Contemplating


Why are we so afraid of the pain of others? Does it emphasize or enhance our own pain? Does it make us feel inadequate or ill-equipped to save or heal others? Or does it just make things better, more tidy, when we overlook it?

I was shaken to hear of the rape scene in Downton Abbey’s fourth season and my first thought was to skip over it. Our family recently became acquainted with this show and I really value the integrity and morals highlighted in it, especially when our options of family-friendly viewing have become so limited. To put it mildly, our family is addicted to this show. All five of us love it. What a lovely way in teaching our children about integrity and morals and taking pride and showing honor in our hard work, no matter our social class. Of course, there have been some indiscretions and horrors that we’ve blocked from our eight year old and discussed in detail as a family. But this rape scene was monumental to the storyline of the show and I’ve wrestled with allowing our family to view this together or skip over it and give the “safe” summary. After all, even an adult friend of mine admitted he couldn’t watch rape scenes in movies/tv shows and this scene was no exception. I’ve lived my life the same way: avoiding rape scenes in movies/tv shows. But is that not what was done to me when others learned of my sexual abuse? Is that not the normal response to pain, especially rape: to run and hide? How will my children ever know the world – without experiencing it firsthand (as I so often pray) – if I gloss over the horrible truths about rape and the stigma it has on the victim? Even to this day, the shame and expected silence enveloping victims is appalling. One of the greatest lessons I learned when being trained for victim advocacy with the local police department was in allowing the victims the space to suffer and mourn. To rid them of this, or speed them through this process would be detrimental to the healing that would eventually transpire. The place in which I felt most humbled and honored was when these families would allow me into their suffering – their most anguished, traumatized and painful moments – and I was invited to share in that with them. What a gift.

I decided to preview the rape scene and, hours later, I am still sorting through the many thoughts that rose to the surface. Of course it was triggering but not nearly as much as I had imagined. More so, I was bombarded by the fact that I was adverse to ever watching that scene or in having my children watch it. Do I not allow them to view the pain and struggle and death in this war we wage between good and evil? Why did I so easily fall for the glossed-over stigma? Did I feel my children would be better off if they never witnessed this horror? I know better. Stigma is defined as “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person” as well as “bodily marks or pains resembling the wounds of the crucified Jesus”. Very interesting. How very different we’d view our salvation without the “stigma”, the suffering and wounds, our Savior took on our behalf.

I recently watched a beautiful video of Eugene Peterson and Bono discussing the Psalms and the necessity in sharing our honesty, even in – ESPECIALLY IN – pain, struggle and despair. I was inspired and filled with hope as Eugene spoke of the Psalms “It’s not smooth. It’s not nice. It’s not pretty. But it’s honest and I think we’re trying for honesty.” Bono added,

“… dishonesty… I find a lot of in Christian art, a lot of dishonesty…” and “Write a song about their bad marriage… write a song about how they’re, you know, pissed off at their government. Because that’s what God wants from you. That truth, ‘The Way, The Truth’. And that truthfulness, ‘Know the truth – the truth will set you free’, it’ll blow things apart. Why I’m suspicious of Christians is because of this lack of realism and I’d love to see more of that. In art and in life and in music.”

In the midst of all of this reckoning, Eugene Peterson’s perspective on the Cross came to mind. The interviewer, David Taylor, asked him, “Is there a way to read the Psalms, through Jesus’ eyes, that helps us understand violence or non-violence?” Eugene answered,

“Well, yeah, the crucifixion. Where there’s violence, there’s got to be some kind of response. And is it more violence or less? I’m glad we have crosses in every room in this house. When I look at those, I don’t think of decoration. I think this is the world we live in and it’s a world with a lot of crosses. And I just would like to spend my life doing something about that: through scripture, through preaching, through friendship. Now my, you know, years are getting shorter and I don’t have many left but I don’t want to escape that – escape the violence.”

Wow. How often have I looked at the cross and glossed over the blood and torn up flesh, looked past the suffering, to see only the glory in the resurrection? Of course, I do not discount that glory. Without that resurrection, there is no redemption. However, without that violence, the truth is, there would not have been a resurrection. Essentially, without violence, there is no redemption. To live my life under the motto of “Forgive and Forget” would be dishonest to the healing that my Savior delivered after that violence against me. To gloss over the suffering of others, would be to discredit the value of Jesus’ comfort and salvation.

