I had to step away for a minute in order to catch my breath. The upheaval of the storm swirled around me and beckoned, time slow down. Debris settled. The rubble is recognizable but wholly unwelcome. There were days these past few weeks where I found myself engulfed by an all too familiar feeling, ‘I don’t want to be here – I don’t want to be alive.’ Before I could stop it, my mind collaborated with my feelings, devising ways to make my suicide look like and accident. I lived my life wishing I could die while simultaneously pretending I didn’t feel that way – desperately trying to not feel that way. The tides of this truth washed in quickly and seemed to lift quite a bit once I told my counselor and members of my family. My counselor made me put in place a safety plan (a list of people & numbers to call) in case the suicidal feelings ever become unmanageable. I highly suggest a safety plan if you ever suffer suicidal thoughts.
“Sexual abuse is the most personal and damaging form of betrayal. Recovery from sexual abuse is the most intense and emotionally challenging form of recovery. Survivors of sexual abuse often struggle with powerful issues such as shame, touts of suicide, addictions, and even dissociation. For all these reasons, we strongly recommend that every you (paraphrased) maintain a link with a professional counselor. The ideal situation is for you to begin the recovery process with a professional. Most sexual abuse victims experience profound emotional isolation. Virtually all sexual abuse survivors could benefit from professional care.” -Shelter from the Storm
I think pain requires a witness, it seeks out acknowledgment in order for you to make peace with it.
An injured surfer among the waves, each collision knocks you deeper into sleep. Every swell depletes your energy and your will. The whitecaps diminished my life and from those moments forward, each rise of disappointment, of loss, rejection, betrayal – big or small – punched my gut and smashed into my face. My neck whiplashed back and I was out. You never know how long just one will keep you down. And before you know it, you’re just a droplet that disappears into the sea. Lost. No sense of identity except for the storm and the winds that brought you there. You are the sea. Littered by the sum of everything that’s happened, everything ever done to you, everything you’ve ever done.
Each time it happened, I held my breath. I tried to not notice.
The wave of his presence forced me awake in the middle of the night. I dared not breathe when I heard the rhythmic sound of repetitive motion, flesh slapping against flesh, and his heavy panting. It was my adopted father, Don, master-bating over me as I lay sleeping. In the weeks and months that followed, he continued and advanced to pulling back my bedding and lifting my night clothes as I slept, leaving his ejaculate memento. I tried not to notice. I hid within myself, as far in as I could go, and I left me there.
‘I’ ceased to exist. A false self emerged, operating on auto pilot. My body was just a shell. I’m at the bottom of the sea, pretending to be the sailor.
I hadn’t thought about Don’s midnight trips to my bedroom in years, but as the memory flashed in my mind, all of the repressed emotion and horror within the moments of the happening flooded in. The reality of everything he did – his twisting of my mind and my thinking, my feelings and my will – the truth of all the brainwashing was brought to light. And. It. Killed!
1. make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure.
2. a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas.
3. a method for systematically changing attitudes or altering beliefs, originated in totalitarian countries, especially through the use of torture, drugs, or psychological-stress techniques. any method of controlled systematic indoctrination, especially one based on repetition or confusion.
*What Is Sexual Abuse?
*Any sexual activity – verbal, visual, or physical – engaged in without consent, which may be emotionally or physically harmful and which exploits a person in order to meet another person’s sexual or emotional needs. The victim cannot consent if he or she cannot reasonably choose to consent or refuse because of age, circumstances, level of understanding, and dependency or relationship with the offender.
Types of Sexual Abuse Defined (not an exhaustive list)
Physical Sexual Abuse
- Touching or fondling without consent
- Excessive tickling
- French kissing a child
- Excessive enemas/concern about genitals
- Intercourse/oral sex or sodomy without consent
- Visual Sexual Abuse:
- Exposure to pornography
- Force, manipulation, or coercion of another to observe masturbation or sexual activity of another
- Exposure of genitals
Verbal Sexual Abuse
- Exposure of non-consenting person to sexual jokes, teasing, or graphic sexual descriptions
- Exposure to repeated remarks about the child’s developing body
- Refusing to allow privacy for bathing/dressing
- Name calling of sexual nature-calling someone a slut or whore is sexual abuse
Covert Sexual Abuse
- Observing another person nude without their consent
- Videotaping, without their consent, people having sex
- Forced religious activity that includes sex
- Sexual activity that involves chants and incantations
*Shelter From The Storm
My experiences told me
• You’re ugly! • You’re more than ugly-you’re hideous!
