Your Story To Tell

The response to yesterday’s post completely overwhelmed me– in the most beautiful way.

I was extremely nervous to put something so private, so vulnerable, so personal out into the world. I had grown used to carrying the burden of that secret for six years and to release that weight? Wow, it didn’t seem possible.

But with your help, it somehow feels lighter.

I was showered with love and with remarks about my bravery. And my courage. I don’t know if I would pick those words to describe sharing my story, but I appreciate them dearly. I’m honored to be described in such a way. I decided to write about my own experience because I was so angered by the remarks of political figures who seem to believe they know more about rape than women who have actually been held down against their will. It’s incredible to me that we can come so far in certain areas of progress, and yet we always seem to argue about women’s rights. This isn’t “I am woman, hear me roar” — this is “I am human, I have the ability to make choices, the right to make them, and I deserve to be treated as such.

These are fine words I can type now, but it took me a long time to get there. Because when it came to my writing, my career, my public image — as a writer, an editor or as Lindsay Tigar on Facebook who went to Appalachian State, works for NBC and writes this blog — I wasn’t sure I wanted the scarlet-colored word of “rape” associated with me. Even if I’ve been writing about women’s issues since college, and mostly, about love, dating and, well sex. But consensual sex or a lack of consistent sex. Talking about the heavy, scary topics was always something I wanted to do but I wasn’t sure how to go about it or if I could even do it as well as I express what it feels to fall in love with someone.

How could I eloquently describe what it feels to fall out of love with yourself? To blame yourself for something that wasn’t your choice? To pretend you weren’t bothered when you walked past the person who raped you? To wonder if it really was your fault? How could I illustrate the thoughts that creep back into my mind every time a guy buys me a drink or when the eve of my birthday rolls around?

But then the greatest question bubbled inside of me earlier this week: how could I not talk about it when so many women need to hear that it can happen to anyone?

Yesterday alone, 15 women came forward to share their story of sexual assault, molestation or rape with me. Their words, their experiences are their own, and it’s not my place to tell them. But reading how many women, of all ages, stages, countries and walks of life, have been taken advantage of — absolutely broke my heart.

But it also really inspired me.

While we have all endured both the trauma itself and the long aftermath of mentally and emotionally processing it– we have all, also, rose above it. We’ve all made something of ourselves– some have met loyal, loving partners. Others have gone on to lead women’s groups and write about important topics, like this one. Many are incredible friends who support those who have gone through it, those who are afraid of it and those who can’t speak for themselves. Some are the strongest women I’ve ever known.

Knowing that like me, they were survivors — didn’t make me think any less or differently about them. If anything, it made me see how powerful they really are. Because being attacked — in any form — will never define their story, it’ll just be part of it.

As soon as you claim it, as soon as you let those awful words leave your lips: “I was raped” — they don’t own you anymore. They lose their power and you gain it. You don’t have to hide behind them and they certainly don’t define who you are as a woman, as a professional, as a lover, as…a person. They become words that belong to you and a painful experience that you overcame to become something stronger, brighter and more beautiful than you already are.

Thank you so, so much for making me accept that while what happened the night of my 18th birthday will always be a part of me and it is not something to be ashamed of. It’s not something I have to hide or a burden I have to bare. It is something I can now share anytime, anywhere, when you need to realize that you are many things — but alone, is not one of them. And what happened to you– it’s your story to tell, no matter how long it takes to say it.

If you’re a survivor of any form of sexual assault and you’d like to tell your story anonymously, I will publish it — without your name or any details — with your permission. You can fill out this form (I won’t even know who sent it!) or you can email me, if you feel comfortable enough. Talking about your experience will help give you power back. 

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From Me to You on Christmas Day

For each and every time you’ve clicked on this blog. For when you stayed up past your bedtime to read my words. For when you took time out of your day to write me a kind e-mail, a long Facebook note or send a supportive tweet. For following my journey while going about your own. For being there through each triumph and every heartbreak. For the words of encouragement and sharing your own wisdom, stories and experiences. For reminding me of what’s important by simply commenting or passing along my link to your friends. For being part of this blog  for the past 15 months.

