It has been a long time since I posted a new blog, I have written some, posted them, but then deleted them shortly after. Normally, whenever I am writing a blog my heart and soul just spill out onto the page without me even realizing what I am writing. However, things are different now.
I have been fighting for normalcy since I returned home. I have been doing everything I possibly can to adjust back into Canadian society. But it's exhausting. It is literally draining me, mentally, emotionally, and physically. My heart is hurting more than it ever has before and I am feeling a great void within. I have shut everyone out. My friends, my family, and especially my supporters. And that hurts me too, it is not something I ever intended on doing.
I know everyone has a million questions floating around their heads as to why I abruptly left Haiti. Firstly, let me just express that if it were up to me and within my control- I never would have left. Haiti has been home to me. My kids are my family. The friends I have made in Haiti - are friends that will last me a lifetime. The immensity of love that I have for Haiti - for my kids- for my friends- is unfathomable.
However, like I said, things are different now- although my feelings towards Haiti will never change. Five months ago, my life was completely flipped upside down. Everything I once knew felt as if it had been stripped away from me. I had to re-learn the most basic things- trust- compassion- confidence. I had found myself in Haiti, or so I thought- but then I was forced to find myself all over again. It has been the most heart wrenching five months of my life- yet the most eye opening as well. The hardest part about all of this is not being able to talk about it- something that I am trying to overcome on a daily basis. But every time I open my mouth the words just don't come out. I have debated whether to write about this, especially posting it online for the world to see. The only reason I have decided to do this is because the first place I went to after I realized what had happened to me was to the internet trying to find something to help me understand what happened and why. I craved for someone that could relate to my situation. I read a young woman's blog and it helped me cope with the trauma that I had just experienced. It made me feel like I wasn't alone. My only purpose, and my only hope for writing this is that this may reach someone going through exactly what I am, and give them the strength to no longer hide or be ashamed, to make others feel like they are not alone, and that although right now your life may seem likes its pointless- or useless- or worthless. You are wrong. Things can and do get better. I am also writing this for all of our supporters and followers who have been left in the dark wondering why I left Haiti- it hurts me to know that many have stopped supporting and sponsoring our kids because of my silence. I hope this can bring some clarity.
On April 12 I was drugged and raped in Haiti- the country in which I began to call home. These past five months since then, have been absolute hell. I have gone from denial, to shock, to wanting to die, to feeling the most pain I have ever felt in my entire life, and most of all.. I just felt lost and to some degree- still do. The worst part about all of this is that no justice will be served- something I have had to learn to accept. In Haiti, rape only became illegal in 2005 and a lot of the rape cases that surfaced (or are kept quiet) are actually done by those with power in the country- police officers, UN soldiers, doctors, government officials, etc. Because I was unable to get a rape kit done within 70 hours, my rapist is still on the loose. These past five months have been spent in airports, twelve to be exact. I left Haiti on April 19th, a week after what had happened. I tried so hard to stay, to not run from it, to be there for my kids. But no matter how hard I tried, it was inevitable. I felt so weak, so anxious, so confused. I came to a point where I literally thought I needed to be admitted into a mental institute. I knew I had to leave Haiti when I couldn't even allow my own children to touch me. I kept trying to piece things together, to make sense of it all, but I guess there is just no making sense of something like this. There is no making sense of how a human being could feel that they had the power to sedate a young woman and claim her body as theirs. My freedom of choice was stolen from me. I just wanted to sleep, always. A coma would have been nice. Or amnesia. Anything to just get rid of it all- the thoughts, the whispers in my mind. It felt as if my brain had been raped too.
That was until I chose to stop. To stop trying to make sense of something that didn't contain any sense at all. I couldn't change what had happened to me, I couldn't go back. So, I had two choices. I could either remain suffering, reliving it over and over and over again until insanity finally took over my mind. I could continue to let it take more and more of me with each day that passed, or... I could choose to free myself. I could accept that I had no control over the situation and that even though I wished I could have gone back and changed the events of that day, I couldn't. I needed to realize that I was the only one who controlled my thoughts. I can choose to linger in the past and feel sorry for myself, I can choose to continue to self destruct, or I can let go. I have to learn to accept what had happened to me and take the positives from it. Although it was hard to see the positives, and there wasn't many positives in it other than the fact that I SURVIVED and I am stronger, braver, wiser. At the time, I wish I hadn't survived it, I wish he would have just killed me. But now I see that I survived that trauma so that I can now sit here and write to you and to other young girls and tell them that it does get better. No matter what struggle or obstacle that has been thrown your way, ride it out, don't be afraid to feel the emotions, let out your anger, but keep holding on. Keep fighting because you will get through it. We are built to survive. When someone takes advantage of you, strips you of your freedom of choice, you begin to feel ashamed, embarrassed, and even worthless at times. But there is nothing more important that I can stress.. YOU are worthy, YOU are needed, and YOU are loved.
