If we continue to move forward in our healing, eventually we reach a place we never would have expected. We can look back and give thanks for our life. It's not that we're glad we were sexually assaulted. But we realize that as terrible as our childhood trauma was, we're actually better people for having gone through the pain.
First, of course, we have to go through the pain—through the shame, guilt, anger, despair, and a myriad of negative emotions. They are parts of our healing journey and as one wise man said, "The only way out of the pain is through the pain."
Second, if we continue to move forward, we learn to forgive our perpetrators. And as we've said on this blog many times, we do it for ourselves. We do it so we can continue to go forward. And for many of us survivors, forgiving may be the most difficult and painful step for us to take.
Third, we finally are able to examine our lives and rejoice in being who we are. I'll tell it as I perceived it. One day I was able to say to God, "Thank you for all I've gone through." I could say that because I had learned important lessons. I was able to feel compassion and tenderness toward others.
How could I possibly have understood what others go through and reach out to them if I hadn't been abused?
That's why I call this blog entry "afterward." It doesn't mean I'm fully healed, but it means I'm maturing and growing in kindness, sympathy, and mercy. I can identify with other survivors and reach out to them in their pain.
And so can you.
If you're not at afterward, may you reach it soon.
Others need you.