My Story 

September 13, 2017

I was born to a father who was not ready to be a dad and to a mother who didn’t believe she could raise a child. They signed me over to my birth mother’s sister within my first year. I acquired a new mom and four older siblings. For the first few years and into early elementary, I remember being a happy, normal kid. I remember my older sister painting my nails and my mom singing me to sleep with Puff the Magic Dragon. I remember being loved. But after age six, things started to change. This was when my years of sexual abuse began

By seven years old, I had been stripped of my clothing, and with them fell my innocence. 

By eight years old, shame had traced its way into every crack and crevice of my life. I was embarrassed of my body. I stuttered when I spoke to adults or older kids or boys.

By nine years old, not understanding the process, I feared becoming pregnant. 

By ten years old, I was afraid to take a bath, because he would often sneak into the bathroom after me. I would run the water just long enough to make my mom believe I was in the tub, but most nights, I wouldn’t actually get in. I would change my clothes as quickly as I could and get out.

By eleven years old, I was certain I would die. At any given moment, he could grab me by the throat and squeeze… all he would have to do is squeeze a little tighter than usual. Or he could just blow my brains out, he said, as I tried to leave his room one day. Before I reached the door knob, he stuck the barrel of his pistol against my temple. The coolness of the metal and his vicious yellow grin made my body freeze. “You know I could shoot you if I wanted, right?” he said.

By twelve years old, I had had enough. I stood up to him. I threatened to scream, to expose him. And that’s all it took. 

When I was around the age of six, a girl cousin and I would pretend to be a mom and dad, and for some reason, we started to play without our clothes on, like real grown-ups. I can’t remember where this idea came from, as my abuse had not yet begun and she herself had not been abuse. This secret we shared later became my greatest shame. 

During the following year, my abuser had begun the grooming process. It started with us taking our clothes off, then progressed to me touching him, and finally, later on, oral sex. After the first time, when it was still just touching, we sat on his bed and I asked if he had ever done this before and he said yes. He then asked if I had, and I said yes, with my girl cousin. 

At first, I looked forward to these times because it made me feel special and loved, but after a few weeks in, when I no longer found it fun, he transformed into a terrifying person. He told me that if I didn’t do what he wanted, whenever he wanted, he would tell my mom that I had done bad things with my cousin and she would no longer love me. She would give me away. So I did what he wanted. My daily prison turned into weeks, then months, then years. For him, it didn’t matter where we were; he was powerful enough to have what he wanted, when he wanted it. 

My only constant during these years was God. I would run away to Him, day after day. He was my best friend and my protector. I prayed for wisdom for a long time and I asked God to show me whether or not telling was the right thing to do. I asked Him to send a sign–make me sick or cause bad weather to happen. I don’t remember what sign it was, but I had convinced myself one day that He was speaking to me. That He wanted me to tell. 

While sitting in the car with a family member,  waiting for him to get out of school, I blurted out the words–he makes me do things with him. family member was completely stunned and it was in that moment that he got into the car. She kept her composure until we made it home, then she asked me to go sit in the back yard with her. We sat down in a bed of clovers and I told her what had happened and she promised to find a way to make it stop. I found several four leaf clovers while sitting there and I knew God was speaking to me again–He said, “see didn’t I tell you it would all be ok?”

My family member didn’t speak to my abuser about what I told her, but instead, a lock was placed on my door and he was sent away. Things began to feel normal and safe until my he came home for Thanksgiving break. He came into my room, expecting it to be as it always had. I told him to get out and he closed the door. I told him I would scream and anger came as a flood through him. His face turned red, veins were visible, his fists were clinched. Through gritted teeth he said, “you bitch” and walked out. The season following this was one of uncertainty for me because I was so sure he would kill me for trying to take away his power. I was so sure of it. This was in November 2005.

Some months after that, after things had somewhat settled, I told my best friend, who a classmate overheard telling a teacher. The girl who overheard went to my abuser to warn him of the lies being said about him. Out of fear, he went to an older family member and she called a family meeting between the three of us. She explained that if anything was said, I had to deny it because I could be taken away. We bonded that night by lying on her bed together, reminiscing over old photo albums. At the time, I had no idea how dysfunctional that evening together was. 

