Respect yourself

Joey Garcia

I’m a 19-year-old au pair overseas. I met a gorgeous DJ, but after kissing on the beach, learned he’s 30 years old with a girlfriend and daughter, so I rejected him. Then a guy I wasn’t interested in asked me out. After drinks at a bar he owns, I felt sick. My memory is hazy, but I know he raped me. The next day I went back to his bar. We talked until he leaned close and unzipped my jeans. I told him to stop. He made me a margarita, I drank it and felt sick. He followed me to the bathroom and raped me. I spent the week drunk and letting guys use me. The DJ FaceTimed me. I told him everything. I called my parents and told them, too. I felt the DJ understood me, so I texted him the address of the home where I was working as an au pair so we could have sex. He bragged about it. The family heard the gossip, confronted me and no longer believed I was raped. The DJ won’t see me. I alternate between exhilaration at the beauty here and crushing depression. Please help.

You’ve experienced a lot of trauma, so feeling overwhelmed is normal. It would be worrisome if you felt no grief in response to your losses. The ability to recognize beauty around you and yet mourn the girl you no longer are is normal, too, at least in cases of spiritual depression.

I trust that you have already consulted the appropriate authorities regarding the assaults, so let’s discuss what it means to be free.

A drink or two is fun. But getting drunk means placing our life in the hands of whomever is around us. When we do, we are no longer free. We are slaves to their whims. Don’t use this insight to blame yourself for what happened; that’s not kind or helpful. It was not your fault.

Rather, choose accordingly from here forward. Trauma is a terrible wound but can also be a doorway to profound wisdom about ourselves and the kind of life we wish to create.

A question to ask yourself: Do I want a life of peace or chaos? Bringing a stranger into the home of the family you live with without permission was disrespectful to them, but also to you if you value serenity and happiness. If you value being cherished, you won’t hookup with a guy who has a girlfriend. If you’re a feminist, you won’t help a guy cheat on his girlfriend. Do you see? Choose actions based on values. Pick three values as guiding stars—your operating instructions for a better life.

Don’t torture yourself by replaying the traumas in your mind. Don’t judge yourself for hooking up with other guys after the assaults, either. But in therapy (and you must go to therapy), work toward giving yourself healthy attention so you don’t crave it from men. Desire is fleeting. But only a conscious heart cherishes and loves others. Construct a conscious heart in yourself by growing in self-awareness and self-care, so you can recognize a conscious heart in a man.

Meditation of the week
“Bending over backwards does not bring you the love and attention you crave, but having your own life, your own goals and a backbone will,” writes Sherry Argov. Who stands up for you?

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