Lessons from Pain

Pain is always there to identify something we need to pay attention to in order to heal. A cut hurts so we will bandage it, a memory surfaces so that we can work through it.

There are two things that catch immediate attention about my life, that I’ve been paralyzed and I’ve had amnesia. Attention hones in, because those two things are unusual. When I explain the cause being severe childhood sexual and physical abuse the reactions split between discomfort or morbid fascination.

I have lived an unusual life. I tried to forget my past and it caused health problems that eventually led to the paralysis. When the truth began emerging my life fell apart. Since then I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Denial, anger, pain, strength, and forgiveness carry me up and down. I’m blindfolded, so I don’t know when the ride will drop me, when I will be lifted up, or when it will end.

I have learned to live during the past two years. Have you ever noticed that there is no hiding on a roller coaster? Some people scream, some look terrified, some shut their eyes and others laugh in joy. It strips away the fake faces we tend to wear. That’s what has happened to me during this time of discovering the truth about my childhood. There is no hiding from anyone how my day is going. When I am happy, you will see it, when I am anxious, I can’t hide it, and when I am struggling, you won’t even see me.

When someone struggles to believe a woman who speaks up about sexual assault I know they would never believe my story. Mine is so horrible it defies comprehension. Even talking about a tiny portion of my story makes people look away in discomfort, or put me on a pedestal that I survived. Either way, it puts distance between myself and others. It is a lonely place to be.

There are gifts that compensate for the difficulty. I am strong. I am grateful. I am alive. I notice when others feel alone, left on the outside, or suffer in silence. I know what to say when those around me struggle and I have no problem conversing with people in wheelchairs, with disabilities, or caught in abuse or addiction. My empathy has grown. I am a fighter.

I would never choose to suffer the things I did, but I will take the gifts in order to find meaning in my life and strength to continue. Unfortunately, pain is a master teacher. To know the things I know, I had to pass through a great deal of pain. There were only two choices- to learn to live, or let myself die. I chose to live. And now I choose to fight back by talking about difficult things. Pain hurts, but on it’s heels it brings healing and a wholeness that can’t be achieved by ignorance.

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Weakness Molds Strength in the Brave

There are some days when the pull of denial still lures me. I want to reject the truth of the horrors done to me. I don’t want to have been the girl that the severe abuse happened to. Once amnesia has been stripped away, there is no going back. If I did try to go back, the conflict within me would rob me of a healthy life.

I am dealing with the truth of my childhood the only way I know how, using all the tools I have learned over the years. If I step back and look objectively at what I have accomplished and overcome in my healing process I am astonished. Some days I can’t step back. Some days I’m trapped within an emotion, trying to understand something that makes no sense, trying to wrap my head around the idea that someone would drug, rape, and torture a small ten year old girl, robbing her of her childhood, safety, and years of her future life, and do it all in the name of God using Satanic worship. There is no way to understand something that evil and wrong.

As I have overcome, my present reality grows distant from the past I haven’t unchained myself from yet. It feels like I am being stretched between two realities so disparate that they can’t coexist. Yet they do- within my mind. I am happy that the present and future I am creating are so far removed from the helplessness of that child trapped in pain. Until I heal that child, I remain chained to the past, while each bit of healing creates a future I never could have imagined. One day I will heal the broken fragments of my childhood. I will fully integrate the horrors of my childhood with the strong, empowered woman I am today and stand as a voice for change. But not today.

I first broke through my amnesia on July 30, 2016. Just over two years ago. I didn’t uncover the ritual abuse until January 28, 2018. If I think about it, I am amazed at the healing that has taken place since that first hot summer day and even that cold winter revelation. I have accepted that I have been raped more times than I can count, and experienced each type of rape defined by law. I know of fifteen abusers so far. I don’t know all of their names, I don’t even remember every face, but I remember what they did to me. I remember odd details about them that stand out clearly, things that those who know every detail of their faces might not know about them. I even know how they kept my own family from discovering what they were doing to me. It is amazing how much trauma, abuse, and even torture can happen without leaving anything that can be seen by others, and the power abusers hold over their victims.

Yesterday I had a bad day. I had to give myself the room to accept the pain that surfaced, to face the realities of being drugged, to let that child inside stop hiding the hurt and pain. I had the skills to keep myself safe and get through the day. I had the support I needed in my husband who gave me space when I needed it, and an outpouring of love when I was ready. Because I gave myself the time and energy needed to go through that piece of healing, today is a new day.

Today I finished my grieving and put on the armor of truth I have uncovered about myself- that I am strong. I am a survivor and I refuse to give any more years, months, or days to my abusers. They might have robbed me of my past but they will not rob me of my future.

Our world is filled with victims of abuse, and new victims are being hurt as I type these words. Lives are being shattered as you read these words. It is time to break the cycle of abuse. We must start with protecting children- boys and girls. We must change our culture, to create a safe place where victims can be heard so that the abuse is reported immediately instead of years and decades down the road when they are finally strong enough to face the difficulties that come with reporting abuse. We must realize that abuse is happening in our own neighborhoods and take a stand there. Start with educating yourself on how to protect your own children, and then broaden that education to protect all the children around you, using love as the powerful conduit for change.

I am healing and growing stronger each day. I am doing it for myself, but I am also doing it for you. I am doing it to show you the way, whether you are a victim, a predator, or a protector. I am shaping myself into a voice for the voiceless, a beacon of hope, and God’s hands and feet on the earth to help those that aren’t strong enough yet to help themselves. I do this because I know that together, we can eradicate the scourge of abuse. I do this because it will only happen together. I can protect a few, but together we can protect many.

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