Again and again and again, I'm seeing the comments saying "her life is ruined."
Her life is different, certainly.
But ruined? Not necessarily.
Let's be careful with our words, please. Because when you say her life is ruined because of her rape, it sounds like you're saying my life was ruined by each of mine. But this?
She knows, I know, 1 in 6 women, 1 in 33 men know a darkness that can threaten at any moment. For her, it might be a glimpse of a dumpster, an ordinary scrape on her arm that's too much like the ones she woke up with, an article about a swimming prodigy. For me, it can be an unanticipated touch, a certain kind of bush that was nearby then, any moment when I have trouble catching my breath because I couldn't breathe then. For you, if you've survived the darkness too, you have your own list of triggers that can put you back in that moment.
One ugly chapter - maybe you could even call it a ruined chapter - doesn't define our stories, though. Rape doesn't get that power. Darkness doesn't get the last say.
Therapy helps. Friends help. My husband helps. (Oh, how he helps!) Snuggles from little ones I love help. My dogs help. Being safe now helps. Sharing my secrets in safe places helps.
But the darkness still threatens, often when I least expect it.
That doesn't mean my life is ruined. Changed, yes.
Her life is changed. Right now, in the pain of all she's endured with the assault and examination and continual revictimization throughout the trial and sentencing? She might feel ruined. She is fully entitled to that. I have a faint scar on my wrist from a failed attempt of ending the ruin once, many years ago. But that scar wasn't the end of my story. (Thank you, God, for the grace of being woozy at the sight of too much blood.) And now? The word enough is permanently etched into my skin below that line. Nothing about what happened to me robbed me of being enough.
My story wasn't over then, not in the moments or the aftermath. Neither is hers. In her statement, not to mention her tenacity in seeing this case through to its unjust end, she has shown the bravery she'll need to keep waking up each morning and fighting the darkness when it comes.
As for me, I keep a post it note in my car to remind me that the darkness doesn't win.
Some days I need to read it more than others. Some days I need to scream in secret places. Some days I need to have a hot sweaty workout. Some days I need to eat all the sugar. (Don't judge.) Some days I need to text a friend to say I'm hurting. Some days I need to rewatch Pitch Perfect for the hundredth time because it always makes me laugh. Some days I rest in God's arms, and some days I wrestle with him, and some days I give him the silent treatment. Some days I take a break from Facebook. Some days I post passionately there, because using my voice on behalf of the vulnerable soothes sore places in my heart. Some days I have to talk something through with my therapist by phone in between sessions. Some days I say all the bad words and make up some of my own. Some days I need to have a dance party in the kitchen to remind myself of all the light in my life.
Every day I get out of bed again, because this life - even when it's hard - was never ruined.
Neither is hers.