It was over 25 years ago. Do I really need to air my dirty laundry now?
Shouldn’t I just keep my Stepford Wife game face on? Why should I even write this? What if people see me differently? Won’t it be awkward?
I heard a wise woman say that sometimes like a breached baby, God will push on you to try and get you to move. I have felt the push to write this and I started it a hundred times, but I never had the guts to finish it.
My first clue was the day we heard a survivor talk about it in my large moms group. You could hear a pin drop. I felt all of the silent tears in the room falling in unison with mine. It is widespread. And it is heartbreaking.
I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. And I get it. For almost all of my life, I have known the torturous mindset that follows your heart and mind, long after the physical has passed.
I know what it’s like to be a young girl scared in bed at night, with your covers clenched around your neck. Waiting for steps on the stairs, scared to fall asleep.
And I know the anger that later comes from knowing you had to grow up that way.
I know the self-consciousness of your body and wanting to keep it hidden in oversized clothes. And quitting sports so you don’t have to show the movement of your developing body.
I know the tears. When you pull away from relationships just before they start to form any real meaning, and you have the audacity to feel lonely or left out.
I know the anger. The fire-burning anger that lies beneath. Waiting for any opportunity to strike. And lash out at anyone who will take it.
I know about feeling robbed of the sacredness of a physical touch, and the attitude that your body is no more sacred than a dumpster.
I feel the heartbreak of knowing that I was not violated by just one man in my childhood.
I know the mental prison. You aren’t good enough. You’re dumb. You’re fat. You weren’t enough to be held sacred. And no one will ever want damaged goods.
I know what it’s like to wake up one day and suddenly realize that your siblings or other loved ones could be next.
I know the embarrassment and shame of living in a small town when it all goes down and privacy isn’t an option.
I know how maddening it is to feel like your childhood was traded for another’s selfish choices.
I know what it feels like to want to run up the length of the tallest mountain and scream with your loudest voice from the highest peak with the tightest clenched fist: “YOUR ONLY JOB…. WAS TO LOVE ME!!!!!”
I know all about the tragedy of this. Because now I’m an adult, and I know how easy it is to love a precious child. And want to protect them at any cost.
It was a lengthy and important part of the journey, but the point of this is not to share the sad inner workings of my adolescent mind. The point of this is to share the happy ending.
I coasted through life just fine, I grew up to be a fully functional adult. I graduated from college and kept busy with a good job, an awesome husband, and our first baby.
We started to go through a tough financial and emotional time, and I felt drawn back to church for fellowship.
Soon after that, I heard a woman that had a long history of sexual abuse get up and tell her powerful story to the congregation. I was so moved by her, and I knew if she could overcome all that she did, then I had my own work to do.
I went through counseling in my younger years, but I wasn’t really emotionally mature enough for it to be effective. Though I was fine on the surface as an adult, I knew I was still dealing with the fallout of what happened to me.
I went back and dealt with it again in counseling. I did a lot of praying. It was so hard to go back to that time. But it got me here.
Do you remember the old “out-of-control teen” boot camps on Sally Jesse Raphael way back when? I used to love watching those.
The “before” was uncomfortable and hard to watch. But I loved seeing the “after.”
After they found out what was causing the teens to act out and started to deal with it, they always looked so calm and peaceful afterwards. The angry scowls were gone, and they were relaxed and at peace.
Here is a recent picture of me. I don’t like taking pictures much, but I do like this one. It is my “after.”
The only thing that healed me was accepting Jesus. I tried being tough and healing myself for so many years. But there was no way I could do it alone. Only Jesus brought my broken heart through it. I now know love and a beautiful, priceless inner peace.
We all have something that has hurt us. But you get to choose what to do with it.
I can’t change what happened. I can only be a testimony to others and offer hope through my story. If I can lead just one person to the light at the end of the tunnel, then revealing all of this about myself is worth it.
I approached the woman that shared her story with the congregation that day, and I asked her if she would baptize me. She agreed. She reached me by sharing her story. So I hope to reach you by sharing mine.
Below is the video of my emotional baptism. The band played “Healer” afterwards and it was so fitting. It was three years ago, and I’m still going strong. Healed by my Healer.
There is light at the end of your tunnel my friend. And you are worthy of being held sacred. Reach out for help if you need it. I guarantee you aren’t alone.
You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease
I trust in You
I trust in You
I believe You’re my healer
I believe You are all I need…….