A former student of mine messaged me today with the following message and graphic. With her permission and my eyes blurred with a stream of tears, I am sharing it all with you.
"I don't know why, but I felt compelled to send you this picture [below]. This picture speaks about me, I feel. And you are soo strong, and you are not afraid to speak your mind and share your thoughts, and to be yourself truly. You talk openly about the horrible thing that happened to you when you were younger, and I feel it making me stronger and making me feel like maybe it's time I speak my story to someone. I was raped and constantly molested and harassed when I was little. And all 9 men who did those horrible things to me were related to me in one way or another. Which just breaks my heart. I feel you can share this picture for me without actually mentioning me and the other hundreds and thousands of innocent voices out there who are afraid to speak to someone, like I was before I learned your story, well partial story. You are the one I trust, I guess since I came to you! I'm not sure if you will get lost or confused a bit, because I just went in all different directions here, haha. But yeah... I miss you.. I miss your words of wisdom and your strength, the sound of encouragement, faith in your voice."
"I'm on my way to school now, wiping the tears off my face. Because I've never talked to anyone. I tried to tell my grandma who's brother is one of those 9 men, and she did nothing. I don't hold a grudge towards her though, which I think is weird. Only towards my mom and dad, because they weren't there to save me at any time. But after my grandma just put it off to the side, I felt stupid and embarrassed and disgusting to tell anyone else. I'm sorry you went through something soo horrible too."
We continued writing for a bit, both of us in tears. As much as those tears hurt, I also think they heal. The healing is in the sharing. That she trusted me enough to share brought me to even more, harder tears. And now the tears - the healing tears - are yours.