My Consequences

Needless to say after my spiritual suicide and being found out, I was then ostracized from what was my family since I was 16 and nothing stays quiet so by the summer, my girls knew what I had done.  So much for just hurting myself.

What I didn’t know then but I unfortunately know now because of experience is that sin and pain I caused had an amazing rippling effect.  It hurt my kids, my now ex-husband, his family, my friends, my future husband, and I am sure others I don’t even know about.  The things we do to hide our pain, stop our pain, feel our pain, deal with our pain hurt everyone around us for an amount of time that goes beyond our momentary comprehension.  This is why we need God.  It is only with Him that we can confront our pain without causing tragic rippling effects to the ones we love.  I wish I had known that then. My only hope is that others can learn this lesson from my story and save themselves and their families from even more pain.

Thankfully if you did sin, we have a loving, graceful God who shows us his mercy every day.  We just need to is seek forgiveness.

Song: All My Hope by Crowder

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 (NIV)

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Spiritual Suicide

suicide

I had become a shell of a person.  I was numb – just going through the motions moment by moment.  I could no longer do so many things.  It felt like my soul had been sucked out of me.  I could no longer even walk down the hallway at school and look people in the eye.  I struggled to just breathe.  My parents didn’t love me, my husband didn’t love me, and God didn’t love me.   All the people, who should have cared for, protected, and loved me, didn’t.  So what was left?  My children.

My children are the ONLY worldly reason I am still here.  I thought about killing myself numerous times.  I was already depressed because of my failing marriage, but this pushed me into despair.  I struggled driving, because it would be so easy to drive off a bridge or cliff or into a tree.  I gave my husband my anxiety medicine, because it would be so easy to just swallow all the pills in the bottle.  But I couldn’t do that to them – my precious children – my blessings.  I knew what it felt like to loose someone who is like your mother to suicide and I couldn’t do that to them.  So I searched for another way to harm myself and I found it.  If I couldn’t kill myself physically.  I’d do it spiritually.  I’d do something to send myself to hell – to spend eternity in punishment where I belonged.  Something I thought would never hurt my children but only me.  I would commit adultery. What I though was the perfect plan… harm myself without harming others.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

When you have never been deceitful, dishonest, or a liar, you are really bad at it.  I was caught within 24 hours by my husband (who now lived in the basement, because we were separated but he wouldn’t leave and he wouldn’t let me leave with the kids until the school year was over.)  We may have been separated in a semi-physical sense, but in my heart we weren’t.  Unfortunately, he didn’t confront me immediately.  Instead he went to his family, who knew nothing of our troubles and told them his suspensions.  He gave me enough time to do it again.  But this time I was hoping to have physical scars as well… I was hoping to catch a disease.

Before I knew it, my mother-in-law was in town and in our house… to protect him.  His family knew and I was confronted.  To his shock, I told the truth immediately.  Because in my mind, he ended our marriage, he didn’t care and it had nothing to do with him and everything to do with destroying myself and not putting my children through the pain of my death.  But to me, I was dead.

Song: Oh My Soul by Casting Crowns

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light,” – Eph 5:8 (NIV)

Footnote: My parents stopped seeing all of our relatives except my mom’s parents when I was in first or second grade.  My aunt, my mom’s sister, still continued to see us even if it meant fighting with my mom to do so.  She would sneak me to see my other aunts and uncles when she took me out, because I continued to love my family and longed to see them.  With my mom being bipolar and emotionally unavailable to me, my aunt became  my mom… a person I could count on and who loved me. However, I lost my aunt to suicide when I was 22 and seven months pregnant with our first child.

It was my uncle’s 50th birthday and my aunt had flown my cousin in from California to see my grandma who had cancer.  My cousin and I had gone shopping that afternoon to get a present for my uncle and we talked about how we should have had our aunt come with us, but then realized she had to work that day.  She was a nurse.

