Everything happens perfectly on time. Where we are right now is exactly where we are supposed to be. Nothing and no one is ever too late or too early. However, this doesn’t mean our destiny is completely out of our control and all we can do is wait. What it does mean is that we must constantly tune into our intuition and intention. When we fail to do this we miss opportunities, subtle cues and most importantly we may end up turning our back on ourselves.
As I slowly began attempting and failing to excavate my truth, I was presented with an offer to be coached by a friend and colleague. She had offered her services before but I didn’t see the value or the need; I’d continued seeing a therapist throughout the entirety of my recovery and felt comfortable with that. But with a heightened need for support and direction, I knew I needed more and I knew I needed to be pushed, challenged and uncomfortable in ways that weren’t possible with my therapist. I hired her and the digging began in a way I’d never experienced before. It wasn’t just a little uncomfortable, it was completely uncomfortable. My bullshit was called out left and right. She saw through everything, especially the fabricated truth I had believed about myself for so long. She wanted me to tune into my body like I had never done before and it was much more difficult than I had anticipated.
But even though the process I had voluntarily begun was challenging and, at first, overwhelming and frustrating, I kept coming back because I knew I was creating the space to discover and reveal something vitally important. In those confronting and challenging moments of our work, I began to believe I was ready to fully embody my truth. Little did I know the storm I was inviting in.
Along with the perfect timing of working with my coach, the #MeToo movement was born.
The voices of women who’d been silenced and oppressed for generations became stronger and louder. It was impossible to ignore their words, which seemed to penetrate straight into the deepest corners of my soul. Their voices along with the guidance from my coach, led my memory into areas I had never known. Images, emotions and memories my body knew to be true but my mind refused to acknowledge became louder and clearer. As I watched my baby daughter play or when I changed her diaper flashbacks and intense feelings of shame began to seep in. I felt her eyes looking at me and imagined what I looked like through her eyes. Deep feelings of disgust emerged and sat heavy in my body. I felt like I had done something wrong but I knew I hadn’t.
One evening after my husband and I had gotten the kids to sleep, we were discussing the latest high-powered man to be dethroned by the “Me Too” movement. Seemingly out of nowhere the discussion quickly escalated into an argument. He asked me “Why are you getting so angry and upset about this? This isn’t your story. This didn’t happen to you.”
“But what if it did? What if this is my story?” I froze. What if it was? My body already knew it was.
A month or so later, the Gammy’s was on TV. I was doing the dishes as my son watched the show in our living room. I could hear the different songs as I washed and stopped every now and then to watch the performances. When Kesha’s song, “Praying” came on, I slowly wandered into the living room.
Music had always been an emotional outlet for me, but this was different. It was intense and it was real. My soul was in her words. My story was in that song. My heart ached and silent tears that seemed to have been trapped for decades began to escape like they were fleeing for their life.
“Mommy, why are you crying? What’s wrong?” I didn’t even notice my son was watching me and not the TV.
“I don’t know, honey. It’s just such a pretty song, it’s making me cry. Sometimes I do that when the song is so pretty”. Tears that had been suppressed for decades had finally found their way out. The scared little girl finally felt safe enough to let go what she’d been carrying around forever. And I was finally strong enough as an adult to hold space for her and her tears. The song was perfectly on time. I had found the strength and the courage required to release this pain perfectly on time.
After that, the flashbacks became stronger. When I visited my parent’s house with my kids, feelings of dread and sadness amplified. Especially when I was outside with my daughter and caught sight of a house down the street from my parents. I knew I had to say something and I knew it was going to be one of the most difficult things I would ever do. I didn’t tell my coach or my therapist what I was planning on doing. I just knew it had to be done.
I had to ask my mom a question; a question that before this moment I would have never imagined asking her. I felt strangely calm at the thought of it but also intense dread from whatever answer I imagined I would receive. I knew what I had to do if I wanted the truth, my truth. The opportunity to ask my mom arrived perfectly when we were heading to dinner to celebrate our birthdays. We arrived at the restaurant before the rest of our family and we sat down to order a glass of wine. I knew the rest of our family was on their way and my time was here. I knew it was now or never, so I asked, “Mom, was I molested?”
No sooner had I finished my question did the rest of our party arrive. My mom’s poker face hid her shock well. My unanswered question loomed over dinner. I tried to read her face but couldn’t tell how she intended to answer. I tried to distract my racing thoughts with my kids and making sure they didn’t make a mess or commotion but it didn’t work.
After dinner, I drove home with my husband and kids, and my mom headed home with my dad. My mom texted me, and asked if she could come over the next day. My heart dropped as I knew what this could possibly mean.
She arrived the next day while I was in the middle of cooking dinner. She walked in carrying a large manila envelope. I went numb. Time stopped. Her eyes were full of tears on the brink of escape. She didn’t have to say one word but she did anyway.
“Yes, you were molested”.
Her voice trembled and I felt the floor go soft. Tears began rolling down my face and my throat was on fire. I fell into her arms as my entire body sobbed. We stayed there for a long time. My husband helplessly looking on as my kids sat in the other room preoccupied with some Disney movie. Years of sadness poured out. Decades of wondering “what’s wrong with me” finally released. In a break between sobs, I pulled myself away as she handed me the envelope. In this moment, the truth of my past was finally being handed to me. Who the hell was I? This changed everything.
“Everything that I have about it is in here”, my mom explained softly.
“There are letters to the police who refused to investigate. There are letters to another family whose daughter was also molested by him. I took you to the doctor and they confirmed it.” My mom kept talking but her words faded into the background of my mind. I had so many questions. I had so many emotions. I wanted to find this man and make him pay. I wanted to curl up in a ball and never come out. I wanted to save the little girl I was when this all happened. I wanted to call the police and scream at them for not doing anything to protect me or the other children who were also victimized by this monster.
Anger, sadness, resentment, deep sorrow; they all flooded in. Time stood still. The dinner I cooking never got finished.
When my mom left, I went upstairs, curled up in bed and my husband took the kids outside. My tears had temporarily stopped but pain still beat relentlessly throughout my body.
This trauma had been living inside me for decades and I had no idea until now, 34 years later. I was three years old. I was a baby. This is why I had such a deep disgust for my body even as a child. He is why. This is why. But why did I finally remember this now? If everything happens perfectly on time, then why now? A few weeks later I found out.
Navigating the Murky Waters of Body Positivity, Thin-Privilege and Eating Disorder Recovery: Part Two