When I clicked the live button on my blog last week, I had no idea what to expect … or what I was unleashing.

People have used words like “brave” and “inspiring,” but what I wrote was for me … to slay one of my inner demons. Perhaps the most evil of the horde.

I feel like I’ve experienced every possible emotion this week, and in combinations that never occurred to me. The predominant one, however, is overwhelming let-it-all-go relief. I didn’t see that coming.

I knew I would be putting down a burden I had carried for far too long. What I did not realize is that the people who know me and care about me — the ones who apparently always saw me despite my efforts to be invisible — would each take a little piece of that ugly emotional boulder from me and trade it for something shining and beautiful.

It amazes me that simply stating three words — “I was raped” (I still stutter over them. Will I ever not?) — was so immensely cathartic. “Liberating” is how a friend who had a similar experience described coming clean. She’s right. It’s more liberating than I thought possible.

I cannot honestly say that I am over the inherent shame of what that first/last college boyfriend did to 18-year-old me. Emotions buried that long don’t vanish in a week. How I wish they did.

I can, however, say unequivocally that I’m in an immensely better headspace than I was just a week ago. As boggling as that is to me, I know without a doubt that this is my new truth.

Butterfly chrysalisLast week, I used an image of a butterfly fresh from its chrysalis to sum up what would turn out to be perhaps the most important thing I’ve ever written. At least so far.

When I posted to Facebook the next day that my heart was lighter than it had been in years, a friend who knew me way back when and knew something was not quite right with me commented, “And the butterfly spreads her wings for the very first time…”

A newly hatched butterfly is a good metaphor for how I see myself at this moment in time, but I think there might be a better one.

This is going to seem like a non sequitur but I promise it’s not.

Earlier this year, my best friend from high school published a book of poetry called Kintsukuroi: More Beautiful, More Broken. The title stuck with me even though I had no idea what it meant.

A quick look at the infallible source of all knowledge known as Wikipedia told me that Kintsukuroi is Japanese for “golden repair.”  It’s the “art of mending cracked or broken pottery with gold to accentuate and celebrate the beauty in the broken,” according to my friend’s Amazon page.

“The philosophy behind the technique is to recognize the history of the object and to visibly incorporate the repair into the new piece instead of disguising it,” Christopher Jobson wrote on ThisIsColossal.com last year. “The process usually results in something more beautiful than the original.”

While I was not broken by what I endured when I was 18, at least not completely, I was badly cracked. Desperately in need of mending, although it would be years before I figured that out, and even longer before I was able to take those all-important first steps toward healing.

The response to my post astounded to me.

With every comment, email, message and text, the people who love me — to say I am fortunate to have such a secure safety net is a massive understatement — not only allowed me to give them a piece of my burden, they left a bit of gold behind to fill in my fissures and chinks.

I’ve come to realize that these now-golden scars are part of the person I’ve become. I’m strong and resilient. I know that now. Some say I’m brave and inspiring. I don’t see it so I’ll let others to decide if I’m one, the other or both.

And I might even beautiful in my own way – not despite my not-quite-brokenness, but because of it. I believe this might be the first time I’ve ever thought of myself like that.

I am grateful for the bits of gold that seal my cracks, adding new dimensions to who I am and who I’m going to become. Always a work in progress, I’m grateful that I finally found the courage to let people in, to let them help me.

I only hope I can return the favor.