For making sure that no matter what, regardless of any disappointment or shortcoming, I never gave up on love – both in myself, in those I know and those I’ve yet to meet.

On Christmas and always, thank you for being part of this life-changing experience. It may only be a blog, but for me, it’s meant everything. And so have each and every one of you.

I hope today is magical for you and yours, and that your New Year brings the best of happiness, of success, of wonder, of friendships, of travels and…

of love.

May you never stop believing in the magic of your own strength and beauty,

Lindsay 

The Love Addict Who Just Won’t Stop Writing :)

Love Addict Seeks Confessions

Since starting this blog, I’ve received a tremendous amount of support. From strangers half-way across the world to people I haven’t spoken to in years who I happen to be friends with on Facebook. I’ve had people recognize me from this space, after their friend passed it along to them. The URL is in my email signature from my personal Gmail and even my broker went as far to compliment what I’m attempting to do and my dedication.

I’ve somehow developed quite the community of bloggers and what I refer to as my Twitter loves – people I don’t really know personally, but if I don’t hear from them in a while, I wonder how they are. I’ve made friends in cyberspace and we’ve exchanged words of advice and comforted each other in our own struggles.

I’m amazed by the reach of a website that’s written out of an apartment, coffee shop, and office in New York City, by one person, who really never intended any of it. But usually what we least expect becomes the things we’re thankful for and cherish the most. As much of a pain it is to write every day sometimes, I feel a sense of accomplishment, as well as a growing hope that I’m helping someone, somewhere out there in a place I’ll probably never go. But maybe my words make them feel like they are less alone or those little things we do that may make us feel like crazy, 20-something single women, are really not so outlandish, but just normal.

However, I’m not the only lady of the world wide web who writes about love and life. I’m not the loan blogger who chronicles her journey and each event that happens in it, from a bird’s unfortunate aim to the uncomfortable task of being vulnerable with a possibility – both of which, are full of shit from time-to-time.

If I’m really doing a recovery 12-step program to learning to love myself in or out of a relationship, with or without the approval of a male – then I’m missing a critical component.

The meetings.

Right? Part of overcoming an addiction (even if it a self-proscribed one) is talking to other people who suffer or struggle with the same things. Those who worry over making the right decisions with their lives, both romantically and otherwise. Those who play the real-life part of Gigi in “He’s Just Not That Into You” or find themselves repeating stories to their friends about different men, who really, are all quite the same at the end. Especially when the beginning and the end are separated by less than a month, again and again. I know I’m not the only woman who’s battled these thoughts or worries – you’ve all told me so. And really, anything I’ve explored is what any single girl, in the city or out, attempts to figure out as she goes through her 20’s and beyond.

So, I’m proposing a weekly Sunday meeting, or what I’ll call a Confessional with the Love Addict. If you’ll join me, that is.

We can’t really split a bottle of red wine at one of my favorite cheese and wine bars downtown in the Village. And we can’t really IM over Gchat using the real names of the men behind the blog or give each other advice on what to wear out Saturday night – but we can talk here. More importantly, we can be one another’s sponsors, if you’ll play along with my analogy – keeping each other in line and remembering what’s most important – loving ourselves, no matter what, no exceptions, no man required.

Each week, I’ll publish a Q&A with another blogger, reader, fan, or friend. We’ll answer the same questions on a topic that’s pitched to me. It can be about sex, love, dating, relationships, dieting, self-esteem, looks, city life – whatever. No limits here. Boys allowed too. You’ll confess what you’re dealing with and we’ll go from there, wherever it may go. We’ll link back and forth and encourage comments and hopefully, we’ll stimulate a conversation. Even better, we’ll start the week a little more refreshed and a little more confident. And maybe, feeling like we got what we needed off our chest and shoulders – as I usually do after spewing a blog post or two.

If you’d like to have a Confessional with the Love Addict, email me with:

Name

Blog (and link)

Topic you’d like to chat about (not a lot of details needed)

Three questions you’d ask me about the topic (I’ll respond with my three for you)

Notes: I’ll only publish one Q&A a week, so thanks in advance for your patience. Those who email without the above will not be considered. Commenting below once you’ve submitted would be helpful! :)