While at my uncle’s around 9 at night, he received a phone call and he and my cousin left saying they would be right back.  After a little time passed, my husband and I went home.  Then my world was rocked.  We had been home for about a half hour or so went the phone rang.  I answered and could not believe my ears.  It was my mom and she said your aunt is dead.  I began to sob and fell to my knees.  Ralph asked me what was wrong but he could not understand what I said, so he took the phone. My mom then told him what she had told me.

My mom came over because Ralph was extremely concerned about me since he could not calm me down, but after a bit I did.  We drove to my aunt’s house and arrived as the coroner drove away.  I then found out that the phone call was my aunt’s work because she had never shown up that night.  My uncle and teenage cousin went to her house and found her dead on the couch in her living room.  She had overdosed on several different prescription drugs and was gone.

I miss her.  I miss her every day.  She was my mom and I was the daughter she never had.  My world is forever changed without her presence.  I mourn that my children never knew her.  I mourn that she isn’t the world’s best godmother to my own daughter.  I mourn the comfort and love she provided me when I had none at home.  I miss talking to her… especially through all of this.  Because as it turns out, my aunt was molested too.  She was the victim of a neighbor and a priest.  I say victim because she isn’t here to tell her story.  But I am and her death and my children are the reason I am a survivor.

Song for my aunt: Everybody Hurts by REM  

“No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.” – Psalm 25:3

The Final Fall of My Marriage

What happened next is the story of a marriage that was already falling a part and a woman crushed by memories.

My husband and I had already been having trouble and were going to a marriage counselor for a year or so.  In June, the counselor told us both that I was not asking much of my husband and if he did not respond to my requests by Christmas that I would have my answer as to whether or not he wanted to be in this marriage.  That alone was a struggle for me.  I met Ralph in first grade, we started dating when I was 16, got married when I was 21.  He was my first for everything. And my marriage, the family we created and my four beautiful children were supposed to be my happily ever after… my fairy tale ending to the spirit-crushing, eggshell-walking childhood, my reward for making it through and being a good, godly person.  I thought I somehow earned it.  After-all, everything I did was to be the opposite of my mother and offer my children the childhood I never had and my husband the wife I never saw other than on the Brady Bunch.  It was my fairy tale.  Unfortunately, my quest to be the opposite of my mother created a marriage much like my parents’…one-sided and apathetic.  This alone was breaking me.  I so desperately wanted to be loved, to feel needed, respected and wanted. Did I mention to feel loved?  So needless to say, I wasn’t doing well with even my marriage falling a part.  I was losing part of my identity which I so proudly wore… “Ralph’s wife.”  I cried a lot… at home, at church, at school, whenever I was alone.  I thought about my marriage and wondered what I did wrong to make him not love me anymore.  It was already a tenuous time for me because as the months passed it became increasingly clear that he wasn’t going to make the effort.

So, now we fast forward again to October. What does an apathetic husband do when his wife is sobbing on the floor in a ball in agony?  Well, he is wonderful.  He wasn’t heartless.  He took care of me for hours.  Asked if I wanted to stay home from work, which I didn’t cause I thought the distraction would help, so I could stop crying.  He called my best friend, whom I’ve know since 7th grade, to tell her because I had never mentioned it and was physically unable to do it now.  He came to have lunch with me, stayed during my plan to help me grade papers, went to the hospital with me to see my new nephew, joked with me, took me to dinner.  It was all I could ask for.  But then the first 24 hours were over and then nothing… no more care, no more help, no more talking.  He didn’t even ask how I was ever again.

Thank God for my best friend, Renee.  She called me every day.  She insisted I see a counselor.  She cared for me while I focused on surviving moment by moment and taking care of my kids and teaching.  She was my rock.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” – Eph 5:25 (NIV)

Footnote:  As I look back at this now, one of the fatal flaws was where God was placed in our marriage.  The Bible clearly states that in order for a marriage to survive and work it must have all three parts: God, husband, and wife.  I don’t think that was the case for my husband.  That is his part.  My part was that in my life: it was Ralph, my children, and then God.  The Bible is very clear on this. God should always be first.  If that had been the case for me, I would have been able to handle my rocky marriage better.  I would not have been crushed and devastated to the degree I was if God was first.  So I am urging those reading right now to check where you have God in your life.  I am speaking from experience now and can say with 100% certainty that I am able to handle everything so much better now that God is first in all I do.

