Watching the recent Royal Wedding was a fantastic event with an important message about the power of love. The sermon delivered by Micheal Curry was a sudden change from centuries of royal tradition and protocol. Curry said, “When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields down by the riverside to study war no more.” It was a stark reminder that sometimes our world seems consumed with finding fault that we forget about forgiveness and pursuit of discovering happiness.
Now that the sermon of love and treating each other as family, friends, and neighbors are quickly forgotten and instantaneously abandoned the media. Those hell-bent on spreading hatred and negativity are right back on the front pages of our lives. Despite if you embrace spirituality or not for the sake of finding a decisive moment, there will be plenty of pessimistic viewpoints with an agenda of destruction before actually introducing forms practicality, reason, and forgiveness.
Recently I read It’s OK to Tell: A Story of Hope and Recovery by Lauren Book. While I am sensitive to what Lauren talks about in her book I felt she was more focused on her political and social ambitions than taking care of her situation. It seemed like a story of hate rather how to cope or find tranquility. After all, self-help books should mention how to overcome trauma. Yes, it is okay to tell someone about abuse, especially over a period of time. However, it is vitally important to take care of self in the meantime. I guess Lauren is in the business to advocate for herself with an agenda so she can speak for other sex assault survivors? She certainly doesn’t speak for me because I refuse to re-sell my body or experiences as a cash revenue flow.
When I was sexually assaulted at eleven years old, I was threatened never to tell anyone, or I would have violence committed against me. That is what I was told. The sexual assaults kept occurring for several summers and other kids my age knew because they briefly saw what happened. Did they share my story to help me or come later in life during the #metoo movement? No. They kept that secret deep inside for their own personal fear or sense of virtue by not getting involved. I kept the secret of my assault for over forty years. When I finally told someone, I was relieved filed with all sorts of wild emotions. But over time I learned to let go and move on because I indeed wasn’t alone.
Instead, my message to others was to learn to become your own advocate and voice. Merely telling someone is the first step. The second step is taking care of self because that step will become the longest journey to identify how you wish to proceed. Instead of making it a lifelong mission to profit off of my personal injustice, I decided to go on with my life and focus on who and what I want to be. I don’t wish to live in the past or dwell upon an event that isn’t pleasant to me or anyone else. Mainly, I became a forgiving person without having to find a special relationship with my God or higher power. Instead, I found the ability to move forward and continually seek guidance from professionals. A lesson learned moment is to invest in self instead of exploring how to take from others.
A valuable lesson for me about sexual assault was that I didn’t know how to say no or how to disappear from situations. During my childhood, as many others experience in schools today, is a matter of survival to keep from being physically harmed. Somewhat like a school shooting where people play dead to avoid being shot by an active shooter. I mentally played “dead” during my assaults to survive. However decades later I learned to get past the anger, self-pity, sadness, mood swings and isolation to become forgiving, engaged, upbeat, self-assured, but most of all compassionate. I basically learned to love again and definitely know how to assert ‘no’ for my own advocacy. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does get better and repeating the story becomes easier.
Maybe Rev. Curry is right. Perhaps we should take a look at ourselves and the value of love. I certainly have to love myself to love others. I think it is ultimately essential to lay down my weapons of hurtful words, personal agendas and disgust for past actions thinking it will buy me a renewed life? In the religious context, Jesus certainly didn’t sue or condemn those that propelled objects during his Via Delorosa on his way towards the crucifixion. I cannot do the same to those that witnessed the crimes against me and the person responsible that sexually assaulted me. Instead, I choose to let go, forgive and move forward sharing my story so that others may learn freely learn from it. Doing so makes life so much more optimistic and worth living.