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Life Before and Life After Trauma

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

“Writing had always helped her, before. It always clarified her feelings and her thoughts, and she never felt like she could understand something fully until the very minute that she’d written about it, as if each story was one she told herself and her readers, at the same time.” – from “Look Again” by Lisa Scottoline.

Pre/Post… Life Before and Life After Trauma

It's interesting how recently we have been using the phrases "pre-COVID" and "post COVID" (or "since COVID came to the United States…"). I’ve noticed friends describing events such as, "We haven’t had support group since pre-COVID,” or “Since COVID, I’ve made $40,000 less this year than last year at this time.”

The same type of "pre/post" description can be used with assault/trauma... and other major life events. (I’m saying this from first-hand experience… Truthfully, it comes up a lot). That's why I thought it was so interesting when I noticed myself and so many others using pre/post COVID phrases... I had already been using that lingo with pre/post assault.

I feel like life "pre-assault" and life "post-assault" have been so significantly different. Like it’s a completely new Book of Life. Or a “Part 2” within the same Book of Life. I was happy, content, safe pre-rape. Now, well – you know from my previous blog posts. And after thinking more about it… I’m sure people use “before the war…” and “after the war…” or “before/after 911,” even “Before Christ,” and “After Death,” etc. This is how significantly different life is before assault and after assault for some survivors. I feel like I was naïve before I was raped. I felt safe. I felt content. Then, like an atomic bomb, life exploded. And now I’m living in the aftermath. But I’m more aware of my surroundings, my living situation, and my safety. I feel like my life has more of a purpose now with the need to advocate and tell my story. Sure, it doesn’t consume my mind as much as it did right after it happened (well, it will again when trial gets closer), but life has changed in so many ways that there isn’t one single day that goes by where I live how I lived pre-rape.

The reason I wanted to write this blog is because I can imagine that some people don’t see the extent of how damaging and long-term being raped or sexually assaulted can be. For many survivors, it’s not just something that happened one day, then life went back to normal. It’s a life changing event big enough to need a pre/post description of life before and after in many cases. And in “life after,” a person can hide, survive, or thrive. I’m trying to balance between the surviving and thriving categories!

Before I was raped, I was content being a nurse. I had gotten two promotions since starting my job a couple years prior and I was looking forward to continuing that path. Now I feel like my path is completely changing directions.  I see myself advocating, writing, learning, networking, and being out in the world instead of stuck behind the walls of a clinic. Now, I still am behind the walls of a clinic. I absolutely love my co-workers (they are a HUGE reason why I am doing OK since the attack (- there I go again, “post rape” talk)), but I feel like I need to use what happened to me and do more. I can be replaced at work, but I can’t be replaced in what I experienced and the story that I can tell with it. I can show people that you can survive and thrive after being raped.

Anyway, maybe this is just a pointless “Dear Diary,” post. Maybe not? Maybe readers can give me suggestions as to how to keep moving forward on my new path?

The end. Peace-Out, Diary.

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