Saturday, 25 February 2012

To my younger self

Dear 17 year old me,

I know that you want to hate yourself for what happened. I know that blaming yourself is easier than facing up to the fact that you were powerless and not in control. I know that you think that you caused all of his problems, that he wouldn't have ended up being the person that he was without you but it's not true. You can't turn someone into an alcoholic. He bought your drinks. He encouraged you to be like him.

I know that you think that there are things you could have done that night to prevent what happened, but you can't go back and change what you didn't do, you can't go back and make yourself sober, you can't go back and lock the door, you can't go back and make yourself less vulberable. You couldn't have predicted what was going to happen and you can't beat yourself up because of that.

You were really unwell. You existed on booze. You were physically and emotionally weak. That doesn't mean that you were to blame, either. It's not your fault that you were sick and that by being sick you maybe weren't able to protect yourself as much as someone who was well. Maybe if you were in the same position now things would be different but you can't live your life thinking of what might have been. You can only be who you were at the time and being sick isn't an excuse for someone to hurt you.

Rape can happen to anyone, anywhere. It doesn't matter if you know the attacker or not. Did you know that most victimes know their attacker beforehand? Being friends with someone, even being their ex-girlfriend, doesn't make any difference. It can happen at night or in the middle of the day. It can happen in a park or a car. It can happen in your own house. It can happen in your friend's house.

What happened to you was real and you're allowed to be upset about it, you're even allowed to be angry about it, you're allowed to hate him, you're allowed to be scared, you're allowed to forgive yourself for all the thing you did or didn't do, you're allowed to speak out.

Someone told me once that keeping this stuff inside was infectious, that it poisoned you, and that it would eventually leak out. You can't put the lid back on the can. You can't run away from it just because it's painful.

It's time to stop blaming yourself. No-one is going to tell you to forgive and forget but if you talk to someone about it then maybe you can start to make some sense of it all and try to move on but you have to give talking about it a shot. Do you really think that it will make you feel worse than you do already? The only way is up.

I know that you feel guilty. That you feel that what happened wasn't 'that serious' and that you're making things up but think about it, why would you do that? Why would you be hurting over something that didn't happen? The question isn't was it real, because it's real to you, the question is what you do about it.

The only person that is going to call you a liar is you.

It's time to stop blaming yourself. You don't have to be a victim. You can be a survivor.

It won't hurt this much forever.

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