When I was in my late twenties, I was raped. A devastating event that shattered me and spun me in a tornado for a decade. But that is not what this post is about. You probably know someone who has lived that story too. Even if you don’t know it because the stats are still appalling, 1 in every 4 women will be raped in her lifetime.
But this post is about something else. It’s about sharing our stories and what happens when we do.
A few years ago, I did one of the scariest things I’ve ever done…really, no exaggeration here. I told my story in front of 1250 strangers in a live event for a national radio program called The Moth Radio Hour. I did it because it scared me so much and I was telling my students to do things that scared them. Careful what you teach–you might have to follow your own advice.
The director, Sarah, was amazing and helped me in the process of distilling my story to 12 minutes. A decade in twelve minutes. The audience was warm and loving. And on that dark stage, staring at the red exit sign, I ultimately realized I had survived. I was not running from what happened, I was feeling and holding it. I was letting the broken part of me be loved and whole. It was an incredible gift to be able to do that for… me.
But maybe the most amazing part is that each time this story is broadcast, people find me. I get emails from old friends and I get emails from people I don’t know that tell me their story. They tell me that what happened to me is what they experienced and they tell me how they are dealing with it and they touch me. Every single time, I am moved to love. I see that fragile me and I see them and I know I am alright. And I know they are too. A few email connections and as raw as the pain is, I know how remarkable people are. And how caring. And everything I thought I knew about the world that broke the day I was raped, comes back. The world is filled with love and caring and reaching out–it is filled with hate and pain and craziness too–But you know what, the love and reaching out are more powerful.
A woman named Julia wrote me tonight.
here is the story, you can send it to someone who needs to know they are not alone, if you like. Because just hearing from you will remind them they are not alone