I buried the abuse deep in my mind and put most of my focus into the youth group at my church. This was the only place where I felt comfortable. Where I could be me and not get in trouble for it. At school, I didn’t understand the information and made F’s and D’s. I would get grounded for up to six months at a time, and this included going to church, my safety place. I would then cheat to get myself out of trouble for having the bad grades. At school, I was a failure and at home, a disappointment. But I felt like God had given me church for a reason and I loved it. 

I remained serious in my faith until I was 15 years old. A boy I was crazy about didn’t want to be with me because I wouldn’t have sex with him. He instead, went to one of my friends, and she became pregnant. I was devastated and so angry with God. I felt like everything came down to sex. Why would He allow this to happen if He loved me? Because of my anger, I decided to stop speaking to Him for awhile–teach Him a lesson. But then, that old familiar sense of shame kicked in. I was so ashamed, I felt like I couldn’t even tell Him how sorry I was.

Depression had been part of my life prior to this but it was during this time that the darkness really took hold of me. I left my church and receded into myself. I felt numb and I wanted to die. 

The next several years were a blur of emptiness. I was full of hatred and sorrow. At school, I skipped class every chance I got and hid in the bathroom or library. At home, I hid in my room and I drowned out the noise of my head and the people around me through music. Loud, pain-fuelled music. 

My next serious relationship was a boy I met when I was 17 years old. I wanted so bad to not drive him away, that I almost lost sight of myself in the process. We had been together for about seven months when I asked him to go get checked for STD’s. I knew he had been with many girls and I wanted to have the peace of mind because I thought, and hoped, we would one day share a sexual relationship. A few weeks after my request, he walked into my apartment, sat down his bag of free condoms and Chlamydia information packet and nonchalantly said they treated it and he was good to go. My heart was crushed and my body went numb, with that old, familiar sense of emptiness. Everything always comes back to sex. ALWAYS. I saw him once more after this to exchange our belongings. 

I was at a local community college at this point and had to work hard to learn simple English and math that I had never caught on to during my younger years. I managed to graduate with honors. I went on to Southern Miss from there. 

It was during this time that I began to explore the idea that perhaps my depression and aversion to sex could be connected to my past. I did a few therapy sessions and opened up more to a particular family member. She, who had always told me not to tell my grandmother, told my grandmother. When I found out, it triggered a string of panic attacks. I was on campus and didn’t know what to do, so I went to the little sanctuary campus and I cried and I begged God “Please” because I could get nothing more out. This was my first time to acknowledge God in six years. 

I didn’t go back to school after that day, and with that, I felt shame and hopelessness. I woke up to use the bathroom and occasionally eat, then I would go back to sleep. I can remember one time having a mouse run across my pillow and all I could do was bury myself deeper in the covers and hope to die. 

Around this same time, I had written some memories from my time of abuse and I was struggling with how to deal. One evening, the weight and shame felt so heavy that I shut myself up in my closet to stop the panic and show down my racing mind. My ability to function on my own was dwindling away and I felt I was losing control. The desire for death was a constant. When I was like this, often I would go hunting for books because it would give me a momentary high. It was like I expected a book to be able to save me. On one particular day, I went to a local flea market, where outside, I found a box of religious books. I surprised myself by looking through them and surprised myself even more to find a handwritten journal. I bought the journal for a dime. In the inside cover, a name was written: Ginger Chamblin. I called her number and it was disconnected, so I googled her name. I found her obituary and was amazed by what I read. I called her oldest daughter, in hopes of returning it to the family, and her daughter told me to keep it. She said she hoped I would find a blessing from it. 

I met a man not long after this. He was silly and intelligent. He was old school in his ways and tender towards me. On our first date, he was so nervous, he tripped over his words and ran over a few curbs. This man was Adam. After we met, I told him of the journal and how from Mrs. Ginger’s obituary, it seemed like she was a woman who had known struggle, but yet she had also known acceptance and love. I wanted to know that. I wanted what she had experienced. 