So, the honesty in violence and redemption is the catalyst that points to Jesus. How very different that perspective allows me to view the suffering I’ve endured and the suffering I choose to walk through with others. I’ll end this with a passage that has brought immense peace and strength lately.

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. 2 Corinthians 1:2-3 (The Message)

There’s been a stirring in me for quite some time. A restlessness unable to be transcribed. A rerooting of sorts. A split-second glimpse of part of the finished puzzle comprised of pieces of my life, finally fitting together after years of rolling them around in my hands.

I’ve become unsettled and it is good.

Attending the We Event for iEmpathize a few weeks ago, a dam burst within me… I know I have this immense empathy for people. I know I have a deep-rooted passion. I know I want to make a difference in the lives of others. I know that I want my past to stand for something good, for God, and not as it was intended by man. I know that without a college degree I am significantly limited with my ability to have a “legitimate” voice.

I also know that my motivations have always been wrong. I’ve wanted to change the world and that proposed change was unknowingly limited or viewed from a skewed perspective. I have always led from a place of pain. Focusing and leading others from the pain of my past, instead of from the endless strength of God. I told God where I’d be used and how I would be able to do so. I told God what difference I would make and in what way the people’s lives would change. I was ignorant and clueless. Living off of remnants of my disillusioned upbringing and trying to share that same disillusionment with others.

In the past year, combined with my continued focus on my past and dealing with it, I also read a significant book, Generous Justice. It kind of washed clean the mud and grit that had been distorting my view in the way I interact and view humanity as a whole. This entire process took me far beyond seeing that, when suffering and broken, human beings had a cap on their value and that it was up to me to help get them through this temporary struggle of life so that they could just eat or just get water or just ______. Just to keep them alive… Then I’d move on to others.

What happens after they receive that next meal or that clean water or those shoes or that jacket? What then? What if the cap, that we put on these lives, was infinite? What if the limits of their existence and worth went far beyond the temporary comforts that I (we) may bring? What if I took part (by God’s grace and help) in helping them truly live and love and find joy and beauty in every day and then empowering them to share that all with everyone around them?

Here’s where I stand in my unsettlement: I want to take people from being a victim (which places the power in the perpetrator) and from being just a survivor (which places the power, and keeps it, within the person that was harmed) to being a warrior of love and empowerment. I feel God steering me to lead women out of the pain of their past (and present) into DOING for good. For God.

Jase and I were talking through all of this and he had a great realization. In cases of sexual abuse, the fallout is usually to clam up / brush it under the rug / detach OR the result is to crumble / completely shred the life that was given you. But I want to know where the freaking warriors are. I want to find the women that can link arms with me and become a front-line toward helping those in need and giving them hope that they can rise up and succeed and make a difference in this world. I want to stand on the shit from my past and make it a strong foundation for doing good in Jesus’ name.

I am also tired of being on this island. With all of the women I’ve know in my life (and keeping the stat of *1 out of every 3 or 4 have been sexually abuse* at the forefront) I’ve only known a few to have been sexually abused. Or only a few have ever shared that with me. That is ridiculous to me.. that this kind of travesty can be so drenched in silence. In this silence, we give so much power and authority to those that have abused and they can continue doing so, while we stand idly / apathetically on the side lines.

So, here I am, ready to be a warrior. To fight. To stop listening to the enemy in his quest to smother me and grind me to a pulp. To stand up against the lies that I am nothing, that I am worthless and to start believing and focusing on God’s Truth. I want to make a difference. I want to serve and to lead and to learn and grow and water and shine. I want to stop hiding in fear and I want to share this light. Part of this recent unsettling is that I want to (finally) learn spanish, fluently, and that I want to (finally) take a mechanic class. I “see” myself opening an auto repair shop. For women, by women. I want to overcome my fear of other countries and lead women toward changing lives around them. I want to start by making a big change in the immediate “world” around me.

