I like the picture at the top of my blog. Even though it was a wordpress stock photo, I may just keep it. Even though it looks like it is a dude traveling down that path alone, and I am not a dude, I still like it. It is such a picture of the road that survivors travel. During the years of being abused, survivors of trafficking are completely alone. Life goes on around us. I went to school and church, did chores, fought with my siblings, and participated in life. This is true of many survivors – we continue to participate in life, whatever that looks like. But we experience a surreal, alternate reality. It’s a little like being totally submersed under water in a pool. You can hear all the activity up above, but it is muted. And no one can hear you.
Strangely, this feeling has never stopped for me, and I am guessing it is that way for a lot of survivors. Life goes on around me and I participate, much more fully than before. I can grab hold of moments, and find true joy around me. My mind isn’t divided between worlds anymore, and weeks can go by without a thought of my old life. But there is still an aloneness that stays with me. It’s hard to explain. And if you looked at my life now, you would never know. I have an amazing, blessed “typical” American life. But on so many days, I feel awkward to be in this life.
I think this comes from living with a part of my past that has to be a secret. My traffickers are still alive. And they know where I live. So, I live with that. For the safety of my family, I cannot really share my story, even with those friends I am “close” to. In my particular situation, there is a network of people that were involved in my abuse, so I am aware of their ongoing, but unseen “presence.” As in, they would be there if I crossed a line. So I never will. And that’s ok with me.
Because I went through so much of my healing at a time when no one wanted to believe my kind of story, this has impacted my feelings of loneliness greatly. I think the most alone I can feel to this day is in church. I’m still working on that.
And that’s why I love the idea of an online anonymity that allows survivors to connect. It brings a measure of healing to my aloneness when I read a post from another anonymous survivor, and I feel like there is really someone out there who gets it.
Today, I hope there is just one person reading this who feels a little less alone in this world.