September 03, 2013

bittersweet

September 3 is a hard day for me every year. There is always a divide in my day--a before and after, if you will. Though I cannot pinpoint the exact time when this divide begins, I always know when one ends and the next begins from how big the giant pit in my stomach gets. I have to kiss the part of myself I lost that night goodbye again, for the seventh time and start to rebuild for a process that will continue on for the rest of my life.

I am a seven year survivor of sexual abuse. Today is the anniversary of the last time.
36/52: my story as of 09/2011 on flickr

I never thought a simple date could ever have the power to turn me into a blubbering mess of snot and incoherence with the tick of a few simple seconds. I never thought a world of panic attacks and depression, a world so devoid of actual feelings would consume me. I never thought a simple phrase would change my life so dramatically. I never thought I would lose some of my favourite family members over this. I never thought something so horrible would ever happen to me... But doesn't everyone?
265/365 on flickr

When I started going to therapy and got the nerve to discuss what had happened to me, I learned a lot of things. The one fact that has stuck with me most is that one in every three girls and one in every four boys will be sexually abused before they turn eighteen. Every 7 minutes, someone else in the United States becomes a victim. I became just one in 1/3 of all women who develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after sexual assault. The facts made my brain hurt, but they also comforted me in a way... They let me know that I wasn't alone.

Today is bittersweet, for a lot of reasons. Without this event in my life, the loss of my innocence if you will, I don't know if I ever would have discovered photography or found my voice as a writer. Shortly after the abuse, I picked up my mom's digital camera and ran with it; when a camera wasn't available, I learned to write to get all the garbage and self-hatred out of my head. These two hobbies now have become my passions, which have manifested into this blog.

I have a lot of people to thank. You guys know who you are: my best friends, my shoulders to cry on, the first numbers on speed dial, the ones who don't mind if I call at 3AM because I'm freaking out and don't know what to do, the ones who never said, "Anna, it's not a big deal. Stop thinking about it," the ones who reassured me time and time again that my feelings are valid and justified and that no one has the right to belittle what happened because he didn't rape me. You guys are the best and I am sending out infinite love and hugs from here in Blogland.

I'm coping the best I can. Each year is different. Today, I start the process of letting go all over again.

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