tried to push myself in everything I did in my life to run away from the feeling of worthlessness, guilt, and shame. I did everything with intensity, from my hobbies to schoolwork.

I sang and danced on stages from California to Ecuador and couldn’t shake the feeling of being alone and trapped. How crazy is it that? I could stand on a stage in front of so many people and feel so alone. There were also the panic attacks and feeling like I was being crushed. Then the realization that the decision I had made was letting the monster inside of me grow.

I realize now that I felt unworthy of anything good so I made decisions that were completely destructive in my life. At the time I didn’t even realize that it was all connected. I knew my secret kept people I loved at a distance but what if they found out? What if they knew? I believed what I was groomed to believe. It was somehow my fault. If they knew they would think less of me or not care for me at all.

When my husband and I married he didn’t know what he would be dealing with. When the secret came out he has been amazing. He tried to help me in all the ways he could think of. It took a huge toll on our lives. I heard about The Younique Foundation from one of the workers where I volunteer.

The weekend before I was to meet for The Haven Retreat I had a panic attack so bad I couldn’t leave my bedroom for 3 days. My husband talked me through it and used tough love to get me out and to our meeting place. When I sat at lunch that first day most of us were a little quiet. As I looked around the room, for the first time in my life I wasn’t alone. None of us spoke a word about why we were there but we all had a common bond. It was the most uplifting and incredible feeling. I was understood and, what’s more, they helped me understand me.

I don’t hide in darkness of shame or guilt anymore. He will not control me. I did nothing wrong. I have found may women like me and we are amazing. Yes something happened to me, but I get to choose what I do with it. I choose to help others come out of the darkness and be a warrior. What if this was the moment we were created for? To help others to soar with us.

-Toni, Survivor