As I continue to work through my experiences with abuse and processing the emotions I felt and feel, and the effects it’s had on me throughout my life, I become more and more aware of the amazing abilities God has given us to not only survive through what’s happened, but how we cope and continue to live life while wrestling with the wounds. I am seeing that while I was thriving in areas of my life, I was still stunted in other areas. I was walking out boldly in areas of my life while in others, I was still wrestling with undue shame and guilt; I was healing and triumphant in some areas in my life, while I was barely functional in other areas of my life.
I had the voice of ridicule and condemnation in my head that prevented me from moving forward, but all the while, living parallel with a life of self-awareness and understanding that I’ve grown to admire. I didn’t see this before, I only saw where I was lacking, what was taken, what was continuously brought to my attention as my short-comings. While the enemy used my hurts to torment me, God was right beside me as I addressed specific areas of my life that stopped the attempts to further destroy me and turned it into something for my benefit.
I don’t believe God planned or wanted me to experience the pain, betrayal, confusion, and grief I endured, I don’t believe it ‘happened for a reason,’ but I do believe the scripture that states, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. So despite it being outside of God’s best offer for my life, outside of His loving will, He took me in my darkest moments and caused it all to work together for my good. As such, despite what was now my pattern of thinking, despite the lies I believed about myself, despite the confusion I was walking out, God didn’t throw up His hands and say – ‘she is so lost!’ He loved me through it and worked to show me the truth and to bring light to my confusion.
As working through all of this, it’s been confirmed that I’ve had to work through PTSD, anxiety, disassociative disorder, and there was a time that I also had an alternate personality. I have been accused of being fake or like I was hiding things, but the reality was, in one state I felt completely confident and true to who I was being and believed myself to be – while in another state, I was troubled, confused, and lacking confidence as I sought to find my place in this world. I was living a parallel life with myself, broken into two pieces. I wasn’t being fake, I wasn’t walking as my whole self. I was fragmented – one part childlike, a safe place to go when the harsh realities of anger and fear were too much to bear; the other a strong, independent thinker, and compassionate woman. Due to the fear of rejection and the anger inside of me, I would revert to the younger self – still my true self, just a fragmented and wounded part of myself – and I would become more dependent, emotionally insecure, unsure of myself, and deeply desiring someone to fill the holes that were created by neglect, abandonment, violation, and feeling the loss of my perceived caretakers along the way.
I don’t experience PTSD as often now that I’ve stopped talking with my sister J, though my anxiety is a daily issue that I have to work through. While J has made particular word choices in speaking with me that were rather aggressive, degrading, and dishonest throughout the time we were in contact, the impact they’ve had on me are rooted in issues that were created by my sexual assault because they perpetuated lies I believed as a result of the abuse I had endured. As a result, walking out of the abuse and under the treatment of J, whether intentionally or not, further resumed the abuse I had already been receiving. As a result, the trauma was being relived with each accusation, condemnation, or ridicule of flaws. The ability to address accusations, condemnation, and ridicule of flaws in a healthy way was damaged as a result of my sexual assault because I wasn’t simply violated in body, though that is harsh and tragic enough, I was violated in mind, body, and emotions – and that doesn’t even mention or address the spiritual trauma.
Since my many parts were violated, I was believing lies about who I was, feeling emotions of betrayal and loss of trust and safety, as well as a breach in physical boundaries and the safety/innocence of bodily autonomy. Additionally, as a person who feels loved and supported through words of affirmation, physical touch, and quality time, even the smallest offense in these categories after such an expansive infringement against my person impacted me in much the same way as if it were the original harm all over again, hence the traumatic response: panic attacks, overwhelming fear, and a desire to flee. Being that I would revert to a childlike state in these moments, but was also still a functioning adult, I learned to adapt to that condition and became deliberate with wording choices to try to gain control over the sudden period of intense reaction full of fear, with symptoms that included aggressive shaking, palpitations, dread, and tears.
It’s amazing to see how I’ve been living with these conditions without even being fully aware of them until these recent years. It’s equally amazing to watch them happen and understand what’s happening when before I believed I was being dramatic or over-reacting. It’s exciting to be learning through these experiences ways to continue to overcome and work through my healing, so that this is not a lifelong sentence I have to endure. I’m thankful to see myself becoming whole, wholly me and not fractured me, obtaining tools to regain control over these areas of my life and to walk out the changes I’m working through. These effects of the abuse I endured do not define me and do not have to control me. I can take back my life – all of it, and not just the parts I can emotionally, mentally, physically handle. I am more than the result of the transgressions done against me – I am healing; I’m being made whole. I am a victorious child of the King. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31b
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”