Content Warning: This post is about sexual assault. Please take care of yourself and know that it’s okay to skip this one.
My Awakening, Part 2 – The Pussy Grab
2016 was a year that shook me relentlessly to wake up. The contentious political landscape assaulted my senses every day, and I couldn’t look away. Then one morning in October, an old video of presidential candidate Trump bragging about grabbing women by their pussies surfaced.
I experienced a seismic shift in my body. I knew exactly what it felt like to have a brazen stranger-danger man grab me in the most intimate place without permission.
I couldn’t imagine a world where a man like this would be elected president. Yet he was. And plenty of people I knew voted for him. Every single one of those votes felt like a personal slap, a tacit choice to look away and do nothing when I was assaulted.
I knew that was maybe an unfair assumption to lay at their feet, especially because I had shared with very few people how many times I had been grabbed without my consent, but it was also how I felt.
I had no idea what the way forward was going to look like, but I would no longer be able to stay silent. I was awake in a most uncomfortable way, and I felt jangly in my body, unable to settle.
In 2017, I wrote an award-winning essay called “Pink Hats” about this personal reckoning to reclaim my safety in my body. And for a time, telling the stories of when I’d been grabbed soothed the wound that had been ripped open when that video aired. I was seen and heard and supported, and I felt like I had contributed to the public conversation around consent.
But I could tell in an ache that wouldn’t dissipate that there was more to unearth. I felt too afraid to look closely because I really didn’t want to know what more might be lurking in my depths. The pussy grabs were horrific enough.
A few months later, I began to journal love notes to my body. Every time I thought about writing a note to my vagina, I resisted. Her voice became louder, and I kept throwing side-eye glances her way, hoping she’d shut the hell up. Of course, she wouldn’t.
One day she was so loud that I had to write her a love note. I opted for a light, grateful tone and wrote some shallow bullshit as a peace offering. My olive branch was rejected.
So in anger and trepidation, I started to write the real, honest, gritty love letter that had been waiting for a voice. And in that place of vulnerable compassion, I was finally able to admit—to myself—that I had been raped. The ugly, shameful, cesspool of a memory that I had always tried to write off as a bad one-night stand was exposed for the assault that it was.
I had been carrying that soul-eating secret truth around for close to 20 years.
Lightness ripped through my darkest shadows. It felt godawfully painful and liberating at the same time.
I next told my intuitive energy healer and worked through the pain at an energetic level.
And finally, I told my husband. With his loving support, I physically released so much of the pain and shame. I threw up and then laid on the cold bathroom floor as heat waves radiated off me. And he was there to love me through the physical purging of this violation.
When I wrote Love Letters to My Body, multiple beta readers wanted to know where the “Dear Vagina” letter was. They expected such an integral, powerful body part to have a letter. She did have a letter, of course. But her letter wasn’t for public consumption. I don’t know if it will ever be. And I don’t owe it to anyone.
Making peace with my body is between the two of us.
The memory is still hard, but its texture has changed completely. It no longer holds power over my sense of worth. I am not diminished by it.
For decades, thinking that I was “keeping” peace, I hid from the truth of being assaulted, a truth my body couldn’t deny. When I let myself awaken, when I finally acknowledged what I’d experienced, I allowed myself to begin to heal and actually to “make” peace with my body.