I’m learning so much about me. You know how people say you go off to college to really, finally, learn who you are? Well, I feel I’ve been doing the same for the past several years. I mean, I dropped out of college after the first semester so it makes sense that (as with Life®) I chose the Family path first so now I’m catching up on that college experience. With all of the examining and shaping and pruning and watering and fertilizing and long bouts of exposure to the sun. It’s a tough thing to become a botanist of the soul without any training and with a black thumb…

After 20 years of singing, I finally found visible proof that it’s all been done incorrectly. Without ever having lessons, this day was sure to come. A doctor schooled me about my “pre-nodule edemas with incomplete hour-glass glottic closure” and had me running to a vocal therapist. So, here I am, putting my life-long love of singing on hold for a couple of months while treatment is sought and rendered. All while examining why I place so much value on whether or not I sing and why I feel there’s so much value found in me when I sing and why I feel so much closer to God when I sing and whether or not I could quit for good and be ok. Before I quit, I’m learning how to work hard for something I want so badly. Hopefully it won’t go as poorly as so many other challenges I’ve faced…

I think I may have unofficially attained the World Record for Slowest Reader. I’ve been reading a book for three years. Yes, you read that right. As in, I’ve had the book for three years and every month I read a little. I read a chapter or two or just several pages and then I’ll put it down for a while. When I’m not reading it, I’m mulling it over. It’s like I’m learning how to inject a book into my veins so that it sticks. I’m ingesting this thing like nothing before. Sadly, no, not even the bible. This book is not only the toughest thing I’ve ever read, it’s also the most explicit in describing my life and struggles. I began reading The Wounded Heart after a woman mentioned it to me at a conference for married couples. She had been a speaker and mentioned having been sexually abused. This meant more to me than even I knew, especially because she intermingled this revelation with how it affected / affects her marriage and how she’s getting through it. I had to find out if she had any feedback on books so when I asked her, she told me about The Wounded Heart and I’ve been studying it, while studying me, ever since. I bring all of this up because there is a conference this weekend. A conference based on this book and given by this author. And I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited and scared shitless at the same time. A conference that’s talking about God and sexual abuse. I’ve wrestled with that being an oxymoron for so long. Most recently, last week. Screaming, angrily, at God for allowing this shit to crush me as a child and consistently steamroll me without warning. Demanding answers from God, wondering where He was through it all and questioning if He’s even helping. Even now, as an adult, married to an amazing man for 13 years… But I also know that this is a conference where I’m not the only person dealing with, speaking about, healing from sexual abuse. Sexual abuse… this taboo, life-sucking disease I’ve had since I was 8 years old and subjected to again and again and again… For the first time in my life, I’ll be in a room with a group of people like me. A group that maybe fully comprehends innocence lost or hope being shattered or trust violently getting ripped out and pain left as a thank you note. This is something that I’ll be immersed in for 3 days and I’m scared to death. But I can’t help but hope.

In all things, I can’t help but plead for healing and restoration and peace. I can’t help but cry out for redemption, for endurance, for strength. If not, I’ve got one choice: give up and die. I know there’s more to all of this than that. I’ve seen the beauty. I’ve witnessed God’s provision. I’m a fucking walking miracle and I know that has absolutely nothing to do with me.

Writing this, I recall a favorite singer and song, Natalie MerchantMy Skin. Seemingly dark, this song brings so much comfort.

Take a look at my body
Look at my hands
There’s so much here
That I don’t understand

Your face-saving promises
Whispered like prayers
I don’t need them

I’ve been treated so wrong
I’ve been treated so long
As if I’m becoming untouchable

Well contempt loves the silence
It thrives in the dark
With fine-winding tendrils
That strangle the heart

They say that promises
Sweeten the blow
But I don’t need them
No, I don’t need them

I’ve been treated so wrong
I’ve been treated so long
As if I’m becoming untouchable

I’m a slow dying flower
I’m a frost killing hour
The sweet turning sour
And untouchable

Oh, I need
The darkness
The sweetness
The sadness
The weakness
Oh, I need this

I need
A lullaby
A kiss goodnight
Angel sweet
Love of my life
Oh, I need this

I’m a slow dying flower
Frost killing hour
The sweet turning sour
And untouchable

Do you remember the way
That you touched me before
All the trembling sweetness
I loved and adored

Your face-saving promises
Whispered like prayers
I don’t need them
No, I don’t need them

