February 12, 2017 marked 15 years as a survivor.
On February 12, 2002 I was violently raped by someone I loved and trusted. A childhood friend I would never have thought capable of doing this to anyone.
Every February is a brutal month of surviving, mentally reliving what happened, and remembering I’m here, alive, and though I was broken I pieced myself back together. I’m not who I was before it happened, that girl died. I’m someone and something else.
It gets easier every year, but only by small measurements. I spent February 12, 2017 painting all day, and couldn’t stay awake past 8pm. I had to force myself to stay awake so I could take my medication at 9pm. I woke up a half dozen times, sweating, shaking, and finally got out of bed at 10am.
This is my first self-portrait in over ten years. My last was done in college and only as an assignment.
I never thought I’d create a self-portrait. I love the way I look in photographs, and I used a photograph as reference. It’s just…so different than what I thought it would be. I have more texture to my face, more lines, and as I study the photograph while drawing I’m seeing more details than I thought were there.
Many would call them flaws.
They’re the marks of a survivor, battle scars, memory lines.
This isn’t the face of me 15 years ago. It isn’t the face of the naive 18-year-old girl. What I’m drew is the face of a 33-year-old woman who has seen, felt, experienced, and survived everything life has thrown at her.
I never thought I’d see this face. Suicide was always tugging, pulling, held by the weight of shame, guilt, grief, self-loathing, self-hatred, and so many other emotions. I was broken for so long.