Our worth in the world has always been tied to our looks…not the amazing miracle of mere existence. – Courtney E. Martin
I picked up a copy of Geneen Roth’s “Women Food and God” from the library the other day. She referenced this book so much in another book I just completed reading: “Lost and Found.” I thought I’d give it a try in an effort to understand her money book. Of course, I originally thought that I didn’t need to read a book on why people overeat. But ironically, I found a reference to why I find myself in the predicament I’m in.
Simply put, the reason why so many of us have issues today is because we didn’t truly experience the pain when the incident occurred. Instead of feeling whatever emotion we were supposed to have felt back then, we suppress it. We end up finding solace in other things to keep us from acknowledging and feeling what we should have felt.
Instead of living in this very moment, we let the past clutter up our present…as if it were happening right now. We would rather distract ourselves from re-living the past by eating, boozing, or getting high. We find other substances that will make us feel good because what happened in our past is an event that doesn’t make us feel happy.
We distract ourselves. We feel like a victim, even though what happened to us happened so long ago. We act as if it still effects us now, even though we are safe from the act ever happening to us again.
We get caught up with the drama of the situation…some of us re-think what we would have done differently, what we would have said to change what happened. But the truth is, we can never change what happened. It happened and it hurt us.
I’ll admit that when I was sexually assaulted, I blamed myself. If I wasn’t pretty or thin, this would not have happened. If I wasn’t so numb from losing my first love to suicide just a few months before, I could have avoided the entire situation. I was mourning something I had lost…and someone took advantage of me.
He thought that NO meant it was okay to keep going. Even when I tried to fight him off, he thought I was playing around, which encouraged him to become more aggressive. He wasn’t my boyfriend. I had a boyfriend. That didn’t stop him even when my boyfriend told him to leave me alone.
It didn’t happen just once. It happened several times throughout the first semester of my freshman year in college.
I felt dumb and stupid that I let someone make me into a victim. I felt weak and like some stupid farm girl in a big city. What else could I expect? If I wasn’t from dumb fuck, Indiana, this would have never happened to me.
There are a lot of men that have told me in the past that they know something happened to me. They could sense it. They just didn’t know what had happened.
I can only remember what happened afterwards. The university decided that they had to protect me by teaching me how to protect myself. Security not only hung around, they also taught me how to fight for myself and to get out of dangerous situations. The university also advised me to seek counseling, so I spent a lot of time with the school psychiatrist only to be diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder. I couldn’t remember what had happened, but the emotional trauma was present. The extreme fear was there.
Being in court for two years and being forced to face the guy that completely broke my mind and my innocence was difficult. It took two years before the Dean of Students stepped in and permanently expelled him. That asshole creep’s parents called the Dean asking him to intervene, calling me every bad word in the book…saying that I was faking and telling lies…my roommate (who hated me) confirmed it.
The university knew the truth, because they were the ones submitting me to psychiatric evaluation and the reports belonged to them. The Dean called the meeting that lasted two days. After the second day, he threw everyone out of his office and told that jerk that he was expelling him. He told me to wait in his office while he moved the others out.
When he came back he told me that the university was siding with me in this matter, because I had been exhibiting signs since I first reported it that he had done something horrible to me. He said, “All you were asking for was for all of this to stop.” He apologized that the university didn’t step in sooner and allowed this to go on for two years. He said, “Your story was the only story that anyone here believed.”
I walked out of his office and found out a few weeks later that the university had decided to comp the last two years of my stay there. They felt somewhat at fault for not protecting me during my second year when I found that jerk a few feet from my dorm room.
Not too long ago I googled that jerk and found out that he had tried out for “The Apprentice” and was on another TV show. I had fun reading the reviews from websites and blogs. Everyone hated him. If anyone was the equivalent of what a douchebag really was…oh, this guy took the cake.
He was trying to make it big in reality TV. The funny thing is that NBC canceled the show because of him. That, to me, was sweet justice. It actually made me smile after all of these years of being afraid.
That’s what this is really all about. Not being afraid anymore.
Confronting your biggest demon and slaying it is probably the biggest mountain that anyone can climb. Some victims turned to food as solace. Me, I was afraid to eat. I was afraid to be happy. I was afraid to get into relationships. I was afraid to be successful. I was afraid to just live the life that was meant for me.
Another part of me that was hurting and in pain was that I never was able to truly mourn Kevin’s death. I had so many questions. “WHY?” being the number one question. It’s hard when someone you love decides to end their own life. It makes you believe that you weren’t good enough for them to continue living for you. That’s why I hate that song that talks about how they would die for you. Why can’t you live for me? What’s wrong with that?
It took me 7 years to ask why he committed suicide. His decision had something to do with me. He had flunked out of Ball State Academy and his father said that if he didn’t keep his grades up, he would bring him home. Kevin had kept quiet from me that his father was abusive. He had escaped to Ball State to escape the beatings.
