I’ve shared bits of my life with you but there is so much more. When your life is stolen from you as a child you don’t realize the impact it will have later. It’s just your normal life – it’s what you know. Then you start to grow up and slowly realize something is wrong. It’s almost something like this…
For dinner my mom would sometimes make us white rice with beef tips and gravy – we loved it. The savory meat and gravy would be placed on top of the lumpy, clumpy, sticky rice. The texture of the rice was always served to us that way. One day while eating dinner at a friend’s house they served rice. This rice was completely different – it was tender and fluffy. I took a bite and thought – something is wrong with this rice and I don’t like it. I was too young to understand that this rice was perfectly cooked. I was just used to eating gummy, poorly cooked rice. I learned to like something that wasn’t right or good.
Abuse is an evil bitch. It eats away at every part of your body, mind and soul and will completely swallow you up if you let it. The cruel joke is that it can make you believe the terrible scars left behind IS REALLY WHO YOU ARE! It takes every ounce of your being to fight against it, and even then sometimes you don’t win. Completely understandable to me how people look to numb themselves in attempt to quiet those demons. All you ever desire is to be free of it.
I read the letter the rape victim wrote to Brock Turner (the former Stanford swimmer accused of sexual assault) that was read in court. She described how she felt after examined by nurses in the hospital: “I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”
She perfectly described me.
Once the abuse stopped – I was left with my body, thoughts and memories. How are you ever free of those things? Nearly impossible. Fast forward through my life – I’m happily married with 3 amazing sons. Experiencing unconditional love for the first time in my life and I was scared. I dreaded the day my family discovered the real me because it would all be over. I knew I needed help but I didn’t know what to do. The demons were becoming louder.
Through a series of events I ended up attending a weekly small group at church. I had NO desire to take part in it, but God had other plans. We met and discussed things happening in our lives, and would pray and encourage each other. I felt like such a fish out of water – so foreign and uncomfortable to me. How could I ever share my past, struggles or fears? What would they think of me? Could I trust them to keep what I shared private? It was just too much for me.
Almost a year had passed and our group continued to meet. Throughout that time they had all shared such deep personal stories. Did it help me to do the same? No, I still refused to be open and vulnerable. I only shared things that I considered to be safe. In my heart I REALLY wanted to but I just couldn’t do it. Inside I felt like such a fraud and failure. I was nervous these wonderful ladies would also discover the real me. See a pattern? One day our group was getting ready to pray and wrap up. My heart ached because I wanted to reciprocate the trust and authenticity these woman freely gave me. As I closed my eyes to pray in my mind I called out to God and said “help me, I’m afraid”.
Words can never fully describe what happened in that moment. I saw my true self. I saw who God created me to be – every part of me. My personality, my heart, my mind, EVERYTHING. Some might say I saw the things I wished to be. The things I saw I never knew were possible. It felt like I was standing on the edge of myself. It was amazing and beautiful and I was truly blown away. After that experience I was willing to do anything if there was any chance I could be her.
The next week I was open and vulnerable and began to share my heart out.
Trust for me was terrifying but it was a crucial. foundational piece of my healing. The more I shared the easier it became – my new normal. I wish I could tell you that this silenced the demons, but it didn’t. It was, however, a necessary step (of many) to prepare myself to fight to take back my life.