God Is Bigger Than What The Abuser Did

“Jesus called a little child to him and stood the child before his ·followers [disciples]. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you must ·change [or turn from your sins; convert; L turn] and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven [L therefore] is the one who makes himself humble [and becomes] like this [little] child.

[L And] Whoever ·accepts [welcomes; receives] a child ·in my name [C as a representative or follower of Jesus] ·accepts [welcomes; receives] me [C indicates concern for the lowly; children had low social status]. If someone causes one of these little children who believes in me to ·sin [lose faith; stumble], it would be better for that person to have a ·large stone [large millstone; L millstone of a donkey] tied around the neck and be ·drowned [L thrown] in the [L depths of the] sea. ·How terrible for [L Woe to] ·the people of the world [L the world] because of ·the things that cause them to sin [temptations to sin; L stumbling blocks]. ·Such things will happen [L It is necessary for stumbling blocks to come], but ·how terrible for [L woe to] the one ·who causes them to happen [L through whom the stumbling block comes]!” Matthew 18:2-8

TRIGGER WARNING: Some descriptive abuse that I experienced mentioned along with the emotions I felt.

Is it morbid of me to think of the death of my abuser? How he died, and his last moments before he breathed his last? He was working alone in the woods, cutting down trees, something he’d been doing as a profession for years, when a second tree got knocked down and he was pinned underneath them. Did he encounter the Lord? Did he feel remorse for the things he had done to us little girls? Did he repent and ask God to save Him? Was he able to cry out for help or did he die instantly? Did he confess to what he’d done after all the lies of what he told people about me?

A month before his death, I begged God to help me forgive him. I begged God to help me through the pain and fear of seeing him as I drove through certain towns. I begged God to help me through the panic attacks and debilitating thoughts of what he could do to another little girl – an unknowing victim, someone else he groomed to trust and feel safe with him. I begged God and I felt Him lift that oppressive fear off of me… so a month later, when I learned of his death, I couldn’t help but feel like God was telling me that He’s got me – not that He caused the death to take place, but that God was going to use it for the good in my life. I no longer had to fear seeing him or him hurting another little girl.

I wasn’t without panic attacks and anxiety and PTSD, but I was able to be present for my child whom I’d just recently become pregnant with. I put all of my energy into learning and becoming the best I could be for her. I didn’t dwell on the death of my abuser… in fact I struggled with it feeling real. It was a couple years later that I began wishing I’d gone to his funeral or found it in the paper when it had happened. I began to search for records of it here and there and would attempt to find it every couple years. I didn’t find anything. I knew logically that he was dead. I wouldn’t have been told he was dead if he wasn’t.

Then, as I was searching for something completely unrelated, I found it. It’s since been taken down which is bazaar to me to me… did I actually find it? lol I wish I had taken a screen shot of it… but I know I saw it. I had to have read it about 20 times that week, just wrapping my mind around it. Around that same time, I also found court motions that were made by him as I began the process of pressing charges against him. He’d requested to have contact with me on two separate occasions. He had requested to have my counseling and school records. All were denied. What was he attempting to gain from that?

Was he seeking to discredit me more than he’d already done by saying he never told me he loved me, that he only had sex with me a couple of times, and that it was an awful mistake… an oops? As if he didn’t make very calculated decisions to burst through my boundaries, instill fear, and convince me that he was safe. I didn’t want him to touch me, or even look at me, and yet somehow he was able to have sex with me ‘only a couple times’ without even saying I love you? The claims he was suggesting about me in saying such lies… the suggestion regarding my character that I could have ever, would have ever gotten close to him in any way without the lies he told me, without gaining my trust, without instilling doubt in my instincts, without exploiting and manipulating my vulnerabilities and emotions.

My heart aches that the voice of my sister was distorted because of the lies… her attempts at telling me that no matter what I did, I wasn’t responsible fell on piled up lies. I thought I loved this man. I was so confused because my instincts told me it was all wrong, but my eyes saw something different, and my mind convinced me of other things. My tears didn’t matter to him… he didn’t force me down… but he continued to pursue me despite my evident fear of having sex. Even kissing him was something he had to work for and he noted as much to me once, noting that he got me to watch porn with him before I allowed him to even kiss him. This was noted while I still hadn’t kissed him. It took him 6 months of daily pursuit to break down my barriers and push me to finally give in to him. He wasn’t phased by the trembling, the fear, the crying that I wasn’t ready. He told me it would be okay.

