Walk the Land Chapter 6
**I am including a trigger warning in this chapter as it deals with and describes sexual assault.
**Names that contain an asterisk next to them are fictitious. Events are real.
People are shocked to learn that so and so committed suicide.
“So and so didn’t exhibit any signs,” they whisper, or
“so and so seemed so normal.”
The degradation of trauma and mental illness is an easily cloaked mask for those of us who are used to living in pain. To represent to the world our inherent normalcy and try to somehow seamlessly fit in among the world around us. But if you’re watching, if you’re really watching the subtleties and paying attention to body language, “warning” words spoken, or lack thereof, all the signs are there. You just have to listen, with your ears, but most especially with your heart. This is where a heightened sense of awareness comes in; a God-wink, a moment in time where you focus on the other rather than yourself. I always thought back then, how could nobody see the signs? Sometimes when God is trying to get our attention, we choose to look away.
I called what I did “silent screaming” because that’s what it was, as my behavior was a clear manifestation of my trauma. Bouts of isolation, insomnia, cutting, older boyfriends- every red flag was there. I think back and wonder, did anyone see me? Did anyone notice? The answer was clearly no, as I dove deeper into depression with the mask still firmly tight on my face.
In my isolation, I longed for love, and I found it in an older man named *Cleo. Cleo ran a gym right across from my house, and because of my mental state, I desperately wanted to be in physically good shape. That idea took off when one of my best friends, *Selina, decided that we should do our high school bodybuilding contest. I thought it was a great idea to be able to pour my pain into something bigger than myself, something intensely physical that might help melt away that pain and replace it with something worth living for.
Cleo was the owner of the gym, in his 30’s, married with a kid. He took a liking to me right away, and agreed to train both Selina and me for the competition. But I started to notice his preferential treatment of me right away, like giving me expensive sports drinks, bars, and other items with no charge attached. He told me everything that a 16-year-old sexual abuse victim needed to hear. Looking back, I wonder if these pedophiles read off the same damn script.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Missio Dei to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.