Finally Free

The dark morning skies had yet to give way to the light and for the first time in months, I wanted to sit down to write. I hadn’t yet shaken the sense that it was something far too dangerous to do, hiding the truth that I was told wasn’t mine to wander with. I learned that I wasn’t the ticking time-bomb they feared, scared that I might declare my truth for me and be honest about what was happening, releasing myself from that prison in the process.

It’s the thing about harassment and assault that no one tells you and few dare to talk about- the way it poisons the river water but causes a thirst that only water will satisfy, without any for miles; No one told me they believed me but they had to because evidence doesn’t lie. It was undeniable and yet they still tried to lay blame in its wake, insisting the power wasn’t tipped the way it should be to make those claims. There was no recognition given or saving grace to heal the heart that stood completely naked, with everything to lose, speaking the words that something was taken and couldn’t be given back. The audience though, usually cares more for the reputation of their favorite person than truth.

I didn’t know I could ask for time or space to heal the rift that quaked through my hours and days without warning. What I didn’t know then, I walked away from now because begging for dignity isn’t what I’m about do and no, I won’t applaud when you treat me with the most basic decencies and try to distract me by pointing only to those parts. I’ll applaud when asked, “Are you okay?” after I confess what was done, more than, “That’s all? Are you sure?” like it happens everyday.

October through to May, I spent wandering through wasted hours, attempts to sleep so that I might burn out of my brain, the way it felt to have people look like they knew the truth. I tried to run because of how it felt to know that my truth counted for nothing, but rumours held more weight than who I was to be. There was no winning and nothing to be won by advocating for myself and what happened no matter how I tried or twisted or cried or worked to still be who I was before and after. There were people who used to greet me with smiles and asking how I was, but it shortly turned into scowls and looking at the ground because I demanded they ask the questions that made their days harder. Rather than look at the man who acted without thinking, all eyes turned to me and why I couldn’t get over the residual bullying, rumours and being treated like I didn’t know what I felt for myself; Rather than look at the man who acted and see me for truth, they would rather stare at the ground because it was far more interesting than what I needed them to be.

It took self-love and walking away to realize that it’s safe for me to laugh, not becoming the victim they needed me to be just to have the simplest of decencies like being believed. Only the most broken are trusted and dare you let out a laugh or try to be normal again, even something as simple as wearing heels, you’re met with stares and whispers that sometimes make their way back to you,  that in the end break you anyway. They challenged my truth and knew nothing of what happened but rumours and words defending the one they thought they knew because familiarity births disbelief in the face of these things. It took looking hard at what I had left and carefully cleaning up the pieces to realize how many I still had despite those long months.

I remember sitting in a chair and being asked about every little detail, like the obvious ones weren’t big enough to do anything about when in the end they were sufficient. I remember the look on your face as you tried to catch me in what you thought was a lie because I stumbled trying to explain after re-living the pain. You looked happy in some twisted way because you’d rather believe that I was lying than that you had to do this to someone you knew. For what it’s worth, I wish that too, but the truth doesn’t lie even under the stumbles, stammers and gasps for breath between tears. No one wants to believe it but it’s not our job to defend what we want, when the truth settles so loudly in a silent room.

It was freeing to walk away and wake up among the quiet hours thereafter realizing I didn’t have to struggle or strain, doing something as simple and what stories they would try to construct to defend their belief that I was the bad one. I woke up one morning and realized, recognized and remembered this feeling of freedom and dug roots into the fresh soil of the day because the Winter finally ended and I was able to sprout flowers and leaves again. The sun shone on my face and rather than thinking hard about what I had to do to become more or different than what everyone thought of me, it was just me, the sun and maybe the breeze. Many people avoid silence and quiet because they aren’t particularly excited about what it tells them but it was a reprieve to be free of the rumours, gossip and declaring who others thought me to be, that I woke up to face every day when there used to be so much more to me.

They looked wondering why I couldn’t shake it off or walk away and before long I became the trouble maker needing to be hidden from sight. They had to believe because it was blatant but I was waiting in the silence of those halls for the words that would never come, “I believe you,” because it was true and written all over me; I was vandalized with permanent marker I couldn’t wash off even after all that time. It took so much to believe that I had to erase the ink more than me needing to be washed away.

I woke up today and realized that for the first time in a while I wanted to write because I was finally ready to leave behind the way it felt and the way it was, that stared me in the face from the other side of the pen. It’s what people don’t understand when you create to heal, is that when something destroys a part or a piece, it can’t just be put back together with glue. It needs to be faced and given a voice or it too destroys where it could mend and bring us back to life.

For the first time in months, I wanted to write because writing is freedom and that’s how I feel more often than unable to breathe from the weight of the way things came to be; Not articles, nor things I’m paid to produce but writing free from inside me. I tried to sit down to say anything but all that came out was the thing they tried to make me believe I was bound to speak nothing of, until I decided it wasn’t my secret to keep and more than what was taken in the first place, it was taking my truth and the voice to express it that took more than he ever could. It’s not my secret to keep because it’s not something bad that I did needing to be hidden or tucked away and I realized that I wasn’t vandalized but was looking at myself in the reflection of that space; The marks were on them, not me.

For the first time in months, I’m writing and writing is freedom and that’s how I feel. The truth never scared me because it was never a lie and I sleep more soundly than I thought I could having walked away. For the first time in months, I’m breathing deeply and realizing that it’s not my battle to make the truth more true than others want it to be because I remembered I had enough power to walk away.

For the first time in a year, I am free.

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On The Wings of Miracles,

~Cheryl~

 

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