Say the Words, Part 2

Say The Words: Confronting Childhood Sexual Abuse. {Part 2} ~ Jillian Locke


I’m glad he pushed me to say the words.

Grateful, even.

And that’s the only thing I’ll ever, ever be grateful to him for. Well, maybe that’s not entirely accurate. There’s a school of thought that believes we choose our parents before we’re born; we specifically choose them because of the experiences we know we’ll have with them, for better or worse. And when it’s for worse, it’s because we know these experiences will push us to fight, to struggle, to die and live and die and live again.

This life with these people will make us who we are, and let’s be blunt here—we all need a little push. Sometimes a big push.

Other times, well, we need to be killed and resurrected over and over again until we finally say enough. Until we finally choose to accept our strength, our power, our path—the warrior’s path—and become more than we’d ever thought we’d be. On this path, we shed ourselves completely, often through years of self-abuse following years of being the victim at someone else’s hands.

We tear ourselves apart and throw ourselves into the same awful cycles that we’ve been conditioned to think we deserve.

We think we’re nothing because we’re told we’re nothing. We think we deserve what’s happened to us for something we’ve done wrong. We live with guilt but have no idea what we have to feel guilty for—no idea what we’ve done to deserve what we’re not even able to process yet.

I say yet because sometimes, we rise up to protect ourselves.

Well, our psyches do.

Our psyches shut down—send us into the night sky—and keep us there for a time. That time could be weeks, months, years, lifetimes. But as we continue to walk our path—as we continue to wake up—the walls our psyches have built to protect us begin to crack, and through those cracks, the light seeps in. This light comes to us in the dark—waking nightmares, violent flashbacks.

At first, we don’t understand what’s happening. We question it—deny it. We can’t process it quite yet.


But it keeps happening. The nightmares come more frequently; the flashbacks, more violently. We confide in a few friends, maybe even a family member if we’re feeling brave. We say the words even though it’s almost still not real. It can’t be real. It’s too hard to accept, to process. We’re not ready to accept the full truth.

Know what helps though?


When I started remembering, and not just remembering, but accepting, I felt validated. Every single intense, unexplained emotion, struggle, ongoing chronic psychological and emotional torment I’d ever experienced and not understood, started to become clear. Disparate pieces magnetized and started forming a picture.

A dark picture. A horrifying picture. A validating picture.

Because all of a sudden, for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like there was something wrong with me. I didn’t feel broken. I felt validated and strong and fucking powerful, because everything that I had lived and persevered through and triumphed over now had that much more weight. It all meant something so much more.

It provided fodder.

If you can ever get into a space that allows it to be understood and accepted that way, it provides the opportunity to develop the strength and will to face anything or anyone down. Any time. It’s almost as if nothing can hurt you anymore. As if every challenge is faced before it even presents itself. Every adversary defeated. Every battle, overcome and won. By a landslide.

I want to be in that space. I’m closer today than I’ve ever been.

That’s all we can ever ask, right?

To be one step closer to recovery and rejuvenation and rebirth with each day. Some people think each day brings us closer to death, and maybe that’s true. But maybe that only applies in the death of the self—the self we were made to believe we were limited to.

The self that was damaged and broken and left for dead.

The self that was so strong that someone felt compelled to ritualistically try to break and kill it because they were so broken and dead themselves.

To me, triumph over abuse is in these daily steps towards death and rebirth. These steps inch us out of survival mode into thriving mode. This process can and most likely will take a lifetime. There will be progress but it won’t happen overnight. Bit by painstaking bit. But it’s happening, regardless of whether or not you feel it or see proof of it. It’s happening. And you can’t give up.

Please. Whatever you do, don’t give up.

You’ve made it this far, which means other people have, too. And we all have a long road ahead of us, but we don’t have to walk it alone. The very act of traveling it is our triumph. The baby steps we take towards self-care and self-love, every day, are our battle cries.

The more we share, the more we heal.

The more we speak out and the less we isolate ourselves, the further away we move from victimhood into badfuckingass warrior status, which severs the power cord tying our future to our past.

Our past may have made us, but it will never define us, because that’s a very clear, very dedicated choice that is always up for grabs. It requires commitment and dedication and perseverance, but shit, we’ve got that in spades, don’t we.

We’ve already nailed that part—the final nail comes in the form of whether or not we allow the voice that isn’t ours to keep reverberating, keep telling us we can’t, don’t you dare, it’s all your fault, you’re not strong enough, smart enough, capable enough, worthy enough…

This is our path. We’ve already proved our worth by the very act of walking it and not succumbing to stepping off it. Even when we’ve detoured, we’ve come back. That’s how we learn. That’s how we find our way. That’s how we find each other.

Our words are breadcrumbs for those of us just finding our way. Our stories are roadmaps woven into the recovery of those whose chapters unfortunately mirror our own. Our crossroads are talismans for those facing the same choices because they, too, lost their way.

And that mountaintop in the distance? That’s hope. Connection. Unity. Solidarity. A voice for the voiceless. A face for the buried. A hand to help us up when we can’t see the trail in the darkness. And a smile to reassure us that no, we’re never, ever alone, and not only that—we can be happy. Whole. Okay.

We can have everything we’ve ever wanted, too, because we’re more than deserving. More than capable and strong and smart and beautiful and talented. More than worthy.

That smile says something else, too. It says that our lives matter. Our joy matters. Our recovery matters. And our stories not only matter—they’re essential.

It’s not whistle blowing—it’s truth telling. We need to tell our truths to give courage to those who are drowning in theirs.

The words I have tattooed on my wrists are “Fighte fuaighte,” a Gaelic phrase which translates into,

“Woven into and through each other.”

Our stories are woven into and through each of us. Our stories connect us, strengthen us, solidify us. They set us free. And the first step to that freedom is saying the words so we can write them.

It’s taken me 35 years, but I’m here, right now, finally setting my story free. Finally saying the words.

Now, I can finally begin the next chapter. I hope with all of my heart that you know you can, too. Always. At any time. Forever and ever.

We just need to say the words.


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