• You’re fat • You’re bad • You’re not worthy of love
• You’re evil • You’re mean • You’re selfish
• You’re a receptacle for garbage
• You’re not meant to have the life you dream
• You’re meant to be used • You’re not equal to everyone else
• You will never truly be loved • You’re not loved • You’re not wanted
• You hate • You are hated • What you want isn’t good
• You’re wants mean nothing to anyone • You don’t deserve boundaries.
• You can’t handle life • You’ll never be happy • You’ll always suffer
• You deserve to suffer • You aren’t even human • You don’t even exist
• You want too much • You are too much • You aren’t enough • You need too much
I’m sure we can add so much more to the list of ugly accusations about ourselves!
The construct of denial is interesting to me. It’s like living underwater. You don’t see or hear or move with accuracy. You try, but it just doesn’t happen. You know what happened and while the reality of it is elusive, the repercussions are apparent. And even when the effects are obvious, you still can’t fully grasp where it comes from and how to fix it.
“Sexual abuse can happen to anyone. Victims can be young or old, male or female, rich or poor. Victims can come from Christian homes and are sometimes abused in those homes [We were middle class, white collar, Christian, and Anita was a elementary school teacher]. Victims of sexual abuse tend to minimize the abuse in order to hide the emotional pain. You may have heard or said things like ‘it’s no big deal’ or ‘he/she didn’t mean anything by it’ or ‘That hasn’t affected my life.’ Regardless of the duration or nature of the sexual abuse, it is a big deal! Sexual abuse does affect lives negatively [It robs our freedom to choose]. We need to know what it is and how to deal with it.” [my own comments in brackets] -Shelter From The Storm
At the beginning of my emotional crash, my husband encouraged me to believe in myself, “You don’t believe in yourself” he said. His statement hit me in a way that is different from the traditional meaning of that statement, so I took a look at the deeper implication. It was more than not believing in my ability, I actually didn’t believe in my own being. ‘I’ ceased existing in order to survive the trauma. How could I believe in my own existence when I wasn’t allowed my own existence? I was the existence of everyone else. For their use. Jeff was right. I didn’t believe in my self. Where was ‘I’?
“For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary.” -from Psalm 27
‘I’ was locked away. Buried under tidal wave after tidal wave. Asleep in a secret place only God knew, where He preserved ‘me’ and kept ‘me’ safe.
All these years, I’ve been able to recite my story. People like you hear it. My counselor hears it and tells me ‘You suffered SEVERE abuse’. And while you see the truth of that, I hear the shell of me say, ‘It wasn’t that bad’ – ‘It sounds worse than it felt’. But denial eventually demands a voice, an audience with you and with God. It also demands a voice in this world.
I haven’t always trusted God. In fact, I blamed him. Often times Anita was at Bible study while I was trapped at home with Don. Outside playing with my brother or my friends, only to be interrupted by Don yelling at me to come inside, he needs to “talk” to me. And Anita wasn’t just at Bible study. She was having an affair with a deacon, meeting him after Bible study while I was being tortured.
Sometimes during church service, while others were singing or listening to the sermon, my mind chanted ‘I hate you God – I hate you God – I hate you God.’ But this didn’t stop God from loving me. It didn’t chase Him away from my side. In fact, it caused His presence even closer. I wish I’d been capable of trusting Him sooner, engaged with this healing process sooner. Thank Grace a way is made for me, even in my failing and God’s timing is always right on time – regardless of my speed – despite my latency.
His promise is this:
“I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden wealth in secret places, in order that you may know that it is I, the lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name.” Isaiah 45:2-3
He did go before me and prepared the way for this point in time. My engagement with healing and truth and love. I had a hard life. I was rarely happy and not sure I ever experienced deep joy. Today I’m alive. I’m in process of learning to embrace my NOW while fully acknowledging my THEN. The security of God’s love helps me. The more I trust in Him, the more He proves I can trust in Him deeply, in all things. There are treasures from the darkness, wealth in these secret places where I slept – waiting for my Lord, the King of Glory to unlock the gates and walk me to freedom.
I’m glad I took that first step, asking Jesus into my heart and life. I have a few more stories to share with you about my childhood experiences, but I can’t wait to begin sharing other stories. Stories where God’s hand is evident for you to see.
The Earth is the LORD’s
A Psalm of David.
The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Lift up your heads, O gates! Be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of Glory may enter! Who is this King of Glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O gates! Be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of Glory may enter! Who is He, this King of Glory? The LORD of Hosts— He is the King of Glory.
This world is broken and broken things happen – yes. Even still I can’t help but feel utterly shattered and disillusioned when heartbreak is a part of my story. I don’t like this. I don’t like dust. But dust is one of your favorite ingredients to use when making something new, and believe you’re working right now to do this very thing in my life. I know you’ll never forsake me, but that you will go to great lengths to remake me. Thank you. In Jesus name, Amen.” -From the book, It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way