Remember this day. I told myself to remember this day. This was the day when it all ended. This was the day I was raped.
It ended before I had words for it. .
My ability to sleep well. My ability to focus. My ability to trust. My ability to pray. My ability to believe. It all ended.
Months of therapy healed parts of my life, but it did not give me back the life I lost that day.
I learned to say the words. I learned to say “rape.” I learned to say “survivor.” I learned to own what I lost. And I vowed to remember. To remember the day I lost and survived.
I tell the story. Over and over again. At vigils, at rallies, in lectures. In print, online and in reassuring whispers. “I loved him and he raped me.” But I survived.
Rape was the story of my life. Whatever happened before then, ended. Everything after that day, was colored by it. It all changed in one day.
And then I forgot. Not a year later, or two years later or even five years later.
But one some random year later, I forgot. I remembered several days later. Maybe a week. Or a week and a half. I forgot to remember the day. To honor what ended. To speak a word for all of us who lost.
I forgot because I was grading papers. I forgot because I was nursing my daughter. I forgot because I was cooking Easter dinner. I forgot because I was busy … living.
When I wasn’t paying attention, I lived into new stories. I had new stories of love, hope and ordinariness. And I slept. And trusted. And prayed again. Not in the same ways. In new ways that I fought and studied and risked for.
It turned out that the end was not the end.
During this season when my Jewish friends find liberation in narrow places (this is what my scholar-friend says about Passover), and when Christians celebrate life amid and after death, I remember this day. I remember that I thought I lost it all. That I did indeed lose it all. I remember that life as I was happily living it came to an abrupt end.
This day is also the first day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is the first day of the season when we remember those who have experienced sexual violence. We remember those we us that we lost. We remember those of us who survived. We remember those of us who are still struggling to put one foot in front of the other in the winding road of recovery.
This is my love letter to all of us. God offers freedom in our narrow places. There is life after death. We emerge from the edge changed. This is notthe story of your life. It is one story of your life. It is one of your angrier stories; one of your most painful stories. But it is not the only story you will ever have. Some day, you will be so busy living your new life that you will forget when it all ended.
And this will remind you that it’s okay to forget. It’s okay to stop mourning. It’s okay to get lost in a community with people who didn’t know you before it ended. If you forget the exact day it ended…. if you stumble over the memories days or weeks later, rejoice. But the end is not the end.