Sometimes when I tell my story, I want to yell this at people. It's not that they look at me with disbelief (which is what I always expect). It's not that they look at me with pity (although a few do). But rather it's that they look at me with admiration (which I have trouble even typing!).
I don't feel admirable or courageous. I just feel unsure -- unsure of motives; unsure of their admiration. All I did was keep going. It doesn't feel like a choice.
Yes, I suffered abuse as a child. Really, really bad things were done to me. Yes, I was raped in a college and again later, by the same person. But really what choice did I have but to go on?
I thought about killing myself. But I couldn't see how the guilt of that act wouldn't follow me into the next life. And I couldn't imagine knowing what "people" would say about me afterwards (see I am vain that way).
I think somewhere in it all, I believed that if I worked hard enough, succeeded in having the perfect life (husband, house, kids, etc.) I would be able to make the abuse disappear. There are a lot of flaws in that approach. The obvious one is you can't make something that happened, not happen. It just doesn't work that way. But the big catch for me was I couldn't create the "perfect" life, no matter how hard I tried. I don't have that kind of power and control.
Maybe that's one of the best lessons from the abuse. I don't have all the power and all the control, because nobody does.
So next time you see me, don't look at me with admiration or pity. Just look at me.