I need
The darkness
The sweetness
The sadness
The weakness
Oh, I need this

I need
A lullaby
A kiss goodnight
Angel sweet
Love of my life
Oh, I need this

Well, is it dark enough
Can you see me
Do you want me
Can you reach me
Oh, I’m leaving

You better shut your mouth
And hold your breath
You kiss me now
You catch your death
Oh, I mean this
Oh, I mean this

I’ve been on a blog-surfing kick lately. Partly to do with researching all I can on the clinical side about Asperger’s Syndrome as well as reading stuff from parents of children with Asperger’s. But I’ve also been popping around on sites of Mommy + Motivational-Speaker sites. I need as much encouragement in my life and these sites are chock-full of inspiration and courage and encouragement. Reading the stories these women share make it really easy for me to kick my life into high gear and start making a better difference in my life and the life of my family and friends.

There’s a flip-side to that though… the more surfing around I’ve done, the more I’ve realized that all of these women (as in, ALL) have a core group of women friends. A core group of women that hang out together, cry together, laugh together, dream together, dread together, fear together and create together. They relate in good times and bad and spur each other on to greater things. These women also have AT LEAST one woman in their life, or an inspiration from afar, that spark them on to go for their dreams and goals and seek out courage.

It kind of hit me again this week… I have no friends or mentors like this. I never have and it makes me wonder if that’s a major part of the reason why I feel in such a rut so often. I’ve got some horrible shit from my past, combined with the fact that I really have no support. No one to really look up to and no one around to really help me back up to my feet. For my whole life, I’ve watched friendships bloom and grow around me and pass me by. I’ve got friends now that I feel are great and I feel like we’re all on the edge of taking these friendships to the place of *3o years down the road*. But there always seems to be something in the way. Everyone has always already had a super close friend or two and I’m always the third wheel or these friends of mine are so popular that they barely have time to share any substantial amount together.

I’ve always longed for the type of friends where we can go away on vacation together or if I had an emergency at 2am, they’d be the first I’d call.

Looking at my life and comparing it to those friendships I’ve been reading about online, makes me wonder… is it merely the fact that they’ve got a mentor or someone to look up to and friends to help prop them up that makes them successful and happy and courageous and positive and prosperous?

I know I’ve got God… but sometimes consistency in tangible smiles and tears “helps the medicine go down.”

Besides my life path change in 1996, 2010 was the most defining year of my life. I’ve learned so much about myself in the last year, things that I never would have believed were true. I learned that I’m judgmental. I learned that I am codependent. I learned that I cared more about trying to control the way people view me, rather than how I was treating my husband and my children. I learned that I cared much more deeply about the opinions of strangers and acquaintances than I did those that truly love me. I painfully learned that there are people that will judge me and dislike me, no matter how much I try to win their praise and adoration. I learned that I don’t need anyone’s praise or adoration. I learned that volunteering, at least at this point in time, in the children’s ministry and youth ministry caused me to be much too distant from my own flesh and blood. I’ve learned that what I do, does not define who I am. I learned that there are lots of people that I considered a friend that actively try to avoid / ignore me, rather than speak truth into my life. I’ve learned that I’m ok without their friendship, without their approval, without their false smile. I’ve learned that I’ve lived most of my life envying the accomplishments of many people. I learned that I froze in that envy, preventing me from pursuing my own dreams and changing my life for the better. I’ve learned that I can find value in my life without feeling like people “need” me. I’ve learned to (finally / really) start taking care of my mental and physical well-being and to keep it consistent.

I’m learning to be more like the moon. Reflecting the sun, rather than trying to be the sun.

It’s a long and difficult road, but I’m also learning how to keep my heart and mind clean because I want it to make a difference in the lives of those that I care about the most.

“First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:26

Written on 5/10/2010:

Jase, the kids and I had a perfect day yesterday, for Mother’s Day. We left our house around 1030am, to go on an extended walk, and returned 6 hours later! There were so many laughs and admirations for nature (and for each other) as we ventured to the park and enjoyed snacks, ate lunch at a nauseatingly-hot fast food establishment, and laughed/got freaked out by different animal parts/sea creatures in an asian market before stumbling on some delicious candy. We got the kids to try new things with mocha coconut Boba Tea (a favorite of mine and Jase’s) and found LOTS of books to borrow from the library. The two mile walk back home was rewarded with a strawberry shortcake dinner and reading two chapters of our new library book, The Secret Garden. Really it was a perfect day. The kids would complain every now and then as they got tired or overwhelmed with carrying their stack of books back home, from the library but I might just claim yesterday as my favorite Mother’s Day ever. The weather was even great. Sunny and cooled off by a gracious breeze. The day was so beautiful.

