How It Feels to Heal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

I know what it is like to live through that feeling of post-traumatic numbness. I also know what it’s like to testify in court.

My sophomore year in high school, I told my parents that I had been sexually assaulted since I was little. I couldn’t bear to hold in that secret anymore. I don’t know exactly what age I was when it began, but I can remember it happening when I was six. I didn’t understand at first what was going on and didn’t know it was wrong until I was older.

During the abuse, I felt so separated from what was happening. My body was in one place and the rest of me in another. It was as if my mind was saying, This isn’t really happening. This couldn’t be happening to me. I felt really uncomfortable about my body.

For a long time, I thought that if I told people what had been happening to me, even my parents, they would think I was a bad person and blame me. I even blamed myself. For the longest time, I was blinded. I needed to tell someone, because I couldn’t hold it in any longer or I would burst. However, I didn’t know how to handle it. On some level I guess I was angry, but I couldn’t say it or even admit it to myself.

Telling my parents was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. They had been really worried about me, saying that I had changed. They knew I was hiding something and blaming myself for it. I had been angry and distant from others. I started to self-medicate, using drugs and alcohol so I wouldn’t have to feel my pain.

When I told my parents, I still felt emotionally numb. They cried and hugged me, saying that they were sorry. My mother made me see a counselor so that I would have someone to talk to. My counselor tried to get me to break out of my shell. I felt like an observer of my life. I was afraid of my feelings. I’d never had to deal with anger before – not anger that deep, not rage – and I didn’t know how it would come out. I thought it would scare people, because it scared me.

It’s hard to put into words, but it was a huge relief to feel. I wanted to cry and scream and hit and hug people all at the same time. The weight of the world had lifted from my shoulders. I started expressing my anger in my diaries. It was nice to let out my feelings in a constructive way. Maybe that’s what healing is – allowing your emotions to run their course.

I went through a series of sexual abuse trials that were nerve-racking. There is something incredibly valuable about getting to tell your story in your own words in an officially sanctioned room where the person who hurt you has to listen to you as well as everyone else.

Once upon a time, I was naive and trusting of everybody. I no longer believe that everybody is good and the world will look out for me. Now I understand that it’s up to me to take care of myself. It’s a powerful thing, actually, to embrace all of my feelings – not to run from anger or pretend it isn’t living inside me, but to face it, cultivate it, and turn it into strength. And if I was to ever wish that away, I might be wishing away the source of my strength.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

Sketched97 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm
Something similar happened to me, but you seem so much stronger than I ever was. Wow. Just wow.
babygirl95 said...
Jul. 18, 2010 at 1:54 am
Wow, I'm sorry you had to go through that. Your last paragraph was especially beautifully written. :)
TianaFairy said...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 11:42 am
Its disgusting how people take advantage of innocent children. But now your strong like many of us are now changing into. Don't let this define you and good luck.
blinkingandbreathing said...
Dec. 12, 2008 at 3:15 am
I've never had any of wut you went through happen to me, and I know you prolly don't want sympathy, but you're amazing, and the way you told your story was so fitting. very good. keep your chin up. thanks for sharing. *sad smile*
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