Lies. So many lies. It’s astounding how the mind can believe things that don’t line up with reality. How I began to believe I had asked for it, how I began to believe that I was promiscuous and looked at sex casually and indiscriminately, how I began to believe I was not to be trusted. When you’re told enough times as a child that something real isn’t, the only rational thing to do is to believe what you’re being told and to no longer trust yourself. And that’s what I did…

I was a teenager… trying to find out who I was in the midst of all this. I think I understand now why God says it’s better to be thrown into the sea than to cause a little one to lose their faith, stumble, or sin. Here I am, 32 years old, and I’m still hearing the lies I’ve been believing and realizing how it’s effected certain areas of my life. It wasn’t just sex, and certainly not a couple of times. It was brainwashing my whole being, training my young mind to not trust myself, or at least to trust my abuser more than myself. The perpetuation of this from others around me due to the distorted perception I had, led me to believe these lies well into my adulthood… and no one around me realized I was hearing their words through that filter of lies. It doesn’t matter what I did… but it mattered to me because I didn’t do what he was saying I did. What he did to me mattered because it showed that I wasn’t doing what he said I was. I wasn’t who he was saying I was. It mattered. I wish I heard her and I wish I knew how to voice what I was struggling with. Instead, I began to believe she believed I played my part in what happened to me. I was accused by others that I did play a part – that he was wrong, but so was I. This accusation would be internalized and I began to believe that I should have controlled how it all happened.

Having a teenage daughter now, I see her struggles with being as vocal as she’d like, even with my encouragement to speak up. It’s validating to my own experience and has led to me keeping her a little closer until she feels brave enough to do so. One day she was at the mailbox and was struggling to get it open. An onlooker noticed and offered to help. My daughter was too afraid to say no thank you or to run and didn’t do so until the other person told her she’d have to ask her mom for help. I was watching, giving her an opportunity to handle it as I’ve taught her, and when she came running through the door, she said she was so scared because she wanted to run but was afraid of being rude and she didn’t like that. She didn’t like that she wasn’t able. That her fear had that much power to stop her from listening to what she knew.

My younger daughter, coming up to her teen years, is a little more vocal but I’ve found that because of her age, some adults don’t listen. One woman pulled over near our mailbox to ask her for directions and my daughter told her that she isn’t allowed to talk to strangers twice yet the woman continued to insist that she help her. I was observing from close by, but not close enough that I felt comfortable to allow her to continue to talk to the person I couldn’t see in the car, and when she didn’t walk away on her own, I called out to her and she ran home. When she came to me, she told me what had happened and said she was scared to run because the woman kept insisting, even though she also knew she should run because she didn’t know her. If these two girls, who I’ve taught about personal safety and being careful around certain people, struggle with finding the words, how much more for a young girl who was never taught such things.

Each of them saw how easily it would be for them to be put in a position of doing something they didn’t want and being led to do it based on their youth and fears of speaking out. Each experience teaching me that I couldn’t control what was happening to me. I needed an adult to speak out for me. I’m thankful someone finally did…. and I’m glad I’m aware so I can protect my children from ever experiencing the things I did. I am thankful that despite what happened to me, God used it for good and gave me an understanding of what I internalized so I can help them understand themselves.

The other day, my teenager said to me, “I’ve never hoped to be an adult sooner than the time it will take to get there because I know I will be an adult longer than I am a child.” It blessed my heart. I want her childhood to be just that – a childhood. Knowing adult things in a child’s body and mind steals away from a childhood and changed me. I didn’t grow up too soon, my growth was stunted and despite becoming an adult, I still was so young in much of my thinking… and believing falsehoods only magnified that.

I suppose I’ve derailed a bit…. lol God doesn’t forsake the little ones who’ve been led to lose faith, stumble, or sin. He’s been with me every step of the way and now I see Him working in the lives of my children. I’m so thankful that I wasn’t left to figure things out on my own after what my abuser did to me and that God’s guiding me as I work out what’s truth and what’s lies. I’m so thankful that despite what lies others might have believed or what I thought others have believed about me, it doesn’t change reality. The truth doesn’t change based on what we believe. The truth just is and the truth of who I am is only found in God’s view of me because He sees me as I truly am. Woe to the man who abused us girls for causing us to sin… but God is bigger than what the abuser did.  Amen to that.

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Dealing with Unwanted Thoughts

When you’ve heard someone say something really awful, like the most awful, mean, and hurtful thing that could be said in that given moment, how do you stomach it and move past it? What do you do to remove it from your thoughts or from effecting you well after it’s been said? Some of what I’m struggling with relates to some things that were said that don’t have an end of sorts – no apology or remorse.  In other cases, I have things that I have in my mind that I never even discussed with those people because I didn’t want them to feel guilt over it when they can’t change it… when do we let things go and be quiet and when do we bring these hurts to people to address?

