Thursday, September 20, 2012

Healing the Wounds of the Past

This has definitely been the hardest blog post I've ever written. I've been tossing it around for at least a few days now. What I'm about to write is very personal!

First though I need to write some backstory to what has been going on in my life recently.

The past few months have been quite an interesting journey and I have made 180 degree change in what I do. As many know, I have stopped focusing on health information. I took pride in what I have done and the information I gathered together, but it was becoming a negative influence on my life. By always coming up with new theories, new tests to get done, new concepts to ponder and new medicines and supplements to try, it was a way for me to feel like I was in control of my life and my illness. I am not in control of this. When one did not work, I just moved on to the next, then the next and the next. There are so many theories, tests and supplements out there, I could have literally watched my entire life pass by jumping from theory to theory, supplement to supplement. It was like I had something to prove by "figuring it out".

Of course consciously, I had no idea I was doing this at the time. I woke up one day and had this distinct impression that I needed to stop and needed to start paying attention to what was going on around me.

And so I did just that. I left all Facebook health groups. I stopped posting to forums. Most importantly I stopped discussing theories with people. This is the big one for me...It was not easy at first. I felt out of control. I felt scared. I caved in a few times. I even had resistance from people. I had people I thought were my friends, tell me I was giving up and all of this ridiculous stuff. I knew I needed to just walk away at least for a little while and try to find myself. 

I started to explore a personal relationship with God. I have always believed in some sort of God but did not really understand what Jesus did or why he had to die...But in June 2012 I "officially" accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, was water baptized and started reaching out and praying to God and asking him for clarity and knowledge. "Father, tell me more about you. Show me more of You in me." 

I had never prayed like this before...Things inside of me started to change!

At the end of July, the sudden death of my aunt forced me to face events from my past that hurt me very much. I had to look to God for guidance because I did not have the strength on my own to face it. For me, it's always been easier to try to ignore the thoughts, emotions and images than to feel them, or deal with them, but unfortunately that wasn't an option this time around. I had to make a choice. 
Well I chose to begin healing some of the deepest, darkest wounds of my past. These are emotional wounds that I thought I would take to my grave. In over 11 years time, I never told anyone except my husband. Not a single friend knew about it, nor did any of my family members up until a few weeks ago.

I had held these pains deep inside of me for so long because I never fully understood what had happened to me...The emotions I felt were so mixed. I was confused, scared, lost, afraid, unsure, mad and full of shame and sorrow. For those 11 years, I took responsibility for what happened. I thought it was my fault and that I should have known better because I was old enough to know better. I told myself that I was a dirty, gross and a terrible person, so of course I did not want to tell anyone.

I was scared of what might happen if the truth came out.

One morning, only several weeks ago, I started to look online and thanks to amazing people out there willing to share their experiences, I found incest survivors who thought and said the same exact things as me. I could relate to these people and then it all hit me...All of these emotions, thoughts and ideas in my head, were sadly very normal for someone who was a victim of incest. This was huge for me. This was groundbreaking. This was liberating! My first thoughts were...Wow is that what happened to me? That was abuse?

For years, I told myself it wasn't abuse and fought within myself try to make sense of it.

I know that might sound really ridiculous to people who have not gone through it. However whenever it is a family member you trusted, it makes things extremely difficult to process. I always thought if it had been a complete stranger, then it would have been easier to deal with.

Anyone who knows me in real life can attest to the dramatic changes that occurred during this time.  I behaved so erratically. I starved myself nearly to the point of death, but I did so to feel in control. I would burn my arms with needles and knives warmed under a flame to make my skin singe, just so I could feel something. I collapsed at an amusement park due to starving myself and hoped that I wouldn't live just to end the suffering. I abused ephedra and other supplements hoping they would kill me in the process. I started wearing chains and black clothes hoping to scare people away from me. I had nervous breakdowns in the middle of school and I pushed everyone I knew as far away as possible. I hated the very person I saw in the mirror. I started to become involved with people who were negative influences and dated as many people as I could to "bury" the past because my innocence had been stolen. Somehow I thought I could find it again.

In my senior year of high school, I stopped wearing black clothes and chains to look more like a normal person...But inside of me, the pain raged on. It continued on into college and I made bad decisions because I felt unworthy of being loved and happy. I put myself into situations where people could take advantage of me. Then I would look back in shame for what I had done. It was a vicious cycle.

By the grace of God, I lived through these years of really dark times...All of these pains, emotions, thoughts and moments will be hard to heal from, but it can only begin by finally breaking the silence.

For years, I hated everything to do with love. I did not believe in it nor did I really want it. All of the pain that had been done to me was by someone who confessed his "love" towards me. This kind of manipulation really messed with my head and I even began feeling empathy towards my abuser. After all if this was out of love, then he would not have meant to hurt me and I must have misunderstood or wanted it. I could go on and on and on with the weird thinking....It were these manipulated thoughts and feelings that make the whole situation much worse and why I struggled.

Recently, with my aunt dying, I knew it was going to bring a lot of this back up to the surface. I knew it was going to give this person a good excuse to try to get back into my life and well I was right. When he finally tried contacting me, I was terrified. I got on my knees crying and prayed to God to help me through this. I did not know what to do from here and needed guidance, peace and encouragement. I felt so out of control and terrified.

After praying that Saturday morning with tears streaming down my face, God told me it was time to come out of hiding and to reclaim myself. I never had any intentions of ever telling anyone and I had even planned out putting all of this in my will when I died. But now the truth is out there and all of those years of fearing what might happen if I did tell, it simply did not occur. The sky did not fall and I'm still here! Even though it was a really tough thing to tell my mom, it ended up being the most terrifying yet liberating conversation ever. Since my abuser is still alive, I also felt like I had to warn others to keep my little cousins safe.

I have written all of this, not to get people's pity but mostly to bring awareness to the fact that incest and sexual abuse is commonplace. My mom and dad did everything right to protect me and my siblings from strangers, but the damage was done by someone within our own family.

Despite the things that happen to us in our lives, we still choose what we make of it and who we become. We can either let our pains and experiences take us over or we can accept them for what they are and make the best out of life. I still have healing to do and even though all of this is part of me, I am not that same broken, beaten down naive girl today. I will never be able to be around this family member again because I know without any doubt this person would try to harm me again if given the chance.

I know God will take this all away from me and heal me through this. I have been told by several prophetic people that they see my hurt of the past and that God will continue to reach into my heart and heal me. It has not been a quick, overnight heal, but it is slowly happening. There are still some subtle issues I need to work out, but overall I am doing so much better now that it is out in the open and no longer burning a hole in my heart.


Josh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josh said...

What a powerful post. I could feel the emotion coming through the virtual page. Congratulations on having the courage to put everything "out there." Hopefully this is the beginning of a therapeutic healing process.

Dana said...

Hey Josh! Yes you are right, this was a pretty emotional post to write...haha! Thank you so much for your comment.