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I’ve written the thing, the story, the truth, that I’ve been trying to write for a year now, and I want to both print it out poster-sized-and-laminated for all to see, and bury it on a flash drive in my backyard.

I sort of hate the word “should.”

“You should totally share your story, it will help people,” said one friend.

“Don’t you think you should wait a little while, get some distance/perspective/healing first?” asked another.

“You should think about your children, how will it affect them if you make this public knowledge?” A random said to another random on the Internet, about this very issue.

We should (grrr) really stop shoulding each other and just do what we need to do.

I try not to tell those who have been traumatized that they SHOULD share or not share. And call me crazy, but that whole distance/perspective thing isn’t going to change one single fact about the night […]. If anything, my memory will fade. If anything, if I EVER want to get this story down, it should be now.

I truly appreciate the friend who said my story might help people. I think of all the stories, poems, essays, and blog posts I’ve read by survivors of domestic violence and rape, and how much they’ve helped me—to feel less alone, to feel validated after years of gaslighting, to feel empowered to write my own reality, and to feel like, if I share that reality, maybe at least a few people will have my back. It’s like giving a poetry reading and seeing a couple friendly faces in the audience before you even open your mouth.

I asked for readers for this essay on Facebook, and five people volunteered. I experienced serious anxiety sending this thing to a tiny sample audience; how will I ever publish it, if it’s accepted somewhere? I guess I can worry about that part later. The important thing is the writing, documenting, processing. The insisting that I didn’t dream it. That I lived through it.

How do survivors do this?

Same way we survived, I guess. Somehow.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever written, or your most difficult experience sharing a piece of autobiographical writing?