I am still trying to find a balance in that… I was too quiet before and people had no clue I was hurting and then as I processed through heartache, I spilled out my guts. lol I want to honor the Lord in what I do: I want to obey Him in being me and I also want to walk out His Word in my life.  I realize I’m dealing with things I never had a chance to address or challenge as a teenager at 30, but I feel like I’m just shy of some new victory that I don’t know how to get over. I am hopeful anyway that I will stop feeling like a whiny teenager at some point here. hahhaa I say that but I know, despite my feelings, I’m not whiny or childish – because what I experienced wasn’t petty and my health matters.

Is there insight I’m missing in this or is this still a ‘give it time’ thing?

I appreciate any wisdom on the subject.

Wholly Me

These last few years I’ve felt called to be wholly me. Not because I haven’t been genuinely me or not real in some way, but because I’ve wrestled with parts of myself that I didn’t fully understand. For instance:

I genuinely have no desire to allow my emotions to rule me,

I also genuinely have mountains of emotions that I have had to work through due to the trauma I have experienced.

I genuinely have no desire to stir up unnecessary quarrels,

I also genuinely have some hard things I need to work through and that requires hard conversations that need to be had.

I genuinely have no desire to hurt others,

I also genuinely am working through pain and anger and I’m figuring out how to reconcile that with not wanting to hurt others as I address those things.

I genuinely love people,

I also genuinely don’t understand certain things that people do.

I genuinely want to move forward and let go of all the baggage and heartache,

I also genuinely struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and have to work to overcome some of the responses my mind and body have regarding a given situation.

I genuinely appreciate a calm and tactful conversation regarding difficult and complex emotions,

I also genuinely can’t remain calm sometimes due to the PTSD I have as certain things trigger my body to shake, trigger me to cry, trigger me to have anxiety, and trigger me to feel in an unsafe place I’ve once been in.