After our first week of dating, Adam agreed to go with me to Mrs. Ginger’s church. It was scary for the both of us because even though he had not pushed God away as I had, he had still turned away from God’s light. Our one visit at Trinity showered us with love and tears over the memories of Mrs. Ginger. 

In the months leading up to this, I felt like God had literally hung me upside down and shook me. He made the change fall from my stubborn pockets.

After getting to know some of the Trinity women, I shared with a handful of them a piece I had written about my childhood abuse. They responded to me with friendship and acceptance. They showered me with grace. Sharing my story in this way gave me the courage to share it publically. I created a blog and posted it to Facebook. A family member saw it and was outraged. She called me, raising her voice. Asking if I had even considered the other people in our family. I hung up on her and she called another family member called me and told me I had caused her so much shame. She told me what I was doing was selfish and evil, because I was jeopardizing the lives of others. As the house I was living in did not belong to me, the power was shut off and I had one month to get out.   

I had Adam and my new church family but this was such a lonely time for me because it was then that I lost the safety that came with keeping secrets quiet. The safety of an unrocked boat. The safety family. 

I have since gone through a great deal of therapy and personal reflection and have grown as a woman andsurvivor and believer in Christ. I married my best friend in November 2015. Alone, in the woods, with God and few others to witness. It was perfect. In March of 2016 my husband and I decided to try for a baby. His mother encouraged us by saying if we wait for things to be perfect, we will be left waiting forever, and that was some of the best advice I’ve ever received. After a year and a half of trying for our precious baby, we have experienced many days of sorrow and unknowing. I often remind myself of the line, “And if not, He is STILL good” because I know, that even in the midst of our aching hearts, He knows what He’s doing. He was there for me when no one else was. He held me during the years of abuse done to me by the one I trusted. He held me during the moments I felt wronged by my family or my teachers or my classmates. He held me during the times when boys only wanted sex. He held me when I was ashamed and his gasp tightened when I no longer allowed myself to believe. He holds us now, even during our uncertainty. He hold me, even during my bitterness. 

I still struggle constantly with my faith and my prayers are often nothing more than single words or simple sentences: Please, Please, Please. I need you. Please.

This life is a hard one, and sometimes we’re dealt hands that we don’t agree with. That we think we can’t possibly survive. Life is lonely and makes us experience things that we were never meant to experience: shame, loneliness, bullying, abuse, emptiness. God didn’t create us for this and he certainly didn’t create us to carry the weight of our sins, and the sins of others, alone. We’re meant to seek Him not only during the happy times, but also and perhaps even more so, when we ache. When we are left crawling on our knees. When the air is knocked out of us and we can’t breathe. We’re meant to seek HIM. I struggle with this because I often want to do things on my own. “If I can’t make this better, how can He?” He can. Even in the midst of my unbelief, I know the truth. He can and He always will.

My goal is to be raw and open. That’s the kind of person I want to be: one who is REAL. There are parts of my history that I have not shared on my blog or in the public form until this. Details about my family, mostly, because one of my greatest fears is to shame them. I fear their reaction. I always do. I tried to write my story down without details of family but it’s impossible because they are such a huge part of who I am and where I come from. I hope my story can be viewed as not all negative. I hope people can see my growth. Can clearly see what God has done in my life and is continuing to. I’m far from where I should be but I’m one hundred miles from where I use to be. 

“Let me tell you this: faith comes and goes. It rises and falls like the tides of an invisible ocean. If it is presumptuous to think that faith will stay with you forever, it is just as presumptuous to think that unbelief will.” –Flannery O’Connor

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24 Things I Wish I Could Tell Myself At 17

I came across this picture from my 17th birthday and it made me smile! It also got me to thinking about what life was like for me back then and how I would change it if I could. What if we could just whisper little bits of advice into our younger ear, you know? In honor of my upcoming 24th birthday, I thought I would share 24 pieces of wisdom I very much wish I could share with the girl I was.  

