Reconnecting body and self as a survivor.
TW: Sexual Assault
This is a story about healing. I won’t focus on the hurt. All I can say is ‘Me Too’ and hope you can understand. This is a story about love, a story about finding myself again. This is the story about me and my body and how we reconnected.
At first, after, it felt like walking around a house at night. My house. Except, someone had switched off all of my lights and rearranged all of my furniture. I kept bumping into unexpected edges and tripping over table legs. It felt like expecting another step at the top of the stairs, or more bed to roll over onto only to find an expansive, gaping space. And all the while, I coloured myself in with blame. For not locking my door. For somehow allowing someone to come in and interfere with my home. Guilty for leaving my house vulnerable. Embarrassed for not recognising it in the dark. Desperately telling myself that it had been a thrill all along. And all the while, I felt lost inside my walls. Except, it wasn’t a house. It was me.
Gradually, I reclaimed my body. I lit candles inside of my dark house, and I danced nakedly in their glow.
As I came back to myself, I became a painter, a poet and a dancer. A tea maker, a baker and a midnight moon melody. I became a forager, a listener, a lover and a leader. I became who I was as a child, and somebody new entirely.
Simply, I became a love letter written to myself.
I healed. I continue to heal still. And it feels like pressing bare feet against wet grass in the morning. Like letting the sun on my skin in spring.
It tastes like cups of ginger tea and ground spices. Smells like lavender in my bath water where I kiss my knees and palms. It sounds like an ancient soul song which shakes my very core. Other days, it just sounds like rain on my window, or hoovering my carpeted floor.
I heal in the sound of my family’s laughter, within the safety of my home. Wrapped in my nan’s crocheted blankets, sometimes I heal alone. I heal walking with a dog for company, listening to the birds. I heal in the strength of friendship. Amongst hour long phone calls, tearful conversations and to be honest, drinking lots of wine. I heal with my raving rascals, who tempt me into mischief and make a fuss when it’s time to dance. Sometimes I heal in loud music, painting glitter onto the faces of strangers who fall in love with me whilst I perform confidence. Sometimes, I just heal in silence.
I heal in a love who does not hurry. Who holds me when I cry. In our 2am conversations, cooking dinner and washing dishes. I heal in a love which is written in kisses and finger tip traces. In the room to breathe and space to change.
I heal through growing out my body hair. Washing my face with rose water and an almond massage oil. I make my body my own again, for the first time drawing intimate definitions of beauty. I make my body my home again, burning old books and drawing boundaries.
It leaves me vulnerable, and this is where I harvest my strength. I open, open, open, I reveal myself so I can breathe.
I banish my shame, reclaiming parts of myself left sleeping for years. My vast sexuality which loves all genders and allows myself to feel pleasure without the guilt. I reclaim my worth as a woman. As a human breathing, being.
And now, after, my home feels like my own again. I refuse to bolt my doors and lock myself away. Instead, I open my windows and let the fresh air sweep through my corridors. I stoke a fire in my belly and protect my sisters with a furious body. Bold and exposed I step out into the world with a heart on my sleeve and courage on my tongue.
Art by Kate Grant