My Recovery from Sexual Assault by Anonymous (Passover Semifinalist #1)
Welcome to our “My Personal Exodus from Egypt” Contest! Each day of Passover I will be posting a new semifinalist, and after Pesach one grand prize $100 winner will be chosen at random…
I was the good girl my whole life.
I didn’t do bad stuff: I didn’t hang out with people who would have a bad influence on me. That wasn’t me. I tried really hard to prove to the world (and myself) that it’s possible to stay sane in an insane world. That not everyone goes through traumatic “life-changing experiences.” I was OK and I was going to stay OK.
Maybe I was too OK?
I was the one who helped everyone, much more than I ever helped myself. I was that girl who always had a smile on her face. Only my pillow knew that I, too, knew how to cry. A lot…
While I was the angel, my good friend was the messed up one.
While I was just cruising through life, she was suffering and I tried my best to help her.
I listened to her cry at two in the morning when she broke up with her boyfriend. I was there for her. I thought I was simply doing my duty by being such a good friend, and I loved that.
It all began at the school sleepover party.
We were having a kumzitz and I was in a very emotional mood. I started crying, and walked outside. Everyone came to give me hugs, to see if I was OK. Because after all, I was the one who was always OK.
I was the strong one, the one who was always there for my classmates when they broke down.
And there I was, crying and crying as I often had, but never ever in front of my classmates.
It was actually nice. I had some beautiful conversations with those friends that night. We spoke about life, experiences, and emotions. We sat outside in the chilly air cuddled up in our blankets.
After a while, my good friend found out that I was crying outside. She came out to me and said in a sincere tone, “You’re always there for me. I want to be here for you now.”
So we sat there and spoke about all sorts of stuff. As time passed it got very chilly and late, so we went inside. We were staying in a small building. There was no place really to hang out. We went to my room, to sit on my bed. And then- my life changed. I was assaulted, sexually, by my friend.
I was confused. Lost. Mad. Broken. Sad. In a moment, the world had turned into a dark place.
I felt invaded. I felt that the most personal and private part of me – my body – had been stolen and no longer belonged to me alone. So what was I? Who was I? This confusion of self and how I identify who “Me” is, tore me to pieces.
I wanted to leave everything. Hashem. The Torah. I wanted to drop it all. For the first time in my life I didn’t care about school. About my looks. About my behavior. Nothing.
I was about to fall into a dark pit. I was on the verge of leaving behind the values and laws that had served as my life’s compass for as long as I could remember.
It felt like an impossible situation. But there was some robot inside me that forced me to move on. Keep living. Minute after minute.
Right before I completely cut off my connections with Judaism and gave up on myself a thought crossed my mind.
If I would let all of my beliefs, standards, and accomplishments fall to the wayside, how would I manage on my own?
If I would go down a new road that was unknown, how would I survive? All by myself? I probably wouldn’t have the slightest clue how to lead my life.
I didn’t understand G-d, had no clue what He wanted from me, and why He thought I could deal with this.
But apparently He did, even though I truly didn’t understand it. So why not hold His hand?
And that’s what I did. I fought with myself at every moment, just to hold on to Hashem. I felt like my life was hanging by a thread.
Surprisingly, though, life went on. The years passed and I came back to myself. My smile, happiness, and so much more. Time really does heal wounds.
One Shabbos I was home alone with my parents. I felt so happy. I had such clarity. The desperate need that I had had that everything would always be OK had disappeared. I had learned that there’s no reason to be afraid of traumatic “life changing experiences” because, I now knew, it’s OK to be in pain because I emerge from it a stronger, more aware, and more grateful person.
I also learned that how any given situation will affect me depends on the attitude with which I face it.
And that attitude is one that I created, through my sweat and tears. The road to that was hard and still is.
But it is so rewarding. I know that it didn’t just happen magically, but it is a direct outcome of my pain and effort and that is the best feeling ever.
And after all is said and done I can actually thank Hakadush Barush Hu for letting me experience what I did because it brought me to where I am today: the happiest place in many years.
The trauma I experienced and the years of recovery that followed enabled me to finally know who I really am.
And that, I believe, is pure happiness and serenity.
It woke me up, made me realize, grow, and appreciate, and be OK. This time, really OK.