1) You know that question that keeps popping up–”Where do you see yourself in five years?” Forget it! You can worry about tomorrow when tomorrow gets here.


2) Don’t be afraid, my friend.


3) Your sensitivity exists for a reason. View it as a gift and don’t let anyone discount that.


4) Sometimes, standing up for yourself, or others, will mean standing alone.


5) I know you’re struggling with believing, but I promise, God sees past your shame.


6) There’s power in the ability to be honest with yourself and others.


7) “It only takes one time” is a myth. Every woman is different, and you will be, too. That’s okay. The best things take time.


8) You’ll marry a wonderful man one day, but you haven’t met him yet.


9) Your dreams will change as you change–embrace that! Your future is not set in stone and you shouldn’t be, either.


10) Read The Bell Jar. You’re welcome!


11) Your body is worth more than those boys can understand. Don’t let them make you feel guilty for believing in that.


12) You’re not the only one who’s broken.


13) Being broken doesn’t mean you can’t be mended.


14) One day, your childhood will lose its power over you. But you’re going to have to fight. Hard. Harder than you think you can bare, but you’ll succeed. I promise.


15) Some days won’t seem worth living but remember there’s beauty ahead.


16) You’ll meet a guy this year who will know all the right things to say. Make sure to knee him in his little boy parts and walk away. He doesn’t deserve a moment more from you.


17) Please, understand, the thoughts and emotions that fill you up are nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. Tell someone you’re struggling. If they don’t listen, tell someone else.


18) Do not be discouraged by failure. This is one of life’s greatest teachers.


19) Break a few rules once in awhile. You’ll be glad you did.


20) Not everyone will be able to handle your story and that’s okay, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Your story is for YOU alone. Use it as you see fit.


21) If a person provides you with comfort, do not believe that their life is perfect. They also have their challenges.


22) You are good enough.


23) Your brain is different but that’s not a bad thing. Learn to use it to your advantage.


24) College will not make the bad stuff go away. A good man will not make the bad stuff go away. A career, money, a home… none of that. You will have to work hard, until you feel there is nothing of you left, to conquer it. You will have to fight. Dig deep inside of yourself and puncture the wound all over again. But you’ll succeed. I know you will. 

11 Books That Have Changed My Way of Thinking

 11 Books That Have Changed My Way of Thinking

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11) What I Call Life by Jill Wolfson

This was my first juvenile book to read as an adult and it taught me not to discount a book for its targeted age. This book both broke, and mended, my heart, and I love it for that.

Synopsis: On “just a short, temporary detour from what I call life,” Cal finds herself in a group home with four other girls, watched over by a strange old woman everyone refers to as the Knitting Lady. At first Cal can think of nothing but how to get out of this nuthouse. She knows she doesn’t belong there. But it turns out that all the girls, and even the Knitting Lady, may have a lot more in common than they could have imagined.

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10) The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

I have never had a book hangover quite like I did when I reached the end of this series! I fixed a nice strong drink and I sat, staring off into oblivion, and hating Snicket for leaving me without closure. If you’re looking for a story with a nice, pretty bow on top, you won’t find it here.

Favorite Quote: Impossible to choose!

Synopsis: Dear Reader,
I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.
In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.
It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

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9) The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

This story hit too close to home for comfort. Beautiful Girl is a young woman who has a developmental disability and is living in a facility during the ‘60. It reminded me far too much of a beautifully broken individual I previously provided with care. I bawled multiple times and had to set the book aside often. The story was beautiful and haunting.

Synopsis: It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: “Hide her.” And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia-lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.

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8) Someday by Alison Mcghee

As a woman struggling with infertility, and wanting so badly for my “someday” to be now, I was completely captivated by this sweet book. As soon as I read it, I bought a copy for our Someday baby.

Synopsis: A mother’s love leads to a mother’s dream — every mother’s dream — for her child to live life to its fullest.

