We left our first appointment with the counselor, holding a folder. Inside the folder was a paper. On that paper we were supposed to fill in ten memories that made us feel uncomfortable.
I knew what I needed to write. But I didn’t want to. I still believed the abuse played no role in my behavior as an adult.
I sat at my dinning room table one day and allowed myself to remember.
I remembered the first time. The confusion. The questions.
I remembered other times when my requests were ignored.
I remembered me initiating the abuse because I wanted love.
As these memories took shape on the paper something happened inside me. I grew angry.
Patrick said something to me as I worked, I don’t remember what he said. But I know I yelled at him.
He looked at me, shocked. He did nothing wrong, but I snapped.
And then I cried.
He came and sat down beside me. “What’s wrong?”
For thirty years I lived in denial about my abuse. For thirty years I pretended it didn’t matter.
“This is really hard.” I pushed the paper away. The memories glared back and seemed to taunt me.
“Take a break.”
I grabbed the paper. “No, I just want to get it over with.”
I went back to work. When I finished I placed the truth of my past back in the folder but knew I only hid the facts temporarily.
At our next appointment our counselor said she wanted to meet with me by myself for a while. She wanted to work through my abuse. She told us about a technique she used, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Truthfully, I thought this sounded a bit new age for me. I thought this was a Christian counselor.
She gave me a book to read about the treatment. After reading the book I realized it wasn’t some weird thing but might actually help me reprocess my memories.
When I returned for my individual session we first worked on a memory unrelated to my abuse. She thought it might be easier to get into by taking a step away. This memory I had from my freshman year in high school. I shared something in a class that was personal, I cried in front of a bunch of the popular kids. I felt shame for letting people see a piece of my heart.
As we processed that memory I saw how God was preparing me even then to share my heart as a worship leader. I have had many people thank me for being so honest as I lead. In high school my honesty caused me shame but now my honesty brings God glory.
We moved on to the memories of abuse.
I won’t go into detail but an amazing thing took place over the next few weeks. I saw God beside me the whole time. He hated what happened to me. It wasn’t okay with Him. But he whispered to me, “This will be used for good.”
I had no clue how God wanted to use my abuse or my affair. I never wanted to tell anyone what I did.
But I heard His promise. I felt His love. I was never alone. Even when no one else saw the little girl silently crying out for help, my Father saw, He heard. He had a plan to rescue me all along. He waited for me to reach up and allow Him.
He extended the gift of healing. The gift I thought was too pretty to open, the gift I placed on the shelf when I asked Him into my heart, He took down from the shelf and handed it back to me.
To heal I had to tear off the pretty paper and receive the gift. Week after week at my appointments I tore off a little bit more of the beautiful wrapping. The more I tore the less it hurt. The more I tore the more love I felt.
I finally reached inside and accepted the gift of healing. This took several weeks of counseling.
I could look at my abuse and not feel angry. I saw what had been done to me for the horrible sin it was but that it did not have to define me. I saw my abuser in my mind and I forgave him. I would never say that to his face (yeah right, never say never to God) but I could forgive him in my heart.
The same thing happened with the verbal abuse. I could finally forgive my father for his hateful words. I knew my Heavenly Father would never speak to me that way. And I heard His voice more clearly every day, drowning out the lies I lived with most of my life. His promises of love, forgiveness, hope.
The abuse did affect my behavior as an adult. I didn’t know boundaries because there were no boundaries when I was a little girl. I knew one way to receive love, that was to give myself. The rules didn’t apply to me when I was a child why should they apply to me as an adult? Abuse messes up the way people think. Our normal is different from people who have not been abused. If you have never been abused this will be hard for you to understand, if you have been abused you know what I am talking about.
But there is hope. God can heal us.
The abuse is not an excuse. It is not an excuse for anyone. I will never use the abuse to say it was okay for me to have an affair. But the abuse was the chosen route the enemy took to try to destroy me, my marriage and my family.
I sped through about a month in this post. I will go back next week and share some things God was doing in my personal relationship with Him and what was going on in my marriage as well.
She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13 NIV
Have you had a time in your life when you knew God saw you? Have you had a time when you know you saw Him?