I have spent pretty much my entire life always watching for what was lurking in the shadows. A little girl has no power when evil lurks in forms of love. It came to a point where I eventually shut down my thoughts, emotions and feelings and made a wall of steel that no one could penetrate. My body couldn’t be protected so I did everything to protect my heart. I came to know what fear was in all its rawest of forms. I learned how to protect my heart like it was a piece of porcelain china. From the time I was 11 years old I knew how to read people, their demeanor, their movements and their eyes. I could gaze into a room and could pin point the ones who had the coldest eyes. Being aware of everyone’s movement was the only chance I had at protecting the little bit of me that had not yet been broken or taken. Over time, I learned how to seem friendly but kept virtually everyone at a distance. Those that seem to get too close to me I rapidly pushed them away. I wanted no one to know my secrets, my shame, my hurt and my pain. I didn’t want love, any kind of love. My heart questioned if love was real or if I was even lovable because all the love that was shown to me from the time I was a little girl only brought hurt, sadness and pain. How could love hurt so much? For so long I question how father’s loved their little girls. Was it okay what he did because he was my father? Do fathers allow their friends full access to their daughters as a kind gesture? I didn’t even understand what sex was so later on in my life when words like rape and sexual abuse were thrown around I couldn’t fully grasp the meaning because everyone around normalized what had been done. For so long I was confused I watched my dreams get broken, I never felt seen or heard and I felt so alone. I felt as though I was fighting a losing battle every step I made. My destiny seemed to already be predetermined. I would never amount to anything. I would not be valued. I was only put on this earth to be used and abused. Those thoughts damaged the little girl that once was me. I had no reason to think any differently.
No matter how many times I have heard the words “It’s not your fault,” I still blame myself in some ways. From feeling like I was being submissive and asked for it, for not telling right away, to feeling that I should have screamed louder, the blame lies underneath it all. I wrestled with the fact that I should have known better and all I did was continue to allow it to happen. Just speaking about the past causes me anxiety and I rarely let anyone into that part of my life. The fear of rejection has always outweighed wanting to share. The blame and shame is hard to get out from under when the choices in my adult life lead to that same kind of pain and despair that I should have known better to avoid. To find myself in the same abuse I spent my life running from the shame became debilitating.
The painful memories and experiences of growing up with abusive men will never be erased. However, I couldn’t be more grateful for my life and all that it has taught me. It took me many years to allow my pain to teach me something rather than blame someone or something for it happening to me. I realized that regardless of what had been done to me, it was up to me to decide what to do with it. I have found gifts in my traumatic experience of abuse. It has taught me how to be humble, compassionate, and most of all empathetic to other people. If anything, I have learned more on how to truly connect with others through my own hurt. We each come to crossroads in our lives where we have to make the decision to let go of our old survival mechanisms in order to grow and make room for something better. Sometimes what used to protect us becomes what harms us and stifles the capacity for our lives to be open and full of joy, love, and peace. I am still afraid to open up to people about the things that have been done to me but in the process I am starting to believe that those broken pieces of my past are what is my beautiful. When I open my life to those I trust I feel safe and that fear of sharing all of me diminishes because it is through that trust that I find comfort. Looking back on my healing process, I struggled with hopelessness and days where I could barely function. I would cry out to God, “Help me!” There were endless days that I just wanted to die to get out from under the pain I was in. Since then God has brought me out of those days of despair, He reminds me daily that my worth is not based on what was told and done to me but instead on His love and favor over my life.
I am no longer in my pain, shame or scars. I have learned slowly to open to others and allow them to see me for me. I am not the things my father’s did. I am not the voices in my head. I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside. My God sees me, sees and hears every tear and was there to comfort my cries when there was no place to cry. The memories will always be there that I know but it does get better. Life’s about joy, life’s about pain and when you learn to forgive and walk away your hurt turns into healing. Time doesn’t heal all wounds and it does hurt to heal but living with guilt and shame is a life sentence. My scars are now healed wounds that no longer bleed. They may hurt at times but now the scar is only a reminder of what I have survived. Letting myself feel the hurt has been my only way out. To give myself the grace I deserve is the mountain I am still climbing. Vulnerability isn’t weakness but it is the greatest gift we can give someone else to gain insight into our lives. My pain is now my joy, my cries are now my laughter and my shame is now what sets me free. My intention is to share with others the experiences that broke my life into a million pieces and took me on a painful path. I want to ensure others that there is hope and healing for those who have been abused. Healing does take time but I know first-hand that God can take your broken heart and heal it completely. God serves as my comforter when I hurt and he shows me His loving kindness when I feel unlovable. I find my rest in Him.