This is not who I am.

This is not who I am.

junioryr1This photo has been sitting on the edge of my dining room table for three weeks, I keep staring at her. Today I finally realized what I feel when I look at her, and it is resentment. Her pretty hair and tanned skin and genuine smile make me angry. She’s 16 years old, a virgin. She’s an honour student with plans to go to law school. She has hope.

Now she’s a painful reminder that I don’t get to be any of those things again. Someone should tell her that her dreams don’t come true.

You don’t go to law school. By your 4th year of university you’ll have started running away from your life and you won’t stop. You think you’ll be married by 25 and have a family by 30. You’ll get married at 27 and divorced just two years later. But you’ll be okay. Your dreams, like everyone’s dreams, will evolve. You’ll have a successful career and you’ll travel all over the world…alone.

You’re ready to grow up. Your friends are having sex, and you want to but you’re scared. Your first time will be a disappointment but you’ll lie and say it was magical because the movies tell you it should be. Your second time will destroy you, it will be 10 years before you even acknowledge it was rape. A year from now you will be the school slut. The popular girls will hate you because of who you fucked. You will own it because you have no other choice, and it’s better to be a slut than a victim.

The picture is a reminder that this* isn’t who I am. This is something that happened to me. And I don’t know if that makes it better or worse.

* This. I’m getting ready to run away again. I’m leaving yet another city behind, in search of something that makes me feel whole. I’m in the middle (or perhaps at the end) of a cycle of depression. Nothing matters to me. But I’m not hopeless; I know that this, too, shall pass. I’ll find my way back to feeling passionate, being open, and liking myself. I’ll probably cut my hair and start styling it, I might wear colours. Maybe I’ll even let someone in.

I’ll never be that girl again. I’ll never be naive or optimistic because I’ve become a person who thinks the latter is a symptom of the former.

I’m not cynical, I’m not negative or cold or dark or troubled. This is not who I am. This is something that happened to me.

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Lauren Reid is the founder of When You're, a three time survivor of rape who built this community to let other survivors of sexual violence know that they're not alone. When you're ready, I'll be here.



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