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7) Marya by Joyce Carol Oates

How do I describe this one? Several years ago, when I was still struggling with my secrets, I was in a very bad place. I was having panic attacks often and just really wanted to stop living. One evening, during one of my panic attacks, I turned off my phone and threw it, cut off the lights and shut myself up in my bedroom closet with a pillow and my Kindle. I scrolled through the books, trying to get my brain to calm, and came across this one by Joyce Carol Oates. I paid for it with a card I was certain had no money on it and started reading. I began to calm and I stayed there for hours with this young girl named Marya who was going through exactly what I had gone through and I wondered how Ms. Oates managed to capture the situation so well.

Synopsis: Successful author and famous intellectual Marya Knauer did not always occupy such a secure and comfortable position in life. Her memories of her childhood in Innisfail, New York are by turns romantic and traumatic. The early violent death of her father and abandonment by her mother have left her with a permanent sense of dislocation and loss. After decades apart, Marya becomes determined to find the mother who gave her away. In searching for her past, Marya changes her present life more than she could ever have imagined. Vividly evoking the natural beauty of rural upstate New York, and the complex emotions of a woman artist, Marya: A Life is one of Joyce Carol Oates’s most deeply personal and fully-realized novels.

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6) The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinney

A patron told me about this book, which was her favorite when she was young, and I knew I had to try it out. I immediately fell in love with the main character, Aerin, and have been set on naming our first daughter after her ever since. If you’re looking for a strong–yet awkward and misunderstood–character, Aerin is your girl! I have read this book several times over the last year or so and will often flip to a random page, just so I can be reminded of her strength.

Favorite Quote: “If you try to breathe water, you will not turn into a fish, you will drown; but water is still good to drink.”

Synopsis: It is the story of Aerin, haunted since childhood by the legend of her mother-a “witchwoman” who enspelled the king and then died of disappointment after giving birth to a daughter, rather than the heroic son the kingdom needed. But little did the young princess know the long-dormant powers of her mother would wield their own destiny. For though she was a woman, Aerin was destined to be the true hero who would one day wield the power of the Blue Sword

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5) The Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan Allender

I discovered this book before I had gone public about my past abuse and also before I had found my way back to God. Dr. Allender is a pastor and often approaches abuse from a Godly standpoint. I can remember trying to block those parts out, though without much luck. If you have experienced childhood sexual abuse, I highly recommend this book. It opened my eyes to so much truth and was a huge step towards finding validation for myself. Also, I think it’s time for me to reread this one!

Favorite Quote: “The reason for entering the struggle is a desire for more, a taste of what life and love could be if freed from the dark memories and deep shame.

Synopsis: Sexual abuse not only destroys trust, relationships, and dreams, it also causes grief, stress, and feelings of guilt and shame. This book examines the issues surrounding sexual abuse while looking to God for restoration and peace.

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4) Stitches by Anne Lamott

I love this woman!! Again, I read this before I reconnected with God. Ms. Lamott was so gentle and encouraging. She has this incredibly intuitive view of the world that most folks wouldn’t understand. I carried this book with me for months and referred to it often. It still soothes me just to see it lying on the table or a shelf.

Favorite Quote: The book in its entirety.

Synopsis: In this book Lamott explores how we find meaning and peace in these loud and frantic times; where we start again after personal and public devastation; how we recapture wholeness after loss; and how we locate our true identities in this frazzled age. We begin, Lamott says, by collecting the ripped shreds of our emotional and spiritual fabric and sewing them back together, one stitch at a time.

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3) We the Animals by Justin Torres

Justin’s writing was so incredibly raw, I could barely read it–and yet, I couldn’t put it down. This book is what gave me the push I needed to begin writing my own story, and later, and later, share it. If he could do it, I could do it. And we both did.

Favorite Quote: “We had seen flesh, but still pictures, women. And, too, we had seen each others bodies–all of us, me and Manny and Joel, Ms and Paps–we had seen one another beaten, animal bleating in pain, hysterical, and now drugged, and now drunk and glazed, and naked, and joyous, heard high laughter, squeals and tears, and we had seen each other proud, empty proud, spite proud, and also trampled, also despised. We boys, we had always seen so much of them, penniless or flush, in and out of love with us, trying, trying; we had seen them fail, but without understanding, we had taken the failing, taken it wide-eyed, shameless, without any sense of shame.”

