It's Back Again, But You're Not Here ....

This week, for reasons too complicated to get into here, I released a piece on my personal grief blog, sharing that 20 years ago this year, in the middle of the night, in my apartment, I was raped. (if you want to understand more about that post or why I chose to speak up about it now, you can find it at www.ripthelifeiknew.com, or all over my Facebook page by doing a quick scroll) The reactions to this piece, and to what I went through, have been, for the most part, unbelievably supportive. I have heard from family members, friends, and people I haven't spoken to in years, in some cases, sending me private Facebook messages or emails or comments on my blog, just to say slightly different and heartfelt versions of "I'm so sorry this happened to you. I had no idea. " It has felt like one big, giant hug, at a time when I definitely most need that. In addition to that happening, I have also received countless private messages and comments and texts, from other women who read the piece, and who, in return, chose to then share the details of their own horrific and heartbreaking stories of rape, sexual assault, harassment, and other awful things that happen to women every single day. Ever since writing the post and publishing it, which was an absolutely terrifying thing to do, I have had the craziest mix of emotions going on inside my head and heart. I am equal parts thankful, humbled, intensely sad, angry, shaken, fearful, worried, determined, disgusted, scared, anxious, nervous, inspired, and nauseous. 

I am also unbelievably exhausted. I’ve had a non-stop migraine since publishing the piece, and my heart has been pounding outside of my chest in a field of anxiety and panic. I feel rattled and re-awakened to the traumas of what actually happened, because sitting down and writing it all out took so much out of me, and was so very hard. What has been even harder, is reading all of the countless stories from others, who bravely shared them with me, and who continue to do so. It is my honor to read them and to hear them, and to be that person who finally makes it feel safe enough to let it out - because I went for so long without that, and so I know how invisible that feels. But hearing story after story about sexual trauma - the details, one after the other, the horror of it all - it hurts my heart. It stings at my soul. It makes me ache in a way that is not possible to describe. On Wednesday, after reading through and responding to the 11th or 12th or 23rd story that day, I finally lost it. I just sat in my room and cried. I cried for that girl that I used to be before this happened to me. I cried for the way that I have to live now; a life-long insomniac who freaks out at any sound in the night and who flinches with terror when someone touches her suddenly. I cried for all the many, many women out there like me, who have been living with the deep dark secret of having been molested, or attacked, or abused. I cried, I cried, and I cried.....

This thing that happened to me 20 years ago - it is not something that defines me, nor is it something that I even think about most days anymore. In fact, most of the time, it just sits in the back corner of my soul and my person, lying dormant. But now, it's back again, because I made the choice that didn't really feel like a choice, to bring it back, and with it, comes all of those old feelings of trauma and triggers and terrors in the night and feeling unsafe in the world. Except this time, I'm alone. And before you say anything, such as "you're never really alone", or something like that, please just don't say that. I know that I have so much support from so many people, and believe me, that does mean the world to me. But none of those people are there with me in the middle of the night when I cant sleep, or when I wake up sweating or feeling like I'm being choked or restrained. None of those people hold me when I wake up screaming, stroking my hair and gently repeating: "Youre okay. Youre safe. I'm here, and I'm never going anywhere. Nobody is going to hurt you like that ever again. I wont let them. I will always protect you." None of those people have sat with me for minutes or hours, in total silence, just holding me or letting me cry, after an unexpected trigger or flashback of the trauma occurs.

Do you know who did all of those things? My husband. Don Shepherd. My knight in shining armor. The man who saved my life, in all the ways that matter, every single moment that I knew him. He sat with me in that darkness. He wiped my tears. He dealt with my crazy. He was my safe place, my tranquility, in a world that was filled with chaos and bad things and no hope for me. He was that little light that kept shining, when I thought that I would never see light again. He lived with me and accepted me and loved me, when I had no ability or desire to love myself, or anyone else. He loved me into believing in love again. He sat with me in the place where I was, and waited until I was ready to move. He reminded me that he cared, and that he wasn't going anywhere. He was my anchor. My life boat. My raft.

Today, as I deal with all of this trauma that is once again re-emerging, and all of the emotions that have overwhelmed me, he is not here anymore for me to lean on. When I wake up in the middle of the night, its just me. When I need to be held and told that I'm safe, nobody is there to tell me that. And all of the people who have been so supportive and wonderful and amazing - they keep telling me over and over again how strong I am. "You're the strongest person I know". I have heard this over and over again this week. But its not true. And I don't like hearing it. Because I don't want to be strong. I don't want to be this pillar of strength. It took everything inside of me to simply put all those words down in type, and write that post, and put that out there to the universe. THAT took every ounce of strength that I had left. Now - I would just like to sit in a comfy room and be wrapped in a blanket, and be left alone for awhile. Just until this feeling of nausea passes. Right now, the only thing I want, just happens to be the only thing I can never have - to be in my husband's arms, my head resting on his chest - knowing that everything will be okay, that we are together, and I am safe.

I need him back again, because he was that place where I didn't have to be strong.

I was just me, and he loved me through all of it.


Showing 5 reactions

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  • commented 2016-10-24 18:20:06 -0700
    Thank you to every one of you that replied. Im so thankful to you all. Really.
  • commented 2016-10-22 08:36:42 -0700
    Kelley: You are such a brave and selfless person for sharing your story and your reasons for sharing it now show you to be a person of great conviction. I know that this is such a great personal sacrifice but despite that you are willing to reach out for a greater cause. You are a woman to be admired and show all of us the best part of ourselves. I am sure that your husband is looking over you and is so very proud of you for doing this. Hoping this brings you some peace. Marybeth
  • commented 2016-10-22 05:37:14 -0700
    Kelley, you are doing it again. You are CHANGING THE WORLD. The world needs to know the answer to why a person waits years to speak up. And your words make that painfully clear. We are crying with you, and proud of you.
  • commented 2016-10-21 20:12:38 -0700
    What a heavy burden to carry. And yes our husbands were always there for us to weave that safety net where we could unload the burden. I don’t find it in the least bit fair that we are having to shoulder such loss while managing the other stuff that life has thrown at us. I want the magic wand. I want to buy it no matter its cost and make this all go away. I am going through another really rough patch where my brain is just exploding and my heart has barely a pulse.
    How do we make this ok? I want to just make it livable enough so I can live without the pain I seem to have to constantly beat back. I am sorry for all of us who have had to give up our safe place for such distress. I just want my husband back. Just like you want Don back…..is it possible to continue this kind of life without our husbands? I’m really beginning to wonder how.
  • commented 2016-10-21 13:07:37 -0700
    Kelley: My heart just breaks for you knowing that you went through this horrible experience. As a person who has experienced anxiety attacks in the past, I know how debilitating and how overwhelmingly frightening they can be. And mine were as a result of just dealing with day to day life as the mom of a very fussy colicky baby. How much more terrifying yours must be. Like you, my husband was there to talk me through them and as you say, love me through my crazy. Anxiety doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem now – my fussy colicky baby has grown into a beautiful woman, I’m older now so maybe more grounded, less hormonal. Whatever the reason, I’ll take the lack of anxiety as long as I can. But the thought of experiencing an attack without him is unimaginable…..but if I should have one, he won’t be there to talk me through it, love me through my crazy. The fact that you are once again plagued by this horrible memory and suffering so much and that Don is no longer there in the middle of the night to hold you makes me so sad. What you have shared takes such courage…..but at such a price! So so unfair. Sending you hugs.

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