(First, time reading? Please start at the original post in this series.)
After, praying that night I walked my journey as if I was wearing high heels on a cobblestone street. I fell and I fell hard. I had to deal with ANGER. I was pissed, fuming mad, bitter. Mad at my parents for raising me in dysfunction, mad at myself for being so pitiful, mad at those who offended me and lastly, mad at God. How could He have allowed this to happen? I did not have any therapy. I was a college student who could I trust with these dark secrets? I could not pay for a therapist; I did not know where to begin to find one. I turned to books on sexual abuse and my new relationship with Christ as my source of healing.
The first step: Forgiving me. I literally looked at my reflection in the mirror, repeatedly saying, “It was not my fault.” It is sheer madness for me to have blamed myself. Yet, I did. Secondly, I had to forgive my parents. I often asked myself, “How could they not know what was going on?” However, looking back, my parents would not have been equipped to help me. And, I had to learn to forgive the people who abused me. Literally, as I thought about how they “used” me and exposed me to things no child should have to see or feel. My heart would ache, literally ache. Often times I would be in my dorm room and feel like I was having a heart attack. The sting of the pain would be overwhelming. How do forgive someone who betrayed you before you even knew what that word meant?
One day, while having a casual conversation with a family member, they revealed to me the cousin who molested me may have been molested by his mother. I never found out if this was true, but it did have me thinking. Someone had to teach him to do what he did to me; he was a victim too. Instantly, I started to feel compassion for my accused. My heart was softened in a way I previously never felt for him or the others. Essentially, he too was a victim of his own circumstance. Remember I did not want children either as I was afraid I would repeat the cycle of my abuse.
The thought came if I continued holding a grudge against my abusers how does that help me? What if they never apologize to me? Anger set in again, because THEY OWED ME! But actually they did not. What they did to me was wrong; yes! But for me to live my whole life on pause waiting for them to apologize to me was unfair to me. All hurting people can do is hurt others. I knew that all too well. I manuplilated, words of anger came out my mouth like venom, my attitude was get you before you got me, I clung to people who used me and played mind games with those who genuinely were good for me. I did not know how to be a friend, how to feel or how to live.
I made a decision that if those who molested/raped me never said “Sorry.” I was no longer going to live in a sorry state. I was no longer taking ownership; I was no longer the victim. FREEDOM!
I went to speak with my pastor at the time unloading to him exactly the extent in detail what happened to me. Before this I never told anyone. I was not going to be silent anymore. He shared something with me that I still remember now as a married woman with three beautiful children. He told me I had to find the 10-year-old again. Why 10? That was the age I could remember when my risky behavior and depression set in. This may sound silly but I bought a coloring book. Until, this point much of my childhood memories were surrounded by the events that happened in my life. As I was putting those thoughts, images and sometimes even smells behind me I had to replace them with the happier times. So as a 20-something, I was in my apartment coloring. I would go play on the swing-set, watch cartoons and fight hard to enjoy my “new” life. I needed to reclaim that 10-year-old girl who had aspirations of doing something really great in the world!
You must understand this journey to “forgive to live” took years. But even when it seemed difficult, I became assured this truth, if I deal with the process one day I will share my story, a story that will be the key to open some one’s prison cell.
Lastly, I had to forgive God. I was so mad at Him for allowing me to be abused. I learned quickly God was never my problem; it was people and the evil in their own hearts. I am not thankful for what happened however; I am thankful for what it has produced in me. I am sympathetic, softened to others’ cries for help. I have become passionate toward injustice and I no longer have that pain in my heart or cry when I tell my story. I am FREE!
If you are a victim of abuse or have been abused the greatest thing you can do is give “voice” to what happened. You cannot walk in the light when you keep “secrets” in the dark. Choose to live in freedom today, tell someone you trust, go to therapy but whatever you do SPEAK, be silent no more.
In part three, the final piece of my story I will share with you my opinion, as a survivor, regarding what every parents NEEDS to know in dealing with the topic of sexual abuse.
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