Sometimes all we want (and need) is to know that we’re not alone.
Feelings of loneliness and isolation can be devastating to physical and mental health, and can lead young people down the paths of self-harm, addiction, bullying or violence. Under these conditions, healthy relationships, self-esteem and even academic learning can become virtually impossible.
For these reasons – and more – Girls With Sole introduces a special weekly blog spot called Voice of Soles to give girls a place to share their stories in a nonjudgmental place, to discover the healing power of the written word, and to be reminded that their lives and their stories matter, and that they are not alone.
Voice of Soles gives girls a place to empower themselves and others by giving voice to their stories. It’s written by girls, for girls, providing a safe space to share heart felt thoughts and ideas – and as a result – inspire others to do the same.
If you would like to share your story on Voice of Soles – please email Liz Ferro at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story can be emailed in a Word doc, and be sure to include your age and how you would to be identified. (For example, your first name, first and last name, initials, or anonymous)
Girls With Sole proudly presents our second guest post in our new feature, Voice of Soles.
Reclaiming the Girl
By Becky Perkins (age 38)
Sometimes it takes a while to remember who you really are, to reclaim what was yours to begin with. For me, it took 25 years.
One day when I was 12 years old, a neighbor whom I admired and trusted told me he wanted to show me how to be a woman. When I failed to follow his “lesson plan,” he became violent. He choked me, raped me, and called me names I had never heard before. It was one afternoon in an otherwise ordinary life, but it changed me forever.
I told no one about it for over a decade. I was blessed to live in a loving home and I enjoyed school, but I still suffered with my secret. Until he moved away, I was terrified that my neighbor would rape me again or kill me. I tried drowning myself in a nearby creek. I sniffed gasoline and chlorine bleach to help ease my anxiety, and when I felt especially bad, I would lightly burn the skin on my thighs with a lighter I had stolen from a friend’s dad. Over time, these impulses toward self-harm faded and I was able to escape into my studies and music. But what remained was a hatred for my body. I believed what my neighbor had told me, that I was dirty and disgusting. My body meant nothing to me.
Until recently, I only exercised if I felt the need to punish myself for being too fat or too lazy. (I hated exerting myself, and I really hated to sweat). But in June of 2014, thanks to a mutual friend, I learned about Liz Ferro and Girls With Sole, and I started running. I ran my first 5K a month later, and read “Finish Line Feeling” shortly after that. I can’t say that I fell in love with running (I still have days when I question the sanity of it!), but I did fall in love with the way it made me feel. A few months ago, I joined a gym near my home to add strength to my new habit of running, and it has become my sanctuary!
I knew that I was a changed woman when one day at the gym I looked in the mirror as I lifted weights, sweat pouring off of me, and I was not disgusted but delighted at the woman staring back at me. I now have a love for my body that I’ve not felt since I was child. My body finally feels whole and free – something to be challenged and nurtured, not neglected or shamed. For so long I’ve been chasing a remedy for the feeling of being disconnected from my body, and I have finally found that remedy in fitness. Not only am I physically and mentally healthier, but I am setting, pursuing, and reaching goals in all parts of my life that I never would have dared to even consider before. I am a 38 year-old woman and I finally feel alive!
I believe in the mission of Girls With Sole because fitness has enabled me to reclaim the girl inside who was stolen from me years ago. I believe in Girls With Sole because every girl is beautiful and special, and ever girl deserves to feel whole and free – no matter how old a girl she is! We are all survivors.
One of these days, I plan to run a marathon of my own. When I do, as with other races, the feeling of accomplishment and elation in crossing the finish line will be summed up in two words: girl power!