Anyone that follows my blog... ehem, all two of you... has probably noticed that the tone has changed over the last year. I've written less and what I have written, some of it has been almost cryptic. There's a reason for that.
I've been struggling with this question: How do I write my story when it involves so many others?
Perhaps this is the answer:
Also, Ernest Hemingway said, "Write hard and clear about what hurts."
So here it is:
So here it is:
I was sexual abused as a child.
The pit of snakes in my stomach are alive and biting after typing that for all the world to see. Shame. And yet, I feel empowered. Strength is running through my veins at the liberation that owning this statement brings. It's not that I need to wear it as a badge, but not being able to have an open dialogue about it is suffocating. And yet, having an open dialogue about it often leaves me feeling too exposed. Ya know? Vulnerability hang-overs suck.
Mostly, I don't want this thing to have power over me any longer. For, as William Ernest Henley said,
"It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul."
This fact, these incidences are an integral part of my existence. It's not who I am, but it has shaped me. It does not define me, but it is a piece of my puzzle.
Over the years, I've had to work to learn a few things: I did nothing wrong or deserving of abuse. I am not an abuser. I have broken the cycle that has existed in my family for who knows how many generations. And, perhaps most important, I am not alone.
This is where I am, where I've been. Healing. Finally.
I have been diagnosed with PTSD, clinical depression, anxiety attacks, and dis-associative tendencies. But let me tell you what else I have: COURAGE. DARING. FAITH. KINDNESS. FORGIVENESS. PERSEVERANCE. LOVE. JOY.
It's all a co-mingled mess. On a good day, I can separate it out.
I've had a several experiences lately that have given me the drive and inspiration to be more vocal about what's happened to me. First, I was introduced (via the internet) to Lena Strickling, an amazing teen girl who used her Wish from the Make a Wish Foundation to create a video in hopes of encouraging others who have been sexually abused. Please take a minute to watch her video here.
Another push in the "coming out" direction has been reading other women's blogs about their experiences. The strength in owning what has happened to you without the shame of it clinging to you is an indescribable thing. I wasn't sure I could pull it off. I've been leery of how the implications of being open about my past might effect my family. But here it is.
My hope is that someone else hurting and in the need of healing can, at the very least, know they are not alone.
For now, I leave you with this:
What have I learned from my abuse? First, that despite the awfulness of it all, God was with me in it then and He is with me in it now. It would be easy to rage at God, and I have to admit that I have from time to time, that He didn’t rescue me, spare me. The ‘how could you’ and ‘why didn’t you’ questions have stormed my mind frequently and, for today, I have made peace with them, knowing that God does not allow us to experience pain in vain. Though I do not always see or understand the full breadth of His purposes, I know He has a plan. I know His plan includes my happiness, my redemption, my healing. His plan most definitely includes my rescue. I’ve learned to submit to His purposes and stop letting my expectations of how things should have been or how I think they should be now rob me of my happiness and peace in this moment, on this day.
I’ve also learned to be patient in my healing. So often I get frustrated that I am crying again, lashing out at my kids again, pushing my husband away again… I curse myself for slipping backwards, for losing progress. I used to tell myself everything was going to be okay because someday I wouldn’t be working on these things anymore. Someday, I’d be whole and healed and could finally move on. Someday these things wouldn't be a part of me.
I think often that we assume that because the Atonement can heal all things, that God will heal all things, and we (read I) become very grumpy when He doesn’t. However, I’ve learned over the years, that it’s okay that He doesn’t heal everything. Also, that, in fact, it’s best for me and my progression that He doesn’t erase it all, and, certainly, not all at once. It's taken me thirty-five years to be able to face the pain, I can't expect it to be gone overnight. We all, no matter what has caused us pain, occasionally experience echoes of that pain. Phantom pains, indeed. Even Christ still carries His scars. Little by little, I am learning to live with mine. The pain is less each time it resurfaces. And, through my continued awareness of my reactions to the pain and trauma, I am getting better at course-correcting my reactionary behavior to the ghosts of my past.
Line upon line. Sometimes, most of the time, it's the only way to live.