I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. That sentence sounds so official and intimidating as if it’s a diagnosis. As if that sentence is forever going to precede every action and every thought I ever have.
And yes, once upon a time being a survivor was the most important thing I ever had to do. Surviving the abuse I endured as a child was always at the forefront of my mind. For years it dictated every decision I made for that was the only way I knew how to live. I was in survival mode although at the time I didn’t know it. I had no idea that I was living day to day, hour to hour, counting down the minutes to my next flashback in which I would have to face my attacker again just this time in my mind. My decisions were based solely on my will to be able to continue going and not give up.
Just like a drowning person will grab onto anything around him to get a breath of air, so to I was grasping at anything, anyone to get by. I’m sure I hurt people along the way. And I’m sure there are tens of people who helped me that I never relayed my deep gratitude to. Gratitude I only realized was lacking years later when I got a chance to catch my breathe.
Because one day my feet touched bottom and I was able to stand on my own, my head just peeking above the water. And that’s when I decided that I wanted to live. Not just to survive but to start living. Actually living. So I got help. I am so grateful that I found people willing to help me and support me on my journey. I went to years of therapy and built for myself a strong pillar of support made of friends, family and people who care.
Today, not only am I survivor but I’m also a mother, a wife, a student, and so much more.
And now I am able to give back; to be that helping hand that was stretched out to me when I was drowning and help the ones around me swim.