Synopsis: Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins to see the world, this beautiful novel reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that is sly and punch-in-the-stomach powerful.

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2) Mutable Earth by Louise Gluck

I know this is not a book but I’m going to include it anyway! I accidentally came across this poem one evening while researching “dissociation”. I was still in the campus library and my mouth just fell open. I can remember leaning in closer to the screen as I read. It was so real, so true of my own self, I swear it could have been written about me. A few weeks later, I found Ms. Gluck’s complete poetry in the campus bookstore and I knew it was meant to be.

Favorite Quote: “But will you touch anyone?”

Full Poem: https://www.google.com/amp/s/hehaswrittenindust.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/mutable-earth-by-louise-gluck/amp/

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1) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar–it always comes back to you. This was the first book I ever fell in love with. I read it during my freshman year of college, and at the time, I felt like the main character’s experiences with depression, insomnia and boys, very much mimicked my own and I couldn’t believe it. Like with #4, I carried this book for months.! As soon as I finished it the first time, I went to my literature teacher’s (who I very much admired) office and told her I wanted more and she knew exactly which direction to send me.

Favorite Quote: “There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.”

Synopsis: Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche.

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Part Two: The Journal

This story starts with a journal. My story, Mrs. Ginger’s journal. Hardback, covered in maroon cloth. It’s simple, bland, and not a single bit eye catching. I bought this journal for $.20 because it had been written in and I was curious. Inside was a table of contents, categorized by color and theme. The entries were dated throughout the 80’s–mostly 1988. Inside the front cover listed a name, address and phone number, and asked to call if found.

I bought this journal during October of 2014. I was a student at USM and so depressed that I could barely function in my day to day life. When my head felt especially full, I would go hunting for new books because it gave me a momentary distraction. Almost like a high. I stopped by one of our local flea markets, ran by an old hoarder. It was difficult to find good things in this place because it was so packed with “stuff,” you had to dig and by the end of if, you’re sneezing and scratching your arms for who knows what reason. But right out front, on this particular day, was a box of books. I would normally not have paid much attention to them because they were religious books and I was pretty great at avoiding that sort of thing, but there was a journal. I grabbed it and immediately bought it without checking out the contents.

After flipping through it, I was amazed at this woman’s meticulousness and the way she expressed herself. She prayed to God for healing for herself. She prayed for her husband and her daughters. She wrote over and over about how much she loved her girls. How important they were to her. I still love that so much! I decided to call the number. Unfortunately, it was out of order, so I googled her name, and just like that, I found her obituary. She had died just a year before. It went on to talk about her college major, which was the same as mine, and her struggle with mental illness. It talked about how loved and accepted she was. How cherished. It talked about how she inspired others with her transparency with her struggles, and also how she inspired others with her art. I can remember my heart sinking because this is a woman I would love to have met.

I also found out from the obituary that Mrs. Ginger had two daughters, Beverly and Claire. I tried contacting Claire without luck, and then Beverly. Beverly was wonderful from that first conversation. She told me that her mother kept many journals, which they had, and I hoped I would find a blessing in keeping the one I had found.

Fast forward months later, to January. I had just met Adam, who is now my husband. After talking about how neither of us had been to church in a long time, and him finding out about the journal, he volunteered to go with me to Mrs. Ginger’s church. This was our third date. All it took was one person finding out about our connection with Mrs. Ginger and we were flooded with her friends–their tears and laughter–for weeks to come.

Adam and I have been attending Trinity Presbyterian ever since and are now members. I have learned more about Mrs. Ginger’s struggles and how others accepted and loved her. They have learned about mine, and have accepted me, in the same way. More so than I ever could have imagined. They’re our friends and family and we owe so much to each of them. I’ve gotten to know how beautiful and kind Mrs. Ginger’s daughters are and I’m so very grateful for them, too. They’ve modeled for us what it means to be good parents, and a faithful husband and wife–flaws and all. They’ve modeled what it means to be a Christian, a true follower of Christ–broken and flawed and sincere. The best part of this, though, is how the journal find its way to a beat up, old flea market in Mendenhall, Ms.

