**NOTE: POSSIBLE TRIGGER WARNING**
Much of my story is very hard and I have been ashamed of it for most of my life. I’ve spent a fair amount of time pretending it was not true, hoping in some alternate reality that I would wake up one morning and I’d have a new reality. But the only way a new reality is written, is by taking the truth of the real story, accepting it, facing and dismantling the shame of it, and rewriting a different ending than the one the original story would ultimately try to deliver. This is how we heal. May the unfolding redemption of my story speak hope to those still in the trenches.
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I’ve been chasing after the affections of boys since I was a little girl. When I was about seven, I remember friends staying the night at our house, who had boys. When it was time for bed, one of them slept in my bed and I remember not being able to sleep, but wanted to be touching him. So I did; made sure my seven-year old little booty, curled into as big a fetal position in my full size bed as I could muster, would be touching his back side.
Now I am horrified that this felt okay and normal to both families, but will chalk it up to – people don’t know what they don’t know. Nobody knew that hands had been touching me since I was 18 months old and I’d already been programmed into thinking while it felt bad, that this was normal. If my body kept being handled by boys and men, then maybe they are supposed to. It was always very disconcerting to me when I would provide access or “permission” to a boy/man by touching him (like the sleeping arrangement), but he didn’t reciprocate. I think I learned it was okay to take from me when I didn’t have a say, but when I did have a say, it never worked out. I felt almost rejected; like I was denied connection or the positive affirmation I wanted or needed. At least if they were touching me, they were seeing me. It was all very confusing as a child growing up.
I was mistreated all of my childhood, adolescence and into young adulthood by the hands of the depraved. My immediate family never knew. Toddlers do not have the vocabulary to communicate these kind of things, nor do they have a frame of reference that could help them know right from wrong. So I grew up with this information woven into my being – that I am a commodity – worth something but only when convenient for the one taking. When I was old enough to start making my own decisions, I started taking for myself. I started chasing after men and grown boys in order to feel some sense of control over what of my person was being used. If I gave it, it wouldn’t or couldn’t be taken. But what was taken from me instead, after my flesh, was my dignity. I always felt worse, and I could not understand why nobody would ever keep me. The ones who did for longer periods of time only did so because I allowed them to use me for their own selfish gratification. It was never about me – the person of me; only what they could take or have of me, for themselves.
This was the current of my relationship with men for four decades. When a good guy expressed an interest in me, I didn’t recognize it at all. Their kind of attention was foreign to me and I never saw it until hind-sight clued me in; or when their intention was made clear. But I would always run away because I did not recognize kindness towards me, or what to do with it. I know how to be handled, used and abused. That was familiar.
Kind? Nice? One cannot receive goodness and kindness for herself when she learned she was not worth enough to be good or kind to.
We cannot receive what we do not know to be true about ourselves. We cannot receive love if we do not love ourselves or believe we are lovable. We let in, what we believe to be true about ourselves. Which is why women in abusive relationships cannot easily leave a man (or woman) who abuses her. She has to come to know she is worth more than what she believes about herself, and what she was taught about herself. Unfortunately, good intentioned words fall on deaf ears for the likes of she, and will fail to make an impact on her decision-making because her decisions and behaviors are fueled by false belief about who she is. She must be shown what love, honor, and respect are about and she must come to know who she is and her value. It takes a very long time to chip through the hard and jagged edges of untruth that has defined her.
I’m finally at an impasse about men and their place in my life. I long deeply for a husband, a one who will hold me, keep me, honor me, and partner with me. I can see what this looks like for others, but have no real frame of reference for myself. My desire for a good man, a good husband, has driven me to much homework and hard work to come to a place I think I might be ready. I am hopeful, but only the Lord knows the timing.
To get here, I have had to look long and hard at the things I believe about myself. It has been very ugly. But until the truth has been spoken into the lies and set them free, the same patterns and behaviors will remain. I know well enough now who I am to not compromise myself, with my own hands and choices. I am strong enough to believe in my value and I don’t have to toss my pearls to swine to be or feel loved and accepted.
Once I started to see and believe in my own worth, I found strength to stand up and resist those things that communicated contrarily, though it has been a very challenging breaking through. I am no longer a toy or commodity to be handled according to another’s whim and fancy. I have learned that words mean nothing if actions do not validate and affirm those words. I have learned what humility and integrity are and have learned by understanding fully all they are not. I have learned and now choose to believe there is one who will see me, look at me and know that I am his – not his commodity – but his love, his heartbeat, his treasure.
Until he sees me, until the Lord shows him who I am, I will wait. There will be no reasonable substitute. No manner of whittling will make a square peg fit into a round hole. And I will not search. I will wait. I will not pursue who/what I think I might like save the affections of the One who knit me into being; the One who knows where my knitting came unraveled; and the One who knows the rib from whence I was drawn. One day He will knit our lives together – for His Glory.
Until then…I will wait.
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter… Joel 2:25