The thing about sexual abuse is it comes back in waves. Big, crashing waves that have no rhyme or reason. Waves that you can’t surf on, or go under while you wait for it to pass. You can only survive these by curling up in the fetal position and letting them bring you where they want, hoping they will pass soon and you won’t be too far away from where they picked you up.
The waves will sweep you up, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing. They will sweep you up. You’ll try to stand still, continue doing what you’re doing from where you’re doing it. You’ll pray you never stop trying, no matter how hard it gets and how many waves toss you around. Because maybe it gets easier. Maybe the next wave will be a little weaker, and maybe you’ll be stronger. Just keep trying.
A letter signaled for these waves yesterday. His name was read like a siren. I was stronger this time, I swear. I put the letter down. I went on with my day. I was fine. I was good. I was fine. I was good.
The waves could have left me alone and I would have forgotten.
I would have forgotten how much it hurt to be betrayed by someone I loved so much. I would have forgotten what his saliva tasted like, or how cold his hands were in the waist of my pants. I would have forgotten what happened when I said no. I would have forgotten keeping this big, dark secret. I would have forgotten the fear. I would have forgotten the shame. I would have forgotten it all, until the next time.
But the waves came crashing anyways. They would not let me forget. They would not let me be okay. Crashing into me they shouted “This is abuse, this is what it means to be a survivor. Do your part Samm, survive. Show us what it means to not give up.”
It’s then that I realize these waves have purpose. They force me to face my reality. They force me to look inward and move forward. They force me to live up to the label “survivor of sexual abuse”.
This fetal position I’ve found myself in is not me surrendering, it’s me surviving.