I was in the middle of reading an article written by a survivor of rape when my favorite quote popped into my head:
“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance. The wise man grows it under his feet.” -James Oppenheim
It’s been an important quote to me for many reasons. In my darkest moments, when my past starts dragging me down, this quote reminds me that I have to try my hardest to be happy with the life I have now. It does no good to think of how great my life would be if I hadn’t been sexually assaulted, if my dad hadn’t been abusive, etc. It does no good to think “I’ll be happy when I’ve healed from my past.”
I’ve never been the type to wish my past had turned out differently, but I just realized that lately I’ve been caught in the trap of thinking that someday everything will be okay — that someday this will be behind me, and that is when I’ll be happy. If anything, that mentality is doing more harm than good. It’s time for a shift in perspective:
Patience. I will try to be happy and optimistic every step of the way. I am moving slowly, but I never stop moving or go backward. I will celebrate my victories and remember that there are more to come in time.
Compassion. It’s never going to be easy. Triggers will be a part of my daily life for the foreseeable future, but I can’t blame myself for not snapping out of it immediately or for getting triggered so often in the first place. These things are out of my control.
Acceptance. It’s time for me to really accept what’s happened to me, what it’s done to me, and what it will do to me for the rest of my days. I have faith that my life will improve with time, but I can’t keep telling myself that if I just wait, everything will be okay. I was sexually assaulted, for crying out loud. I am not okay. I might not ever be “okay” because this will always affect me in some way. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If I spend all my time thinking about that light at the end of the tunnel, I’ll be miserable until then. Screw that. I have better things to do.
Thank you for reading this article. You can find my backstory here.