For the record, this? Is not something I talk about. But, today, it’s dying to come out so, empty Word document, meet my brain, I guess.
When I decided to go back to college, I was 24 years old. I was a “freshman” with an eighteen year old roommate and I never thought I’d get myself together enough to overcome the fact that I had walked away from a good paying a job, a budding relationship and independence to put myself back into a college setting. But, I did. I felt called to be there.
I made friends, I grew and my passion for telling stories and wanting to make an impact started what would turn into this blog, and this blog is becoming something I hope will be my career. Maybe, someday.
But, nevertheless, there was a scared girl inside of the woman that I was morphing into. She had zero self-confidence and wanted to be accepted on the deepest of levels. I still didn’t love myself enough to know how to be loved well or what love actually looked like. So, I just participated in the culture that was being built around me in terms of dating and romance, and by in large, that culture on a Christian college campus looks like Mach-Speed Hair On Fire, in love in a month. It’s crazy.
So, when a man that I had lots of respect for started texting me often, I was flattered by the investment in our friendship. I was thankful that he even noticed me on a level past “Hello”. Honestly? I relished the attention. I craved the “You’re Beautiful”, “You’re Smart”, “You’re Funny.” And the “I Don’t Know Any Woman as Spiritually Strong as You Are”. These are things that every single woman in her right mind wants to hear a man say to her. So, it couldn’t be wrong, could it?
A few months into the showers of compliments and conversation, the messages he was sending me started getting more physical. Sexual. I didn’t quite know what to do, except to ignore them, accept the apologies that came after and move on. Until the day that those messages? Came with photos. I called him, calmly told him I was going to call the police if he did that again and they stopped. I promptly left the ministry that we worked with together and cut interactions with him out of my life. I was free.
So, why am I still embarrassed? I stood up for myself. I was woman, I roared. He listened, the end. Right? Wrong. I let this go on in secret for a long while. I was afraid of the exposure. But, now, what happens when any man sends me a text message, or calls me or wants to hang out with me, I question motives. I wonder if I’m just there to fill a void. I start to feel like I should apologize for everything about myself and my personhood. This is the aftermath that I’m dealing with and healing from.
Throughout the entire ordeal, and some other things that happened because of it, I swore off dating. (I’m still not totally on that train yet, but, if God wants me to meet Fergus, he’s going to make it happen, right?)
I even swore off most friendships with men, and my good ones changed. I couldn’t be vulnerable. I couldn’t be open. I closed myself off to really feeling anything deeper than an apathetic “meh” toward anyone male. I’ve gotten help, I’m moving forward and I’m a completely different person now. Help is real, self-image healing is real.
Sexual Harassment is not your fault. If it’s happening to you or someone you love, get help. Cry out, be loud and obnoxious about it because you were created by a God who thinks you are masterful. You are created to be loved like Christ loved the Church. You are worth so much more than leftovers.
So, this today is my love letter to the guys that stuck around. The new ones, the old ones and the ones to come. You have been nothing but joy-filling, life giving, strong, safe places for me and I am forever thankful. Thank you for being kind when I apologize for myself. Thank you the hugs and the high fives. Thank you for allowing me space to heal while still invading my dark parts. Keep up the good work.