Day 21 post-hysterectomy: doctor’s orders have me bound to a couch with books. I have just finished reading an entire young adult series that girls and women alike are enthralled with. Now in the light of the morning I sit drumming the closed cover of the last book. I am thinking of my teenage years to the point where they play in front of me like a film. I am fighting for my life, half in the shadow and half in the light. I see myself so clearly: I want to stop him, help her—help the young woman who was me that flickers before my eyes. The daylight streaming in from the window is so bright it’s blinding. Under most circumstances I would close the curtain in annoyance. But not now. My anger solves nothing, so I pull it back and let the light of truth pour in. I am at the high end of my forties and I finally can say out loud, “I am one of the one in three women who have been abused.”
The book rests on my lap just below the wound where my uterus and cervix made their unceremonious exit from my body. I think about the three lives I have birthed. I should be dead, I think—but I am not. Why have I not told my story? There was a false start in my early twenties when I gave voice to my teenage self by writing about it. After, I gathered up the pages of my story and, much like tying a gag around my own mouth, placed the pages into a shoe box. What has hiding my unfinished story in a box done for my children? Romances will be written and read, love will be glamorized until the end of time—people crave an escape and I don’t blame them. There is something so compelling about made-up love, page-turning drama where the hero saves the day and no matter how scary things get, everything works out and the couple rides happily off into the sunset. But that is not my story.