(For background, read “What You Don’t Know: Part 1.”)
At the time, I was mostly stunned.
Stunned by the amount of sewage in my life.
This acknowledgement was just the beginning, as you can imagine.
It would be fair to say I was beginning to wonder how full a plate could really be. Not only were my husband and I now grieving and angry, in our own separate ways, but there were two small children who had dealt with sexual abuse by a family member. Having never left them alone with him, even in the same room, and realizing to what extent he had gone to get at our children, we were also living in this paranoid, high alert, high anxiety mode that just scooped a bit more on top of the existing emotions.
As my journey with our therapist began, one of the hard and fast rules of victims of abuse that we learned about is that children play out what has been done to them.
For example, a child who has grown up in a safe home and not experienced abuse, will cook pretend meals, nurture a baby doll, etc.
However, a child who has been abused, will play out the trauma done to him or her.
As an abused child grows older, specifically if the abuse continues, he or she begins to disassociate when the abuse ensues.
In my opinion, it is the only way the victim is capable of enduring repeated encounters.
When he or she disassociates, the body goes through the moments of abuse, but the mind and emotions check out. What this allows, is escape from feelings of powerlessness. What it does not allow is the opportunity to process abuse and experience healing.
Therefore, as best as we were told, as the victim grows older, he or she still shares a similar need that the little one does who plays out what has been done. However, when the adolescent and teen years are entered, this takes on an entirely different dynamic.
Suddenly what was once demonstrated on a doll is now capable of being acted out with a peer.
This was a light bulb moment for me. I had never desired anything other than purity until marriage. Yet I found myself in one promiscuous relationship after another.
Continually disappointed in myself and confused as to why I made decisions that blatantly defied what my standards for my life were. But, as I said before, when a person is repeatedly abused, he or she begins to disassociate and the abuse is barely felt on a subconscious level. So although I was acting these things out in an attempt to process them, I had no clue there was a correlation to anything subconscious.
But it’s all there, the experiences, the smells, the words, the x, y, & z…fill in the blank. It is all there. Just festering and existing and begging to be dealt with. Suppression, while it provides an opportunity for the victim to survive the immediate, does not come without its damage and complications.
All those years of walking in blatant contradiction to what I had been taught in church, I suddenly had explanation for. It wasn’t an excuse for sin I had committed and participated in, but it did give me understanding about myself that I had long desired.
Time passed and I was constantly aware that the Lord was working in my heart. It was as if bag after bag of sewage was removed with me well aware that filth was going out, but only on occasion was I consciously aware of what was actually inside.
There were, however, a few occasions when God actually brought specific offenses to my conscious.
As a memory would surface, not only would I feel as though I was back in that moment, but I would experience severe physical reactions: vomiting or dry heaves, overwhelming coughing, profuse sweating, and shaking were common.
Our therapist explained that often times, when a person has been abused and suppresses, he or she is incapable of going through those physical reactions at the time but that the body still has a deep desire to rid itself of the devastating impact of being abused.
With the memories I was having come back, as well as all our daughter was sharing and showing, it was decided the best route for my husband and I would be to attend another brief intensive counseling session. This time we would be heading to Crossroads. A friend, as well as my sister and her husband, had both spoken highly of the program so we made arrangements to go.
It was during this time that we both experienced heart prayer. As events were brought up in discussion, our therapist led us in a time of prayer. I began to describe one particular memory of abuse, and our therapist asked Jesus to shine light into the darkness and show me where He was when this incident took place.
I had just described the room as black, full of darkness. Suddenly, it was flooded with light and in the corner, Jesus held me. His light flooded the room until nothing existed but Him, His love, His protection, His light.
That one event no longer holds power over me or makes me sick to my stomach.
You see, a common thread for me was, “Your Word says you ‘will never leave me or forsake me’, but if you weren’t there when this happened to me and that verse isn’t true in regard to my life, what other verses don’t apply to me?”
Suddenly, Him being there with me, answered that question. He was there. He hadn’t left me.
Jesus was uprooting deeply planted lies with His truth. Intimacy with Him was taking on a dimension I didn’t know I lacked. There was a long road ahead, but I was now very aware that I was not going alone. Jesus was leading the way to healing in my heart as well as healing for our family.