“I had removed alcohol from my life, but the change felt additive, somehow. I told my therapist I was doing it. He asked why, and I shared the word that had been pulsing through my brain for years by then: awake. I wanted to be awake. Drinking clouded things in the loveliest way. Softened hard edges, hushed loud noises, tempered my brain. But I knew that I was muffling the good stuff, too.”Jenna Ross, The Star Tribune
It is a strange and heavy experience to describe for someone who hasn’t been there. Waking up in a room you don’t recognize. In front of a boy you don’t know. Wearing clothes that aren’t your own.
I lost my sense of self on the same morning I lost my virginity.
I was 17.
I blamed myself.
And what I didn’t know at the time, was that I’d spend the next decade of my life carrying around the weight of that secret.
It’s an interesting phenomenon, the tangible weight you can create out of intangible things.
Guilt. Disgust. Regret–these weightless things can become heavy burdens to bear if you carry them long enough.
Waking up in that room I didn’t recognize, in front of that boy I didn’t know, wearing clothes that didn’t belong to me, was undeniably the most humiliating and terrifying moment of my life.
And trust me, I am great at getting myself into embarrassing situations.
No. That moment was different.
When he was finished, I got dressed and asked him to bring me home. He drove me home in his mom’s Toyota RAV4. I didn’t know his name. And I didn’t ask what it was.
Instead, I reluctantly thanked him for the ride and silently hoped I’d never see his face again.
I snuck back into the house the same way I left it the night before. Carefully and quietly through our sliding screen door in the back yard, off the kitchen.
Nobody was awake to notice my absence.
After I paid a visit to my cousin’s apartment later that day to retrieve a plan B pill, I parked my car on the side of the road, somewhere near where Plymouth and Golden Valley collide. I tipped my seat back, swallowed the pill dry, and slowly slipped into a deep oblivion of guilt and humiliation so dark, it can’t really be put into words.
That was the first time in my life I’d really wished myself dead. And although I didn’t wish to die, there was a little part of me that did die that day. From then on, I did what I had to do to escape the sting of my new reality.
From then, that is, until now.
I recently stumbled upon a post that held the last sliver of hope I needed to reach a point of closure on a couple of things. Unironically, it was a post about the process of healing from parental trauma and abuse.
Nothing like a good algorithm moment. Right?
The caption read, “many of us are only one revelation away from healing, let’s hold space for that.”
In that line I found a sense of truth.
In that sense of truth, I found inspiration.
Inspiration and a sense of belonging.
I think healing is a deeply personal and universally fascinating thing.
You may be wondering what any of this has to do with your great grandmother’s favorite idiom, “good grief.”
Well, I’m getting there.
It took me a little over ten years to grieve the loss of my own innocence. And to stop punishing myself for waking up the way I did that morning.
It took me ten months and 13 days to grieve my last break up.
And it took me until now to let go of all of the wrong turns I made leading up to it.
Over the years I’ve learned the best way to build trust with oneself and those who surround you, is by way of keeping promises. Not secrets.
And so, I decided on a few promises that could bring life back into the dead part of my heart.
“Why is it so damn hard for you to believe there could be someone out there who wants to love you long enough to understand you?”Him.
It took me one year and some change to arrive at an answer to that million-dollar question. And tonight, I’m happy to report, it is beginning to feel a little less hard to believe.