When a woman is mistreated in a relationship it is not only her heart that ends up breaking. The pain remains in her body and also creates cracks in her logic. Emotional walls build allowing her self-esteem to suffocate, which may result in the emergence of self-destructive relationships and negative patterns. How do I know this, you may wonder? Because I’ve lived it and for many years I was this girl. For a long time I took comfort in unhealthy relationships with men because it was all that I had ever known. I was afraid of the men who wanted to offer me love and support because I didn’t think that I actually deserved it. After four years of internalizing my trauma and turning anger for others on myself, I began to break the cycle.
Within a year I have not only spoken out about being raped but I have encouraged others to speak out as well. I landed an internship with Suzanne Roberts, a somatic coach whose life’s purpose is to empower women and girls starting by alleviating the pain and trauma we hold in our bodies. I have to come to terms with my experiences and am currently on the verge of learning to forgive. I have let go of friends I once loved as well as let old ones return. These outstanding women have helped find the love that I desired within myself. All of these stepping stones have inspired me to reform my life and become the powerful woman that I deserve to be. In other words, I am on my way.
I met him in early September when summer was politely making it’s way out, allowing autumn to enter through the back door. It was short and sweet. A light-hearted romance that filled me with new feelings and even newer ideas. On our first date we laughed and talked for hours. We parted ways giggling in the same way we had when we met. When he spoke, he spoke to me. When we touched, he was touching the real me, the one I usually try to hide away. After we slept together I had realized that for the first time, I had actually stayed present. I didn’t leave, I didn’t retreat to the dark places in my mind. I stayed put, beneath him the entire time. Being treated as an equal startled me. He gave me back a sense of humanity that I was all too used to throwing away in sexual situations.
“It’s because he’s a man, he’s older and he’s not a little horny boy like you’re used to!” My cousin spoke with reassurance from the other girl’s in the room as she cooly smoked her cigarette. It made me think, is that it? Do men simply grow out of being cold and sexually distant? Do they hit a certain age and eagerly drop their immaturities at the door before calling, “Honey I’m home!” Perhaps, but perhaps not. In my case, I know that it was something more than that. Because I had developed a budding sense of self-care and a new found love for myself, I had allowed men with the same self-worth into my space. I was beginning to attract those on a higher level because I too was occupying that same place.
“He may be a man, but he has the sweet tooth of kid. You should’ve seen his eyes light up when he was talking about cookies the other day.” I laughed, rolling my eyes and feeling giddy about the day that had passed. “Well, I’m sure tons of dudes like cookies but you wouldn’t know because this is the first one who’s gotten to know you as aperson!” This was also true, it was the first time since I was seventeen that I wasn’t being treated as a sexual object. As wonderful as it was, he had explained upon meeting me that he was moving overseas for a year. Like all good things, it had to end. A bitter sweet goodbye to a bitter sweet affair.
Even if I never see him again, even if we never speak to each other from this point on, I have been changed. Feeling fully appreciated by a man that I was intimate with was a stepping stone towards empowerment that I needed. As women we need to break the vicious cycle of the careless men that bind us. We need to free ourselves from mistreatment so that we don’t perpetuate unhealthy patterns. If we never leave our comfort zone and face our demons before we are too set in our ways then we face the risk of being stuck in them for the rest of our lives. I deserve to feel good about myself, just as I deserve to find fulfilling love with men. I’m letting myself enjoy my sexuality and be present throughout sexual situations because I finally feel like I deserve to be.
Sometimes good people come in and out of our lives. They change us, they inspire us, they cause movement within us that results in permanent growth. It’s important that you take away from this piece that we must be secure with ourselves before secure people feel moved to enter. Happiness starts from within and once it is released it is an unstoppable, impermeable force. Some may say that meeting him just weeks before he left was bad timing. This isn’t true, but timing is everything. If we had met any earlier I wouldn’t have been ready. Now that I am, I will take this experience and carry it with me.