My journey began years after the incident, when I finally chose to forgive myself and let myself heal. As I mentioned before, after the incident, I studied abroad in Europe. I stopped having a period once I got there, and for weeks I didn’t sleep, so terrified that I might be pregnant with his child. I replayed the night in my head, and imagined what I might do if his baby were inside me. A professor in the study abroad program confronted me about my lack of sleep and my slipping grades. She encouraged me to seek help. Instead, I went to a pharmacist and bought a pregnancy test. Not pregnant. Relieved, but still burying the pain deeper and deeper, I began spending my nights drinking until I was drunk, until the pain felt far away and the world seemed glossy and dreamlike. My depression and the drinking continued into the next semester, back at school. I lost friendships because I stopped answering texts and calls from the people who were worried about me. I spent my days lying in bed, numb, skipping class, anxiously observing my life spiral downward. I spent my nights partying, temporarily silencing the negative thoughts through my reckless behavior. I dropped out of school and spent a semester waitressing back home. A close friend who had stayed in touch gave me a serious pep-talk. She reminded me of who I was, and encouraged me to go back and get my degree.
After going back to school and finishing my final semester, I graduated college and moved to a new city, where I knew I could start fresh. There, I found the therapist who would help me rebuild my life, find my true self, and finally heal from the incident. Thanks to her, I learned to set boundaries, confront my deepest fears, self-soothe, forgive myself, and ultimately, love myself. Amidst this healing process, I met a wonderful man and began a new relationship that has now become a wonderful, healthy marriage full of respect and love. I put in a lot of hard work during my four years of therapy, but I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am now had it not been for my incredible therapist. She also guided and encouraged me when I chose to get sober and faced the initial obstacles of sobriety. It was her wisdom, compassion, and talent for healing that inspired me to change careers and pursue this path of becoming a clinical psychologist.
I am still healing in some ways. I have not fully forgiven myself for not reporting the incident. On very rare occasions, when I am alone, I look at his social media profiles. I look at his pictures, and wonder if he ever hurts the girl in his photos. I wonder if he ever thinks about that night, if he ever even realized what he did. I wish I had confronted him, I wish I had told someone, I wish I were brave enough to tell him now. I still carry these feelings with me, but I am moving forward in my journey and continue to heal each day through self-care, forgiveness, and love.