Pain is always there to identify something we need to pay attention to in order to heal. A cut hurts so we will bandage it, a memory surfaces so that we can work through it.

There are two things that catch immediate attention about my life, that I’ve been paralyzed and I’ve had amnesia. Attention hones in, because those two things are unusual. When I explain the cause being severe childhood sexual and physical abuse the reactions split between discomfort or morbid fascination.

I have lived an unusual life. I tried to forget my past and it caused health problems that eventually led to the paralysis. When the truth began emerging my life fell apart. Since then I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Denial, anger, pain, strength, and forgiveness carry me up and down. I’m blindfolded, so I don’t know when the ride will drop me, when I will be lifted up, or when it will end.

I have learned to live during the past two years. Have you ever noticed that there is no hiding on a roller coaster? Some people scream, some look terrified, some shut their eyes and others laugh in joy. It strips away the fake faces we tend to wear. That’s what has happened to me during this time of discovering the truth about my childhood. There is no hiding from anyone how my day is going. When I am happy, you will see it, when I am anxious, I can’t hide it, and when I am struggling, you won’t even see me.

When someone struggles to believe a woman who speaks up about sexual assault I know they would never believe my story. Mine is so horrible it defies comprehension. Even talking about a tiny portion of my story makes people look away in discomfort, or put me on a pedestal that I survived. Either way, it puts distance between myself and others. It is a lonely place to be.

There are gifts that compensate for the difficulty. I am strong. I am grateful. I am alive. I notice when others feel alone, left on the outside, or suffer in silence. I know what to say when those around me struggle and I have no problem conversing with people in wheelchairs, with disabilities, or caught in abuse or addiction. My empathy has grown. I am a fighter.

I would never choose to suffer the things I did, but I will take the gifts in order to find meaning in my life and strength to continue. Unfortunately, pain is a master teacher. To know the things I know, I had to pass through a great deal of pain. There were only two choices- to learn to live, or let myself die. I chose to live. And now I choose to fight back by talking about difficult things. Pain hurts, but on it’s heels it brings healing and a wholeness that can’t be achieved by ignorance.

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