So why am I stuck in a rut again today? Why have I been feeling like this for months? I don’t want to put away that last load of clothes or clear the piles of paper off of the kitchen counter. I don’t want to vacuum up the floor or clean the toilets. I wonder about what I’m doing in life and where I’m spending my time and whether or not the things that consume my mind and my time are worth it.  Jase and I watched a movie last night. The movie was a live-taping of a comedian and really funny, I was even cry-laughing at some points, but I almost threw up when the sexual jokes started. I hate that I’m affected, negatively, by that. I hate that it affects the way I feel about myself, my body, and my trust in Jase. I hate that I can’t just laugh those things off or at least overlook them, unaffected.

Life, at the moment, is beautiful and tragic. It’s exhilarating, yet, in stasis.

I feel like I’m constantly switching from joyful and satisfied with life, to depressed and feeling as if my life has no purpose, no meaning. I feel worthless and unable to do anything right. At the moment, I question the time I spend mentoring teenagers and with one of the things that seems to sustain me: singing. I wonder if the passion and love I have for people means anything, does anything, helps at all. I’m having severe issues with trusting people and their words of affirmation and love. I’m severely dissatisfied with my health and my physical shape.

People have really been affecting me, negatively, lately. I sang, at church, a couple of weekends ago and I’m having a hard time letting go of some looks and smirks that seemed to be directed at me.

I’ve been doubting a lot of things lately… the love people have for me, the positive qualities I thought I once had, the difference that I make…

I’m fighting. Fighting back hard.

Days like yesterday continue to sustain me. However, these ruts/attacks, though few and far-between, are tough.

I have a huge heart for people that are hurting. Sometimes, I have more empathy than I can handle. The things I’ve seen in my life have filtered my love, though. Sadly, to the point of cynicism and mistrust in some cases.

Take last night, for example. My friend signed up to serve a meal at the Downtown Denver Rescue Mission and asked for some volunteers to go with her. Of course, given my love for people and serving others, I jumped at the chance. Concern began on the drive down there, wondering what I’d do with my purse. I couldn’t bring it with me. It’s a temptation to some of *them*. What would I do, hide it somewhere to be found or keep it on me to be stolen and traded for crack? (I mean, I should know… when I was a teenage runaway, living on the streets and smoking crack, I did the same thing with someone’s stolen purse and someone’s stolen wallet.) The other ladies I was with, were going to put their purses in the trunk. In my mind, that’s perfect for any schemers to see, plan and steal. So, I shoved mine under the driver’s seat. If someone was planning to break into the trunk and grab the purses, they’d most likely not be searching the rest of the car. (Grab and go.) So began my fear and anxiety. Walking toward the Rescue Mission, my reconnaissance mentality kicked on, making sure to have a clear head and my surroundings in check. After signing in, we walked downstairs and as soon as that door swung open and I had a view of faces, it flipped on. As if it was second nature and without a flinch, I removed my wedding ring, casually pushed it into my pocket and (knowing I was now “available”) I moved the ring from my right index finger onto my left ring finger. Not a flinch or facial expression. Dear God. That mentality was as crystal clear as if it was all yesterday. For the rest of the night, I wasn’t my usual self. No joking around, nearly no laughter. I kept eye contact to a minimum and if necessary, extremely quick and unemotional. I was in survival mode and I’m sure it showed. But I didn’t give a shit. I came there to do a job. A job I was still very determined to fulfill and very grateful being given an opportunity to help others even if I was surrounded by 80 homeless men, most likely all with mental issues and drug addictions. I wasn’t there to make any friends. The girl I came with was laughing and carrying conversations with some of the guys and I couldn’t help but look at her with sympathy. She had no idea that she was most likely a game to them. The *easiest* women were the targets, the first victims. I know this from experience. Could every single homeless man that we served last night, all 80 of them, be innocent, tame and pure in heart? Sure, it’s a possibility. But I’ve *lived* what homelessness and drugs can do to a human being. Knowing what I know, I wasn’t about to let my guard down until we were back in the car and on the way back home.

