Editor’s Note: The following narrative might be triggering for some readers.
My life was the definition of perfection.
I was surrounded by people who loved me – a happy family, great best friends, and a sweet, caring boyfriend. I had a new job waiting for me right after my graduation. There was nothing more I could ask for. I couldn’t be more grateful for what I had.
But one day, something happened that turned my life upside down.
One of my best friends was sexually assaulted by her own family member. Of all of us, I was the closest to her and she trusted me in everything. So after it happened, I was the person she confided in. She was hoping that I could help her, at least by being there and give her support.
But I couldn’t.
I thought I could. But the moment she finished telling me everything that happened to her, the shivers started to creep up in my body. I felt shocked, sick and disturbed. But there was something more that I couldn’t explain. Her incident has brought something out in me, that I was trying to hide – my own trauma.
I went through the same thing years ago when I was a child.
At that time, my parents trusted my uncle, my mother’s younger brother, to look after me. My parents were both working and my brother was in a boarding school, so there was no one else except my uncle.
I didn’t question their decision although deep inside me, I could feel something was off. I was never comfortable with him, but I couldn’t see anything wrong with him. He was nice and treated me well by showering me with toys and gifts. But no matter how much he pampered me, I still couldn’t shake the feeling of uneasiness off in me.
There was one more thing he did to me.
He touched me, a lot.
In an inappropriate way. As an innocent and naïve little girl, I didn’t know what he was doing. I didn’t know it was wrong.
It lasted for years until he got married and moved away. Now, I’ve learned the truth about what he did.
He molested me. He took advantage of my innocence and powerlessness. I suddenly felt sick and disgusted and betrayed. There was too much shame in me. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my parents and my brother.
I knew that some people had it worse than me. I was only molested, not raped. Maybe my trauma wasn’t that bad.
Maybe I could just forget it.
I thought it worked. Little did I know, it scarred me for life. I blocked it from my mind, but it was always there, imprinted in the back of my head. As I grew up as an introverted, shy girl with social anxiety. I had extreme trust issues, even with the people I knew. I built a wall around myself to block everyone from hurting me. These were all the results of my uncle’s nasty behavior, without me realizing it.
But finally, I did, after hearing about my friend’s sickening situation. Not long after that, I broke down in tears.
Suddenly I realized the burden I’d been carrying all this time. I was already dead from the inside. Waking up in the morning was my resurrection, only to have my soul killed again every day.
I needed help. Professional help from experts.
To cut the story short, after a long list of therapists, I finally found the good one. I expected her to give me advice and tell me what to do, but I was wrong. My therapist could see my trauma, just from one glance.
And I hadn’t even said a word yet.
It wasn’t clinical at all. She was a very comforting and understanding person. She had her own way of getting me to open up. For the first time in my life, I could fully trust someone about my problem.
I told her all the story of my past without leaving any detail out and right after that, it felt as if the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders. Sharing it also felt like letting it go, not everything at once – but gradually.
It took months for this healing process to work.
Slowly I recovered from the phobia and the trigger symptoms in me were less severe than before. Throughout the process, I figured out that the reason why I kept it as a secret. It wasn’t just because of the shame, but telling someone felt like going back to the horrendous past. That was exactly what my therapist didn’t do. She made sure that I felt loved, supported and knew that I was never alone instead of challenging my veracity.
I couldn’t help my friend while I still had my own issues unsolved. But this time, I’d make sure that she’d get the love and support she needs.