You aren’t who you think you are.
You aren’t who others think you are.
You are what you think others think of you.
I worked with a woman, Shanoa, who was left by her husband when it was found out she was with child due to a sexual assault. She was shamed by her family, her community, and the one who were supposed to love her no matter what.
You know…for better or worse. Till death do us part.
From the couch, Shanoa said to me through tears of anger, “I married him. He didn’t marry me.”
Her Soul was Murdered.
Shanoa was suicidal because she was thrown away by her family while the rest of the world didn’t care about her pain. She was even betrayed by a society and was mandated to share custody with her rapist.
“I have to share my child with my rapist. How is this happening to me?”
She was the center of the galaxy in her own Hell, with the demons she summoned from the depths of her unconscious there to torture her as her company all the while the key of freedom had been in her bosom the whole time.
She couldn’t use that key to freedom because the act of the rape and the act of being thrown away by everyone took away her ability to think rationally, it erased her identity as a good woman, as a wife, and as a daughter. She was brainwashed by all their messages, doubting that she was even raped and believing that she was just some thot that asked for what happened to her.
As time passed, and as she worked on her Hell, she realized that others didn’t just naturally know that she was a rape victim and she wasn’t shunned by people for being a divorced single mother.
She came into a session and showed me a picture of the Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. Icarus had wings that were attached to him by wax and when he flew too close to the Sun he fell to the earth. In this painting, Icarus is drowning, but he’s off to the side and not the center of the picture. We see a man plowing, ships sailing and a city in the distance.
The world does not care about Icarus.
The world does not care about Shanoa.
This is a double-edged truth. The world does not care about her and this comes out in the courts treating her beyond poorly. It’s a curse. It’s also a blessing because she can actually live in the world, regain her career, regain her body, and love and be loved again.
She still has those days where she sits in her shower, weeping as she tries to feel clean again by letting the water wash away everything down the drain. She’s even put a dream catcher above her bed to help with the nightmares. And sex, well…that’s complicated.
But she knows that she is the one that cares the most. Her husband is long gone and she has walked away from everyone who shunned her and kept those who loved her, close.
No one caring allows Shanoa to be a woman. She just wants to be a woman.
Akhtar, S. (2018). Comprehensive Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Routledge.