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Nothing Like What Has Been

  • I've just awakened from a dream. I was singing. I was dancing and I was back on the stage. It was almost as if it was real. I was there. I was there in that moment. There was an echo that only one could hear being on stage. I was climbing high on different sets. I was dancing and twirling. I was singing. I could never really sing, but I sang my heart out anyway.

    I was in the third grade when I met Mary Bremer. She was a director that lived in my neighborhood. She just directed local theater and for some reason she saw me and decided that I was going to be in her plays. I had always wanted to be on stage. For me, being on stage was like being lost in a book, an escape.. It was my way of being something that I never dreamed of being, but could feel inside of my soul. It was as if nothing in the reality of my life mattered. The only thing that mattered to me in that moment was me and the stage. There I was working with her from the third grade until I was 14. That's when everything changed. That's when my world that was already, in so many ways upside down, turned a corner I could never have expected.

    I was performing my stage acting. I was performing in synchronized swimming and I was getting ready to go to high school. Things were what they were at home, but they were always that way.. At home my life was tough, but I was finally seeing some good in my young fourteen-year-old life. I had began to dream that as soon as I turn 16 I was going to leave that house that I was living in and I was going to go to New York. I was going to be on stage. It's all I ever wanted. All I ever wanted was to be on that stage and just submerge myself in a different world. I didn't know what was going to happen that summer and I certainly didn't know it was going to happen twice.

    As I left for the pool early one morning, I always went in early to practice my synchronized swimming as it got me out of the house, I was met with horror. The only other love for me was water. In that water I lived another life. I would go to the pool early without a care in the world. It was there that I thought that nothing bad could happen to me. I realized bad things were happening to me everyday, but those were the things that I had been used to. Well, maybe not used to, but those were the things that I had experienced everyday and they were my normal.

    As I entered the pool that morning and began to get ready in the locker room two people approached me. I won't go into all the gory details ,but it wasn't good for a young girl. I was raped that summer. It was something I hadn't expected and hadn't thought of; hadn't been prepared for. Is anyone ever prepared for something like that? It was certainly something that altered my soul. Ironically. Sadly. Unfortunately. Devastatingly.

    About 4 weeks later, during that same summer, I was raped again. I went with a friend over to a boy's house. They left me alone and the older brother raped me. I did not know what to do with myself. I was a changed young girl. Yes, I had experienced some horrific things already, but damn it, twice in one summer, at the age of 14? It was overwhelming.

    The summer moved forward. I hadn't said anything to anyone except for a friend of mine at the time. I had told her about the first rape. I confided in her and she told her mother. Her mother contacted my parents. Unfortunately, the youngest of the men, age 18, his father worked for the city and so did my mother. My parents were concerned for my mother's job and were afraid that if they tried to do something, prosecute, let the police know, confront his parents, anything, that my mother would lose her job. They chose to do nothing. In that moment, I learned a very big lesson. It was a lesson I continued to live over and over again. I learned I was not worthy of protection. I was not deserving of it. When the second rape occurred, just four weeks later, I definitely wasn't going to tell a soul. This is the first time I've written it. This is the first time I've publicly said anything about what happened.

    Sadly, things got worse for me. That fall I started High School. I had signed up for classes in the spring before any of this had happened. I had signed up for an acting class, of course. It had been my plan to turn 16 and leave for New York, so of course I signed up for an acting course.

    As I entered the class for the first time, now having that a level of anxiety that I had never quite experience before, I reluctantly walked into the room. I was feeling already out of sorts in a new school. Those were typical feelings, but this was more than that. I felt Frozen. I felt almost unable to walk into that room. This was a feeling I would have many more times in my life. The ability to walk into any room changed me. It changed me tremendously, but I was fighting. I was fighting so hard. I didn't know how to stop the anxiety. However, it was as if I just did not want to be that person that was afraid. Yet, there I was, petrified.

    As I walked into the theater that day, the theater director, the teacher, told us to sit in alphabetical order. I had no idea, and he had no idea, that putting us in alphabetical order sat me right next to that teenage rapist that was four years older than I. I was a freshman and he was a senior. There I was, in alphabetical order, sitting down next to the boy who had raped me. I cannot even begin to tell you what went through my body, what went through my heart and what pierced my soul.

    I had I never told anyone what was happening to me. I actually never told anyone until recently. When I was on my vacation in Mexico this month with my boyfriend I had an anxiety attack. It was something that had never happened in front of him. At least not to the degree that he could have actually visually seen it. Most of my anxiety attacks were so internal that I was able to hide them. I have become almost an expert at it. No one knew how tortured I've been. I told him, for the first time, what had occurred. I spoke, out loud, of what had changed my life. It was a pivotal moment for me. It was a pivotal moment in my relationship. I believe it's a pivotal moment in my moving forward and so now I've decided to write this. I've decided to speak out about my experience. I've decided to be my own voice.

    I'm always talking about My Walk My Mile My Shoes and being a voice for the voiceless. The reason why I feel this so deeply is because I am the voiceless. I've been the voiceless so many times in my life and the reason why I created My Walk My Mile My Shoes is because I no longer want to be silent. Now here it is, my story. Part of it, once again, in writing for the world to read.

    I'm never going to stop being my own voice. I'm never going to stop telling my truth. In that moment, at age 14, what I had dreamed about died. Part of me died. I tried to stick it out that semester sitting next to my rapist. I tried to get back on that stage. I tried to be lost in what I loved, but I was only lost in my sadness.

    After that, I never acted again. Not only did my dream die, but a part of Danielle died. At least I thought she had, but something has changed. Something is stirring in me that has not stirred in me since before that time when I was 14. We will see what is to come going forward. I guarantee you it's nothing like what has been

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