I Am Healing; I’m Being Made Whole

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.”
Romans 8:37-39

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Let Me See You

A fellow abuse survivor, distraught and frustrated while working through emotions and pain, declared, “I just want to live a normal life and stop living like a victim!”

It stuck with me…

We aren’t living like victims, we’re living victoriously as we do the work to heal the wounds we’ve been left with.

We aren’t living like victims, we’re standing as survivors, living day to day to live and thrive.

We aren’t living like victims, we work every single day to do normal things that others don’t think twice about.

We aren’t living like victims, we don’t give up, we push through; we fight.

To others it might seem like we’re living like victims, but we are warriors. I live my life contrary to what I feel on the inside. I have days I want to run away from my family, and run away from myself… but I don’t.  I might sleep a little more or spend some extra time with a friend, or even drink some wine – but I’m here. My kids see me fighting to be better and to not give in to the turmoil that childhood sexual abuse causes inside of a person.  That’s what I’m teaching them so when they fight through their own lives, they’ll be even more victorious than I!

I was a victim. That’s part of what happened to me.  The beauty however, is that from being made a victim, I’m victorious despite having lived that. I’m still here and I’m glad for my hard work and God’s grace that helped me to know which steps to take so far. What looks like whining, complaining, or negativity to someone else, is part of how I’ve been victorious.  Talking about what happened to me, being honest about what I’m feeling, and being raw about the inner turmoil inside has allowed me to find the truth to declare and stand in; to process through hurts to find hope and walk confidently in; and ultimately discover the beauty of taking something awful and creating something lovely from it.

We aren’t living as victims… we were victims and we were destroyed. Now our minds, hearts, and bodies are in the recovery process.  When a broken arm is in a cast, we know the healing work is happening, even if it’s not necessarily seen; when one’s body is detoxing, it actually feels really ugly during the process of cleansing, but we know the end result is worth it; and when we express our pain in a way that others might feel uncomfortable along with us, we can also be certain that it is not in vain.  Others being made uncomfortable allows for us to not endure this burden alone – because we matter. Our pain matters and if it were another in pain, I’d hope I would be willing to be made uncomfortable so I could support them.  I would not want them to be silent and bearing such a burden alone.  As such, I have faith that others feel the same way about me.

You matter. Your pain matters. It’s okay to make others uncomfortable sometimes when you’re hurting. It allows us to be a little less selfish, it allows us to grow, and it allows us to be shaped into someone God wants us to be!

If you’re struggling with feeling alone, like you need a friend, or if you just want to connect, please feel free to message me at kristiwhitten@ymail.com. You don’t have to walk through life alone.  You don’t have to feel worthless or unimportant, because you matter, and you deserve to have someone in your life who sees you.  I hope you’ll let me see you.

I Desired More

This is so true for me… when I chose to address the things I had to work through from my abuse, it wasn’t because I wasn’t coping well with life. I was enjoying my life, busy and content with 5 children at the time and then enjoying the pregnancy of my 6th. I had overcome amazing obstacles within my marriage and my friendship with my husband had grown immensely, and I’d discovered some challenges through self-examination in my walk with Jesus that He worked with me through. I had become surrounded by amazing women whose friendships I’m so grateful for, and in most areas of my life I wasn’t overwhelmed…
 
So when I felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to go further, I chose to go deeper, and address those wounds because I desired more of God, even better of myself, a new level of improvement in my life. I wanted to be challenged like never before and I was… and I discovered some amazing truths over my life in the midst of all that pain and heartache I had to face. The biggest being that I matter… not because of anything I’ve done, but because of the value the Creator established in me at the beginning of time. I matter and I finally believed it and declared it to myself and felt the importance of others knowing their own value – so I shouted it loud enough for others to hear and know it too.
 
We are precious to our Father in Heaven… and so I continue to dig deep within myself to improve and be a better person in every aspect of my life, and in each of my relationships. I make mistakes and I learn new things every single day, and thank God that He’s right there with me the whole way, guiding me and caring for me, keeping me on the right path and bringing me back when I veer too far. ❤
 
I’m thrilled to be in this current season in my life… I’m still in this walk, and some days it can be so so hard, but when you know your value and you know what His desire is for your life, you also know it will all work out and you will make it through – you need only endure and push through. God is so faithful!!

