“When my daughter was about six, we were riding in the car on our way to visit friends and she told me she wanted to be my lover. I knew her concept of lover was somewhat fuzzy, but she had enough idea to feel she wanted that. I responded gently that it wasn’t possible. She quickly added, “I know, I’m too small, but when I’m grown up.’ I explained, ‘Even when you grow up, I’ll still be your Mom and you’ll still be my daughter. We can never be lovers, but we will always love each other in our special way.’ ‘Yes’, she assented, ‘that will never change.’ Then as she got out of the car she turned to me. ‘Mom, don’t say anything to them about what we talked about, okay?’ I took her hand as we walked to the house. ‘Of course not.’
This is the innocent love that abusers exploit.” (The courage to Heal, Bass & Davis)
Our healing process will be a lifelong journey that can offer us deep empathy for others, especially children. I avoided kids at all costs for most of my life. Well, let me re-phrase that, I avoided their parents. Immediately graduating college I became an advocate for abused children and was one of the people who removed children from the home. I was an angry child trapped in an adult body that wanted to seek vengeance on any low-life who would harm a child in the ways I had been. The crazy thing about this time in my life was that I had blocked out all of my youngest years before the age of 13, and had no recollection of any sexual abuse. I did remember wanting to die each night and feeling the impending doom cloud hover over my bed when I opened my eyes each morning. I could re-count traumatic incidents of violence, rage, fear and feelings of suicide, but never had a happy memory. I had sisters, but never remember being around them. I just remember always being by myself and feeling abandoned, alone. To me, it didn’t make sense to have children because they didn’t have a say about what type of home they were born into and I felt it was a cruel joke by God to send us to earth.
Because I never had a sense of belonging or being wanted, I grew up thinking that my reality was the same for everybody, unless of course I entered a friend’s home where love was found. I would venture anywhere I could to gain a loving remark from an adult, often sticking to a friend’s parent like glue. But as I approached my teenage years, the restrictions grew and isolation became a form of survival at home. I could only assume that if I was kept in a constant state of fear that I would be less likely to tell anyone about the daily fits of rage and threats I endured. Nonetheless, I was trapped, often destroying some of my most precious belongings and vowing to never be found should I leave my family one day. Eventually my father kicked me out at age 15, the first of three times in my life that he would disown me. So you can imagine my disdain for domestic violence and the anger it had subsequently produced in my own life. Therefore, my advocacy was a vendetta, a way to let parents know that if I had to show up on their front door, there was nothing they could say or do that would convince me their child should remain in their custody.
It wasn’t until I turned 32 that my sexual abuse memories surfaced. I’ve given account of repressed memories before so I won’t be redundant here, because many years of healing have transpired since I began re-living flashbacks of fondling at age 3. Instead, I wish to share of the gradual process I have made in the past 9 years to no longer see myself as a victim of abuse. I believe it had to begin with my very determined stance to find Daddy in all of it. I couldn’t even trust myself; much less a God up in Heaven who I assumed hated children, so my nurturing of self had to essentially start with me. Because I was used to feeling alone most of my life, I craved affection, but seldom used caution when choosing my company. I was the type who jumped blindly into everything with my eyes shut hoping for a magical ending. Unfortunately, when relationships went sour, so did most of my hopes along with them. I had built this rigid judgmental bubble around myself to sense who could potentially seek too much from me in the area of commitment. If they brought up questions or innuendos concerning sexual content, I would lose words and get flush in the face, change the subject or cut that person out of my life all together. This became a pattern, a coping mechanism if you will, but it would hide just as quickly if I thought sex would gain me the reward of being held.
Now without going into too much of one topic, I want to state for the record that I hated sex and only saw it as an obligation. I never knew why I re-coiled if my father tried to touch me, nor did I understand why men always tried to corner me and have sexual conversations. This would be a great place to explain the control spirit that was assigned to my life through the trauma of abuse, but let’s just say my perception of self and others was manipulated constantly. Demonic spirits no doubt fuel a perpetrator to steal the innocence of a child, but the harassment from them isn’t isolated to the events. It continues. The goal of all evil assignment is to take the child out emotionally before he or she reaches adulthood. Should the child repress such ordeals, it actually buys her time to live a somewhat normal existence until her body starts revealing the truth of what happened when she is older. Essentially, God created our brains and DNA to be specific storytellers of ourselves because they will unlock truths to His mercy when our heart is ready to be healed. The body remembers every assault against it, whether inferred or received because we are spiritual beings, so when emotions erupt without seeming to have cause, it indicates a memory requires inner healing. This is proof that our minds cannot comprehend all the matters of the heart; we don’t even have the capacity to explain all of our emotional needs at times.
I didn’t last long in the position of child advocate because my emotions were all over the place when sexual assault cases came across my desk. My body remembered and related, but my mind had not yet caught up. Yet, the sexual arena was a disturbing topic for me to discuss. I could engage in sex for the purpose of pleasing whatever man I was with, but I was always on the ceiling looking down on the event or allowing my thoughts to drift up to the sky. Sometimes I would remember looking at the tree line from my childhood bedroom window and I’d picture it until the act was finished, but 9 out of 10 times, I felt disgusted with myself for giving into something that I deemed gross. If I could somehow escape sex and just go through life without it, I would be safe. If I could leave the presence of people who were discussing sex, I could walk away judging them for being the sick ones. If I met a man who was willing to wait for sex until marriage then I would know for sure, he would become my husband, because no guy is going to put up with that.
