So why did I decide to jump out of a plane two miles off the ground?
Because I was afraid to.
When you're raped, your world gets smaller. The rapist is gone, but his legacy remains - a legacy of fear. It is terrible and all-encompassing - it forms a wall. A cage. And it's so easy to just give in to despair, to stay in the cage. I fought against it from the very beginning. The fear of sex - I knew how much that could close me in, so I managed to get back in the saddle, so to speak, within a week. My rapist grabbed me off the street during an evening walk. It would be easy to allow that fear to cage me - to never walk alone, or to only walk at night. But I got past that. Because if I didn't.... he would still own that part of me. And I won't let him.
When I got the e-mail from RAINN telling me about Operation Freefall, I scoffed. "That is just batshit crazy," I said, and I put it aside. Now, I'm not a slacker when it comes to raising money for RAINN - I've averaged $1,700 a year over the past three years, just from Blogathon and other initiatives. I do my part. I did not have to do this to make me feel like I was doing my part for the cause.
But I looked at it, and I thought about it, and I asked myself why I wasn't doing it. And what came out was "I'm scared", and "I can't do that."
And... I won't allow that. I won't allow "I can't" in my life. Because I can damn well do anything I set my mind to - there's no reason why I can't.
And I will not be the sort of person who allows her life to be ruled by fear. I will not be a person who shies away from the hard stuff. I will not be a person who makes decisions based on her fear.
Not just because I'm a rape survivor.
Because I am raising a child, and children learn what they live. It is my responsibility to be what I want my daughter to become. Part of that is living without fear. And part of it is, as I have always told her, "We do whatever we can to help other people, whenever we can."
I'm not rich. So charity work doesn't = me giving lots of money... I can't.
What I have is my voice. What I have is a way with words - a way of reaching over 800 people.
And damned if jumping out of an airplane isn't an attention-getter.
Saturday's skydive was one of the most incredible and powerful experiences of my life. And I didn't do it because I was seeking thrills - I did it because I would not allow fear to have a home within me, or within my daughter. And, most importantly, I did it to raise money for other rape survivors. For the hotline to call when it happens to you, your sister, your daughter. For programs to educate the police, the hospitals. For a support system for these people who need support so very much, so that they'll know that they do not have to dwell in fear. That there is a way through this, that there is another side. That they are not alone. That there is help.
I stood on the precipice on Saturday, looked out into the enormity of the sky and earth, and committed the greatest act of faith and trust possible.
I did it for them.
Operation Freefall is still accepting pledges through May 19. Do this for them. Be there for them. You don't even have to jump out of a plane. :)