At first, I was angry towards Haiti. But after sitting back and letting things sink in- I came to the realization that it was not Haiti as whole that did this to me. It was one in particular person who chose to commit a crime. It happens every day here in North America as well. It happens all over the world, not just in Haiti. I have met the most fabulous Haitian people who are kind hearted- giving- well mannered- and who would be absolutely appalled to hear of something like this. This changes nothing of how I view Haiti, it just makes me a little less naive.
One of the most difficult things is not knowing whats ahead. Every day I am working on growing stronger- accepting- letting go- and learning to love and trust again. At times I find myself still trembling with anger and fear- but that comes and goes in waves. I kept having panic attacks and they came at the most unexpected times. Every time one hit me it felt like the air was being syphoned from my lungs. I kept getting flashes of what happened- and sometimes I still do. I was scared of everyone. I didn't scream like I should have that night, but now its all I want to do. Life is hard at the moment, I feel very broken. Although I miss my kids more than ever and it is breaking my heart, I know that right now I would be no help to them if I returned long term, I need to focus on strengthening "me" first. I have always been so happy and content with whatever life has thrown at me, but this.. it has knocked me on my ass. I am much quieter now. I spend most of my days just sitting in silence and drifting off into memories of Haiti- still constantly trying to piece it together, trying to understand how it came to this.
I have been writing this blog for four months now, so many times I was tempted to hit the publish button and didn't. I didn't push it because at that moment in my life I wasn't ready to deal with the reality of what happened. I wasn't ready for questions or comments made by others. Sitting here today, I can proudly say that I am a lot stronger than I was a few months ago, I am also a lot stronger than I have ever been, but with that, as others have stated, I have become a lot more "fragile" at the same time. I have always been one to speak out about injustices and woman's rights, so it disappoints me that I am keeping quiet about my own situation- hence why I have finally decided to hit that publish button today. I still can't quiet understand what it is I am going through right now .. Coping ? Deflecting ? Surviving ? Ignoring ?
I think I find it so hard telling people because the last thing I want is sympathy. I am scared to be looked at differently and most of all treated differently. I know the assumptions and judgements that come with being raped. But I no longer want to stay quiet about what happened. I don't want to have to keeping running from it. Everyone keeps saying I am minimizing what happened, and maybe subconsciously I am. I don't look at it as minimizing it, I have just come to realize that no matter how bad I wish I could, I can't change what happened to me that night. As bad as it was, and as horrible as this sounds, I am lucky. I am lucky to be able to write this right now. I am lucky to be alive. I am lucky to not have contracted HIV or AIDS like so many young woman in Haiti do that have experienced this same sort of trauma. My heart breaks for them. I am not an expert, nor do I represent all victims of rape. All that I can say is that I am one of the lucky ones whose story did not end, and I can continue to tell it. I can only hope to encourage others to find the strength within them to do the same. I know I have to live with what happened to me, grow from it, and continue living my life. And that is just what I am going to do, so yes, I will be returning to Haiti.
My doctor had referred me to a therapist who was supposed to be able to help me "deal" with this and the PTSD that I have now been diagnosed with - but when she began to say "Oh wow, that's amazing" or "you are a lot stronger than I am, I would never be able to live through something like that" I realized that it was not the type of therapy for me. So instead, I have now turned to music. Music is the one thing where I am able to release my emotions. Whether that's playing guitar or singing songs. It has become my refuge. I can crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to everything that had happened. It has become my escape. My only solace. I have an amazing guitar and vocal instructor who is also a close friend- she plays the role of my therapist and I honestly couldn't ask for a better one. Although most of my friends and family do not know about what happened- the ones who do- have been supportive and caring and have not judged me like I thought they would.
