Tuesday, December 1, 2015


We have all heard news that shook us. News that nothing we've ever experienced prepared us to hear. News that changed our lives. I received such a call this year and haven't been vocal about it because I'm still contemplating its impact. It's impossible to know what's appropriate, normal, or reasonable after hearing that the person who raped you was murdered.

As the news spread, posts went out on social media about his death and I felt even more isolated from my family than usual. I didn't share their collective grief. Each picture of his smiling face that our family members posted—his and mine—taunted me. It was a painful barrage reminding me that his presence railroaded mine. While I could acknowledge that what he did wasn't the sum total of who he was, that acknowledgment didn't erase his face from my nightmares nor change who he was to me.

All I could comprehend was numbness, an emotional flatline which led me to question who I had become. Who hears that a life ended and can't definitively own sadness or sorrow? What kind of person isn't immediately grieved upon hearing that someone is no longer living? Had I allowed what happened to harden me?

My questions were not productive. Attaching adjectives and judgments to what I felt was not helping me progress down this unusual path. I needed to simply feel what I felt. All I could articulate was, "I never wanted to see him again, but I never wished him harm," and at times, "I never wished him harm, but I never wanted to see him again." That was my truth and I had to accept that my truth was sufficient.

When life delivers news that takes the wind out of you, allow yourself the freedom to feel whatever you feel. Progression can only be made through a lens of honesty and if you attach judgment to your feelings you will not be truthful. Over time, discovering how you live with that news may help you articulate them, but you aren't required to come up with a list of feelings and place them in right/wrong or kind/unkind columns. Instead of forcing yourself to have certain feelings or judging the ones you do have, catch your breath and focus on life after—after the news—so that you can understand its impact and minimize its destruction.

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