When I was in high school I wanted to be a famous singer. I did everything I could to make that dream come true. I took voice lessons, I was in every kind of choir I could join, I did solos at our schools talent show and won first place two years in a row. I worked hard.
When it was time to apply for college I only wanted to go to one place; Berkelee College of Music.
And so I did.
When I found out I had been accepted to Berkelee I was ecstatic! I felt like I was going exactly where I needed to go and doing exactly what I needed to do. All my hard work paid off.
Arriving in Boston was exciting and scary. All my life I lived in little Berlin Connecticut. My exposure to the city, any city, was almost nonexistent. I did my best to adjust, though, making new friends and going to my classes. All the while there was a storm brewing inside of me but I didn’t realize it until it was too late.
It started with my dreams. I would wake up in a cold sweat, in a strange place, with people I had only just met. I wasn’t home. But I guess I had to leave home in order to begin to process what had happened to me. Of course, I didn’t want to face it and I couldn’t tell any one about it. I felt totally alone, confused, scared, hurt, overlooked, & abandoned. I didn’t want to face the truth.
The truth is, I was molested.
Not much else could have more successfully derailed me. And it did. I began to sleep more and more. As much as I could. Not because I wanted to dream, but because I wanted to not be awake. I didn’t want to feel any of the things I was feeling. I didn’t want to remember any of the things I was remembering. I worked hard to forget, but I couldn’t. The only thing my mind would not reveal is who the perpetrator was. I wanted it all to go away, but it wouldn’t. I started struggling in my classes because I couldn’t focus, which wasn’t like me. I was an excellent student and I always gave my all to anything that had to do with music. But I was failing at this. My big break, my chance to do what I always wanted to do, my dream come true was crashing. I was sinking deeper and deeper into depression with no lifeline.
I tried everything I could think of to make me feel better. Sex, drugs, shopping. None of it helped. All of it created a bigger problem in my life, exacerbating my already deep depression. I sunk deeper. The means by which to “fix” my problems made it worse than it already was. Smoking pot affected my voice. Shopping racked up credit card debit, a card that wasn’t in my name, & that was for essentials and emergencies only. And having sex got me pregnant. Did I love the person whose baby it was? Yes. As complicated as our relationship was, I did love him to the best of my ability. Unfortunately, at the time, my ability to love someone else was so skewed and distorted because my ability to love myself was the same. He was good to me. It felt so strange. It scared me so much that I couldn’t get over it. I was young, only 19. I had an abortion.
That was it for me.
I was failing at my life’s dream. For the first time in my life I realized that I had been molested as a girl, over the span of five years. My friends didn’t recognize me anymore. My family disowned me. And I gave up on myself.
My family would not come pick me up at the end of the semester. I had no place else to go, so the guy I was dating at my summer job before college, came to get me. Things got worse before they got better. I attempted suicide three times. He was there through it all. And although he had asked me to marry him, our relationship didn’t last. I was still in such a bad place, and at the time on way too much antidepressant medication. I was no semblance of Sarah.
(I’ll be skimming over quite a bit of what happened after that just because I will cover those things in detail another time. And if I got into it all now this would be a book not a blog post.)
Once he left I met my abusive ex-husband. After years of not singing because I felt like a failure, I tried to join a choir. After a few practices he strangled me. When it was over he said, “Let’s see if you can sing now.”
That is the worst it’s ever been for me. I know I could have died on several occasions. There were times I wished he had killed me. At least I wouldn’t hurt so wretchedly any more.
But I lived.
And here I am. I worked very hard in counseling to process a lot of my past. Four weeks ago I went to a hypnotist to figure out who molested me. Now I know.
Through it all, for better or worse, I had my voice. Glorified. Praised. Beautiful. Stifled. Fearful. Oppressed. Stolen.
Whatever it was, whatever it is, I have taken it back.
My voice is mine now. It will always be mine. Weather singing solos or in a choir, screaming for help, or telling my story, this is my voice. I will use it as much as I can to help people, to teach people, to comfort people & to inspire people. These things that I’ve been through are not who I am, they’re just part of my journey. I am not perfect, but I know I am strong. I’m still here, after all. I know I have something to say that can change people’s lives. And so I will. Because I still can.