It wasn’t until some trusting mentors entered my life that I began to look at my beliefs concerning my sexuality and dismantle the triggers in present day that put me back in the moment of abuse when I was a child. They lovingly affirmed that my emotions were too raw to have conjured up memories that put me in a state of reliving them. I was able to piece together reasons I did certain things throughout life that hadn’t made sense to me before. It was almost like I was figuring out who I was but unable to really grasp the information as being about me. It was always the same, the scariest thing about remembering the past was facing my fear of it. I realized that my fear about my future was nothing less than planning out diversions to further suffering. So without a moment of pause, I took another leap off a cliff and wrote an email to my family and friends about remembering my past, all of the sexual stuff, and hit the send button.
Like most of my irrational decisions, I hadn’t considered the ramifications that this news would cause. My mother and sisters were on the phone within the hour dredging up every old mantra of worthlessness I felt growing up, reminding me of always being the problem child in the family. It only took a day before one of my sisters sought out the type of therapy I was doing, suggesting that the counselor put the memories in my brain. The screaming, name calling, disowning (again) and fear made me want to recant every word of truth that I believed would bring freedom to my family. My in-laws at the time blamed me, suggested I forgive and forget so I wouldn’t keep my family in distress. Everyone was asking why I had to let the cat out of the bag?
But one thing that had me baffled the whole time was not getting a phone call from my dad. Not one attempt to call or speak to me happened within the first week of my email circulating. A second week passed, then a third and finally a month of continual pleads from my sister to “get psychiatric” help, had come and gone, still without a word spoken between my father and me.
In the meantime, I reluctantly asked Daddy why all of this was going down the way it had. How could I be made the scapegoat in all of this? How could something that happened to me be made into a saga that was about them? I didn’t understand much the next few years, but the pain of rejection, not being believed and then being betrayed by sisters who at least lived their own hell of violence in the same ways I had, was too much to bear. I had to re-enter the hospital for an eating disorder, where I learned starvation was just a false sense of control sexual abuse survivors use because they couldn’t control what was happening to them as a child. On top of that, my nerve started to over fire in my vagina, causing pain at such excruciating levels that I had to sit on ice for relief. No amount of medication could numb out my grief, but hopes that they would, created an addiction to them anyway. I believed that my openness became the perfect cover for my parents. I could now be the diversion from anything they had not done correctly because I looked like the enemy. I was physically irreparable, a manifestation of damage my body finally revealed once my mind conceived what had happened. My mental state was diagnosed from my team of 8 doctors to be symptoms of PTSD, Dissociation and Severe Depression. And so I got divorced and jumped in bed with 5 different dudes over the course of a year and left each one of them afterward because I had committed such a heinous act. I felt like a child looking in all the wrong directions for someone to help me answer life’s questions. Talk about feeling certifiable, I was losing my soul with each reminder of sin. I’d call all my friends to ask if I was going to hell, because I believed I had lost my Christian status along my highway to hell.
And what an amazing revelation of hell it turned out to be. I learned just how hot the enemy could fire up accusation and just how powerfully my Daddy in Heaven would put it out. I was forced to become my own best advocate and face my fears from childhood. I can look back as an abuse survivor and address what was the scariest and hardest obstacles to overcome with a new found anointing, joy instead of mourning. This past month marks 9 years of understanding why I did the things I did, visiting my emotions because of those choices, and being delivered from the assignment of my destruction. The hardest thing, was realizing my parents created a diversion from the abuse by allowing my sisters to become pit bulls on their behalf. Without having to apologize, my father played the victim card and had my sister’s petition against me while proving their allegiance to him. The fear of my life disturbing his perfect appearance was enough to drive my sister into discrediting my character and building upon his innocence. Nobody spoke to me after my last statement of truth, not my aunts or uncles on either side of my parents, and they had been divorced for over 20 years. I just could not believe that everyone thought I would make something like abuse up.
The hardest thing now is accepting that those “bad touches” set me up for failure in relationships because of the amount of confusion I carry over intimacy and sex. It’s hard to believe that I have pain from something that started 38 years ago. Some days I question if I am even a candidate to have children because the pain of hypervigilance and nerve damage concoct the perfect recipe for mental anguish. I’m remaining diligent in seeking safety before Daddy so I don’t opt to isolate and remain alone. It becomes all-encompassing however, when I spend hours in prayer questioning if I’ll ever see life non-sexually. So much of my present day fear looks to discredit trusting people like my boyfriend who has been in the midst of memory lane when my inner child comes out screaming. I have placed boundaries so high around my body that I can question his motive if he comes to close for an embrace. It feels protective to remain abstinent before marriage, but panic intrudes when I recognize my childhood disgust darkens my view of intimacy in the future bedroom. For these new emotions to emerge now, after all this time, I realize just how powerful the potential to ruin a child’s innocence occurs after her body has been violated. I’m still grieving the loss of a normal, loving childhood.
Yet through all my years on this earth, I have found that fearing my future, trying to bottle the passing of it or jumping ahead of it, I am still able to trust Daddy when my heart is ready. I don’t have to behold my abuse as defining my history or my future anymore because I am in the process of gaining my innocence. And my innocence is returning to me as my intimacy with my healer deepens. I am allowing Daddy to slow me down so I can hear His still small voice within my childlike spirit, and I am addressing the deep need to trust Him. I will probably continue it until the day I go home to rest in His arms. My breach of trust was great during my formative years, but I was created in the womb with a prefect sense of trust and closeness. Just because it was stolen from me, doesn’t mean that the capacity for intimacy is gone. What I have now is an arsenal of hope and healing strategies that are weapons of warfare against the enemy should he or his demons try to tell me I am alone on my road of recovery. I leave my history in the palm of my Saviors hand because He guides me into the depths of love that my heart yearns for. Healing is the process of being intimate with the One who is trustworthy while reclaiming my innocence.