When the Night was Total Darkness

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I won’t lie, I still watch young adult TV all the time. For me, watching television and film are one of the few ways I can completely switch off my brain and relax. It is my often my escape.

I follow the TV show Switched At Birth and have since it’s pilot episode. It covers a lot of topics, in the messy way that real life happens and I enjoy it. Sure, it’s still television and therefore reality is often suspended, but nevertheless, it is as close to life as possible.

Yesterday I tried to watch the latest episode, which came with this warning:

Tonight’s episode contains story lines dealing with sexual consent. Viewer discretion advised.

I am 31, I can handle it. Right? Except, not…because there were triggers.

The episode revolved around Bay, one of the lead characters, waking up next to a man (she knew) without remembering anything from the evening before. Her memories came only in short flashbacks and understanding how she ended up where she was that morning. 10 minutes into the episode I had to stop.

You can read more about the episode and the issues covered here.

You see, it’s been almost 4 years so I did not think it would affect me.

In the Autumn of 2011 I was invited to a party. It was glamorous, rocking and filled completely with 99.9% people I did not know. The evening began fine. Partying with my “date”, a girlfriend I brought with me, meeting famous and semi-famous people and enjoying the crazy atmosphere.

It must have been around midnight when it all went blank and I woke up past 9am the next morning, in my bed, no phone, no clothes and no memory of the last 9 or so hours.

To this day I remember only flashes of that night. What I do recall and what still often haunts me is the day after. It was the darkness that enveloped my spirit and more clearly my mind. It was the fear of the unknown. It was the inability to recall little more than trying to get into a club, trying to take money out of the bank machine and standing with police. Everything I could remember felt like it was happening in one of those really bad dreams where you can’t wake up, but nothing is really clear either.

It was all that came out of that night’s events…the worry of maybe having been raped. To this day I still feel like I could vomit at the thought. Luckily, I was safe and nothing happened to me. I ended up speaking to the cab driver who got me home. I realised through that conversation that I had been drugged.

Me, the good girl. I had been drugged and it was my fault.

It was in the aftermath that I dealt feelings of guilt, moment of anxiety, fear and frustration. It took an already clear inability or fear of vulnerability to an entirely new level.

I am not writing frivolously, not for attention…I am writing to give a voice, or maybe to add a voice to the many out there that are scared to speak.

You may not have been drugged like me, but there is a day or night, a time of your life that was cast in darkness and you may still be struggling with the effects or how even to get out of it.

For me, it was first and foremost my faith in God that, through time, enabled me to work through the issues that arose from that night. What I am now grateful for is that all I went through enabled me to grow as a person. It was also those around me, who I trusted to tell (and not many know), who showed me who I was and how this was not a reflection of me. You are not your circumstances or that which has happened to you.

You, the person reading this, whose stomach is turning in knots right now, whose eyes are filled with tears. Tell someone. Talk. Know you are valuable and worth being treated as a human. You have the right to feel whole and free.

If you feel you can’t tell someone around you, tell me…you are valuable.

Broken

I’m possibly one of the most tactile people I have ever met. I’m not opposed to holding hands in public, or someone (I know) sitting close to me. One of my best friends frequently sits with her legs on my lap.

I think when you are experiencing pain or brokenness (and this is only my opinion) the effects come out in your most basic responses to love. When I’m in love I want to be near the person I love. Distance makes my heart break and ache. When I love someone, romantic or otherwise, they can be nearer than skin to be an it doesn’t matter.

Two weeks ago my mom came to visit. I barely wanted her near me, I was so broken. Then in the last two weeks I attended an amazing conference (Colour), had my mom and friends near me and stepped into another part of the healing process. I didn’t realise how bad it was, how broken I had been, until 2 days ago when I hurt my back and I could barely move. I was getting a massage and I said something to the lady which opened my eyes to how far I have come in the last two weeks…

“two weeks ago not even my mom could touch me”

Of all people in the world my mom should be the safest and yet even her nearness brought pain. Now that it’s changed I have realised that we often hide our brokenness. Whether it’s hiding away in our homes, by eating too much, by eating too little, by backing away from friends, we often only half heal. It’s not until we completely let our defences down that we can complete or move the healing process along.

I have written about this before, but I was again reminded by Sheila Walsh, that we may not always have the answers, we may want to ask why, but God is sovereign, therefore He is always in control. If the God that sent His son to us so that we can be free loves us that much, He can heal us, whatever the brokenness is.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

So let go, surrender and lean on the one who loves so completely He gave it all so we could be free.