In his suicide note on why he was making this decision he said that I was going off to college in the fall and leaving him alone. He chose death over going home for one year to live in the same house as his father. If I had gone to a college in Indiana, things might have been different.
I have a right to be mad at him for not telling me about his abusive father. He could have finished his last year of high school in Washington, D.C. while I was in college. There was no need to put a bullet through his heart. We could have worked things out and survived.
But as much as his decision had something to do with me…I just wish I had a say in the matter.
I can imagine how different life would have been. What happened during my freshman year would have never happened. I probably would have ended up marrying Kevin and having the time of my life.
But those weren’t the cards dealt to me, now were they?
Roth was saying in her book that sometimes these things happen to test our connection (and spirituality) with God. The disconnect allows us to become stronger after suffering from our greatest weaknesses. It also pushes us to find meaning in our pain. To find that we are not special can bring any person’s world to a crashing halt.
To give you a time frame on the series of events…Kevin killed himself in May 1994, two weeks before my high school graduation. In September, a few short months later, that was when the attacks began. They ended in January 1995 when I finally reported it to the police.
I was numb for a very long time. A decade later, I was still numb to what it was I felt and what I should do with my life. It wasn’t until my grandfather’s 90th birthday that he told me that he knew something had happened to me in college and was hurt that I never told him.
At 90 years old, he still couldn’t get me to tell him what had happened. Some things I just wasn’t brave enough to face.
He talked about my dreams that were thrown to the wayside and how I had gotten off my path in life. He knew that I was destined to be a famous singer and actress, but I threw it all away. It broke his heart that I had, but he knew something terrible must have happened for me to stop living.
That exact moment was when I found out that Kevin shot himself.
After my grandfather’s death, my life changed. I took 6 months off to pull myself back together. I actually took 6 months to grieve my grandfather. Those were 6 months I never had to grieve Kevin.
In those 6 months, I learned how to live again. I had the help of a very famous celebrity. We were both trying to pull our lives back together and we did it together. She helped me land my first writing gig. And I helped her get back into the studio again. She even took a few cameo acting gigs.
Now, she’s on a worldwide tour selling out arenas in every city. And somewhere in the back of our minds, we have each other to thank for learning from each other on how to live again.
These days, I still have demons to face and emotions to feel. I also need to acknowledge that I am healing. I’ve been taking every step I can take over these last 3 years to heal.
But now, I have to remind myself that it isn’t the past that makes me feel alive, it is the present. It is my mere existence, not how I look that is more important. My existence is what I value, not how I look.
Losing 100 pounds of Unhappiness is a dream…it’s a mountain I’m climbing. The deeper I dig into that unhappiness and throw it out, the closer I get to reaching the top of that mountain.
There have been setbacks and frustrations all along this climb, but I haven’t given up. I’m still pushing forward and learning everything that I can to understand how to be successful. I also understand that my failures mean that I have to try to tackle this mountain another way.
A dream made into a reality takes a lot of energy and hard work. We all have a mountain to climb in an effort to reach the top and be victorious.
Just like I taught myself how to manage my finances and accomplish being able to have more than enough…I also understand that you can’t climb those mountains overnight. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of time to reach the summit. After all, it took a while to institute changes in my financial behavior in order to have success. It took a lot of practice, practice, practice to get it right and to reap from its rewards.
I remember when I first started to climb that financial mountain, I thought of how huge it looked at the very beginning. But once I got to the top, I realized just how easy it was to get there. But I also remember what work I had to put into it to get there.
This unhappy mountain is probably the biggest hill I’ve ever had to climb. But I know when I make it to the top, I’ll think back at how what seemed so hard ended up being easier than I thought it was. I just had to learn how to climb that hill and realize that I did not have to take the hard and long way up.
If anything, if Kevin hadn’t died and if I hadn’t had those miserable college years, I wouldn’t have been able to relate to a lot of people. We all have some sort of pain. We have to choose to either live in the pains from the past or live now in the present moment, knowing that what happened cannot be changed, but we can change how we think and feel about it.
We can grow into a stronger human being by defeating the demons within. We can find happiness in our own sorrow. We can smile again after being afraid for so long. We can live again after being so numb.
We can choose to live and be happy.
I choose to not let that asshole make me afraid of being innocent or being a woman anymore. I choose to love what I have lost, but know that I too was loved greatly by someone in this lifetime. I can learn to love others just as I was loved. From Kevin’s love for me, I can learn to love like he loved me.
I choose to not let the events of the past dictate my current state of being. Those events are irrelevant. I choose to live in the moment and let go and forgive those that have transgressed against me.
I choose freedom from fear and freedom from pain. I choose happiness.