I’ve been beaten, I’ve been bloodied and yet I remain. I’ve been bloodied by my own murderous hand and yet I stand. Simple facts but they don’t define me. My rape is not who I am, but it is part of me. My suicide attempts are not who I am, but are the byproduct of who I believed I was. My cutting is not who I am, but a reminder of the belief I was not worthy.

I’ve been redefining me lately. Compartmentalizing the events of my life so I can better determine not what these events define me as but what I choose to define me as. I’ve come to this for who I am, at least for the time being.

I am a survivor.

I’ve defied the odds and survived what I wasn’t meant to survive. I survived my rape, two suicide attempts, cutting so bad it hospitalized me, psych wards, doctors and so much more. Yet here I stand a survivor. Against every odd I survived and that alone is worthy of recognition.

I am stronger than I thought I was.

I’ve found inner strength as my faith has returned. I know it’s god working in me. There is no other explanation. The fact I survive is testament to this strength. The fact I shouldn’t have survived is testament it’s god.

When I am weakest I need to draw from that strength. When I am strong it’s because of that strength. The strength of god will make me whole and bring me to the place where I do love myself.

I am worthy.

It’s taken a long time for me to realize I am worthy. I am worthy of love, I am worthy of respect, I am worthy of all I desire. My past clouded this for a long time. I believed who could love someone who has been raped, who doesn’t love herself, who is dirty and stained by her past. But my past isn’t who I am and I am worthy of love. To be loved and to give love.

I honestly felt I was not worthy because I had been raped. That no one would want a girl like me. I felt unworthy because I was called the slut. I felt unworthy because to survive I became the slut. It’s honestly amazing how cruel people can be and how judgmental to conditions they know nothing about. How becoming what they claim you are allowed a shelter from their judgment.

I like myself.

I can’t yet say I love myself. I don’t believe I do. But I like the person who is emerging after all these years. I’ve been working on forgiving myself for a while. I am worthy of that forgiveness.

Oh yeah forgive yourself Michelle, for what? For a long time I carried the burden of self-hate. I blamed myself for not fighting hard enough against the men who raped me. I blamed myself for the decision to not stay after and walk home with Martin. So much I placed upon myself when I am not to blame. I realize if I fought harder it wouldn’t have made a difference. I’d still have been raped.

I also realize we can’t look back and say I should have. It’s counterproductive and doesn’t change the here and now. All it does is confuse the facts that yes it happened, and yes it was awful. I still couldn’t have controlled it or changed it.

So at the moment I’m left with I like myself. But I’ll get to love. Love takes time. Loving yourself doesn’t mean vanity. It just means loving the person you are because you are loveable. It means accepting who you are and admitting to yourself you have value to others.

I can change my self-image.

I’m in the process of doing this now. My self-image was pretty low. For too long others defined my image, my past defined my image. Neither has the authority to define that image unless I relinquish the power and allow it to define MY self-image. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m on the path to reclaiming the definition of myself.

I have value.

As a human being I have value. Value beyond the sum of my experiences. Value because I am a daughter of god. Value because I can contribute. I have value and I will share that value with the world. I’m not perfect but my internal currency is worth the same as anyone else.

I don’t deserve pain.

I don’t deserve pain, I deserve love. This has been probably the hardest lesson. For so long I cut to feel, pain was all that seemed real. I’ve been trying to stop and 2014 had some successes and some failures. I can’t say 2015 won’t have failures but it’s been a flawless year so far in the cutting department.

I’ve learned by allowing more than pain for myself that I’m healing. A lesson I’ll take to the shelters and others who are suffering when I can. Let the pain out and don’t be ashamed or afraid to feel. Pain is normal and it will pass.

I am smart.

My intellect and wit are gifts from god as well. I am smart and I shouldn’t be ashamed of that. But I also shouldn’t feel because I am smart I can solve the world’s problems. Hell I can’t even solve my own. But I can use these smarts to help where I can. I don’t have to worry about solving everything. I just need to worry about giving the best of myself to others and to myself.

If I can always just give my best, it may not solve the problem but it may give enough clues to start that process moving. I am smart and that is part of my worth to society and to myself.

I am beautiful.

To think I am not does no service. I am a beautiful person. Not because outside is pretty, or because of my body. I am pretty because inside I am pretty. I have a kind heart, and a caring spirit. These and the desire to give to others anything I am capable of giving makes me a beautiful person. Yes I am beautiful.

I have a past.

So what, don’t we all? Learning to put it into perspective and grow from it is the essence of humanity. The spirit god gave every person is good, the power to do good is part of humanity. To take the past and change it to good is part of his design. Free will means freedom to choose to be good or evil in what we do. When evil is used upon us it’s a moment of growth.

What we choose to do with that moment is how our past is defined and how we control the definition of ourselves. I’m making choices now in taking my evils committed against me by others and by myself and change them for what god would smile upon. Take the bad and transform it to a good.

I don’t think god is absent these transformations. Some evils like rape are so devastating, I think god is required to change it, transform it into something of worth.

MY past gives me a pretty unique perspective into other rape victims. What they are feeling and how to move forward. So much good can come from my past.

My past gives me a unique perspective into depression, loneliness, cutting, self-harm and so much more. I’ve lived it. I’m concurring it. Sure it’s a process, but it’s one I’m intimately familiar with.

My past does not make me dirty or unlovable. I could do nothing to stop the rape. It wasn’t my fault. I did nothing wrong and have nothing to be ashamed of. So much was stolen and from the devastation my life remains and has value. I remain lovable and worthy.

How am I changing my future?

First I’m dealing with my past and learning to love me in the here and now. That has to happen before I can move on as a whole and satisfied person. But during this process something else is happening.

I’m going back to school for a degree in psychiatry and law. I want to help change laws to better protect victims. The study of law will help me understand it better. Today so many suffer needlessly. Like me and the reappearance at parole hearings. Victims and their families should never have to relive the nightmares. The law should protect the victims.

I want to make changes to how rape victims are treated immediately following the rape as well. I’ve written about this traumatizing event in my blog. Inside my rape part 2. I want to ensure moving forward there are processes in place that are less intrusive. I’m not sure how yet but I am sure I can make a difference.

My degree will take me years to get. But at the end of all this that will be the good from the evil. The good will be my unique perspective as a former victim and an ability to empathize in ways most can’t dream of. That will be the ultimate in good from the evil. And it won’t happen without hard work, god and the love and support of family and friends.

So many more changes coming for me. I’ve got a long road still I think, but I can see the end product. I can see a world where I am loved, I am valued and I contribute to help others.

I can see it all can you see? My transformation from victim to victor. From the evils done to me to the good I can give because of it all. God is working his miracles and I can see them happening here in real time in the here and now.

I’m ready, willing and able to be transformed! It’s not the easy thing. No it’s perhaps the hardest thing I’ve done so far. Why? Because I might be at the helm but I’m far from in control. I have to lay the trust out naked and exposed. It’s scary hard and I’m loving watching it happen.

~Michelle