This I Believe

Kristie - 33647, Florida
Entered on October 22, 2006

People often ask me why I’m so nice. I’m nice because I believe that I can control my life. I can either choose to be positive, or choose to be negative. I’ve chosen the negative path for most of my life and I’ve learned that all it leads to is empty feelings and isolation. Being positive has been much more fulfilling.

The process in becoming the positive person I’ve chosen to be was all but easy. It began with Raphael. A name that has haunted my thoughts, taunted my dreams, and mocked my very existence. I don’t think anyone has ever made me feel more vulnerable and powerless. I was living in Costa Rica with my grandparents. They were out of town at the time and my aunt was in charge in their absence. Raphael was her “partner” who happened to be married. My cousin, my brother, and I were ordered to clean the whole house. I was 5 and so was my cousin. My brother was four. I can’t fully remember in detail; it happened eleven years ago. It all comes in flashes. All I remember is hearing footsteps, scrambling to hide under the bed, a tall shadow, being dragged, screaming, whip, shrieking, beating, burning, red marks, my cousin, my brother, blood, grunt, moaning, and huddling. It felt like an eternity. I was beaten and confused. That was the last time I saw Raphael, but his memory was burned into the back of my skull.

Before Raphael I was a relatively happy child; Carefree, loving and trusting. After Raphael, I was a depressed brewing pot of misery and shame too scared to express myself. Letting my pain stew and simmer, it dictated my mood, my personality and my life. At times I would be helpful, friendly and try my best never to hurt anyone. I took on the role of protector. The next year, I would seek revenge, start fights and act like an angel when the teachers looked my way. I became the bully. It wasn’t until I went to therapy that I realized that my rollercoaster attitude needed to change. After five sessions and many hours of crying, I finally felt comfortable enough to share my nightmare. I was even brave enough to say his name out loud.

I learned that I have to let go. It happened and there is nothing I could have done to prevent it. The sooner I forgive myself, the sooner he will loose control over me. I decided I can start trusting people again. Nobody can hurt me. I am no longer weak. For the very first time I felt free. I am no longer bowing down to an invisible power. Raphael can no longer hurt me. I am in control, on a new path, in the right direction.