For the First Time I Verbalized What Happened to Me

When #MeToo was trending, it kind of put me in a bit of a spiral. I realized that instead of healing from my past trauma, I had shoved it all behind a door, pasted a “DO NOT ENTER” sign on the front and repeated I’m okay, I’m fine, look how okay and fine I am! to myself for around 10 years, and unfortunately, faking it ‘til you make it just doesn’t work in situations like these.

From ages 15-18, I was in an abusive relationship where I was first emotionally abused and conditioned into believing no one else could ever truly love or care about me, and that quickly turned to also being sexually abused and raped countless times until I finally had the courage to walk away. I’m saying it out loud now, no side-stepping, no hinting, not anymore. For the first time, I verbalized what happened to me instead of trying to convince myself that it wasn’t as bad as it was.

It was bad, guys. And I think the worst of it is that it all happened behind closed doors and there was such an intense amount of love-bombing and gas-lighting that I felt like I was the crazy one, because some of the friends I confided in after The Haven Retreat mentioned that it seemed as it everything was perfect.

Long story short, it wasn’t. I was left with countless hang ups about myself, my body, my soul, my sexuality and sexual identity – I could go on. I still get night terrors. I still have a lot of anger inside.

Among many other things at the retreat, we did some Muay Thai. At first I was WAILING on the instructor, landing punches like there was no tomorrow, thinking that this was finally my chance to do what I wish I would have done then. But it was too much. Emotionally I began going to a place I didn’t want to go. I felt helpless and small. One of the other gals in my group was doing an amazing job though – after a good cry outside I just sat and watched her, her strength and tenacity was awe-inspiring and we could all see it. Because of her, I stood up to try again, this time with the male instructor. He had seen what happened and said something to me that changed my life.

“You are in control of your power.”

I guess I hadn’t ever considered that I’m not just a leaf in the wind, subject to my emotions and memories and everyone else around me. I’m an autonomous human being and I’m in control of this. We did it again – it felt amazing. I can’t describe the change that happened in my soul.

They also did a photoshoot at the retreat for those who wanted to participate. They did my makeup and hair, and when my makeup artist turned me around to look at the mirror, I could only cry and stare at myself. I’ve had my makeup done before, but for the first time in my adult life I was able to look into the mirror and I saw a woman looking back at me – not a 15-year-old trying to pretend that she’s okay, trying to fake her confidence and happiness.

I am so intensely joyful. I can’t even begin to explain all the healing and knowledge I’ve left with post-retreat. No more hiding, no more pretending it never happened. I’m okay, I’m in control of my power.

Nothing short of magic happened to me in Utah. There’s still so much life left for me, and I’m thrilled that I get to move forward with this magic surrounding my soul.

-Sophia, Survivor