This Is How To Begin Again

It’s very hard to admit something bad has happened to you, because we feel a level of guilt from not preventing the bad thing from happening. 

We punish ourselves for losing our footing, even if it’s just slightly. We forget how strong we can be in a moment of doubt; how capable we are, how powerful and how brave. We look at others and wonder ‘how does she make it look so easy?’
There are things that happen to us, with no rhyme or reason behind it. This -thing- happens to no fault of our own, it is the way it is. Yet we can forget this when we punish ourselves. I’m talking about sharp words, cruel words designed to hurt and wound.

When we lose ourselves, we hate ourselves for it. We think it’s *our* fault, when really a combination of events happen and so they happen to us. Like me. Two years ago, I was sexually assaulted.

In no way am I trying to imply an ‘it is what it is’ attitude to sexual assault and rape crimes. Hell no. What I AM saying is it at NO point the victims fault. What happens to you is not your fault. Please believe me. Please remember this.

This past year I have been rebuilding myself. The first year was about surviving it. This past year was about thriving.

I’ve come to realise that I don’t have a lot of things which define me as ‘me’, like a favourite outfit or book, because a year ago was the beginning of my new life. 
  Before I was assaulted, I was on a path of self destruction. I think we all feel like we’re eating ourselves from the inside and then spitting the ‘old us’ out after a break up. Even if this was us that did said breaking up. It still hurts, even if we did it for ‘the greater good’ like I did.
I’m digressing slightly, but to really understand how much I am re-learning about myself and figuring out my place in the world, you must know how much of a fragile shell of myself I was. It was like my body was someone else’s, as if I had woken up to a nightmare I could never escape. I was lost inside myself and every morning I would wake up and remember. I was frantic to just get out but I couldn’t. I felt unsafe in the body I had made a home in for 18 years.

When it happens to you – a traumatic experience, a grief you know not to deal with, you lose yourself. The months prior I could feel myself slipping, but it took having the right to my own body, the right to say NO that shattered me into pieces.

This is all understandable, disgustingly common as these crimes sadly still are, but i didn’t know this. I knew no one who had experienced this (thank god), no one who knew the manipulation your brain will pull, the sort of attitude so many media outlets have, so many people close to you have. How much you will feel lost and unsafe, in a odd that is unrecognisable to yourself. 
  I punished myself for losing touch with who I was, refusing to let myself grieve because it was grief I was feeling. Grief at the future I had lost, the girl I was once, because I have been irrovakably changed by this. YetI kept wondering why I wasn’t able to list the things I loved or talk about myself the way you do when you start at a new place, eager to make friends and be liked. I didn’t feel I could be liked, because I didn’t like myself. I felt like an outcast because I had no clue how to relate to someone. How to strike up a conversation without panicking over the question of “so what did you do in  summer?”
After a difficult 8 months I realised one thing. If I can make it to at least a year, then there is nothing in this whole world I couldn’t do. Nothing I couldn’t overcome and nothing I could accomplish. I treated this as my ‘reborn’ date, because it felt like the day I could see myself and become me again. Fully me. 
And here I am again, another year on.
This past year I have been rebuilding myself. The first year was about surviving it. This past year was about thriving.

It wasn’t until three nights ago I realised exactly why this past year has been so back and forth. It;s the year I have been relearning the basics of my new self. I was stretching, pushing at my breaking points, learning what makes this Lou tick. What made her stomach fill with fire and what made her snap. I was establishing my boundary lines.

So here’s a mini progress report: 2 years on, 1 year New Lou.

1. Doesn’t seem to rate colour, but anything in pink or sparkly is bought no questions asked.

2. Can run over 6 miles in an hour, especially if old school Christina Aguilera is on the playlist.

3. Refuses to drink dairy milk. It’s GROSS.

4. Has a large art and print obsession – will buy something where ever she travels, even London.

5. Hates the sayings ‘man up’ or ‘grow some balls’. Will insist on ‘adult up’ being used instead.

6. If we’re going to do the whole ball thing *eye roll* then she’s got the biggest balls of anyone I know. She’s a powerhouse.

7. Loves herself more than her love for Edinburgh Gin or Kinder Buenos.

8. Is learning to stay passionate even in the face of opposition – she knows what she’s on about, alright? Her gut’s a good’s.

And finally,
She’s still learning about herself, like Bambi on ice, but she’s so crazily happy she loves every step.

I won’t ever get back to the girl I was; I can’t get her back no matter how hard I try. And I have. She’s gone. But in her ashes, this Lou rises high as a phoenix. She is someone I’m in love with and feel privileged to be – she’s stronger than the old me, tougher yet softer and has a comfort in her body I could only once dream of. I miss the woman I could have become, god she would’ve been a friggen knockout, but I’m happy as me. The woman before would have had a completely different future; she would be at a different university, even back at home dating someone I don’t know, feeling safe and totally oblivious to things.

There’s still so much I have to learn as this version of me, this woman filled with passion and fight. There’s a part of me who longs for three years ago when my old self was happy and safe, content with everything around her. It was all familiar. But this girl? She needs me. She needs my love and support, and so that’s where it shall be.
  Here’s to figuring out who the hell I am. Here’s to the next year and thriving even more. Here’s to freedom and gritted teeth, open palms and quick feet. Here’s to only looking back to learn.

And here’s to you, for sticking with me got so long and reading this far. Thank you so bloody much. You have been my shield, my comrade in arms and my close friend I don’t know. You have all of my heart.

Lou xxx


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7 Responses to This Is How To Begin Again

  1. Lauren says:

    I love this and you and I'm sorry this terrible thing happened to you. xxx

  2. I love you, I love you, I love you! You're such a strong empowering human, Lou! Absolutely love the rawness in this post!
    Big love and positive vibes lovely xx

    – Arora x

  3. What an incredible post, I'm reading it through teary eyes. So very brave of you to write this, I hope it helps others who have been through similar experiences. Big love.

    Lauren x

  4. Pingback: Writers Don’t Always Write About The Now // On Thinking You Know | Predicaments of Lou

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