This is a hard post for me to write, but for the last several hours, and even in my sleep, it keeps coming up, so I’m just going to write it, and have faith that it will mean something to someone. Rebekkah, you probably won’t want to read this one…
When I was molested as a girl (12), it set into motion a ton of painful things. Children are not physically designed to have sex. They aren’t mature enough to deal with all of the powerful emotions that this act creates.On top of this, this trauma physically changes the brain of the person that it is happening to. So, a child that is introduced to it too early, and unwillingly, basically has their life derailed from that point on. And it was no different for me. There are libraries of books, and a ton of websites, not to mention specific blogs, dedicated to the after-effects that sexual trauma to children wreaks on these now-adult people’s lives. So, I’m certainly not going to be able to sum it all up in one little article on my little site. Instead, I’m only going to discuss one particularly hard part of this experience that I ended up having to completely depend on Jesus to heal. And that was the shame.
Shame is a complex emotion if you really think about it. There is the good kind of shame, which any person with a conscience should have. If you steal an old woman’s purse on a bus, and you feel shame right afterward, then, good. You should feel ashamed of yourself. But then, there is the bad shame. And this is the shame that makes you ashamed of who you are, not what you’ve done.
The first time this person molested me, my mind went into shock. There was a numbness that I would never be able to convey to anyone who has never had this happen to them. It is like my very soul was screaming, knowing that nothing would be the same again, and yet my mind was strangely silent. But my body responded to what was happening to me, and that was just unforgivable to me. I was being betrayed by my own self. You can get away from anything in the whole world, but never yourself.
Later that first night, alone, in shock, devastated, and feeling dirty and used, I couldn’t even cry. In fact, it took me days, maybe even a week, to come out of the fog of what had happened to me. And the one thought that kept ringing over and over in my mind was that my body had betrayed me. That I had to be a whore that deserved this. I threw up every time I thought of it, and to this very day, I still get sick to my stomach when I think about those feelings of shame.
The shame, introduced to me at the age of 12, never lessened at all as I grew up. Derailed, but still a teenager, I would have an occasional crush, but I mainly kept them to myself. I was terrified that one of these boys would actually like me back, because I knew I could never really be close to them…I had a secret to protect. I couldn’t let on that I was so horrible…
My first boyfriend in high school, Shane (not his real name), was kind of a lesson in how this was all going to go for me. Shane was a normal, nice guy….my first introduction to “bad” boys..ha, ha. He had a band, and I simply fell in love when I heard him sing “I Wear My Sunglasses At Night”. But, as soon as he was officially my boyfriend, I could feel myself tighten up, withdraw, withhold.I didn’t really want him to touch me, or kiss me, or anything. I know it sounds strange, but I wanted to be loved, but not touched. I simply didn’t trust my own body..I didn’t want him to find out that I was dirty and shameful. And eventually, it died out, because I just couldn’t deal with my own self-image, and what I was portraying to him was an illusion that I couldn’t maintain.
This experience rang true in every relationship that I had until the one I’m in right now. And even this one suffered quite a bit due to my inability to deal with my horror at my own reaction to being molested. It wasn’t until I came clean to my husband now about why I had such a hard time with intimacy that I was actually able to begin the long, hard road to reprogramming my own self image.
As Jesus does with all of His children, He started to lead me out of the shame by first pointing out that God designed our bodies for this sort of activity, and it had not been a sin for my body to respond. Next, He pointed out that only one person in this little hideous activity was sinning, and that this particular sin was abhorrent enough to the Lord that it had a special vehemence in the Bible…A millstone, a neck, and the deepest part of the ocean are all involved. That is how much Jesus grieved these sorts of things happening to children.
Next, I had to embrace the fact that the blood of Christ washes away the most foul of sins, and was indeed powerful enough to cleanse me. That done, I had to forgive myself. Even though I hadn’t been guilty of anything, my own mind had judged my body and found it guilty. I had to grant a pardon to my body, and then let it go.
After forgiving myself, I found it easier to forgive the molester, and all these years later, I can honestly say that I have completely forgiven both him, and myself. I do want to say, though, that physical intimacy is an area that I continue to struggle with even to this day. But, it is only a shadow of what it once was, and sometimes serves to remind me of just how far I’ve come since this all first happened to me.
Now that I’ve written this painful thing, I’m going to go in my room, cry, pray, and go to sleep and never read it again.