Mrs. Ginger lived an hour from me, in Jackson, Ms. After her death, her daughters were cleaning and throwing things out. An old hoarder stops by and begins loading up these things. They tell him it’s all trash and he says, “one mans trash is another mans treasure.” He had no idea how right he was.

Part One: https://hehaswrittenindust.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/part-one/

Part One: The Chapel

Part 1:

I once told a person that I felt my grandmother held the key to my healing. Being the strongest person I know, I felt that she had some sort of wisdom that I needed to move forward. My grandmother was going through chemo and I worried I would run out of time, but there was no way I was going to tell her about my past trauma. I couldn’t handle the thought of ever hurting her, especially not in the middle of chemo. Thinking they were helping, that person decided to tell my grandmother.

When I found out she knew, it was like all of the worlds weight came crashing down on me. I think I was mostly triggered because I had spent the bulk of my life hiding such a huge part of myself from the woman I loved and trusted most, and all that effort was in vain. She knew. She was heartbroken. I was terrified. It was like I was a little girl again.

I don’t know how I made it safely to the USM campus that morning. I was dissociating and having some of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever experienced. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I could barely see. By the time I made it to campus, I knew I couldn’t go to class in the state I was in and I couldn’t seem to make the whirlwind stop. I decided to go to the first place that I thought of, which was the chapel. I hadn’t been in a church in so long but I thought it was my best bet at someplace safe and empty. Even though I hadn’t talked to God or acknowledged him in years, I felt, in that moment, that I needed Him to survive. Just as I did when I was a little girl.

I left the lights off, sat down in the corner of the back pew, laid my head against the brick wall and stared at the stained glass windows. I did this for around 15 minutes, until the tears stopped and I could breath again. I pulled out my journal and talked to God for the first time in seven years. I prayed for protection over my grandmothers heart and I begged Him and begged Him to quiet my mind. I wrote until I was calm. I sat there for around an hour, until I decided to make the hour trip back home. By the time I made it to my car, I was hyperventilating again. I had a new prescription for my panic attacks, which I took, hoping I would be able to drive well enough to get home. I know I spent the rest of that day in bed. I spent the rest of that week in bed. My memories are blurry for a while after this particular day.

Looking back, I know my grandmother was not the key. No human being has the power to heal another, no matter how special or wise we think they are. No matter how badly we may want them to save us and fill our voids, they are not God. But there is power in talking and talking and talking, still. There’s power in prayer and in a small circle of people whom you can trust your soul with. Healing is dirty and it hurts like hell but it’s worth it. Even in the beginning stages when you’re crawling through the mud on your belly, and it feels like the end will never come. It will. Please, my fellow survivors, understand that there is no magic fix but healing is within your reach. Please don’t stop reaching for it. 

Part Two: https://hehaswrittenindust.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/part-one-the-journal/

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Danforth Chapel, The University of Southern Mississippi

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October 2014


Emptying my head

My head is full, as it often is, though tonight feels a little more so than the usual. Partly from the effects of that long ago trauma, and partly because I’m a woman, maybe?

Over the last few weeks, I thought my biggest dream was finally coming true. I thought I would finally get to be a mom. The symptoms are there, everything lining up as it should, and then they stop. The signs disappear. The blood comes.

The blood. My body. These things that I can’t stand. The womanly aspect of me, that which I should take pride in–I hate it. I lie here thinking of my body and what I must do because of it. As a 22 year old woman, I must take responsibility for it. For my womanhood. For my health. These thoughts remind me of the gynecologist. OB/GYN? I still have yet to allow one to see me, to touch me. I’m terrified. The image in my head makes me sick. I’m reminded of my childhood. I’m filled with shame.

Shame for being a woman? How can I do this to myself? Shame for being afraid. Shame for feeling less than. Shame for not doing as I should. For not sucking it up and taking care of what must be done.

