Forgiving Him Wasn’t For Him - It Was For Me
It was the year 2000 and I was just 19 years old. I was heading out for a second date with someone that I had reluctantly said yes to after months of persistence on his part. That little nudge from my gut, ignored completely as my rebel spirit kicked in.
You know how it goes at 19 - we think we know it all. We are walking billboards of “zero fucks given” thinking we’ve got it all figured out. Fearless.
This night would be different though. This second date would change me in more ways than I can possibly explain in this short time speaking with you today. But more than change me, it would allow me to become more of myself and see the experience for what it was - an intervention in the life I was forcing to create and instead, accepting and finding gratitude for the life that was truly meant for me.
The moment I shut my car door I knew I had a choice.
My heart was racing, my breath had become almost nonexistent. The sound of rain on my windshield, a reminder of my tear soaked cheeks. I felt the heaviness of the Universe suffocating my airways, filling the space of my entire being with nothingness.
I had to pull myself together; my roommate couldn’t know what just happened. Nobody could know.
This would become the most pivotal moment in my life - even now. The girl that pulled up to that house in her silver VW Jetta, without a care in the world had just walked out of that same house a woman. Shattered. Damaged. Alone. But determined to rise.
“You will not break me. I won't let you.”
I remember these thoughts as if it were yesterday. They are still raw. My emotions still tied to the memory of an innocence lost and a life that would never again be the same.
Life has a funny way of giving us exactly what we never knew we needed. Heartache. Abuse. Loss. And then there are the moments where we actually feel as if we are being divinely guided and supported.
It all comes down to perspective; how we choose to see our blessings. It’s about keeping the faith even when it feels as if the world is against us and trusting that things happen for us. Even the things that may appear terrible to the outside world.
That second date would become the most terrifying night of my life. What started as an innocent invitation to his house to grab a jacket before a movie quickly turned into a fight for my life.
As I walked through his bedroom door, his 200 pound frame grabbed me. And as he lifted me up and softly kissed my lips, his sensual demeanor quickly turned aggressive. I begged him to stop, but he wouldn’t let me go.
“Stop! Please stop!”
But he was bigger than me. He was stronger than me. And as he threw me on his bed and pulled down my pants as I began to sob and beg for him to let me go, my body went into protection mode and I blacked out, only remembering glimpses of the worst night of my life.
There are moments I remember as if it were yesterday. Like the way he smelled of cologne and aftershave. Or the way his hot breath felt against my neck. Or the way he stared into my eyes with such hatred and malice that I felt as if the Devil himself was penetrating me with force greater than I had ever known.
I also remember the way my nails dug into his back as my exhaustion kicked in and my eyes closed, praying for it to end so I could go back to my life.
He raped me that night.
I was now a stereotype. MeToo.
I was 19. I was not on birth control. And I had only had sex with one person in my life - my high school sweetheart who I had dated from the age of 13.
As he finished, he stood up proud, buttoning his pants with a smirk on his face - “see baby, I told you you’d like it.” And he walked out of the room.
As I sunk further into his bed, tears streaming uncontrollably down my cheeks, I had a moment of sheer panic - how could I hide this?
I slid off his bed, falling to my knees and crawled into the bathroom. I sat on the floor sobbing and praying for this all to be a bad dream. I remember standing up and looking in the mirror thinking, “who is this girl looking back at me?” I wiped my eyes, the mascara streaked down my face, took a deep breath and walked straight out of his house without a word.
What I did with this experience was up to me. Even at 19, I knew about the power of choice - in my thoughts, words and actions.
I sat in my car for what felt like forever, unable to move, before heading home. It was in the stillness of time that I asked the Universe to protect my heart and allow me to forgive. I would not leave until I could find peace. I would not move from this spot until my heart could accept that hurt people, hurt people and this act of violation was not about me. As crazy as it sounds, I did just that, all before setting my foot on the gas pedal because I refused to let him take any more of my power.
I don’t know how long I sat there, but that moment was the most important and pivotal moment of my life, even now.
I forgave him the same night he raped me. The real struggle would be in forgiving myself for staying silent.
Forgiving him wasn’t for him - it was for me. Forgiving him meant peace in my heart. Forgiving him gave me the space I needed to find freedom in my pain and see another perspective. I chose to see this as a blessing, despite not understanding WHY this would happen. And although I felt more raw than I had in my entire life - I would find a way to use this as fuel.
What happened would change me. Sure. But it would also provide clarity around my role in the world and the work I was put here to do.
Forgiving him was easy for me. I know that’s not the case for everybody. It was never something I did for him as a way to condone his behavior, but it was a way that I could set myself free! Forgiving myself, though, was a different story. And it would take me years to be able to do so. Not because I thought I did anything wrong or that any of this was my fault - but because I stayed silent… for 4 years! And I couldn’t help but wonder if he had done this again to someone else.
And that was only the beginning.
