At the age of 3 and 4, I was deeply in love with Jesus.
At 5, evil struck a traumatic blow.
Ten long months ago I resumed a journey I started 13 years ago that I thought I had completed. In 2000, I had dealt with memories of sexual abuse that had surfaced while going through treatment for breast cancer. It took no small amount of courage to face what I had worked so hard to forget. A few years later, I sensed I had worked through all the memories I was going to. I continued my healing journey for several years which culminated with a second chance at marriage. That was a crucial point as it would be the ultimate test of healing – relationally, sexually and emotionally. I passed.
While there was still a vague memory (that ended up being the beginning of 11 years of memories) that had not been resolved, it had been my prayer that God would make sure anything I needed to remember would surface. I wanted to be completely free! When several years went by and nothing else surfaced, I concluded that was all I had needed to remember.
I was wrong. But that was a good thing.
Perfect timing belongs to God alone. In His perfect mercy and grace, He had postponed the final memories for a good reason. I now know I could not have handled the full weight of those memories back then. It would have done me harm rather than good.
The first time I worked through memories, it had been very different. I was realizing for the first time the connection to what had transpired in my childhood and what was going on in my life in the present. There were many “aha” moments that brought a sense of relief rather than deep grief. And yet, I did grieve back then. I finally came to a realization that I had truly hated myself as a child. I had blamed myself and had decided at an early age I was shameful and not worth love. To see myself as a vulnerable 5 year old child who had been wrongly violated and truly grieve for her was healing to say the least.
This time, however, was very different. The Lord had done great healing since that first memory surfaced in my relationships, emotions, thoughts, sexuality and even in how I viewed God. I had gone on to start RESTORE~ation, a sexual abuse recovery group in my church. However, about 2 years into that, I began to feel a nagging in my spirit that something was needing to be dealt with. When it finally began to unfold, I was truly devastated. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this!
I grieved the unthinkable and floated back up for air only to hit another memory and go down again…and again.
Yet, through the entire process, God was with me. Last fall, the Lord gave me a vision of a fountain with a pool. The water, representing the Holy Spirit, was bright blue and thick. The most amazing thing was where the water met the ground, it did not splash, creating chaos, but flowed over me and surrounded me like silk. I sensed the Lord telling me to remain there, in the pool, until the healing was complete.
Finally, about a week ago, I processed a memory and was able to connect the dots. I now have a clearer understanding of what happened to me at 5. The full truth is beyond heartbreaking and painful, to say the least. Some things about my childhood are finally making sense now.
It’s a hard clarity.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt such grief. To realize what those vague, even ethereal, memories had represented rocked my world. The Lord had to reveal them ever so slowly so my psyche could keep up. There was a point at which I wondered if I would really make it through or if I’d have to check myself into a mental hospital.
I grieved to a depth I didn’t know existed. I recently read an article that described sexual abuse as “a” traumatic event that requires crisis intervention. In my case, there were multiple trauma’s going on, the sexual abuse and the environment my abuser created in the process of that abuse. The result was definitely traumatic.
The author also described the healing process as a grieving process. I understand that now more than ever. I never knew you could go that deep and survive. Ten months later, I feel I am finally emerging from that pool.
Healing takes time.
Sadly, this time I have gone through my grieving alone, humanly speaking. It was only with the last memory a few weeks ago (which was the hardest) that I was able to find a Pastor and his wife who could help me navigate through the mess and help me process the reality of that mess. I so wish I had contacted them sooner. There are very few people in the church today who are willing, much less able, to truly assist with this type of trauma. This is the very reason I started RESTORE~ation; to give people of the Christian faith a safe place to process. I am deeply grateful for their willingness and care.
Clarity brings with it understanding and a sense of closure for the mind. What I now understand has also brought a new reality that my emotions and psyche are working to adapt to. It has not been an easy process. As always, the the love and mercy of God has been with me the whole way.
I once thought God had forgotten me; that I had moved out of the view of His watchful eye.
But He is El Roi – the God Who Sees – Genesis 16:13
He has never left me. Never. Through all the horror, through all the abuse, He has always been with me. That, I know. And now, He has brought me out from under the haze of unfinished memories. I will come through this complete and whole. Shalom is my God and He always completes what He starts.