I closed my eyes. She led me through a series of meditations to open my strained, anxious mind. She was helping me remember a night that I'd happily forget.
I was sitting in a cozy chair in a therapist's office in my hometown. A place I hadn't lived for over seven years. I actually lived thousands of miles away from that little room. I'd run home cross-country for help; to my parents who knew nothing of my past.
I held my childhood blanket, twirling the fringe in the obsessive habit I'd had for as long as I could remember, to calm the unending, painful butterflies of anxiety in my chest and my arms, reaching all the way to my fingertips. Could butterflies really be painful? Always.
Even with my blankie, I wasn't a child. I was twenty-eight. At the end of my rope.
I was sitting in this room about to re-live a date rape from college. The rape was a lingering hole in my psyche, destroying me.
The therapist brought me hope, not without intense fear. Could I survive returning to the scene of this unspeakable crime? Could I handle seeing the events that led up to it, feeling the pain, the shame and the helplessness once again?
In my heart, I'd always blamed myself for the attack. Intellectually, I knew it wasn't right to blame a rape victim for her attack. The lines blurred with my own date rape. My heart believed I could have avoided it. Somehow. I could have fought harder. My flirting "caused" it. In that moment, I'd had actually said yes.
There were moments of happiness interspersed with the bad. Joys of new love. Crazy adventures. I can never say life was a total despair. But the blame, shame and pain of my rape continued to haunt me. Kept knocking at my door. Closing the window.
She was my last hope. I had somehow managed to ask for help, and this was who and what the universe provided. Hypnotherapy, with a take-no-prisoners, call-it-like-it-is, don't-let-me-get-away-with-my-crap, therapist.
She led me down the road. I saw the scene in my head - this time the complete picture. I relived the pain from beginning to middle to end, detail-by-detail, decision-by-decision with a totally new perspective ... and for the first time in my life I saw my rape exactly as it was.
And 100% NOT my fault.