My head is full of these thoughts–these thoughts which connect to other relevant and irrelevant thoughts, which breed more and more and more. The binding is tight and I don’t understand it. Because I’m a woman? I’m emotional? Too emotional?

I want to be a mom.
*Don’t cry*
Blood.
Not going to happen.
One day, though.
One day.
But right now?
*Don’t cry*
Prescription.
Vitamins.
Appointment.
Sign in.
Wait.
Stranger.
White walls.
*Don’t fucking cry*
You need to, have to.
Learn to be a woman.
A woman.
Be a better wife.
Screwing it up.
*STOP IT!!!!*

My head is full, and why? I know the truth. One day, I will be a mom. I don’t doubt this, and yet a part of my mind says otherwise. It lies–the “damaged” part of me. The insecure, hurt, lonely part of me. The old, child-like, part of me that still hangs far closer than I’m okay with. I don’t have many days like this anymore, and for that I’m thankful. But the depression and anxiety is still here, wanting to gain control. That’s why I need to empty my head. I need it out. I need it to stop screaming so loud. I need to expose it. I need to take away its power. Somehow.

A Year Come and Gone

  
It’s been a year. A full year since I unleashed my well-kept secrets onto social media. A year since the release. A year since the explosion. It was both of these things, together. A release from the blackness that was devouring my entire being. An explosion from the world around me. The only one I had ever known. A year since I last spoke to to a handful of people, who I imagine no longer think too highly of me, because of what I did. A year since I last laid eyes on my abuser. 

April 2015. A year ago. My decision cost me my home–literally. It cost me the comfort of the familiarity that I had known my whole life–people, surroundings, holidays, secrets. 

The past year has been the hardest–since childhood– that I have experienced. I was knocked flat on my face. I shut myself up in closets, panicking, wondering how to fix the mess I created. The mess that was not really my fault. I found myself curled up on the bathroom floor, sick with emotion, more times than I care to recall. I laid in the backyard many nights, numb, wishing death would find me soon. 

I could list names and I could tell every wrong that was ever done to me, but what good would that do? A lot of the past year was pure hell, but, somehow, amazing things grew from it. So maybe that’s what I should tell you about: The amazing things? The lessons learned? 

1. God chose Adam for me. I would not have made it without him. 

2. I’m not the girl I use to be, and I’m not weak–even though sometimes I struggle to believe it. I’m a woman who chose to liberate herself. I’m a person who has the right to a real life–full and healthy.

3. There are sides of me that I’m not okay with, that I’m afraid of. Sides full of anger and hate. The difference between me and the person who abused me is that I will never let those sides win. I will never become another persons nightmare. I will never let that darkness take over because I’m stronger.

4. I thought I would never be able to love a man. I thought I would give in to the desire to hate them all, forever. I thought I would just continue to push them away. My, was I wrong! I’m married to a wonderful, handsome man and I feel blessed beyond measure.

5. Sex: it’s beautiful. When it’s used as it was created to be used, there’s nothing dirty about it.

6. I’m going to be okay. 

7. A support system will make a world of difference! Shout out to my coworkers and church ladies. I love you all. 

8. As a survivor, when you finally pull yourself out of the dark, others will follow. After I told my story, I had countless people come up to me or message me to tell about their pasts. Family members, classmates, old teachers, church goers, business women, etc etc the list goes on. It breaks my heart, but at the same time, fills it with joy because all of those people found the courage to speak up. When one person sheds light on the darkness, their efforts will multiply through others.

9. You can’t just get a little therapy and think you’re done. NO. It doesn’t work that way. I’ll be on this road for the rest of my life. And if you’re a survivor, you will be, too. 

10. I’ve found healing in so many areas of my life. This makes me happiest when I think about someday becoming a mother, because I now know I will be wonderful at it. 

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Most of the time, the perpetrator is someone who is close to the victim or family. We are surrounded by victims and survivors! Help me with this, guys. Talk to your kids. Talk to your grandkids. Start when they are young!! If you don’t know how to approach the subject, please message me and I’ll do my best to help you find a starting point. 

Thank you for taking the time to read. 💙