It was just three weeks later I ended up in the ER with terrible stomach pain. After a few tests and an hour in the waiting room I got the news. You’re pregnant. And the confusion, shock and utter disbelief overcame me. This became my secret and I was determined to give it purpose. On my own. I would not tell a soul about him or the circumstances that had created an innocent life within me. And for the next 4 years, I suffered in silence - not because of guilt or shame - but because I didn’t want to be seen as different. I wanted people to still see me as the strong, independent girl who seemingly had her shit together.
Well the Universe? She’s always there, often shaking her head at our unwillingness to relinquish control. It’s in moments like these where we literally look up to the heavens with a big huge what the F*CK! and we either break or we conquer. Maybe we do both.
Deep down, I didn’t want this pregnancy, or the memory that would be tied to it. I even attempted to have an abortion, which didn’t work. And as divine intervention would have it, I got a call the next day from the nurse letting me know that I was still pregnant and “we’re so sorry, but it’s Ectopic. We need you to come in immediately or you could die.” Not exactly the best bedside manner.
While controversial, for me this felt like a blessing. But as I share this with you today, now in my thirties without children, I can’t help but wonder if that was my shot at motherhood. And while these thoughts do come, I choose not to believe that’s the case. Because as hard as it was to face all of this alone (by choice), it was in the process of grieving and processing the pain and confusion that I found my purpose. It was in my mess that I truly committed to turning all of this into my mission to create a life where I would live…
UNAPOLOGETICALLY OUT LOUD.
And I would empower others to do the same.
Because you, sweet soul, are divine. You are perfectly imperfect. Your beautiful heart deserves to be loved and honored and adored. Your scars are what make you YOU. And while I know all too well that sometimes the doubt can seep out like a leaky faucet looking to drown your spirit, you are too strong to go down without a fight.
I see you, because I am you.
I could have chosen to be a victim. Trauma is fucked up and there is no right way to handle it. But victim wasn’t how I was raised and staying in a place of helplessness didn’t feel authentic to me. Yet in the same token - my pride took a front seat and instead of sharing my truth to prevent him from doing this again, I chose to work silently on my own to work through the emotions this fucked up situation triggered.
My story is not new. It’s not uncommon. But in that same breath, this story gets to stop! No longer will we stay quiet for fear of judgement or pity. Together we will rise as the goddess warriors we are and we will stand shoulder to shoulder as we work to shift consciousness so that people don’t have to feel the depth of this pain anymore. We are not objects. We are divinely sourced warriors and we get to be free.
I am not my story. Nor are you yours. You’re everything good in this world. You are far more powerful than you could possibly imagine.
It’s time to stop being SILENT. It’s time to speak. It’s time to shift. It’s time to connect and reclaim our power because woman, I see you. And your light is begging to be set free.
As women - we’ve shut down. We’ve made silent and afraid our normal. We’ve allowed societal expectations to cloud the truth - that we are fierce and free and fundamentally necessary to creating a greater oneness for humanity and everything beyond.
Women. The most sacred creation on the planet. The bringers of life. The nurturers. The mothers. The divine manifestation of feminine grace, softness, beauty, sensuality and desire.
Silent no more, my sisters. Together we fall, together we rise. This is a new era for our spirits to soar. Together in sisterhood, guiding one another towards the ultimate truth - love. For ourselves, for humanity, for the world as a whole as we show up in our perfectly imperfect mess.
It is not our job to conform to make others comfortable. If you want to create change - sometimes that means you’ve gotta shake shit up. And always, it will take courage.
But you’re courageous! And what you have to say matters. So when you question your worth or your purpose on this planet, know that there is a reason you were given a voice. There is a reason you were given free will and thought and every experience you’ve encountered.
Nothing is by accident - and if hearing that triggers you, then I would encourage you to ask yourself why. Because everything is a choice - even that triggered emotion you’re feeling right now as you think of all the bullshit you’ve been through that you’ve been holding onto and allowing to take up space in your life.
My dear ones, it’s time to let go...
Of your past.
Of other people’s expectations.
Of negative self-talk.
Of the victim mentality.
Of the I’m-not-good-enough-nes.
Of the judgement.
And it’s time to harness that melodious voice of yours and use it to help elevate humanity. It starts with you.
When it feels scary… speak.
Let your voice tremble - let your heart flutter - let your palms sweat.
They will try to silence you
And make you think
That you're not worthy
That you're weak
And when this happens,
You're on this planet
To pass that test
Your voice has value
At its peak
So when they try
Speak, girl, speak
We need you. What you have to say matters. Who you are - matters.
Sheree Trask is a Content Creator, Empowerment Speaker, seasoned Ghostwriter and the Founder & Host of the unfiltered podcast, Soulfcked. She works with female entrepreneurs and conscious brands to bring their vision to voice through collaborative writing in an effort to empower the world.
She’s also Certified as a Yoga Instructor and Holistic Health Coach, and carries a fierce determination to create space for everyone to be truly seen and heard, as they are. She’s spent 15+ years studying the mind-body connection and empowering women to feel safe in their body’s.
With a knack for words, a passion for empowering others to take ownership of their lives and a strong belief in personal growth and exploration, Sheree is on a mission to help transform the hearts and minds of humanity so that together, we can raise the collective consciousness of our world and truly be free to live unapologetically out loud.
Author: Sheree Trask
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