Dear little girl inside, everything is fine
We got through all the pain and even got to keep our minds
Sometimes we still get crazy, but not the way we used to
When the love that you know now is nothing you were used to
Sometimes you have to stop feeling sorry for yourself
And love You, that way you can teach anybody else
And if it’s pain that you were feeling, you release it till it stops
Or else it will get stronger and just beat you ’til you drop
You’re a lot smarter than you’re ever given credit for
Live like a simile, lessons are a metaphor
I hope one day you’re strong enough to break free from the cage
And that everything inside you is the reason I be great

— Angel Haze, This Is Me

In a bitter twist of irony, the six-month mark (or half anniversary) of my second rape, and the one-year-and-one month mark of my first rape is on my twenty-fourth birthday. As it approaches, I find myself thinking a great deal about how I’ve processed and recovered from all this up to this point. 

This summer hit a kind of slump point for me, in terms of my recovery. I felt numb, and the timing meant that many of my friends went away to visit their families, find jobs in other towns, or went on vacation. Even though it wasn’t meant that way, my trauma-addled brain could easily interpret that as being abandoned, So, in that time period, I picked up an insurmountable amount of bad habits which I am only know acknowledging and beginning to uproot. 

Among the most prominent are sulking and attention-seeking. I’d always been prone to being dramatic and expressive about my emotions, but sulking was the wrong kind of expressive action to pick up; rather than allowing me to clearly articulate what I desired and needed from the people I loved, sulking wrapped me in a bitter cocoon. All it did was further my self-created feelings of abandonment and isolation, by emotionally isolating me from people who loved me and wanted to help me. 

The other face of this poisonous behaviour was the attention-seeking. I still wanted to experience love, affection, and compassion from people I was close to, but, again, rather than articulating my loneliness and desire for contact and conversation, I engaged in attention-grabbing behaviours. Any attention, really, it didn’t matter what kind of emotions were attached to it, only that I had people’s eyes and focus on me. I still didn’t get the care and affection I needed, so I continued to lash out in these two ways. 

I’m recognizing that now, so I’ve been working on rebuilding healthy, helpful ways of seeking what I need from people. It can get all too easy to get caught up in bitterness, isolation, sorrow, and anger when you’re recovering from something as traumatic and painful as rape. I commend my loved ones and friends for being so patient with me as I cycled through this. But I want to take control of my own recovery, and that means acknowledging and fixing when my behaviour is self-destructive or counter-productive. I feel powerful knowing that I myself can take back the experiences and emotions which make me happy and feel good about myself.