Written By: 3EB Expert, Sabrina Boccaccio
As a fan of Third Eye Blind the last twenty years, there have been a lot of lyrics that have resonated with me, that felt as if they had been wrenched from my very own soul, written down and performed just so I could have words to match what went on inside of me. For as long as I can remember, I had wanted a tattoo with one of these lyrics. But which one? There were so many that I felt so deeply. I couldn’t choose, so I held off. Then Dopamine was released.
The first time I heard “Say It,” was the night most of the Misfits first got their hands on the digital version. We all chatted via Facebook as we listened to it. It was past midnight, and I was sitting outside on my lanai watching an incoming storm, rolling in from the coast. I remember feeling high from the satisfaction of Dopamine being everything I had hoped for, everything that I dreamed the next Third Eye Blind album would be after that unbearably long six-year wait.
Watching the purple and blue lightning popping off in the distance, K-Flay’s spoken word began and my first thought was, “Is this Stephan talking to himself?” My second thought was, “Oh my god, this was meant for me.”
You see, I’m a writer. Not only am I a writer, but I'm also a survivor. I’m a survivor of a lot of things, but in particular, I am a survivor of long-term childhood sexual abuse. I was sexually abused by my grandfather who was my guardian from infancy until his death when I was six. At age four, he raped me, and I was hospitalized because of it. The trauma being so significant my lungs had collapsed, and it took the hospital staff forty-five minutes to get a catheter into me. It’s the reason my children had to be delivered via emergency cesarean. It’s the reason I had to have a hysterectomy at age twenty-five in 2011. It’s the reason I’ve spent the last twenty years in therapy.
Being a writer and a survivor means that my writing, fiction and otherwise, are usually focused on abuse and healing, love and neglect, fear and bravery; Facing down demons, backing down bullies, and walking with the wounded. For years I thought about writing a book about my experiences. I thought about becoming an advocate. I thought about speaking out, educating, teaching others how to prevent what happened to me from happening to their children.
But I was terrified. I was scared that people would judge me, that they would think I was disgusting, or wonder what I had done to provoke it. These thoughts, of course, are unrealistic. They’re the damage leftover from a lifetime of self-blame and crippling self-doubt.
I stayed silent, and the pain festered.
I watched news reports and read articles about child porn rings, kidnappings that led to child trafficking, kids not being protected or believed, little girls being forced to marry their rapists. I would lie awake at night, obsessing over how I could keep my own daughters safe, feeling the weight of all those other children living the nightmare that I had survived, afraid to sleep because of who might visit me in the darkness of my dreams.
And then I heard it. “Live inside a curse or make a gift to the universe and let it go.”
Oh God, it sounded like a gift. It was as if I had been given a chance to breathe for the first time in years. How beautiful. How simple it sounded. How RIGHT.
I had told my story a few times anonymously, but suddenly I couldn’t get it out of my head. “Live inside a curse.” No, I didn’t want to anymore. I had lived inside of it and suffered because of it for too long. What options did I have? “Make a gift to the universe.” I put a name and a face to my story. I shared it with everyone who asked, and sometimes those who didn’t. I wrote an essay about my abuse, and it was published in an anthology about parenting with PTSD. I had stories published in local zines and beyond. I joined women’s groups. I facilitated women’s groups. Handed out literature. Joined organization after organization dedicated to the education and prevention of childhood sexual abuse. I became a Steward of Children. I volunteered for RAINN. Every time I told my story, someone else would come to me, text me, message me, write me, telling me theirs. Most of which started with, “I’ve never told anyone this before…”
“Live inside a curse or make a gift to the universe.”
"And let it go…” A tightness had eased from within my chest. The pain that was burning up inside of me from so many years of keeping it all in started to fade. Nightmares from repression lessened. It became easier to discuss, aloud, not just in writing. I could look people in the eye and say, “This happened to me, this is who I am, and this is what I want to do,” without fear of judgment, or abandonment, or disbelief. I stopped thinking about the pain and damage that had been caused by my abuse so much. It didn’t rule every decision I made anymore. I felt a hope and peace that I had not felt before at the knowledge that I was helping others in their healing journeys and possibly even keeping children from facing the same fate that I had faced. The rough waters within me felt as if they had calmed.
I said it. I made my gift to the universe. I let it go.
Oh yeah, and I finally found my tattoo.