“In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” – Proverbs 3:6 (TLB)

Song: First by Lauren Daigle

 

 

The Small Stuff

The small stuff is hard to explain to someone who isn’t a survivor. Between survivors, there is no definition needed. One can just assume. We know what the “big stuff” is, so you can fill in the blanks if you really need to, but few of us do. It is the details of the “big stuff” that makes us different. Each of our stories is unique in its own tragic way.

My small stuff consisted of things like hiding under the front porch so my dad wouldn’t touch me, hoping I could stay there forever, and maybe even die at age three, dreading being bathed by my father by age four, my heart sinking into my stomach every time I saw my dad naked by age six, being told stories and talked to like I was a wife around age eight, having reoccurring nightmares of my father on a film strip and me on another, saying “no daddy, please daddy” and crying from around five to nine, hugged way too close for way too long from ten to twelve, fondled as a young teenager who was starting to develop, and just being generally uncomfortable around my dad for as long as I can remember. These are some of the “small stuff”.   I’m not sure what your gage on “small stuff” is, but to me, a survivor, this is my “small stuff.”

It’s funny. As I write this, I really don’t know what a normal person’s “small stuff” is. Is this small to you? I’ve just been under the assumption that it was small to everyone. And when it came to my story, these things are small… almost insignificant, questionable, and okay.

“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matthew 18:6 (KJV)

My Bombshell

14492546_1657479644564912_2340104461351773887_nBefore my records came, it was time to tell Ralph, my husband, something about me that he had never known. Which for him, I am sure was hard to imagine that there was anything about me that he didn’t know. After all, we met in first grade.

It was a porch conversation. I can’t even begin to relay how one feels when you are going to tell someone your biggest secret… one that may turn your world upside down. But I can tell you this: I was lucky. I was nervous and scared, but at the same time confident. Confident that my story was real and confident that I was sharing it with someone who would still love me, believe me, and would not judge me.

So here it goes: “I was molested by my dad.” I was molested by my dad. I’ve never said that out loud before. It sounded kind of weird, almost surreal coming out of my mouth, but I said it. Then came the backpedaling. “Well, it wasn’t that bad.”   “It was just small stuff.” “I’m uncomfortable around him, but it’s okay.” “But I think I’m missing something.” “I called for copies of my medical records from when I was in the hospital for that week when I was sixteen. Do you remember?” Then I gave Ralph a chance to speak. “Are you sure? Are you okay? Do whatever you need to do.” My response: “Okay.”

“Okay.” That was it. End of the conversation. I just laid what I thought was a bombshell, but that was it… “Okay”. I don’t think we ever talked about it again until eighteen years later. October 25th, 2009, a day that would change the course of my life forever.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Phil 4:6-7

Someone

It’s funny how words and actions can affect your whole life. Take me for instance. From the outside, I always looked like every teacher’s dream child… cute, nicely done, long-brown hair, green eyes, a pretty dress, always smiling, just a sweet little girl… “sweet”. I didn’t know it then put I’d grow to hate that word.

Who knew I’d be here writing this story… or even tell my story? It’s not an easy thing that we eventually have to do. It’s eats us up inside, bit by bit, moment by moment, but eventually it comes time to tell someone.

But who is someone? For each of us it is different. My first someone was my husband. We were high school sweethearts, who got married at twenty-one and bought my grandmother’s house in the neighborhood where we grew up. It was a nice start to life.

