Misuse, Abuse, and Healing

When I was a very tiny child, the people who should have cared for me the most did a lot of harm. I loved my kids. I did my best. But I messed up a lot, too. I was angry and yelling when I should have been gentle and consistent. I wasn't a great mom all the time, but boy did I wish that I could be. So when I write this, I'm not judging harshly. I'm just telling the facts.

Love covers a multitude of sins. But there's so much under the surface. Sometimes in hiding an action, we're not actually covering a sin, but continuing a legacy of evil acts. I tried to cover the sin. My family was full of people who loved me, family friends who wanted to do right, and they all sought to do their best. They had blinders that made them think that somehow this behavior wasn't wrong. And even when they knew that it was wrong, they couldn't seem to stop. I know that. I love them anyway.

Charming, outgoing, friendly people used my body for their sexual gratification. They also used my body as a place to pour out their aggression. Some spewed out a lifetime of cruel words, and I felt the crushing, devastating weight of them. More than one caretaker caused harm. More than one person hurt me. Plenty of the pain their actions caused lasted well into my adult life. It's been awful. It's been hard. But it wasn't all bad.

It has made me more compassionate. It has cut deep, healed even deeper, and the scars can sometimes help others heal. I'm okay now, if a little broken. I moved past it. But it DID happen.

When I was a school aged child, several people spoke of things that they shouldn't have described in the presence of one so innocent. Even after all that was done to me, I was still untouched in the deepest recesses of my spirit. There was purity there. There was goodness deep inside. And these inappropriate words, their filthy stories full of sordid details, deposited more of the wrong stuff inside me.

Then, in my early teens, I was exposed to porn by someone who should have known better. But our crazy society and those idiotic talk shows said that it wouldn't hurt me. Sex was the natural expression of physical love, and it was a normal bodily need, right?

Really? Do we really believe that? Progressive, forward-thinking people told someone that I should be allowed to watch people have sex, and so they exposed me to it.

Sex is beautiful, lovely, and intimate. It's something God made for pleasure and for uniting two people. It's not a public exhibition all about waking up your horny little parts so that you can involve yourself in sex recreationally and without boundaries. Pornography tainted the purity of real sex for me. For a while, instead of being more freed by my exposure to pornography, I thought sex was dirty. However, God was faithful, and I eventually developed a better understanding of this wonderful, private gift that God provided for the formation and strengthening of marriage.

When I was in my mid-teens, someone who should have been a father figure in my life decided that he wanted a relationship with me that would "transcend all borders". In what he described, for my entire life, we would always have a close relationship, even after I was married and had children. This would be a label-free relationship, but he definitely wanted it to include sex, I would later discover. He would never force himself on me, he said, because the beauty of this relationship was that it had to be consensual. Thankfully, I never allowed him to have sex with me, so I honestly believed that he had never crossed that boundary.

One day, however, this man had bought me wine coolers. He insisted that I drink the whole thing even after I told him they were more bitter than the wine coolers I remembered having tried once in my early teens. He told me that he had spent money on them and that I would drink every drop. I allowed myself to be intimidated, and I drank the whole thing. In my memories of that night, I had always remembered only leaning onto my elbow as we were talking. I felt groggy, and I finally asked, "What was I saying?" He answered curtly, "You said you'd never have sex with me because it's adultery." His tone was derisive. Then, he sent me to bed, alone.

In my early 40s, I had flashbacks of that event. They revealed that the man had actually drugged me, and within a few minutes of drinking that wine cooler, I had gone along very sweetly with the sexual things that he asked me to do. For over 2 decades, I had not remembered a single moment of that, so when I woke up from these flashback-filled dreams, I was horrified. This being who was anything but sexually attractive to me had made me submit to his will and had accomplished a deed that he knew that I would never have done willingly if I had been in my right mind. I was still wrapped in the dread and disgust of the revelation, and my mind responded the way my 15 year old mind would have if I'd remembered it then.

When he had described this "relationship" that he had wanted us to have, he had expressly told me that it would be based upon my will. I would have to make the choice. He would never rape me or force himself upon me. He betrayed me. Surprisingly, I had expected a pedophile to honor his word. I realize now that I had been really gullible.

To this day, I find it very difficult to stomach the memories. They're so ugly. I cannot begin to understand why any human being would be comfortable forcing another person to do something so intimate that in their heart they know is contrary to their will. Sex is about sharing, about mutuality, and about closeness. If it's not mutual, there's nothing there. It's empty and useless to make another human being "make love" without their will. There's no love there. It's masturbation. Selfish and childish.

Years later, I look upon that man who was about a decade younger than I am now, and I try to find compassion. I have chosen to forgive and to love the memory of him. However, the acts he committed on my body and against my will are still disgusting to me. I am so glad that as I look back now, I can see those acts as separate from my body and from my heart. They were acts against me, but they didn't become a part of me. I was able to shake off any feelings of being dirty, renounce any connection, and pray for freedom from any vestiges of sexual bondage related to that experience.

I still find myself praying for the strength to forgive all of this. My will wants to forgive. My heart wants to be kind to the people who abused me. There was more than one. I am determined not to allow hatred or bitterness to have their way with me.

I find that I'm sorry for the people who caused the pain. Sorry for the pain that made them into people who do harm to others. Sorry for the retribution that a just God will require of them. Sorry for the suffering their other victims must endure. I'm sorry for them, but no longer for myself.

These actions have changed me. They didn't destroy me, but instead they improved me. Yes, they did. I was a foolish little girl with a huge ego and I had no idea what compassion looked like at times. Now, I ooze compassion for so many people. Not for everyone. I can still come across as cold and dry, but when I sense a certain pain, I find myself connecting with people. Not necessarily sexual abuse alone, but certain types of pain attract me. Betrayal, loss, broken trust, the feeling that there's no coming back from this experience... all of those feel so real to me. I can connect with that. Now, looking back, I'm grateful for the pain I've endured, because it made me more useful for my purpose.

I've had my pity parties, however. Sometimes I'm going to weep for the innocent child whose outlook on the world was changed by a few selfish acts that broken people chose to commit against me. But I'm excited about what God continues to do with the once broken person who keeps choosing to change. I am growing into a better person in spite of my pain, or perhaps because of it.

He's amazing. He can take a ruined, fallen, broken structure, rebuild it, and even before the construction is complete, he can use it as a shelter for others. Thank you, God. You are incredible.

And thank you guys, for joining me on this journey. I promise that the glory will be for God, and I pray that the lessons or morals revealed throughout this voyage of discovery might be a blessing to you, too.

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