Within this past year my body has taken a beating - whether that be jumping off a mountain and my parachute not opening, to the trauma I experienced in April, and also from fighting off many diseases and parasites that I encountered in Haiti (typhoid, malaria, etc.). My immune system has definitely taken a beating, so unfortunately I will not be able to return to Haiti for long term right now, although I do plan to go back for visits in these upcoming months. And that harsh reality breaks my heart more than anything. I miss my kids, I can't even look at photos of them because the hurt is too great. I have a hard time walking by the baby and kid section in department stores, I have to turn my head. It's hard for me to see little kids laughing and playing and spoiled, all I can think about are my precious kids back in Haiti. Right now, we are struggling immensely financially as many people stopped the funding after I left Haiti because they didn't understand why I chose to leave, and I can't blame them. I left to protect the children as their lives also became endangered by my presence there- that is the honest truth. Secondly- I left because I needed to get help myself. Although I am no longer on the grounds in Haiti- the children are. And they still need your help. I have a wonderful staff who loves those children as if they are their own. I am terrified of not being able to provide a secure future for my children. I am terrified of separating them- as all they have are each other. I am hoping that within this next month I will be able to make a trip to go and visit my kids for a week. Although the odds are against me, and although I understand the risks, this tug in my heart is too big to ignore.
Everyone keeps asking what they can do for me - right now, the only thing I need is to know that these beautiful children are going to be taken care of. I am not going to stop fighting for them- we have come way to far. These children deserve a future and they deserve to be loved and cared for. I unfortunately cannot support them on my own- if I could I would. I am reaching out to you today to please find it in your hearts to help us. Right now our immediate need is to raise $3,000 in order to keep our house - that pays for the rent for one year (we have already raised the other $7,000- house is $10,000 per year). On top of that we need to raise $3,000 a month to feed, clothe, and educate them. If everyone who reads this blog reaches out to 10 people and asks them to contribute on a monthly basis (whether that be $10, $20, $50, $75, $100, etc) it would make a huge impact. Let's start the chain of pay it forward and spread the word about these amazing children.
Please visit our website at www.himeforhelp.org to make an online donation or add me on facebook (Emily Hime) to view pictures and updates. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
I have grown in ways I never thought possible. It's funny when you go from being the one who constantly wants to do the talking to instead being the one who doesn't say much and just listens. It's incredible how much you truly observe and learn. Although within these past five months I have been hurt tremendously by more than one person- whether it be intentional or unintentional, I have also been blessed to have been surrounded by the most amazing and inspiring people that walk this earth. The relationships I have developed and the bonds that have been created are strong enough to last a life time. You realize who your friends are during the most difficult times of your life- the ones that stick by you even when you are trying to shut out the entire world. The ones who continue to reach out to you but also give you the time and space you need and who understand that sometimes you just need to be left alone. One of the most important lessons I have learned within these past few months is that love conquers all. No matter what events take place- no matter how terrible things become- always choose to love and let go. Hate only keeps us tied down to the negativity that we are trying to abandon. The other thing I have learned is that life is so ridiculously precious. I found myself completely lost and trying to find the "meaning/point of life" however, I have come to the conclusion that the only way to live a meaningful life- is to create one. Surround yourself with only those that lift your spirits. Continue to find things you are passionate about. Don't ever stop learning new things. I came to a point where my entire future became a blur- I didn't see how I could get out of this slump. I gave up hope. If I can tell you one thing- to all of you reading this- that even when your life seems like it is complete hell- that there's no point in carrying on- YOU ARE WRONG. Remarkably enough- thing's do get better in time. You can survive but the only one who can save you is yourself. You have to change your frame of mind and stop focusing on the negatives but instead look at the positives. I can honestly say that my new passion that I have just developed in these past few months saved my life- music right now is my only comfort. It is my go to when everything else seems to be falling apart. Find that- whether it be music, writing, traveling, sports, etc. Look for comfort in the arms of loved ones. Look for wisdom and motivation from the wise. Let other's inspire you. And most of all let you inspire yourself. And never, never, give up.
I would also like to thank the numerous people who have opened their arms, hearts, homes, and wallets to me during these last few months when I was bouncing from place to place and struggling. I definitely would not have made it through this without you. And to family and friends that had to find out through this blog post- I apologize. There were probably many times where I wanted to tell you and just couldn't find the words to do so. Love you all.