“Shame is so often tied to secrets. I don’t have secrets anymore.”

I had made it disappear. It was a magic trick—a rabbit stuffed back into a hat, a birdcage collapsed onto a canary, a woman being sawed in half. All I had to do was flash a black cloak over it and it would be removed from my memory.

I had made it disappear. 

But it was never really gone. It lurked in the shadows of my mind, skittering in and out of cognizant memory like a wounded animal seeking refuge among towering trees in a dim, overgrown forest. Leaping between shadows, I would sometimes catch it as it crossed the light of my awareness.

I had been invaded, and in the restrictive and cloudy world I had convinced myself of habituating in, there was nothing that could be done. Just a magic trick.

It whispered, unsolicited, too closely to my skin. I felt it burn my insides; causing me to shirk, jolt, away from even the most tender of touches. An unfamiliar noise in my home, an echo of footsteps at the end of the day, would cause my bent neck to uncoil upwards, fusing my jaw into a single position while my eyes would widen and shift sideways. The loudest thing I could hear was my own heartbeat.

I feared everything. Years later, the flood came. Every inkling, every pounding heartbeat, every shivering sob, every inexplicable jump and feigned “I’m fine” refused to be dammed any longer. Memory funneled out of my gut, blasting through what felt like every single vessel of my body, until it burst out of my mouth like vomit. My body shuddered, my face buried in my hands, the kind of sorrow that crosses tears and mucus and saliva and finally, after hours of exhaustive expulsion, liberation had begun. 

The parts of myself that I had allowed to be erased were filling in with the divinely intended vibrancy that I had arrived to this earth possessing. I knew more than ever that I was buttressed by angels—a sense here, a rush of emotion there—I was emboldened by truth.

Every day, further clarity comes as the light drives out the darkness. Relinquishing the ownership of a violation of my humanity has been one of the most painfully exquisite quests of my life. And now, scarred yet thriving—

I fear nothing.