I’ll warn you now, this is not the type of post you’ll want to read if you’re triggered by trauma related topics, specifically, sexual trauma. If you choose to read this, know that it’s full of detailed revelations, not details of my experience. It only looks long but I assure you, it reads easily. That said, here we go…
Many of you are aware of the sexual assault that happened to me when I was 6 years old by a man 70 years my senior. We knew him, he was like the neighborhood grandpa, but that all changed one afternoon. For a very long time, even in this moment, I take some sort of responsibility for this happening. Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds, but is it really? I can argue with you all of my reasons but it won’t change your opinion or mine.
I went to therapy today after work and we have been scratching the surface of my sexual assault. It has been something I have wanted to talk about for a long time in therapy but whenever the subject comes about, I put on my avoidance pants and take a sharp turn toward Nopesville – population: me. It’s not deliberate but it happens every time. My therapist (thankfully) called me out on it today and said that next week we really need to start focusing on that. My request to her was to jerk me back on track when I pull the avoidance card. She laughed and reminded me that avoidance is one of the most significant symptoms of chronic PTSD.
Here’s where this blog gets sticky. Where I feel excessively vulnerable. Where I’m afraid to say what I’m about to say publicly. So why bring it up? Well, for one thing, I know that openly speaking about this means that I am ready for a change – as scary as it might be. For another, I know too many of my friends that are right here with me. I’m giving myself a voice but I’m giving them one too. Here’s your last chance to peace out.
Compliments make me very uncomfortable. Even if it doesn’t seem like it. I’m very good at looking a certain way on the surface but feeling another underneath it all. It’s hard, practically impossible, for me to just accept the compliment and move on. “Why would anyone say something nice about me? They must be just trying to be nice.” Those were the top two lines that ran through my racing mind whenever someone says something nice about me, especially my appearance. But I realized something much deeper today and it’s something so deep that I could only imagine it as being like the center of the Earth. Hard, on fire, nearly impenetrable. Impenetrable. What a disgusting word for such an awful blog topic.
I believe that my sexual trauma is the core of who I am, for the most part. The trauma responses I have to many things, my chronic PTSD, my feelings about myself and the self-sabotaging I’ve done, and the appearance that I’m trying to hide behind. Subconsciously, I believe that if I look a certain way I won’t be found attractive, which is a huge reason why I am so overweight. If I’m not found attractive then someone won’t desire me in the ways that I was desired when I was only 6 years old. “Don’t look pretty, don’t wear that, don’t maintain a healthy weight, don’t put yourself in a position that will draw attention to your looks…” All of those thoughts race through my mind about 10,000 times a day. Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with someones size unless we’re talking about the fact that I subconsciously chose to look this way as a deterrent to attention. In my twisted mind, I figured if I was fat, nobody would want me and I would be safe.
I struggle with this because, just last week, I got my hair cut and colored. For two days leading up to the appointment, I thought maybe I shouldn’t go. “Don’t draw that kind of attention to yourself, Aubrey, you don’t want what happened to you before to happen to you. It’ll be your own fault…again.” I went anyway because the side of me that’s advocating for my best and healthiest self won the argument. “I deserve to feel good about myself. I deserve to go have some me time. I work really hard and I deserve to have something that nobody can take from me.” Off I went. I love how it turned out and, for the most part, my new do has been well received, but I didn’t do this for anyone else. I did it for me.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great when people notice and compliment but thinking about the internal struggles I have with compliments and self-image, I’d be okay if nobody said anything. At least then nobody would make me argue with myself about whether or not I should let that compliment sink in and feel good or if I should push it away and run from it. It’s always such an internal struggle. I’m so tired of arguing with myself about whether or not I should be allowed to feel good about me.
What I realized today is that if I’m told I’m beautiful it makes me vulnerable and scared. “If that person thinks I’m beautiful, is there a chance I’m going to be assaulted again???” I’m so fucked up. Only Aubrey can take a simple compliment and turn it into some sort of sick, delusional, statement. Full disclosure, I realize how emphatically dramatic I sound. I’m even rolling my eyes at myself. As I type this sentence I’m thinking, “Maybe you shouldn’t make this post” but now my mind is shifting into thinking, “…but what if someone else out there feels exactly the same way and they just need to know someone knows what this feels like and that they aren’t crazy, they’re just sad.”
So here it is, folks. I’m sure there will be more on this later, if I’m not too afraid to talk about it. My writing is therapeutic for me. I know I haven’t come back here since the twins left, but many of you know how things are going in my life since this blog typically gets posted to Facebook anyway. I’ll circle back later and talk about my new favorite thing to talk about – my kids! As always, your questions, comments, etc are always welcomed but if you’re going to be a dick then move along.