It is Well with My Soul
The committee filed back into the small, windowless room and took their places behind the narrow table. As the chairman cleared his throat and prepared to deliver the verdict that would change both our lives forever, I held my breath and prayed. Prayed they had done the right thing. And that if they hadn’t, I’d have the strength to walk out of that room with my head held high, regardless.
The verdict was read, and as I heard the word guilty, I felt a sense of relief and release, leaving me lightheaded and unable to speak. Some have asked me if I felt happy in that moment. Happy? No, I wouldn’t say so.
There is no happiness in exposing someone else’s crime and opening yourself up to a world of criticism, in the process.
She’s lying. She’s crazy. She’s making this up.
But each story was told, and in the end, that’s all we have. Our own stories to tell.
And they listened, and they believed, this group of adults and peers. And they gave me the validation that my wounded psyche so desperately needed to begin to heal and press on.
Because that’s all I ever wanted. To move on and be okay again. And to try and make sure that he could never, ever do this to anyone else. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t speak up, even though I knew the deck was stacked against me.
After all, he was rich, and I was not. He was a big deal on campus, and I was not. He had influence, and I did not. He was the untouchable, unthinkable wolf in sheep’s clothing, yet to be exposed. And although I hated to be the one to do it, I knew I had no choice.
And for this, I lost everything. Most of my friends, my reputation and the right to enjoy a carefree college experience. Instead, I got stalked by reporters, hate mail from his friends and ostracized by the student body, at large.
But throughout all this turmoil, there was a small flame inside of me that never burned out, like a pilot light on a trusty old furnace. It would have been easy to hate myself, second-guess my actions and lose my mind completely.
And looking back, although I lost so much, I gained infinitely more. Dignity, self-respect and peace of mind in knowing that I am strong. I am a survivor.
I don’t care to think about what shape my spirit would be in today if I had allowed someone to break me down and cross lines that should never be crossed and not say or do a single damn thing about it.
And regardless of what anyone thought of me back then, or even today, I am right with myself and my soul.
And I think that’s all God wants from us.
This was a tough one, but so worth it to link up with other inspiring writers for yeahwrite’s summer series.