Taught Wrong

My little sister and I were talking the other day and she said something that I’ve been thinking on as I’ve been cleaning today… She said that perhaps some people don’t know that it’s wrong for an older person to be with a younger person, because something happened to them.  Perhaps they too were coerced and manipulated into permitting, but they weren’t told that it was wrong or that the child is still not responsible in any way.  I have heard stories of people who think that way, who are oblivious to the atrocity of sexually violating young people because they lived in it and it was their normal… so perhaps that’s why some people don’t see the full devastation of what I experienced because they think it’s normal.

I hope everyone who had sexual things happen while they were young, that they know that no matter how good it felt, how much they believed it was okay, or if they welcomed it, that they were not responsible for what happened to them.  They were taught wrong.  If one was taught the sky was red when it’s in fact blue, and they grow up thinking it’s red, they aren’t stupid. No, they were taught wrong.  They need to unlearn these things and relearn TRUTH and when referring to sexual behaviors and desires, healthy association in its appropriate manner are what will help.  It might be harder for some, depending on the trauma, but it’s not impossible and still doesn’t have to define any of us. God is bigger than all of it!

I’m so thankful I was told so I don’t have to live with that dirty shame I should never have had on me, and so I don’t pass along the same fate to my children due to lack of understanding.  I’m so thankful that I can share that truth with others so it doesn’t have to continue to be an unavoidable experience.  Help end the cycle of abuse and teach others that it’s wrong.  Sexual interaction should never happen between a child and an adult. Ever.

God is Bigger Than This

Yesterday, I was faced with having to process things regarding experiences I had as a child.  It was triggering and stirred a sense of dread in my gut as I worked through what had happened and how someone was to blame, but no one tangible.  Child sexual assault, when not dealt with or seen, reaches beyond the stretches of the imagination.  It’s devastating to think about and breaks my heart to a degree that words just don’t do it justice.

Somewhere along the way, a child must have been violated and taught to pursue these same sexual behaviors.  It would then go from one child to another, and another, and another… and I don’t know where it ended, if it ever did.  I was one of these children and I don’t know where it began or who introduced these ideas into the mind of the children… many of us all acting out things we had been taught.

I recall my mother walking in once and speaking to me and another child, that we don’t play that way… but then she continued to leave us to play alone and she never spoke of the matter again.  It wasn’t until I was 12 years old that I began to see that there was a concern and it had to stop.  I felt dirty and ashamed for participating in these things, but without a knowledge of how to really deal with it and address it, so we stopped, we let it go, and we moved on.

It wasn’t until I was 16 that I’d tell someone about it.  Sharing what had been happening.   First my sisters and then my boyfriend who would later become my husband.  I was so ashamed and had no idea what to do with it… no one was to blame but there was such anger and devastation I wasn’t sure where to direct those emotions so I stifled them.

Yesterday, those emotions surfaced.  I began thinking of the other children who had been affected.  How many of us were there altogether? I’ll never know.  My gut turns at the thought of it being introduced to me… it being introduced to others… but another child somewhere had it done to them by an adult.  An adult violated and stole the innocence of all of us as they violated the boundaries of safety and innocence of the one or many who would thus go to other children to act those things out.

But where do the emotions go? The other children, we’re all victims.  The parents, 9 times out of 10 have no idea it’s happening because it’s someone so well loved and trusted harming their child.  So the emotions get directed at a faceless and intangible being… an evil that can’t be named; a wickedness only defined by the shadows in the night.

I don’t know what happened to all the children, or who/where they are today, but I’m praying my heart out as we all wrestle with the damage caused.  For me, it left me with a confusion of love, sex, boundaries, and safety… and opened me up to further damage by a man named David.  It left me vulnerable to accusations and insults about my behavior from my abusive sister J who continues to exploit what happened to me as though it defines who I am today.  It left me ashamed of having been a part of it, but not knowing any better in order to do anything about it, and now the damage has been done.  It left gaps in relationships and created wounds that would last well into my adult years.

I know there is healing.  I know God is bigger than this.  He will get me through and just as He is near to me, He is near to the other brokenhearted children who have had to wrestle through these experiences that tie us all together well into their adult years as well.  This too does not define us.  Our value, our beauty, and our purpose is found in Christ and the enemy can’t steal that away from us, no matter what his attempts are to do so.

Jesus is enough.