An Experience To Never Forget…..
Here is My Recent Speech, Guest Speaker for TAKE BACK THE NIGHT
My name is Alicia Gregory and as you have heard, I am a licensed marriage and family therapist, working in the field for the past fourteen years. But, I do not stand before you in my role only as a therapist, but also, A Survivor. I come to the table of this moment, an adult sexual abuse survivor. I was abused for much of my formative years and can genuinely say….. the reason I am a therapist today is because I am certain I would be dead without therapy myself. I now know that we do not recover without it and my gift to this world is to hold space to others while they show up to their life …sometimes, for the very first time.
So, I stand here- BROKEN.
I used to want to hurry and find ways to hide it- even FIX IT.
But Not. Anymore.
Please don’t try to change me. I am BROKEN and I am Beautiful. I have come to love the scars that are ALL MINE. If we have met, you may think what many do, “OoohhhH, She has it ALL Together.”
Just a few days ago someone looked at me and said, “You must not ever have a bad day.” I thought to myself’…..Oh SISTER, IF you only knew.
And in many ways I am together. I have healed from the major wounds of my trauma and currently it has been 12-13 years since my last intense therapy process.
But…… I am just a mere five months out from finally breaking the bread of peace with my mother.
Life is not an EITHER/OR. IT is AND/BOTH. We traditionally want it simple. We want answers that allow us to navigate towards a singular end point. But I have learned, mostly from my own clients, it is rarely that way. ……
I am full of scars and fresh wounds, but I am beautiful. I can be a mess, crying and wallowing in self doubt, and although I am an UGLY Crier, I will still smile with gratitude once it has passed.
I am WHOLE/BROKEN. And I don’t need to be “Fixed”.
So, I come with a message of Hope.
If you are a trauma victim, “The worst thing that could ever happen, has already happened.” The working through will never be as difficult as the trauma you endured. Sexual Assault and Abuse are attempts to steal our SOUL. And for me, the most compassionate gift (and frankly, the best revenge) in this life is to find happiness again. To LOVE Again…..or maybe, for the First Time. I often tell my clients when they have No Hope, I am just holding it for them until they are ready.
If you love a trauma victim, Take Care and GET READY. When we arch over from victim to survivor, we wake up to this life in a way that most consider impossible. Even the trauma victim thinks impossible for a very long time. One day, you will watch them take the deepest breath they have ever taken (TAKE A BREATH) and you will know, the world has shifted.
For a trauma survivor, sleeping through this life is no longer an option and you as their loved one have two options, “Get Busy Living with Them, or get Busy Dying Without Them.”
The work is often an unpaved, unmarked road and we cannot do it alone. We need each other.
We can be Brave and Afraid—-and STILL Do Hard Things. But we cannot do them alone.
From my perspective today, My trauma is my gift. It is my scar that circumnavigates across my messy and sometimes ungraceful life. It does not define me any longer, but instead I AM defining it. As bizarre as it may sound as a victim and those who have not experienced it, I would not take it back. I have no idea what it would mean to be me without it. AND...I need to be reminded every day that I do not have the capacity for perfection, room for constant negative self judgement, or even the worry of appearing ‘uncool’. I try not to go down that road, it is simply a road paved with hell.
But I charge every person here to listen carefully. I believe…. that your story is my story. You may take out the circumstances and many of the details, but MY shame is universal. We all have that one thing that we dare not speak, or that we speak quietly in tight circles. We all have that one thing that we do not want anyone to know out of fear that we may be found out. Fear that we are unloveable and unworthy.
We celebrate Take Back The Night and honor victims and survivors, but honestly, regardless of your truth, I celebrate your courage to just SHOW UP. I celebrate that you knew, somewhere inside you, you were taking a leap with Courage to share that one part of you that perhaps you do not want anyone to see whether you are a trauma survivor or not..
So, I HONOR YOU…… Because Vulnerability is the first thing you look for in me and is the ABSOLUTE last thing you want others to see. But here you are. HERE YOU ARE. Present with me. And no matter what that struggle is, I hope you can say, “Yeah, that— (that thing) which makes me feel ashamed of who I am… I do not have to hide from it anymore.”
From Victim to Survivor. That is the work. It is a difficult journey. But I can tell you with my whole heart, waking up to this life and honoring who we are is the most precious, sweetest gift we can give to ourselves. I am Broken, but I am fully HUMAN.
** I give thanks, praise and credit to Brené Brown and Glennon Melton, two of my heroes in this season of my life for this piece.**
Hope you will join me!