Sometimes a fresh start is necessary.
This little online journal of mine has gone through some significant changes over the past 24 hours. To be honest, there are a few journals that, as of today, are now ashes. To those of you who wonder who in the world would ever set a journal on fire, considering the things those journals contained, it's a wonder they weren't set on fire before today.
Stories are meant to be remembered. Life, for me, is not filled with regret, with wishing things had turned out differently. My life, for all intents and purposes, is one that is marked with perfectionism, with pain, with great sorrow and great joy. In the setting free of the words that had been trapped on the pages of those journals, I chose, not to forget, but to let go.
I won't ever forget. I don't need journals to remind me of the laughter that was once so prevalent I ended up sore, with wet cheeks of the tears that were filled with pure joy. I don't need journals to remind me of the love that was tangible, of the desires hidden beneath a paper-thin surface, ready to break through at any moment. I don't need words to remember the joy of expectation, the broken hearts, the pain of hope deferred.
And I will remember. But I do not wish to remember from the viewpoint of being in the trenches, not knowing what the future was to hold. In that narrow view was a girl, terrified of the world and what it had to offer. In those stories was the raw pain that has since mellowed.
And while some find it interesting to go back and feel that pain all over again, I am not one of them. I feel pain now. I feel the pain of those who have been outed as victims of assault without their consent. I feel the pain of an unjust society perpetuating violence by fighting with violent words. I feel the pain of people who aren't allowed to speak up for themselves, who are told they are stupid, unworthy; those who cannot speak for they have been told that their voice doesn't matter. I feel the pain of people who know they are being abused but don't know what to do about it. I feel the pain of those who believe they are completely in love with wonderful people only to find out that the person they love is not the person they thought.
I will never not feel the pain. I pray I will never stop empathizing, that I will always feel. For it is in the feeling that I can understand. It is in remembering the pain that I can know the joy that comes on the other side. It is what allows me to see, to speak, but to choose my words carefully.
It is what allows me to stop and listen. To hear the stories of those who have been severely hurt and simply say, "I am sorry for your pain. What can be done?"
And so, I start over. I look back at the years gone past with new eyes, a fresh perspective, and the generous space of a few years - something my timehop reminds me of on a regular basis. I have the support and love of a man who does not judge me on my past but sees it as something that God used to grow me into the woman he now knows. I do this knowing that my story is similar to others, that I am not alone, that maybe someone may be given the same courage that was given me from one of my friends who went through a similar experience around the same time that I did.
I speak. I open my mouth. There are very few people on this earth that know all the details. My therapists, my pastors, the friends who walked with me through every moment. Even through speaking, though, I will omit some details. I will speak as one who WAS a victim.
But is a victim no more.