When Jessie sent me her story I sat quietly reading it while tears poured down my cheeks. Not only for what she has endured, but because I know the fear that is felt when you tell someone about the demons of your past. I reached out to her showing her both support and gratitude for her bravery in sharing her story with me. I asked if she wanted her story posted anonymously and she replied “After sending that email I felt a lot of anxiety, but then I realized it’s time to share this part of me”. In that moment the power of those demons was diminished as she chose to face vulnerability in hopes that others will know that they are not alone. She radiates courage, and I am proud to be able to share her story with you.
I’m trying to be brave by typing this. I haven’t shared all of these things before because I’ve been afraid of what other people will think. But screw that. I’m sick of feeling alone in my battles, and hopefully what I have to say will help someone else know they’re not alone.
Cutting straight through the BS and getting right to it, my life and the decisions I’ve made have in many ways been influenced by sex. As a child, I was sexually assaulted for many years by a best friend’s dad. So at age 6, I remember being obsessed with sex and thinking that I had to be excellent at it or I wouldn’t find someone to love me.
In Junior High we moved to Michigan and I was excited for a fresh start. I took pride in finding Jesus and making a commitment of purity in my church (anyone who grew up in church remember the Silver Ring Thing? Ha!) and of course, my parents were very proud. I maintained that through High School. Faith helped me feel peace and find a community. It helped keep the nightmares away.
Then at 18, the fall after graduating, I was sexually assaulted at a college campus I was visiting. Then again at 19. Then two more at 22, that last of which left me with a closed head injury and memory loss.
In those moments, I froze. After saying no repeatedly and trying to get away, when the event finally happened, I froze. I dissociated. I was an expert at dissociation, and it wasn’t until a wonderful therapist explained to me why I reacted like that. As a child, that’s how I handled it. I went somewhere else in my mind. Compartmentalized, moved on.
I started to gain a lot of weight very quickly. My thoughts turned to, “If I’m overweight, maybe I won’t be seen as a target anymore.” I felt like I had a dark cloud over my head and I couldn’t get rid of it.
Then at 24, the day after my birthday, I was assaulted again. Somehow something clicked in my mind this time to fight back, and I managed to eventually get help. But I still felt worthless. So I gained more weight, and started pushing everyone away.
At 26, I had never felt so low. Being in the church, I had this twisted notion in my head that I had to eventually explain to my husband one day why I wasn’t a virgin, and I thought that if I were to tell him the truth, he would think I was disgusting and wouldn’t want to marry me. In my few serious relationships, the assaults that I had chosen to discuss were treated similarly. So my thought was this: I just need to have sex with someone, anyone, so at least I can tell my future husband that I CHOSE to have sex, and that’s why I wasn’t a virgin. I know this is warped. Don’t do this, please. Because the man I ended up choosing to do this with ended up being married, and the relationship ended horrifically. And what did I do after that to ease my pain? I jumped immediately into another relationship, where sex was the focus. I pulled away from the church, my family, and my friends. I reached a new low I didn’t think was possible.
Starting at age 5, I was made to be just a sex object. So that’s how I viewed myself. My worth was in how men saw me; how good I was in the bedroom. I hated myself.
I just turned 28. I’m on delightful meds for depression and anxiety, and I’m choosing to not be ashamed of that anymore. I’ve managed to successfully push almost everyone away (again, please don’t do this!), but I’m working on mending those fences and getting rid of those awful habits to create positive ones. I’m figuring out my self worth and reading a lot of Brené Brown.
I’m ready to talk about these things with others because I’m sick of all the surfacey conversations in my life and sadly I know I’m not alone. Have a ton of other things happened in my life? Yes. But I wanted to share this part of me because this is my messed up foundation; my earthquakes that led to tsunamis.
I purposefully didn’t share “AHA” moments, because honestly, nope. Didn’t have one. It was a series of choices – choosing to love myself, choosing to love God (something bigger than myself), and knowing that I’m much more than someone else’s object.
Also, it’s not like I’m miraculously joyful and all healed right now. I’m not. I’m still putting together the pieces. But I have hope, and now we have this wonderful community of women we can talk to. I literally started a new diet and fitness plan today (Lord help me), so wish me luck on that! 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Know that whatever your story is, you are loved. You are not just a sex object.
All of my love,