I genuinely want to push through and get through the pain and overcome it,

I also genuinely must consider my whole state of mental health and continue to care for myself so I can continue to be healthy in the midst of my struggles.

~~~

In respect of who I’ve been at my core, I’m ready to be real: wholly real, and merge these parts of myself into one while also wholly surrendering to the Lord, His will for my life, and the way my life touches others.

I believed that surrendering wholly to the Lord meant shutting off parts of myself, but I’m finding that it’s transforming all parts of myself to be more like Him while being wholly me every step of the way.

It’s a freeing and beautiful thing to be discovering how to be me in everything I do. It’s also a bit unnerving as I make myself vulnerable due to having my vulnerabilities exploited in the past, but I truly don’t want to be so hard against the world that I am not able to experience the heart of Christ. I’d rather do my best to allow God to help me work through that pain and remain soft to God and His love and His people.

I’m ready to be wholly myself. I hope others will love me as I am, but if not, I will continue to cling to Jesus as He continues to heal and transform my life. He loves me and He’ll remain faithful and gently care for me in my vulnerabilities. As Romans 8:31 states, if my God is for me, who shall ever be against me? ♥

The Realization of Shame

“Shame is the lie someone told you about yourself.” Anais Nin

In cases of sexual assault, shame is almost always a subsequent factor. Even if one was told “It’s not your fault,” the chances are high that one still blames themselves in some way. For me, this was absolutely the case. David had not only convinced me that we were in a relationship, I had my sister J processing out loud with me about whether or not our sister L held me partially responsible as well as her treating me as a threat with her boyfriend, a friend dismissively telling me that I should have known better, and another friend scoffing at me that it takes two to tango. There was my sister L who said “he was the one who was wrong,” but because of what J had said, her words were tainted in my mind. They didn’t impact me as deeply because I heard her lead with “it doesn’t matter what you did.” I heard that and wondered what she believed I did. I instead believed a lie that I was part of what happened to me… After all, didn’t he give me a choice? Didn’t he tell me that I could say I didn’t like it? Couldn’t I have just said no or told someone? Couldn’t I have just said stop at any time? As a result of misunderstanding, my ignorance, and believing the lies I was told, I experienced deep shame.

As an adult, for a long time I rationalized that the poor treatment I experienced by J was a result of my inability to communicate well, for being overly emotional, for not being considerate or thoughtful… if I just changed my wording, my behavior, myself, then perhaps I’d be more respectable and lovable, I’d become more worthy… but nothing ever felt like enough. Accusations still came that I was still self-righteous and judgmental, that I was condescending and belittling, that I thought of myself as so special. At one time, I laughed with her at a comment my father made about me being a catalyst in my family, thinking it was a bit much… and later she’d spit the words at me as if I’d believed it about myself.

I witnessed abusive relationships around me and because I saw my own responsibility in the mistreatment I was experiencing, I perceived the same in others. I counseled a number of women into allowing their partners, friends, and family to continue to mistreat them. As if whatever they were doing, no matter how wrong it was, justified what the other person was doing. While it’s true we can’t control how others treat us, we can choose to stop someone’s mistreatment of us by not allowing it. I didn’t realize I was doing this until just these last couple of years. How confusing for these women in my life! If only I had become aware of my own shame and the lies I had been believing about myself… instead I perpetuated my rationalizations into the hearts and minds of other women.

The sexual assault I experienced changed me. I lost a part of myself… my innocence, my dignity… and it was replaced with shame. I became overwhelmed with simple tasks and such struggles began to define what I could do, who I could be with, and how I could act. I felt stuck and I felt like I would never be able to come out of it. Between my trauma and my struggles to regain what was taken from me, the emotional immaturity of my sister J impacted me deeper than I could have realized and was because of what had happened to me. Her harshness brought me back to a child-like place I had to mature in. I was repeatedly violated and humiliated because of what lies I was still trapped in. However, due to the things I’ve been learning about PTSD, I am discovering how to reclaim my safety and dignity with each panic attack and finding my grounding. It no longer has to define me.

Facing the problems that my shame has created has been daunting. I had to address what I was feeling to even discover it. I had to feel my true emotions about how those around me responded to my sexual assault instead of cover them up with sugar cookies and roses. I had to allow myself to process through the grief of what I had lost and who I was never going to be… to end up seeing the truth. My perception was skewed… I see that now. I’m excited to see the world through different eyes… eyes not clouded by a lack of self-love. How could I ever truly love anyone as God has called us all to in Mark 12:31 when I didn’t see how much I didn’t love myself; when I saw myself as less than, inadequate, damaged, worthless, and unlovable.

It’s okay to give myself compassion for being traumatized, for being hurt, for making mistakes, for not being who everyone may think I should be. It’s okay to give myself compassion for simply being me. It’s okay to have compassion on myself. It’s okay to not hate myself for messing up. I need to stop hating myself.

I am not less than, inadequate, damaged, worthless, or unlovable.

I am not garbage.

 

I Wasn’t Gross

Breastfeeding in public… it’s a topic of contention for some. Hide your breast skin! It’s gross! It’s dirty! It’s a temptation to men! These are the different accusations floating around when women stop to soothe their crying, tired, hungry, helpless and innocent babies.

I’m a private person. With my first 3 children I covered with a blanket when I nursed my babies and/or left the room and hid alone so as to not make anyone else uncomfortable. I isolated myself and others supported that. With my fourth child, I began to be a bit more relaxed in it, as it became more and more apparent to me that it was not sexual at all.

Then, I had a man I considered a friend at the time, tell me that he needed me to cover because he was being aroused. I gave him a hard time about it and that he was the one who assured me that he was not going to be inappropriate, regarding feeding my child.  I FELT gross… and I then covered for the most part with my next child, again to cause the men around me to stumble.

With my last child however, I was 5 months deep in an overwhelming journey of healing from past child sexual assault, I began nursing my son and realized it wasn’t my breast that was the problem, it was the lust in a man’s heart. That man that was ‘aroused’ by my nursing a baby with my breast was. I WASN’T GROSS, HE WAS.

If I were sitting with another woman while I nursed my baby and she stated to me that she was feeling tempted due to her attraction to my breast while I nursed my child … I’d ask, “tempted to what?” Tempted to look? Don’t. Tempted to touch? Don’t. Tempted to pleasure herself? Tempted to be promiscuous?! Tempted to rape?! I mean, truly! What?! I just don’t understand!

So why is this acceptable for the men in our society?

Tempted to look? DON’T.

Tempted to touch? DON’T.

Tempted to masturbate, or go be promiscuous?! Guess, what… DON’T.

Tempted to rape?? STILL DON’T

Struggling with porn addiction, sex addiction, or sexual fantasies is not the problem of the world OR church around you. It’s on YOU. If you need help, ask for it. Get accountability. But there is something seriously wrong with this idea that WOMEN and OUR BODIES are the problem, and not YOUR HEART.

“Flee from sexual immorality.” 1 Corinthians 6

Breastfeeding, for the love of all things HOLY, is NOT sexual immorality!!!

JUST DON’T LOOK.

TEMPTATION is not OUR FAULT.

SIN you have acted on, due to the temptation is not OUR FAULT.

RAPE is not OUR FAULT.

YOU have a God-given free will to entertain sinful lust or to RUN IN THE OTHER DIRECTION.

YOU CHOOSE.

You are a MAN.

So MAN UP.