I remember sitting on our front porch on the same swing that had been there since I was a little girl. That swing held such fond memories… Memories of feeling safe and loved, swinging with my grandma during thunderstorms, listening to my grandpa tell me stories of how thunder is just the angels bowling. “There’s a strike!” he’d say. I loved his laugh and smile. I cherished those moments. Even then at the young age of seven, I cherished them. They had a way of making me feel special.

But this time, sitting on the swing, my memories and feelings were different. I’d been struggling with my thoughts and emotions for some time. Something was off. Something didn’t feel right. It was beginning to dawn on me that something about my childhood was not right. It was like puzzle pieces. One goes here. Another goes there. But they never fit together… at least not the way you would think. What were they? Why did I feel like I was missing so much? What was my gut trying to remind me of? So I did what any “normal” twenty-one year old would do. I called to get copies of my medical records.breaking-free.jpg

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

 

Remembering the “Big Stuff”

 

As unfortunate as it is, my story is not unique.  I am the product of an abusive childhood.  My mother is bipolar and my dad… well, he is not well either.

I walked on eggshells my entire life when it came to my mom.  Her moods swung from high to low and could change on the drop of a dime.  Life with my mom was unpredictable at best.  I quickly learned that making her happy, staying out of the way, cleaning and trying to be perfect were the keys to my survival.  Although these things did not save me from the emotional and physical abuse, they did redirect the hurricane of emotions and anger that was my mother to pass by me on occasion.

My father, well, where do I start?  I’ve always viewed him as a weak man – a shell of a man, actually.  Mom ruled the roost and he said “yes dear.”  I think we all were in some sort of survival mode when it came to my mother.  But that is no excuse for what happened.  I became the surrogate wife to my father.  He came to me to fulfill the needs my mother could not, which led to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.

It’s funny.  I spent years in therapy trying to recover from and deal with my mother.  I knew some of the things that happened with my dad, but not all – I still don’t.  But none of that therapy prepared me for what my mind had kept hidden.

It’s amazing the power of the mind.  Its ability to go on autopilot when you need it; its ability to block out pain; its ability to shield you from the horror you aren’t able to comprehend.  That’s what it did for me.  But when that veil on the pain is lifted – WATCH OUT!

For me, the veil started to lift for some of my memories in 2009.  It was the night of my first nephew’s birth and the eve of my 39th birthday.  I went to sleep in blissful excitement of seeing my adorable nephew and woke to immense pain beyond description.  My mind had started to reveal the truth of my childhood – a truth I had always known but had guarded myself from.

Let’s rewind a bit… I had always known some of what I call “the small stuff” that happened to me.  And believe me, they were enough.  Enough to be uncomfortable around my father, enough to not let him be alone with my children, enough to watch his every move, enough to not want him in my personal space.  The problem for me for years was what would I do once my brothers started having children.  Would my “enough” be enough for them to protect their own children from my father?  How would I tell them?  How would they react?  Well, that night helped answer some of those questions. I remembered what I had always feared to know with 100% certainty.  My father had raped me.

On that beautiful October night, I went to bed ecstatic and woke in terror.  The horror of finally knowing what I always been afraid to remember was terrifying.  I now had a vivid memory of the extent of the sexual abuse that I endured at the hands of my father from the ages of about 4 to 9.  I screamed.  I cried.  I sobbed.  I shook.  I trembled.  I ached.  I groaned.  I mourned.  I laid in a ball on my bedroom floor.  I could not move.

I will never forget that night… the hours of agony.  That night changed my life.  It forever changed who I am; how I relate to the world; how I view myself; how I viewed God.  It helped bring about the end of my 18 year marriage and the perfect little world I created for my children.  It left me in a tail spin in a struggle to just get through each second of the day.  Each minute I was still alive was a win.

It’s amazing how raw it feels just putting this in writing for the world to see.  And the fact is that I have now shared my story more times than I can count, but I don’t think the emotions will ever fade when speaking of that night.  It forever changed me and the world I live in.

“Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” – Psalm 27:10

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