When it first happened, I blamed myself. If I hadn’t been that drunk, would he have done that to me?

I blamed my friends. Where were they when I needed them?

Then it became it too overwhelming to think about at all anymore so I shut out the thoughts, as best as I could, and refused to let it affect me. Little did I know, however, that over the past two years, it had never ceased to affect me. The repercussions of what had happened changed who I was to become, seeped into the corners of my personality and filled it up with an irreplaceable darkness.

I “chose” not to address it; but, it was there. All along.

I’m not sure why past similar reportings in the news did not surface these repressed emotions – Brock Turner, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Crosby, Donald Trump… You get it, I could go on forever.

Something about Brett Kavanaugh, the SCOTUS nominee who is to represent the highest court in our land, reminded me of my assaulter. He was whiny yet commandeered a questionable and loyal support from an ignorant base; he dismissed the entire event upon “drunken college adventures”; he scared me because of the power he held.

Even if I was able to push past the anxiety to speak about it, who would believe me?

A few hours after Senator Susan Collins, a woman, voted to move forward with the nomination, I allowed myself to feel. I broke down and cried, shed the days, months, years of pretending that this thing had ever happened to me. Though I don’t know Kavanaugh or Collins, I know people like them. Those who shame victims for braving through the trauma to propel a patriarchal norm for disabling intelligent, strong women.

For the first time, I’m learning to blame him and forgive myself.

I forgive myself for ever thinking that I was at fault. It was his actions and his actions alone that caused this. I am not to blame.

This realization is the first step to allowing light to come into my life again, and for now, that is enough. I know that I don’t have to go it alone, and that it’s important to tell my story.

With our combined strength and unity, our nation can and will brave through this time together.

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