The Map

by Samantha Tucker, Grants Manager, Safe Harbor

When I was 12, I was tired of being a tomboy and I wanted to be a cheerleader… to give bows and skirts a chance.  Tryouts were a several-day process of learning one chant and one cheer (those are apparently two very different things), then performing them in front of a judging panel.  Simple enough. 

I started out overconfident – after all, I was a gymnast and I could tumble across the floor like a rock skipping across water.  What more could it take?  But as the time drew closer my confidence lessened.  I suddenly felt less cute than the other girls, like I was wearing a costume.  I felt out of place.  I felt ill prepared.  My nerves hurt my stomach and I thought I might cry.

I walked into the gym and the panic intensified.  I froze.  There I stood, ponytailed girls chanting all around me, my feet stuck to the ground and my lips pressed closed.  It was awful.  How had I gone from an easygoing athletic girl to someone I’d never known myself to be?

Jennifer describes being a victim as being in many little pieces without knowledge of how to put the pieces back together.  What a powerful way to depict the experience.  Having worked at Safe Harbor for eight years, I’ve never heard it phrased this way but it very much resonates with me.  As I listened to her, I recalled that feeling from back when I was 12 years old – I’d known what I was capable of and what I needed to do.  But those feelings of inadequacy, of fear, of insecurity, and of panic were so much stronger.  They were completely debilitating. 

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