Reclaiming My Power #MeToo
Nearly five years ago I was assaulted by the first man I fell in love with. I was sick and asleep, and he claimed he was just trying to “make me feel better.” Later he told me, “If you can’t bring yourself to use the word ‘rape,’ then I clearly didn’t cross a line.” It was the first time, but it wasn’t the last time.
Eventually, the little voice inside me that maintained he was wrong, that it wasn’t okay, grew louder and won. I left him. I started the road to healing and, with the help of some truly wonderful people, began to learn to talk about what happened to me.
Running also took me in. It taught me to love the body that I had once been ashamed of and hated. There were so many days after it happened that I just wanted to crawl out of my own skin; to feel clean again. Running has done that for me in a way that soap and water never could. It has shown me how strong and powerful my body is. It’s carried me countless miles and over finish lines I never thought I’d cross. I’m grateful for that every day.
I got my tattoo in spring of 2017 - nearly four years after the first incident. The phrase “Audentes Fortuna Iuvat” translates to something like “fortune favors the brave/bold;” it was something of a mantra in my hardest times. Despite the fact that I had placed this indelible and obvious mark on my body – which I absolutely love – I wasn’t comfortable talking about it when people asked. There was a lingering sense of shame and dirtiness I couldn’t entirely shake. As if I told people what it meant to me, they’d see me differently than before.
In December of 2017, I had coffee with him. He apologized for what he did. I had seen him since I left, but it was never planned; just chance encounters that would leave my heart pounding for hours. This time it was on my own terms, I had asked him to meet because I wanted to face my fears. It was different this time, I was so calm and composed. The moment I saw him, before he said I word, I knew it didn’t matter if he apologized or even if he acknowledged what he’d done at all. He was no longer the mighty villain I had built in my head over the years. Instead, standing in front of me was an ordinary man.
Five years ago I would’ve never dreamed that something like the #MeToo movement would exist. There’s such a stigma around being sexually assaulted. That the person somehow took some of your dignity or purity, and that you are less than the whole person you were before it happened. But I’m not dirty, tainted, or any of the other horrible descriptors that have been used to describe survivors. Like other survivors, I’m strong, resilient, persistent and most importantly no less whole than I was before it happened. He didn’t take anything from me in those acts, I just had to get to a point where I fully accepted it wasn’t my fault.
As cheesy as it sounds, seeing him again was really one of those “you’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself” moments. The anger towards him I had carried was gone and I realized that I was ready to forgive him. More importantly though, I was ready to forgive myself for the years of shame and self-loathing. Almost 5 years later, I walked away feeling clean again. #MeToo