“Are you okay?” It’s one of my least favorite questions, for years I tried to convince myself and those around me of my okayness-marked by external accomplishments and smiles. My journey is not about being okay; it’s about being okay even when I’m not okay. It’s not about ‘faking it, ‘till you make it’, but about exploring the possibility of peace in the midst of uncertainty, cozying up to the chaos and remaining curious, even optimistic, when the answers get murkier and murkier.
There is a night in my story that threatened to change everything. For a long time after that night, it did. My reality had shifted and I no longer believed I was capable of making good decisions, of maintaining my safety or that safety was even a reality. Instead I began to believe I was destined to live in a world in which I was constantly at risk, vulnerable and weak.
Since then, with the loving support of an incredible family and network of friends and professionals, I have come to a new conclusion. A conclusion that pieces of me are changed and will continue to change, but that other pieces will remain solid, decidedly unbroken. I began to understand that I am not destined to live in fear, but that I am still here for a reason. For all intents and purposes, I should have died that night, but I didn’t. I survived because I am powerful and whatever it is that is over me is the most powerful. I have made conscious decisions every day to believe that this experience is a part of my fabric to strengthen my ability to love and care for people. A very wise woman once told me, that pain–no matter the cause–understands pain. And there is depth of truth in that statement that cannot be understood by those who have not experienced something that has indelibly changed their lives.
I have been blessed to live and work in countries that span the globe. That night shaped my work in a way that has brought me face to face with some of most terrifying aspects of this earth as well as of some of its most breath-taking splendor. The brilliance often takes the shape of tenacious, capable women. Those who have been oppressed, abused, and/or assaulted but who make the choice to continue stepping one foot in front of the other, who make the choice to continue to love and care for their families and communities and who refuse to give up hope. There is a philosophy popularized by Desmond Tutu called, Ubuntu. Ubuntu proclaims, “I am because we all are”. It is almost second nature to hide in the darkness of fear and hopelessness, but I believe that when light is shed we can all find hope in our togetherness.
Am I “okay”? Yes and no, there is no doubt that I am a stronger, more compassionate, more grateful woman because of this experience. I have come to realize that not only will I survive this, but also that I will thrive because nothing that anyone else does to me will define me. I reject the conclusion I was so close to making—that as a result of the attack I must live in a prison of fear and uncertainty. I make the decision as to what defines me, and it certainly is not anger and rage and violence-but light and strength and love…that I’m okay with.
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The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.
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