I’ve always believed in love. And now I’ve had it returned to me in kind, but there was a long period of time in my life where love and self love were ideas that I’d only see play out in movies and the lives of other people. Never me.


When I was in college, after a series of anxiety ridden failures, I distanced myself from my caring friends and associated with some not so great people. They were the kind of people who were enablers of individuals who were struggling with their own self worth. I came upon the group because we lived in the same dorm together and my friends and I ran into them in the common areas. The drinking and the partying we did numbed the sting from my endless stream of professional and academic failures, and after a while for me, it was either numbness or self harm, so my sick version of self-preservation kicked in and I just chose to be one of the numb partiers in this group. The only way I can tell the rest of the story is to do so surgically so please don’t mind the detached tone:


The sexual assault that happened unfolded like so: I liked this guy and he knew I liked him. When we first met he liked both me and my roommate and tried his chance with both of us. But the prude in me was still alive and kicking and hadn’t made way for the wayward partier I eventually became, so he never got past a simple peck on the cheek. Fast forward several months later and we were at a party together. We both got really drunk and I became unresponsive when he took advantage of me. Woke up to it, then passed out. The next day, I overheard him telling someone he wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole because I was short, fat, and Indian. Short. Fat. Indian. Those words still kill me. I had wanted to be physical with him, but not like that. And I didn’t know I was allowed to be upset or allowed to tell anyone. “No one would ever love me,” I thought. And on top of that, to be so publicly rejected even after being taken from so harshly burned like a slow fire until the mixed feelings burned a hole right through my self worth.


In the months that followed I began an abusive relationship with a “nice guy” who basically guilted me into a relationship because we were friends and he wanted more when I didn’t. The last frog I kissed before I met my prince was the player who gave me my first kiss in high school and wanted to give us a second chance after seeing how professionally successful I’d become. I saved up to visit him only to be hidden from his roommates and stood up in front of his colleagues because I was pudgy.


You see, the thing with not understanding and talking about sexual assault is the mental gymnastics your mind does to your self worth. When the last chance of owning what happened to you and moving on is minimized, you potentially take from yourself and others the ability for them to be the hero of their story...forever trapping yourself or them in a cycle of victimhood. I thank @MannMukti and the communities it operates in for giving brown girls and guys a chance to reclaim their narrative. I was finally able to find my happy love story and I’m sharing this so that everyone reading knows they’ll find theirs too if they haven’t already.