No longer am I going to let sadness take over my brain, take over my actions, or take over my day. What happened to me wasn’t my fault, no matter what some people say.
I know the arguments – if I hadn’t taken the photos in the first place, none of this would have happened. But that isn’t helpful thinking or any sort of advice, that’s just an invalid opinion. My mind is tired of blame.
A lot of people take naked selfies of themselves without any repercussions – just like it should be. It is not my fault that somebody I trusted betrayed me by sharing something so intimate with one of the most creepy corners of the internet that I’ve ever had the misfortune to see. My photos should never have been shared without my permission. Each naked selfie, in fact any sort of selfie, is the property of the person who took the photo, and it is theirs alone. That is the end argument. The person that betrays that trust is the one in the wrong.
I am not to blame.
Some said that I was stupid to trust somebody with such photos, and that the punishment I got was what I deserved. The sadness I felt made me believe that was true. I was being deservedly punished for being ‘promiscuous’, for not being ‘ladylike’ and for ‘lacking any decency and self respect’. Sure, I’ve questioned my self respect a few times when reflecting on how I have let men treat me, or how my body dysmorphic disorder has unknowing trained my brain to need adoration in order to feel better about my appearance. I’ve decided though that these destructive thoughts aren’t going to drown me anymore.
My actions were not wrong. I wasn’t wrong to take photos of myself. I wasn’t wrong to think that I could trust somebody I had been friends with for over 6 years.
In a society where an unwanted dick pic can be justified with ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘it’s just banter’, my naked selfies are nothing to be ashamed of. I’m not going to take that supposed deserved punishment from anybody, especially myself. Whatever is thrown at me from others or from my own sense of guilt, it won’t make me sad anymore.
I’m not in the wrong.
Guilt is my strongest emotion. It can make me curl up in a ball, turn into a shell of what I once was, and make me avoid all human contact. It makes me feel like half a person. It takes my worth away from me. Nobody can make me feel worse than me. I am the master at it. The power of guilt and self blame inside me beats any comments from other people. They can try and put me down, but they won’t win. They’ll nudge me in that direction – sticks and stones and all that – but ultimately, my downward spiral is controlled only by the powers of my feelings of guilt and my feelings of sadness, and that is my brain’s doing, nobody else’s.
When you have imagines yourself bleeding out in a bath tub or jumping out of a third storey window to crush your skull, there isn’t much lower you can go. Nobody made me feel like that – I did.
I blamed myself for what happened for months. Depression took hold of me and quickly dragged me down, deeper than I ever imagined depression could take somebody. I stopped seeing friends from the shame of just being depressed, let alone what happened to me. I stopped going to work. I stopped getting out of bed. I stopped imagining a future for myself. All possible futures had gone – all dream lives dissolved. The only thing I could picture what my suicide.
And guess what emotion stopped from being a danger to myself? Yep. Guilt has saved the life that it had tried to destroy. I thought about the horror of somebody I care about finding me. I thought about the upset of my family, the broken heart of my boyfriend. So I did nothing. Guilt lead the way once again, and though I felt pathetic to not have the ‘courage’ to go through with anything, I also felt pathetic for thinking about death in the first place.
However many times I’m told to try and not think about what happened, I know that though the advice comes from a supportive place, it’s not realistic. Sure, overtime I’ll think about it less. It’s been almost 10 months now and I am thinking about it less. Though that time has passed, it still takes hold of me and controls my day. I still have to hide under the safety of the bed covers for hours, my thoughts spiralling out of control until I am numb.
That sadness isn’t going to have that power anymore. I’m not going to cry about it anymore. I’m going to get angry instead.
I’ll throw paint at a canvas and hang it on the wall. I’ll turn the real life villain into a victim in an award winning piece of fiction. I’ll use the anger to run for miles. I’ll beat chicken breasts with a rolling pin and enjoy the tasty results. I’ll turn it into a personal essay that helps others going through a similar experience.
I’m going to use the emotions and make something good. I’m going to embrace the anger, and no doubt some sadness, and imagine the villains from before being hurt each time I keep on going with my life. Like a voodoo doll, every time I ignore victim-shaming comments or avoid self-shaming thoughts, those enemies will feel a sharp pain in their sides.
I will keep living my life how I want to live it – helping others and writing great things – and nobody can stop me, especially those that try to make me feel bad about myself, or those who have tried to hurt me by betraying my trust. I won’t let them or myself get in my way.
I’m going to keep being honest and open about what happened, because whatever a hater says about it, I have thought worse. But from now on, I’m going to think better.