Let me introduce myself.
I am a recovered alcoholic. This plays a large part in my story. I started drinking to blackout when I was 15 years old, it became my weekend pastime. The weekend after my sixteenth birthday, I was at a hotel room party in flea-bottom motel. I had drank so much I passed out in a dark room. I lost my virginity to one of three people that had entered the room I was sleeping in. I felt as if people gossiped about me because this had happened to me. I blamed myself, it didn't occur to me until years later that that was rape. My desire to drink overpowered my need to be safe. I ended up having sex with many people while heavily intoxicated. I don't know if they knew that that was not consent. Maybe some were ignorant, or intoxicated as well, but I'm sure many of them had been aware of their wrong.
When I was seventeen, a month before I turned 18, I was once again heavily intoxicated. Witnesses say I could barely stand. I was taken into a back room and assaulted by multiple men. I didn't know about it until a relative called my mother to tell her they had found multiple condoms in the room that I had woken up in. I remember crying in shame. It took just moments for me to decide to hate myself. I started to drink more and abuse marijuana. Anything to curb the pain.
Meanwhile my mother had taken me to the police station to report the sexual assault. I had a rape kit taken, but I had already showered that morning so it wasn't helpful. During the interview the police kept asking me if the men were these other men that they were trying to arrest, these men were not the same men. They told me that this was a case of "he said, she said." That their lawyers would tear me down in court. They asked me if I could handle that. I told them I couldn’t, and I declined to press charges. I had flash backs constantly. I was paranoid that everyone was talking about me. I remember having a conversation with a non-native boy from my high school on MSN Messenger. I confided in him — I guess so I could have someone believe me — about being raped. He didn't say what I needed to hear. He said, "You weren't raped, everyone knows Native girls are sluts." I remember lying in my bed afterward, screaming. My mother came in and asked me if I was okay. I don't know what I told her, but she left me alone.
Around this time, I started to speak up to women in my peer group, "What happened to me was rape." In this crowd, I was one of the first to say that that was rape. Yet I felt so alone. I drank and I drank.
I was violently assaulted a couple years later when I was 20. The people that heard me screaming told me the next morning that it was my fault. And they laughed. They acted as if I deserved it because the way I was behaving was “slutty”. I suffered minor injuries that hurt for several days.
Between the ages of 20-25, I attempted suicide 16 times. The last time I attempted suicide I had to be intubated and was unconscious for two days in the hospital. I had also, in this time period, cut my hair off, in my mind, it was to be less desirable.
When I was 21 I met a man more afraid of me then I was of him. At the time I believed that I could never be loved. But he loved me.
This goofy guy. Nerds are the best.
Our relationship started off quickly, we married after three months, so I could move with him to a different state. Our marriage hasn't always been good, but we have made progress. The progress started when I joined a twelve step program so I could stop drinking. My growth sparked his growth. I've been sober and clean nearly seven years. I'm far from the broken girl I had once been.
When I was a year sober, six years ago, I met a woman who was struggling like I had struggled, and for the first time I could say, "I've been where you are, and this is what I did to get better, and I think you can get better too." After I told her that, I stopped being angry at myself. I learned to love myself, flaws and all, because I am a survivor. I made it through the darkest time in my life, not only just surviving, but becoming stronger, braver, smarter. I am so grateful for the life I live today.
It's important to say that I have a medical condition, which is called PTSD. I see medical professionals to treat this condition. I’ve been in therapy, off and on, for 14 years. I see a psychiatrist. I monitor my moods, my triggers, my state of mind. Back then, I used to think that I'd never be happy again. I was wrong. I'm happy. Sometimes I get sad, but getting through the sad times just makes the happy times so much better.
I'm a survivor.
I'm a good wife.
I'm a good mother.
I'm a good friend.
I have always been, and will always be, a good human being.
Writing this has been painful, I feel as if a scream had been caught in my stomach and has no way out. But I am brave, and I can help someone. "I've been where you are, and I made it through. I'm finally happy.”