I believe that each challenge I face is another piece to the puzzle of my life. With just one of those pieces missing, or even out of place, the entire picture changes. Some of these moments are so subtle that no one can even tell they are occurring, but others are not. Those not-so-subtle moments of serious challenge change people so drastically, so suddenly, it is evident that the people we once knew are changing before our very own eyes.
I am not even 16 yet, and I’ve already experienced one of those drastic challenges. About a year ago, my friend and I decided to travel outside of our city, to a place where the street signs would be less familiar and the faces less inviting, and it was a decision that had a terrible outcome. I became the victim, and survivor, of abuse. I was drugged, taken advantage of, badly bruised, and the worst part of all – I had no recollection of any of it. I never would have thought that going to my friend’s house would send me home a different person; I didn’t think anything like this could happen to someone like me.
People continuously urged me to talk to someone – the nurses at the hospital, my friends, my family. But how could I, when I didn’t know what to say? So instead, I dyed my hair dark, distanced myself from my friends, and I was no longer my “bubbly” self – it hurt to laugh, it hurt to talk. I didn’t remember at all, but random sounds would trigger something in my senses, and bits and pieces of that night would return. Those bits and pieces haunted me.
It wasn’t until recently that I found myself again, at a church retreat I didn’t even really want to go to. Three days – with no knowledge of who texted me, what shows I was missing on TV, or even what time it was – was exactly what I needed. I might not have been able to talk to anyone, but I was definitely able to listen to others. I finally knew that I wasn’t the only one who felt nothing but emptiness inside for so long; I finally knew that I wasn’t alone.
Even though it no longer hurts to laugh, I’m not the same person I once was, and I probably never will be – the piece has been placed into my puzzle, but perhaps for the better. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, and now I am stronger, more mature, and not invincible, apparently. One day I will be able to tell my story, so other girls will too realize it could happen to them; but for now, all I have is my pen and my composition notebook.