Hey guys !
Tomorrow is my birthday and I’m not going to be doing anything extra like last year haha (I was so extra omg). I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do anything at all but as I was talking to some friends I got the idea for this post and I thought leaving it for my birthday would be a good idea. Even a little therapeutic for me.
What this post is basically gonna be is me being candid about some of my life experiences and how that ties in with my love for Six of Crows and why that duology just means so much to me. This won’t be a bookish post, not even a happy post, I think. Maybe a little hopeful by the end but we’ll see how this turns out haha.
TW: Rape, sexual harrassement, panic attacks, PTSD.
Those trigger warnings are your last warning to not read this if any of those topics might harm you. I won’t be giving any graphic detail but yeah, those are going to be the main topics of this post. And it’s going to be deeply personal. I debated for weeks whether or not to write, whether or not it was *okay* for me to post it on here but at the end of the day I decided this is my platform and pretty much the only outlet I have. And it’s kind of book related.
So here goes nothing.
I was raped at 5 years old. It wasn’t anyone I know. It was a man who barged on me at a public restroom. I escaped him though. I don’t know how I did it, but I did. I’m gonna spare you the details but I can’t really spare myself the details, It happened almost 16 years ago but I can still see all of it, I can remember the feelings, the smells, all of it. And for a long period of time, it was all I saw whenever I closed my eyes. So yes, I was a 5 years old who had to grow up before she was ready to, who had to take care of herself, not let herself fall apart because who would pick her back up? She felt she couldn’t tell anyone.
And you know what the worst part is? My mom has always told me that if a stranger ever touched me I should go to her, it’s what she told me since I can remember and I still didn’t feel like I could because “What would people think?”. Yes. Even at 5 years old society had me ruined, ashamed for something that was out of my control, Something I didn’t ask for nor instigate. And I was the one carrying the weight of the shame. I was a happy child, I liked going towards people, hugging, etc… but that’s the day those things became physically impossible for me.
I closed myself off to the world, couldn’t bare being touched, not even my own mother’s hugs were something I could handle, I would feel my heart racing everytime someone tried touching me. I had become touch-averse. But I had to bare the touch. Because I couldn’t explain to anyone what was going on with me. Society told me not to. I became sensitive, had inexplicable bursts of anger, would cry over the smallest things, which later on turned to me bottling up my feelings. Because I couldn’t explain why I was crying, why I was angry. So I learnt to hide it.
Because I had to.
And I had (and still have) PTSD too which I didn’t understand that’s what it was until a couple years ago. I would have panic attacks which I also didn’t identify as such because they weren’t as *loud*, at every news story about a rape case, followed by many sleepless night where I’d see my abuser’s face everytime I closed my eyes. At every scene is a book or in a movie. I never thought I could have PTSD, I never thought I’d have anxiety but I do. And I know today all those thinks are linked. A chain reaction.
I learnt to live with it too. I’d have nights where I couldn’t bare sleep, where closing my eyes brought nightmares that I couldn’t stand the dark so I would stay awake. Other than that. I was okay. Mostly. Still touch-averse though. Nothing changed on that front. Touch was still overwhelming to me. A decade later, I get into my first year of high school. In a new school. And there was this boy in my class who apparently thought I had a great ass and that he was entitled to it so he would touch me whenever I passed by him. Every. Single. Day. For months. And that gave a few other guys ideas. No matter how many times I said no, they didn’t hear me. Then again, I didn’t report it. Society told me not to.
I fell into a spiral of dark thoughts and worthlessness. I was public property. At one point, I was so numb I didn’t care anymore. Maybe the fact that they didn’t get any reaction out of me anymore took the fun out of their little game, so by the end of the school year, they had all stopped. Come summer break, I pick myself up again, focus on healing, getting myself to a state where I felt a little like myself again. And I did it all by myself. Which I honestly would not recommend. If you’re reading this and relating with it, please seek help (and you can email me if you want) I promise you’re going to be okay.
I was still as touch-averse as ever.
I got myself to a livable place again. A place where the self-loathe wasn’t as loud. It was more like a soft whisper at the back of my brain. Over the years, from 15 to 17, it was ups and downs, but I made it. And I learnt to say no to contact I didn’t want, I taught people who are close to me to ask before coming into my personal space, and I’ve gotten myself to what I like to call semi touch-averse. I am mostly okay with consensual touch but there are days where I still can’t handle it. And it’s okay. I’m okay.
Now to the bookish, less sad part of the post.
Fast forward to last year, a month before my 20th birthday. I decide to pick up SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo. And that was the best reading decision I’ve made in my life. Because it’s introduced me to Inej Ghafa and by extension, her experiences as an abuse survivor. And reading about that was cathartic. I cried. And cried. And cried. Until there were no more tears left in me. I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, that I wasn’t dirty or worthless because someone thought I was public property, because they thought they could lay their hands on me. I am still me. My own person. That I would be okay, that it’s okay to not hate myself, that none of what happened to me was my fault.
Especially since Inej was made uncomfortable to touch like I was. Let me put it this way: Inej is a Brown abuse survivor who’s slightly averse to touch but still manages to be strong, amazing and kick everyone’s ass. I wanted to be her. I AM her. I am as strong as she is, I am as beautiful and brave as she is. I deserve love and respect as much as every other human. And I needed Inej to show me that, especially since she reclaimed her narrative, she reclaimed her life and made anyone who dared touch her regret that decision deeply.
She also thought me that it was okay to talk about what happens, that I have nothing to be ashamed of because I didn’t do anything wrong. And it’s only then that I actually started talking about everything that happened to me and this post is the first time I talk about it so truthfully. Until I was 20 no one ever knew about my rape and til this day no one IRL knows about it and I’m not sure I wanna talk about it. Not because I’m still ashamed. But because I don’t want to bring my mom the pain and guilt of knowing her daughter has been to hell and back without her knowing.
I mean. She might read this post one day, she knows about my blog. But I’m okay today. I am happy on most days but even when I’m not I know I will be okay. And I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that she would be okay. That she’s doing the best she can to process her feelings, that that feeling of hopelessness and helplessness will eventually dissipate and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As cliché as that may sound haha.
I wanna end this post by thanking Leigh Bardugo. Honestly. Thank you for giving me a character that would be so cathartic and therapeutic to me. That would help me heal and move forward.
So yeah folks! That’s that. Not your typical happy birthday post but this is where my heart is right now.
That’s it until next time.
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.