In all honesty, I have no idea where I’m headed with this article but I just feel the need to write. I’ve felt the intense need to tell a story that has plagued me for a really long time, I’ve always believed that people will find healing in my wounds. As much as I love love and relationships, I have a strong aversion to them, it’s weird. How can someone be so loving yet so distant.
I have a complicated relationship with men too. I try not to let things that have happened to me in the past weigh me down but it’s not always so easy. I hate how women get gaslighted when they haven’t experienced the finer parts of love, when you haven’t been whisked away to Paris for a first date or you don’t get gifts and money when you snap your fingers(God, when I ASK?), or you’ve never experienced healthy transformational love, or you’ve never even been taken on a date. You hear statements like maybe it’s you, or you just have really low standards, maybe you need to blah blah blah. Oh please! Flawed as I am, I am not a sin.
I honestly never thought I’ll share this part of my life, especially not this way but I’ve felt a tugging to do so for a while. I had an unpleasant experience with a man, he kept trying to kiss me even when I had said no on several occasions, he was about 6’2 and had a lot of body mass, I’m 5’4. He grabbed my hands and just kept trying which I found awfully traumatic. I didn’t realize how much this one situation had affected me and I just kept on going about my life. It wasn’t the first time something like that was happening but I’ve always known how to bring myself home from wars so I just brushed it off.
My anxiety peaked, I would become jumpy each time anyone was around me, handholding became a myth, human interactions were mixed with a combination of fear and distrust. I’ve always side eyed men but it became worse. This scenario had affected me more than I had preferred to admit. So I spoke to my female friends about it and it was jarring how many ‘me too’ stories I got, we all had similar stories where we all seemed to just absorb these things. But by sharing with them, I experienced immense empathy and compassion. I had the courage to start healing and I realized that I was not alone.
I tried to talk to a male friend of mine who kept nagging about how awfully distant I had become and I was met with statements like; ‘but what were you wearing?’, ‘maybe your skirt was short’, ‘were you flirting with him?’ and a host of other uncomfortable questions and even worse unsolicited advice. At some point, I realized that I, the victim was getting blamed for the actions of someone who tried to take advantage of me. That hurt me to my core. When you say things like this to people, you dehumanize them, invalidate their feelings and take away from their agency. You feed into rape culture. You’re advising the wrong person.
I woke up and I cried, I cried and cried, I started wondering if truly I had invited this man or I seduced him, if my more difficult unpleasant sexual experiences were my fault and that hurt, nobody should feel that way. People say don’t tell stories like this, it’ll make people uncomfortable, you’re a single girl, what man will want to be with a ‘broken’ lady? When you associate experiencing sexual trauma with being broken, it’s highly damaging. What is broken about you? You’re gold, solid gold baby. This term ‘broken’ has made it so difficult for me and a lot of girls like me from honestly dealing with some of our more complex sexual experiences.
Don’t gaslight yourself, don’t let anyone gaslight you. Your experiences are valid, your pain is valid. Your skirt wasn’t too short, it’s not about you, it’s about them. You’re not responsible for nurturing men who resent you and have no regard for your humanity. And your pain? Wash it clean with love. You deserve to be happy, your stories deserve to breathe. Your suffering matters.
Writing this has been incredibly cathartic for me, I was inspired to write after reading my good sister Elizabeth Peter’s article on a similar experience, there is power in community, there is power in sharing. Our stories matter. Slowly but surely, I’m learning to get my feet to dance again. I’ve dropped the burden of shame and I hope you have the courage to also. I’ve reached out to a therapist so I can unpack and get the healing and joy a top babe like me deserves.
Your Favorite Neighborhood Slay Queen