I'm late to the "MeToo" confessions because I believe that the moments in my life, where abuse took place, have been healed. It's no longer my identity.
But, it's amazing, isn't it, how 30 minutes in a dark room with someone you've known and trusted since you were a young girl brings you to the final nail in the coffin of belief that you truly are just that, a hole in the wall. Nothing more.
Amazing, isn't it, how that moment leads you to do things with other men that you would never have done before, because it doesn't matter anyway. All you are is a hole in the wall.
Amazing, isn't it, how your therapist had to be the one to help you understand and recognize that yes, it was rape because you told him, "No." Twice. And when he didn't listen and stop, you just gave up.
And you reach out to people who were supposed to help you because they told you they loved you, and as a young woman, you think things like, "If they love me, then wouldn't they want to know that this happened and want to help me?"
And it's heartbreaking when you reach out, and the response isn't, "Come home, let's help you heal, let's help you navigate this." Rather, it's a bland, "Sorry that happened." While they finish up their Subway sandwich.
Then one day, you find yourself making other decisions with your life than you would have if you didn't believe that you were just a hole in the wall, not worthy to be known otherwise. You want to make those decisions valid because deep down, you care a lot. You care a lot about life and about others. You care about others quite possibly more than you care about yourself. Yes, you care about others far more than you care about yourself.
So, you start to dig deeper, and you go back to childhood. That's what the therapists tell you to do. Go back to when the shifts happened. Before the 30 minutes in the dark. Go farther back. Who were you then? Let's find that girl. Let's find the girl before now, and before then.
What did she love? What were her hopes? What made her light up?
You feel something move inside your heart. You aren't sure what to do with that.
Session's up. See you in two weeks if you can afford the session. How can you not afford the session? You need the session. You check your bank account, and indeed, you cannot afford the $180 therapy session.
You read books and listen to self-help radio for more information because you want to breathe again because you have no guidance and no tools to get yourself out of this hole.
And there's more. More about hiding in the far corner of a freezing garage in the middle of the mid-west winter, to have phone therapy with someone across the country who cared enough about you to give you her services for free. You hide in the corner of your garage because your husband doesn't want to know this side of you. He'd rather you continue to fit his need for you to be a perfect version of whatever you were in his head all along.
And years pass.
By now, you know the meaning of the word guilt and shame, and you've studied all of the books, and you've healed yourself the best you can, but still it seems that nothing has gotten better.
By now, you've finally heard about this word called, "Grace." Grace makes you weep so hard on a Sunday morning that you go home and have to sleep all day. Grace that gives you permission to no longer get up and go to church on Sunday morning because you're required to even if you don't know why you are going in the first place. Wait. You know why. Because you grew up going to church and that's just what you do even if the people in the church caused you significant spiritual damage. When you reached out to them, broken, they didn't know what to do with you and told you to read some verses to make it all better, or if they didn't do that, maybe they would have just labeled you with a scarlet letter "A."
People who didn't really care to know you or accept you in your current brokenness or help you understand why you behave certain ways now. Like, why, when you and your friends are hanging out, do you inevitably find yourself in the corner chair, shaking and rocking back and forth in a constant state of trauma? Why are you afraid of and mis-trust everyone when you are 23 and beautiful and smart and have everything going for you? Why can't you just find happiness or joy in anything. You are trying so hard to just feel good.
"What's wrong with her?" I would hear. I heard so many things that eventually, I knew I was going crazy and knew that I needed to check into a hospital. But let's go all the way back. Back to when I used to be such a people pleaser that I worried about how it would make other people in my life feel if I actually tried to get well emotionally and spiritually and check into a hospital. Everyone knows what to do when someone has cancer, but no one knows what to do with emotional and spiritual illness.
Why now? Why join the confessional when I truly have been healed from that trauma. My sexuality is healed. My spirituality is healed. Most of my relationships are healed or at least at an understanding or a place of forgiveness.
Why throw my voice in when I don't have any need to tell that story any more?
Because I was talking with someone close to me the other day. We were discussing the #MeToo movement and if we thought that it's effective.
My conclusion is that I think it is, but hashtag-ing can't be the only thing we do to bring about change.
It was in the middle of this conversation that I realized that I didn't need to join the #MeToo confessional for myself. I need to join because I know of people who are still hiding in shame. People who were raped who aren't in an environment where they can get the proper help they need. So they die inside and shift into disfunction in ways that they aren't able to recognize and heal from because they aren't able to talk about it. They change their voice. They fake their smiles. They justify behaviors that harm people closest to them. They are confused.
The #MeToo conversation finally compels me because I know people who were sexually abused as a child and no one stood up for them or defended them or helped them heal, and it effects the way they function in adult intimate relationships. And maybe they only are beginning to understand that.
The #MeToo movement compels me because even after I've told this part of my story to people over the years and clearly see how it ruined me in many ways, even after all this time of healing, I still have moments where I minimize and think, "Ah. People have suffered worse. Who cares. It's not a big deal."
It is a big deal. It's such a big deal that this event along with many others at a very acute moment in my life, in my early 20's, led me to a daily struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide.
This blog is a love letter to those of you who are still hiding in your shame and guilt and who don't truly understand and have not healed from the abuse that you have suffered.
This is a telling of my story so that when the time is right, you may be able to tell your story. I want to give you hope out of that darkness (that you might not even be aware that you are in) so that you can understand more about why you behave certain ways.
God has truly healed me from so much of that darkness, a darkness that wasn't mine to hide under in the first place.
I write my #MeToo story because maybe there is still more healing for me to do, and by writing it out loud, I'll come to some new level of awareness than I had before.
Healing is available for you. For me. Find it. Hide in the corner of your garage on a below-freezing winter day if you have to. But heal. For your sake. For the sake of those who truly love you. And because God loves you enough to heal you.