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Ask Maia: A Hard Story To Tell

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(Photo by: Dimitri Neyt)

Today’s topic is a little more difficult than usual, so please be aware of that and be respectful. A girl coming forth to tell her story and ask help shows a lot of courage and inspires those who also seek help but remain silent. There are people in this world who speak not only for themselves but also for others who cannot speak, today is one such occasion. Here is today’s question and story by L.L:

Hi Maia,

As the title suggest, I need some advice. It’s rather a dark subject (and the first time I’ve reached out) but it’s about time to live freely.

Last year in July I was sexually assaulted. I know the crime is more common than most like to admit and I can deal with the fact that it happened to me, but I have tremendous trouble healing from the psychological and philosophical impact it had. It happened as I was running and my head was in the sky, when everything’s profound. My mind was in a delicate and intimate state when this man asked me a question as I ran by, “Why do you run?” Of course knowing me, how could I not notice the metaphorical importance of the situation? So I stopped, we talked, and he assaulted me. On a deep level I feel as though I had invited him to do so. Through out the entire year, since July the month it happened, I’ve done nothing but take a pick ax to my entire being. I hated myself, I abhorred myself, I disconnected myself and I hurt myself.

Its taken an ephemeral moment to destroy a structure I had worked on my entire life, and a year to remember where the blueprints are, but I’ve found a resolution I had just months before the incident: I want to be an engineer and I want to do great things. The thing is, I’m still scared shitless of people. I walk through my crowded university hallways and my fists clench with anxiety. It changed me and I don’t know if its for the good or bad. I’ve become almost hypersensitive of my weaknesses, insecurities and my (perceived) inabilities, and it makes them that much worse.

I’ve always thought we carry the solutions to the problems of our lives right there with us, but it’s the discovery of them that is over looked. But, I look in the mirror and I see the memory and I struggle to find my solution.

I know its a little on the dark side, but even communicating why I am the way I am is cathartic (you know… engineers aren’t exactly famous for their communication skills). Thank you for the opportunity, even if it goes unread, I appreciate it.

Sincerely,

L.L

Dear L.L -

Your questions and any other questions will never be unread. I am sending you the biggest hug for such an amazing person like you. I am so glad you trusted me. I too am a runner – I am obsessed with it so I completely understand or at least to a certain extent that feeling of having something so beautiful and intimate and natural to be yours only to be incredibly violated. Please give me time to write you the most compassionate and helpful response. And power through each day with the same determination and wonder that you use while running.

Love,

Maia

Dear L.L –

For the most appropriate answer I sought the advice of a therapist, Jackie Reilly. Here is her response:

Yes sexual assault takes away so much. Though the body heals the psyche does much slower. She has entered the land of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her response is normal. Her mind and body are trying to make sense of this violence and to protect her from it ever happening again. I am certain her sleep is ruined with horrible dreams and that she is indeed jumpy, paranoid, emotional and distant. She may be experiencing intrusive thoughts or flash back – which is a sense level re-living of the event. To relearn safety takes a long time and often does not happen without the help of a professional. She should dive into the helping community and seek out an experienced therapist and support group. If she does have very trusted folks in her life, family or friends, she should let them know she is suffering. But make sure her confidence will be kept. She should let go of the secret. Best to tell a therapist and be ready to eventually tell every detail. She did not ask for this nor did she deserve this in any way. Oddly enough, self-hatred is a very natural response (repulsion and separation from that which got hurt, this makes sense for the biological/psychological body) all she is feeling is very normal. She should try not to power through it but to get a team with whom she can divulge and let go of the secret. Acting like nothing happened only leaves her subconscious and her biological body to try and figure it out. Which means extreme tension, fear, and guilt…  guilt is really a fantasy that she could have done something differently to save herself when in reality she couldn’t.

She will eventually embrace that the rest of her life is not ruined and that she can overcome post traumatic stress disorder but that work cannot start to happen until she lets go a bit of the shame, hiding and self loathing enough to let her get help. No one really gets over this well without professional help. It would be like trying to heal a broken leg on your own – no one would do that. A psychotherapist is analogous to a physical therapist; they offer help to become whole again.

L.L, I hope this helps, and remember we women out there are continuously sending you hugs and support. Let yourself heal and don’t hate yourself for learning how to live again. Also, your email is written beautifully – maybe consider creative writing or poetry to express your pain. Your choice of words, metaphors, and lyrical descriptions perfectly depict emotion, your words could also help out other women in a similar situation. And yes, the wings of a butterfly are much stronger than recognized.

Infinite hugs and best wishes,

Maia

Thank you L.L for being so brave in telling your story, I’m sure everyone here appreciates your strength and we hope your light transcends to other people out there with a similar story as your own.

*Note to GBD readers: Although each one of our responses to your questions are magnificent pearls of wisdom, the advice is not professional. We are simply sharing our loving response to help y’all sort out some sticky situations.

You need any advice? Hardships you’ve faced or are facing now? Having drama in your life? Have some quirky questions you want answered? Then send whatever is tumbling around your heart and mind to info@girlsbydesign.com or maia@girlsbydesign.com and Maia will help with your troubles. You don’t have to say who you are (but you can if you want to), all submissions will be held private, confidential and will remain anonymous! Mmmkay? We don’t bite, we promise.

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G

September 14, 2010

L.L, it must’ve taken a lot of courage for you to share this with us, I must applaud you. A lot of girls don’t like to share these sorts of things, but you doing it shows that you have an inner strength and it may not seem like it now, but that strength is always going to be there for you. It is a part of you and no one can take that away.


Caitlin

September 15, 2010

L.L-
You are an incredibly strong person. Your bravery is incredible. Sharing a story like this takes a lot. I wish the best for you L.L. I know you are going to go on to do amazing things.
-Caitlin


Alyssa

September 15, 2010

L.L. along with the other girls I want to acknowledge how courageous you are for sharing your story. I’m sending you all my warmest, and positive thoughts, I wish you well on the road to moving past this.
I’m also sending a big cyber hug.


sami

September 17, 2010

LL- your strength in sharing your story is inspirational. I hope one day you can move past this traumatizing event and return to a happy life.