Fragmentary, Post 4: Picking Up the Pieces
Still Lots of Healing to Do, But I’m On My Way
by Ashlee Bednar, Unspoken Voices Contributor
Several things have tried to break me throughout my life. I had to move from one state to another forcing me to leave all my friends and plans for the near future behind which was very difficult. I was also bullied when I entered my new home state. There was one girl who would try to pick fights, tried to make sure I never had any friends, and tried to make me think the worst about myself. These events were very tough to go through, but they are not what broke me.
I went off to college and was having the time of my life. I had a great boyfriend, amazing friends, and loved my classes and clubs. I was broken during my junior year. I was sexually assaulted twice in one night. Once by my boyfriend and another by the friend of my best friend. It was tough. I didn’t know what to do. I struggled with coming to terms with what had happened. I confided in a close friend. This friend of mine was there to witness my first assault. He helped me get past the initial shock and would tell me where my boyfriend was so I could avoid him while I figured out what I wanted to do. He also made sure I wasn’t alone.
Come that summer that friend shattered me. We went back to the hotel after a night of dancing and drinking one night that summer. I decided to sleep next to him to make sure he was okay throughout the night. I made him his own bed and I slept on the floor next to him. He sexually assaulted me while I slept.
I couldn’t believe what happened. This person I thought was my close friend, someone who helped me through my first assaults, and someone who spoke out against rape culture and advocated for awareness of power-based violence had done the unmentionable. He assaulted me.
To make things even worse, after I had started to pick up the pieces of my life again and started putting myself back together, he reached out. We talked and agreed to try to be friends. We made a plan to go speaking to schools and to events about sexual assault and what it does to the person. After months of planning and working on our friendship he ghosted me. He decided one day to no longer answer my texts and to avoid me at all costs. I was looking forward to our speeches, looking forward to use my experience to help others. He took that away from me.
After he left me all alone I didn’t know what to do anymore. I felt as though I couldn’t trust anyone. I didn’t want to do anything besides sleep. Sleep wasn’t even safe. I would have nightmares of the assaults. But it was the only time I didn’t feel the raw presence of just existing.
Throughout the next few years I would focus on picking up the pieces of myself. I started building new friendships and expanding on old ones, I buried myself in my work for Unspoken Voices (my new platform for healing), and I cut out toxic people from my life.
I am now a new person. I’m not the same person I was before the assaults. I’ve grown into something new. I am stronger; I am more vocal; I don’t let anyone walk all over me. I now know it was not my fault and I am not alone.
I still have a lot of healing left, but I can see the new me rising from the ashes.