Friends, family, countrymen.
These are what have gotten me through the most difficult parts of my recovery. PTSD hit me full force at the beginning of my first year at college and I was drowning. I began having debilitating panic attacks that would, and still do, render me utterly incapacitated for hours or days at a time.
And I was so ashamed. People that don’t have ptsd or who have never been raped don’t understand the utter shame that comes with absolutely everything. My goal today is not to try to explain that shame.
But I know how awful that shame is. And I know that, for some reason, people keep telling me it is nothing to be ashamed of.
The first time I told someone ‘my story’ (as I have come to have mixed feelings about calling it) it hurt. I felt no release of telling another person what had happened to me. In fact, somehow, it felt worse.
But after that. I had a panic attack. I called the person that I had told. I told them I needed help. They came over straight away and we went for a walk and I cried and threw up a little and talked through what I was feeling.
That was what was good. Having someone there for me was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me. They didn’t know all the grisly details of everything that had happened to me. They still don’t. People are the greatest thing for me when I am in so much pain. If I have a problem, a bad day, or a panic attack, my friends know what is wrong and I don’t have to beat around the bush. When I need help, when I need someone, I can just ask, and I have someone.
At this point, I’ve told six people about what happened to me. And I always have someone. Because people get busy, and that’s okay. You can’t always expect one person to be there unconditionally for you. But to have someone always be there is the greatest thing in the world.
And the more people I’ve told, the easier it gets.
No, telling the first person was not easy. But now when I share my story, it is a release. And it means that I have another person to call when I need it.
All six of those that I’ve shared this with are able to love me better than those who don’t know as many things about me. These people know how hard it is for me to share, but they know that they can love me in ways that others can’t. They usually know how important they are to me and are grateful that they can love me better.
I think it is important to note that friends are different than therapists. Friendship works two ways and you can’t expect a friend to be there unconditionally for you without you also being unconditionally there for them. And it’s sometimes hard to remember that rape is a lot to deal with. Victims of rape have been forced through it. So be gentle with your friends if you do decide to share what happened to you.
But do share. It gets easier. Let those that love you learn to love you well.