I accomplished my tasks with fervor and effectiveness. I slightly smiled and gave lots of “you’re welcome” and “thank you” responses. But last night taught me how much my past is still with me. When we left the building, there were people smoking crack about 50 feet from me. It was a very strange feeling to want to run away from them as fast and as far as possible BUT I also wanted to walk up to them and just chill out and hear their stories and show them that joy and peace was possible, without drugs.

Fear and love/passion do strange things to the human heart. I feel like I overcame something last night. Something I never knew existed. I’m hoping that the more I serve in this environment, the more trust I’ll gain to replace my fear. I’ll be back to do this again in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait.

I know I’ve written a lot of heavy posts this year. The reason behind that is… well… it’s been a heavy year for me. For the first time in my life, I’ve dealt with traumatic events against me – starting with when I was eight years old. It’s been a tough year but it’s been an extremely healthy, healing year. For that, I am grateful, sometimes overwhelmed, in knowing how blessed I am.

In honor of Thanksgiving, this is my list of thanks.

  • For my perfect fit, Jase: He’s the most patient, loving, forgiving, gracious person I know.
  • For Malakai: My genious, loving, drumming, passionate first-born.
  • For Zoe: My happy, creative, kind and sensitive little girl.
  • For Cali: My carefree, dancing-singing, funny, precious toddler.
  • For all of my family and friends: Their support, love, listening ears, sound advice, similar struggles, and compassionate hearts have taught me so much.
  • I’m thankful, to the extent of immense disbelief and emotion, for the love and forgiveness I’ve been shown by the Creator of life. I am constantly moved to tears for the sacrifice that Jesus gave to me and the people that have harmed me. Because of Him, I know love. Because of Him, I know forgiveness and grace. Because of Jesus, I know the effects of second chances. For that chance, I breathe deep everyday and vow to show the same love that I’ve been gifted.
  • For the material possessions (house, vehicles, bed, computer, television) that allow me to relax and love myself, my family and all others while life attempts to push me into the ground, burying me with expectations and flashbacks and busyness.
  • For Jase’s job. His current job is the best he’s ever had but Jase has constantly worked his butt off to make sure that I’m able to stay home and raise our children with our values and morals.
  • For my past. I can not truthfully claim to wish change with any of it, for fear in it changing the positive aspects of my current life. Even in the midst of flashbacks (causing me to relive the pain and trauma) I know that allowing God to work through my past has made me a stronger and more loving person. Would I like to have this strength and love without having experienced the pain? Sure. But I can’t live life while drowning in “what if” scenarios. So, because of my past and with severe diligence, I will let my past refine me (for better) and use it to help me protect my children. I’ll pray they know the love, empathy and passion I have for people, WITHOUT needing to experience what I went through.
  • For the opportunity I have in being a mentor to youth. Because of my past, I have a heart/passion for youth, however, with the opportunity to reach out to them, I have a voice. Because of this opportunity, it’s become a positive reason to speak the heartache I’ve been through.
  • For the beauty of God’s creation. All of it. The intricate solar system, down to the smallest particle. I am blown away by how life has been so perfectly created. I love photographing nature and gazing at pictures of space. I notice, every day, how perplex and perfect God’s creativity graces us with it’s presence.
  • For music. Music helped fuel the rage I had as a teenager but has also helped keep me afloat while drowning in sadness. Music can bring out every single emotion in me and something about singing on stage makes me feel extraordinarily close to God and people.
  • For laughter. God, in His own sense of humor, has placed in me an unusual one. My humor is self-reliant. Almost daily, something in my own imagination gives me a chuckle. I’m also surrounded by so many people that help this innate desire to laugh and make others laugh. For that, I’m sincerely grateful for wittiness, sarcasm and ignorance to idiocy. Writing that even made me giggle. 😉

When looking for opportunities of thanks, rather than opportunities to complain, your list will overwhelm you as well.

Look around. Find beauty. Somewhere. Anywhere. Cling to it.

