A few years ago, I was drugged and sexually assaulted. This was then a memory that was stuffed down into the depths of my psyche—too painful to face, too shameful to acknowledge, too big for me to handle. The mind does that. It has the power to shove things out of our consciousness, to bury it deep down into the deepest darkest dungeons of our mind in order to protect us from the truths of our lived experience that we’re not capable of holding in the moment. The drugs do that too—complete incapacitation, wipes the slate clean. So I continued to live in “blissful” ignorance.
Earlier this year, I was deep in meditation during a sensory deprivation float, my mind was completely clear, open, in that deep liminal space. I had been doing quite a lot of inner healing work up until that point—building a sense of trust and connection with myself, strengthening my grounding and sense of safety, and expanding the capacity of my nervous system. Spirit always only sends us what we can handle, and at that time I was finally able to handle more than I could ever have before. And suddenly, this knowing was delivered into my mind like a parcel from above, or perhaps it was more like a resurfacing of what I had unknowingly suppressed for so long in the depths of my mind. This sudden, clear, lightning bolt knowing that I had been drugged and sexually assaulted. The night. The guy. The circumstances. It all made sense. The details were still blurry, but the knowing was crystal clear. It literally felt like a fog was lifted, and there was this big truth placed in front of me that I had hidden from myself for so long. On one hand it felt new, shocking, an insidious revelation, and on the other, it felt familiar, like a shadow I had been playing cat and mouse with for years . Even though I had never stood in front of it face-to-face, I knew its energy, its shape, its texture, its weight. It wasn’t a learning of new information, it was a remembrance of the truth. And my body responded immediately in recognition. Emotions surged to the surface like a tidal wave, and caught in the riptide, all I could do was sob.
From there I experienced certain days where I was able to completely numb myself, to compartmentalize my emotions and carry on my days as usual. Some days I was even able to feel moments of happiness and laughter, followed by guilt and questioning how I could even experience such emotions whilst I was going through such turmoil. Some days I would question if any of it was real, what if I made it all up? Other days, I would fall into a depressive state—not being able to get out of bed, complete exhaustion, wanting to disappear or cease to exist. And there were also the days where I experienced extreme anxiety, where my nervous system didn’t know how to cope with the vast range of emotions rising like a hundred tsunami waves from within. I had moments of pain arise in my womb, a scraping feeling from within, as if it wanted to scrape out every last remnant of this memory and the energetic imprint that it left within me. I spent days just crying, screaming into a pillow, holding and rocking myself under running water in the shower, punching the bed, and no matter how much I released it still felt like there was more. In those moments I understood what it felt like to be drowning in my own grief, the feeling like I was being swallowed whole, like I was falling into a bottomless pit and would never be able to get back up again.
And while I was going through all of this, I started to retreat into a deep isolation. On the outside I was able to maintain a smile and do polite small talk here and there. But I found it increasingly difficult to be around most people and maintain surface level conversation and relationships when inside I was being dragged down into the deepest shadows I had ever had to face. It was so big, so scary, that I didn’t feel safe sharing it with most people. Who could hold such a thing when I felt I couldn’t even hold it myself—The shame, grief, anger, disbelief, confusion, guilt, the questions I still had, and more? Who could hold me without me feeling like a burden, unloading all my “emotional crap” on them? Who could hold me in that space whilst also holding down the poles of compassion, deep presence, love, and empowerment, rather than fear, fixing, questioning, or victimising? Yet, as I slowly began to open up to a select few that I felt safe bringing this to, I was shocked at how many had experienced the same thing themselves. In fact, most women I’ve shared this with have had a similar story of their own. And this blew my mind. I always thought that sexual assault only happened to a small select few, the tiny sliver of society, the unlucky ones. And now, suddenly, I seemed to be surrounded by women who all had their own experience, all had their own story to tell. As I was opening myself up to women around me, I felt them opening back up to me. Deep connections. Pure understandings. And it made me wonder, why do we keep so quiet about these things? Why is something that is so much more pervasive in society than anyone could ever imagine still pretended as if it’s not?
Perhaps it’s the shame–the insidious belief that still persists out there that if it happens to you it’s your fault—because you were wearing a skirt that was too short, because you were sending the wrong signals, because you were asking for it. This was a belief that was made excruciatingly clear to me by members of my own family growing up, and it all came rushing back.
Perhaps it’s the fear of being judged, labelled, seen in a different light—the tainted woman. Fears of being cast out of the tribe, of no longer being lovable, worthy, or respectable. In a society where women are fighting so hard to be seen in our power, it doesn’t feel safe to expose ourselves and give up an image of ourselves in utmost vulnerability, weakness, and disempowerment.
Perhaps it’s because there isn’t a safe space for it and there’s the fear of “what if people don’t believe me?”—we, collectively, as individuals and as a society are so poorly resourced and ill-equipped to be present with trauma and pain. And yet, if we don’t have the courage to face our darkest shadows, how can we expect ourselves to be able to hold space for our friends, our family, our loved ones when they need it. And how can we expect our friends, family, and loved ones to truly be able to hold space for us in our pain, when they haven’t held themselves?
But the more we keep these parts of ourselves in the dark, the more we give it power over us. The rejection we place on ourselves and our own experience keeps us from reconciling with our truth, which keeps us from claiming our wholeness and our power. By allowing myself to break, it led me to my greatest healing. By allowing myself to be present with what felt like an eternity of grief, I experienced the ephemeral nature of emotions instead. By allowing myself to feel my deepest pains and to meet shame eye-to-eye, I realized that nothing could claim power over me.
So for all the women who continue to bury their pain under layers of smiles, who have stuffed down these memories into the deepest recesses of their psyches, who aren’t ready to remember, I pray that you find grounding and safety in your body and in your present.
For all the women who have suffered in silence, who think they’re alone, who are overcome with shame or believe it’s their fault, I pray for your heart and for you to know that that is not true and you are not alone.
For all the women who are ready to face and heal the shadows from your past, I pray for your strength and your surrender, for you to know that you are so held and so loved by the Divine and the Higher Realms. I pray for you to trust the pain and the process, because I promise you, when it feels like you are breaking, you will come out the other side more whole than ever before. And I pray that you find the safe space, the sisters, and the souls to hold you, support you, and guide you through the journey, because this is not a road that you need to go down alone.
And to all the women who courageously faced your shadows and thus were able to hold me and mine, I bow to you, and thank you from the bottom of my heart.