I regret laying there as long as I did while his fingers were inside of me. I regret not telling my mother or my friend’s mother or him. I didn’t say, this is not ok, you can’t do this to young girls, you are sick and need help. I regret not telling more people when it happened. This regret lives in my heart, in my lungs, and in my womb.

I regret letting my girlfriend be treated this way by him as well and not doing anything about it. I regret being silent. I regret thinking it was my fault.

I failed to express gratitude to myself for getting out of bed and going to a different room to sleep the rest of the night. I failed to express gratitude to the good men that came in to my life after that, the ones who honored me, respected me. This gratitude lives in my arms, my solar plexus, my legs, and in my feet.

I hurt other men after this, broke them down, betrayed their trust out of the pain and regret and sadness of my lost innocence. I looked at men as possessing the ability to do what that sick man did. I treated men as weak and disgusting at times instead of seeing their beauty and strength. This hurt lives in my eyes. These sad eyes that long for a childhood with a healthy man to hold me.

I failed to recognize the pain and sickness in this man’s life that would lead him to treat a girl like this. I failed to feel compassion for the scared and broken in him. This recognition and appreciation of all humans lives in my heart, my jaw, and behind my ears.

I failed to express with clarity to the people who love me that this happened. To take action and ensure this man never touched a young girl again. These needs now live in my fists, strong and powerful, capable of tearing down walls that block what is good and right.

I failed to express the love for myself, for my family, for my friends, and for my lovers. I failed to express love for the men that are not sick and touching young girls. This love also lives right in the center of my chest. And in my shoulders.

It was that next day that I chose to shut down my power and self-respect. I chose to be a victim and to be afraid of men. UNTIL NOW. This power lives in my whole body. This gratitude lives in my smile and in my dance. Everyday.