Follow the Yellow Brick Road: Self Esteem After Rape

As the idea began to formulate in my mind how to address this topic; I found myself trying to decide between sexual assault or rape. I don’t know why I was so caught up on which word to use; perhaps because it makes me cringe to say either or.

I don’t talk about my rape often. I think in many ways I still have not made peace with the fact that the loss of my virginity was indeed rape. I think I still carry the weight of guilt for allowing myself to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I am still not in a place of even wanting to share the details of my assault. So instead I’m going to share the details of what it has been like finding my identity afterward.

I spent a long time treating my body like crap. Not sleeping enough, drinking and smoking too much, abandoning my relationship with God, partying hard and being in and out of emotionally unhealthy relationships even harder.

For a long time I allowed my sexuality be a badge of honor; a means to prove that I was callous and not like other women who caught feeble emotions for men. I found myself loathing my body, my existence even. I believed I was incapable of beauty, undeserving of love and destined for loneliness.

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The concept, the idea of self love was one slow to come. I never imagined that I could look in the mirror at my flawed body, stretch mark plastered skin, progressively sagging breasts and find the beauty in that. All I could see was a body that had been violated. A body that was less than perfect. A body that was useless. A body devoid of worth. A body undeserving of admiration.

As time moved on, I began to focus on speaking better to myself. I met a man who loved this body in it’s rawest form. I eventually began to recognize my body as more than just a place where men desired to act out their fat girl fetishes. I began to understand that my body deserved to be loved no matter what state it was in.

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And so it has become. I may not love this body everyday, it is surely betraying me now as I battle an autoimmune disease. But I am finally in a place where I know that I deserve to feel good about myself and this body; even if I’m at my biggest weight right now. This is why I  believe so passionately in being body positive.

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Being body positive is not about “wanting to be fat” as many misinformed people argue. Rather, it’s about loving my body, myself enough to see myself through a journey of change. This body has weathered many a storm, and by some miracle or grace of God I am still standing. Being body negative would be less than productive on my journey.

So while I still have my bad days and my body is not what I desire it to be; I have bathed in that unforgiving pool of low self esteem. I almost drowned. I’m swimming in fresher waters these days. Come on in, it’s warm here.

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AP Young

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