My friend posted something on her facebook page the other day, about the Oprah show that she just watched. My friend mentioned how her heart breaks for “these women.” Since I only have preschool shows on during the day, I went to Oprah’s site and got the scoop. The topic for this particular show was on women who had been sexually abused at the hand of family members.

Growing up in with a strict, religious-focused mentality, really screwed me up. As a child and teenager, there were many things that were taboo topics in my family. The thinking was, if negative things were discussed, they’d be at the forefront of our minds and it would make us want to do those things. If we were talking about negative feelings, then we weren’t focusing on God or allowing Him to heal us. Total BS brainwashing. Especially when I had questions about sex, drugs and drinking as a pre-teen and then not knowing what to do or who to talk to after being molested by two family members and raped as a teenager. I’ve gone through HELL in my life because I’ve felt too afraid to speak up, too alone for anyone to care. Years of pain and trauma may have been avoided if I had been given the tools to deal with being molested when I was eight. Maybe I wouldn’t have turned to drugs, alcohol, stealing, running away, etc… maybe I wouldn’t have been molested, for years, by another family member. Maybe I wouldn’t have been raped.

Reading the summary of the Oprah show, the other day, reminded me that there is still SO much change that needs to happen in regard to sexual abuse survivors. In a way, I feel I’m now open to speaking about it so that must mean that everyone else is as well. I couldn’t believe the feedback I read while browsing through this particular site, as well as other sites. There are still so many women and men that are silent because they feel alone and afraid.

To me, it means that the voices of us survivors aren’t loud enough.

I want to be a loud advocate for victims/survivors but given the lack of confidence I have in myself and feeling like the help I have to offer has already been fulfilled by someone else and my story has already been told, it’s no wonder I’ve been dormant on this topic.

The reminder that there are still people too afraid to speak up or feeling like they are alone in their pain/abuse helps propel me, recharge me, to speak louder.

Why is sexual abuse such a taboo topic?!?

I’m sick of the muzzle, especially when it’s placed on by religion.

This year, I’ve finally found help: My church and their love for hurting, broken and weak people. My help has also come from finally tearing down the pride that had been fused to my DNA and talking to a counselor who showed me the depth of my PTSD and a variety of healing processes. So far, I’ve come across one book, Wounded Heart, that has been the most amazing help of all in getting me over my silenced shame and in understanding I’m not alone.

  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.
  • College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.

It’s more than likely that if you aren’t a victim/survivor yourself, then you know of someone that has been sexually abused.

Our silence is deafening.

I have had severe writer’s block, for weeks, with this idea/post. I’m tired of it swimming around in my head. So, although it might be incomplete or disjointed, I’m publishing it now.

I had an epiphany last night. Oooo, I love those. I realized that if I would stop having expectations with other people, then they wouldn’t let me down. If I stopped expecting things from people or for them to act a certain way, then I wouldn’t be disappointed in them.

I realized that that must be what defines unconditional love. Then I realized that that is how I needed to start viewing myself. I judge myself quite severely.

For most of my life I’ve felt defined as a singer. Not as a person who loved to sing but as, just a singer. If I messed up in singing a song, I failed in who I was. It was a horrible place to put myself. If I wasn’t singing, I wasn’t fulfilling who I was meant to be. If I wasn’t at the top of my list of accomplishing “all things I want to do and places I want to go” with singing, then I wasn’t complete.

I feel closest to God when I’m singing on stage at church and most complete when I’m singing, anywhere. However, I was getting to the point, before and after singing, of being unnerved with how I did because it wasn’t the best.

Being ONLY a singer was killing the value that I should have placed within myself. Having unrealistic expectations was killing the unconditional love that I should have had for those around me.

Once I realized that my problem resided in the expectations I had on myself and others, I quickly learned how to dissolve the issue.

In this seemingly simple act of change, I’ve lifted another incredible burden off of my shoulders. The difference I feel, in singing (whether it’s at home for an hour or at church), is tremendous. I’m not held captive to the feeling of being a failure if I make a mistake because I’m not just a singer. I’m a person that loves to sing. I’m a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a mentor… that just loves to sing. This change has also lifted a burden off of people around me, whether they knew they were carrying this burden or not. If my family and friends failed in my expectations for them, then they were failing me. Now that I’ve dissolved those expectations, I feel I’m now free to love unconditionally.

No expectations = Unconditional love.

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