As many of you know after my last few posts, I was in an abusive relationship, and shortly after that ended, I was raped. During this time in my life, I felt like I was spinning out of control. I felt as though no matter what I did, I couldn't function normally. I was scared to do even the most basic of things, such as walking to the sidewalk to pick up my mail from my mailbox, or leaving my house at all.
These events that had happened to me, were controlling my life, and therefore I was literally disabled from living. I could barely breathe, let alone confront the outside world. It was at this time that I started therapy. That decision to go every week for those 7 years, was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It gave me my life back. It made me be able to live without fear. It gave me a 2nd chance.
After I was raped, I had to take life 60 seconds at a time. What I mean by that is that I would have to tell myself, "Okay Jill, you made it through the last 60 seconds, so you can make it another 60 seconds." Anything more than those 60 seconds, was impossible to face. There were some days where it was every 30 seconds. During this time, when my PTSD was controlling my life, I had to find something that would bring me peace, something that would help get me through the day. That's when I found my rock.
When I started therapy I was a wreck mentally, and emotionally. I felt as though I was used, and would never be lovable again. I felt like I was a dysfunctional woman and I'd never again be a whole person. I was broken. After all, how could someone love me, want me, and accept me, after all I had been through? How could someone want to have someone in their life that's broken?
It was at this time that my therapist recommended having a physical item that could bring me peace. Something that I could focus all my energy on when my anxiety made it impossible to breathe. Something that made it okay for me to slowly start leaving my home. Something that gave me courage, strength, determination, and peace. That "something" was a perfectly oval, and pure white, river rock. Yes, a physical rock.
When I first started carrying my rock with me, it had little bumps, and crevices, all over it. Whenever my PTSD/Anxiety, would grip me, I'd hold that rock in my hand and rub my thumb back and forth, all over it. Over time I slowly smoothed out that surface. My once bumpy, and rough rock, started to become smooth, and even more beautiful. It also made me able to start to live again.
I carried this rock with me everywhere I went. I would have it in my pocket, and when I felt like I couldn't take another breath, I would start to rub my rock, and force myself breathe. I had made it 60 seconds. I could make it 60 more.
At night when my thoughts overwhelmed me, and I couldn't sleep, I would hold my rock and rub it, forcing myself to take deep breaths. I don't know exactly what it was about this rock, but it was helping me cope. It was helping me focus. It was helping me live.
After about 4 years of having my rock, it started to wear down in the middle where my thumb would run over it. It almost looked as though I was starting to make a very small bowl. The bowl shaped rock, was proof that I was gaining control again.
This rock showed me that I could do anything. I could have strength to overcome my obstacles. It symbolized that what I had gone through, was not going to control my life. I was going to take that power back. I was going to go from being rough, sharp, and bumpy, to something smooth, strong, and beautiful. Those were things that I never thought would be possible again.
As time went on, I no longer lived 60 seconds at a time. It progressed to 3 minutes, then 5, then 25, then an hour. Over the course of those 7 years, I was finally able to live without being overtaken by time. I was able to simply wake up and live. I was finally able to start seeing the good in life again. I was starting to become "Jilly" again.
After those 7 years in counseling, I had slowly started to not need to go as much. I was now having an appt every month instead of every week. I was able to go back to the park where I was raped. I was able to speak to women in abused women classes about what happened to me, and how I was overcoming it. I was able to take these horrible experiences, and shape them into something beautiful. I was healing, and it all started with that rock.
I'll never forget the day when I realized that I didn't need that rock anymore. I had gone from carrying it with me 24/7 to carrying it in my purse, to then leaving it in the car, up to the day when I put that rock on a shelf in my bedroom, and walked away. It was the most carefree that I had been in over 7 years. It was the most peace I'd felt in over 7 years. It was the most beautiful feeling I'd ever had. The only way I can describe it, is that I felt alive again. I had overcome the darkness that enveloped me, and started to exude light.
The other day, Dave and I were having our pictures taken by one of the most beautiful Humans on the planet. Keith Baskett has a gift that I've never seen in anyone I've ever met. He has the ability to see light in someone, and then capture it. He has the capacity to see you as the most incredible person on earth, and he makes it possible for you to see that as well. He's simply an incredibly gifted photographer.
While getting these pictures taken, I was telling Dave about my rock, and why it was so special to me. The story got brought up because we were on the bank of a creek, and looking at all these beautiful, and unique rocks. As I was telling Dave my rock story, tears filled my eyes. I hadn't really ever told anyone about that story. The reason I was crying was because I saw for the first time, how far I had actually come. How I had overcome those particular trials in my life. I realized that I was able to love again, but more importantly I KNEW that I was once again lovable. It was such an amazing moment for me.
This picture is the most beautiful picture I've ever had taken, because it captured that moment. It captured everything that I had feared would be lost forever. It showed that I could tell my story without pain. It showed that I was proud of the woman I've become. It showed that I was able to be loved completely, and unconditionally, by another person in this world. The most incredible moment that this picture captured though, is that I was finally able to love Jill again. I love the person I've become, and it all started with my rock.
If you are struggling, or experiencing any of the feelings that I've experienced over the last 10 years of my life, you're not alone. Those feelings of loss, self criticism, pain, worthlessness, sorrow, guilt, remorse, anxiety, and feeling like you're unlovable, are very real, but they're not true.
You're worthy of being loved again. You're an incredible person, and you touch people's lives. You're important to many. You're important to me. You're enough just as you are. Most importantly though, is that you can do hard things, and come out on top. I know this because I've done it.
My hope to any of you reading this post, is that if you do feel some, or all, of these feelings, you'll know that you're not alone. You'll never be alone. I know that because you have me. You have someone that understands your pain, and heartache, and I still love you. You matter to me, and you're special to me.
If you can find the smallest piece of faith, know that you can overcome your hard times too. If you're too weak right now to have faith in yourself, let me offer my faith to you. I know you can do this. I know that you can become all that you want to be. I know that because I've done it. It is possible. You can get your life back. I promise. You can learn to live again too.