Not a victim, but a survivor

When I began this column almost a year ago, I mentioned that I was looking forward to sharing the good, bad and ugly with you when it comes to mainly navigating motherhood, but also marriage and life in general. I would like to think this weekly outlet has been overwhelmingly light and upbeat because honestly the majority of my life experiences are just that- light and upbeat. But as I find myself sitting down to write my column this week, I have it on my heart to share more of that ugly side. It is not just ugly, it is also terrifying, triggering and tough in a lot of ways. I am terrified. I am triggered and it is going to be tough to share with you, but I feel like it is the final PIECE left for me to finally feel at PEACE. It is something I have written and rewritten about 20 times over the course of my life, but something is always holding me back from finishing it. So, if you are reading this, that means that I have finally broken free of the walls I have built over the years, walls surrounding myself, walls in between people I love and walls within my heart.  

Usually when people begin these types of stories, they will start off by saying that they are a victim, but I do not refer or think of myself in those terms. There are much better, positive and loving adjectives that I prefer to use when I think or describe myself. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. I am a writer, an advocate and a believer. I am smart, caring and I think I can also be funny at times. I am all those things despite what I have experienced. Instead of saying that I am a victim, I chose to just say that I experienced sexual abuse. There I said it.  

I experienced sexual abuse. I am not a victim. 

It is extremely hard for me to share this and not really because I am embarrassed or worried about myself or what other people may think about me. I have never really had any intention of keeping this experience to myself, but I have abstained from sharing it because of my family. I do not want to cause any guilt, shame or second guessing on their end. I have done enough of that for the both of us. I have wondered if there was something I could have done differently to prevent this from happening or if there was something I could have done to keep it from happening a second or third time. I have played hundreds of scenarios in my head, where I reacted differently, where I told a different person, where I screamed, where I cried, where I did not offer myself up as a sacrifice to prevent it from happening to someone else that I love. But what good does that do? So, that is why I wish to just share my experience and let it be just that- my experience and in doing so I can not only free myself, but possibly comfort others who have found themselves entrapped in their own cycle of abuse- reliving your own abuse, abusing yourself and those around you.  

It honestly took me years to even acknowledge that I was sexually abused and another few years before I could begin working towards healing. It is a work in progress. Healing from trauma does not operate on a linear basis. It is very oblique. There are highs, lows, curves, bevels, slopes, slants and everything else in between. Your life can be going wonderfully, just to have a wave of anguish take a sharp blow to your insides. It takes a lot of learning, unlearning and relearning. I finally got to a point where I stopped worrying about how I should be doing, how I should be feeling and how I should be acting and just sat with myself where I was at that moment in time.  I gave myself freedom to feel every emotion, no matter how good, bad or ugly.  

Make no doubt that there will continue to be days where I regress. This does not mean that I am fully healed. Most would say that they are afraid that complete healing will never happen. I am no longer afraid to say that it won’t. There have been and will be multiple versions of myself that I will continue to shed and grow into as I carry on, adding more adjectives along the way.  Even when I have my bad days which are sure to come, I will now be able to reflect on that darkness and remember how far I have come, how much lighter the burden has gotten each time.  

So, this column is not really for you this week, it is for me, and I thank you for letting me share this with you. It was the last bit of healing that I needed and if it helped someone else in the process then that is even better. I have made the extremely hard decision to live my life from here on out- unapologetically, unashamedly and undeterred by the uncomfortableness of my truth. I encourage you to do what you can to arrive at a place where you can do the same. I am here if you need me.  

(Paige Nash is a wife, mom, digital journalist for Webster Parish Journal, publisher of Bienville Parish Journal)

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