This morning I sat with my family around the table at our favorite diner and talked for an extra hour after we’d finished breakfast.
There was a lot of laughter. I had two dates this week and though I hadn’t thought much about it, they were horrified to learn I’d paid for each of them. Loudly and with much fervor they began to weigh in, as is our custom. They suggested a few adjustments to my dating strategy, including but not limited to income and height requirements. I laughed, turning the the topic to my dad’s blog (which you should check out) and we all began putting our two cents in about his next post. He’ll likely ignore us. We give our opinions anyway. We’re family.
There were some hard topics too; moments when one or more of us got frustrated and wanted to close off. We prodded each other on and eventually found our way through to the other side. That’s how we do.
There’s a noticeable ease in the air I’ve been sensing more often. It isn’t only with my family but with other people in other places as well. I’ve stopped apologizing for who and what and where I am. I’m becoming comfortable in my own skin.
I think the easiness is me.
For years I believed I had to be the person someone else wanted me to be in order to be loved. I tried to please the people closest to me by being who I thought they expected me to be.
A year ago this weekend I was sitting in Ronne’s boat looking up at the stars with her, drinking lake wine and talking about this very thing when she looked over at me and said, “Isn’t that exhausting? Aren’t you just tired all the time?”
It was. I was. Allowing yourself to fall to pieces is as hard as rebuilding, but I think it’s how we let go of the pain we’ve held onto for years. Falling apart means it all comes out. And THAT. IS. UGLY.
My family has watched that process these past two years. They’ve stood by me and we’ve walked through it all, growing and learning along the way. We talked about that today too.
It’s been just over two years since I first told them about being sexually assaulted. I’ve learned a lot about grace in that time. I realized upon first telling them about it that it was an experience none of us had ever known.
And we were all grieving. We were all feeling anger and pain and grief and emotions we could not name.
My dad, the pacifist, wanted to do bodily harm to someone for the first time in his life. My mom, who has always felt every pain I feel, was undone. My brother was probably the best prepared and would ask over and over, “what do you need?” — a question I couldn’t answer. We were shattered and it wasn’t pretty.
But we’ve figured it out. I can’t tell you how they did it. I haven’t asked. I’m pretty sure they read books and articles and listened to podcasts by psychologists. I know they prayed a hella lot. But my parents and brother figured out how to be there for me and each other. They’ve held me and sat next to me when I couldn’t breathe I was crying so hard. They reminded me to eat and brought me green juice and pie and fries on days I wouldn’t or couldn’t leave my room. They walked countless miles with me and let me talk about it, even the ugliest parts.
And they told me, “Tell your story. Tell it when you want. It’s your story. It’s your right.”
It’s changed us, all of us. Because you don’t come out the other side of trauma the same person you were before entering it. We speak out and use our voices to talk about hard topics. All of us do, because this is something that didn’t hit close to home…it HIT OUR HOME. Even though we’re stronger, we’ll never be the same.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be two years since I walked in the front door after a three day drive across the country and laid down my two suitcases, a quarter of everything I own. They wrapped me in their arms and welcomed me home. I was undone and they held my hand while I found my way.