…is the way we receive the most help. This book provides tools everyone should have available, whether you are a survivor or someone discloses to you. #HealingTogetherBook
As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. Psalm 40:11-12 ESV
My past does indeed encompass many evils, a truth for the majority of child sexual abuse (CSA) survivors. Children are chosen and groomed sometimes for convenience, and sometimes the abuser sees brokenness and exploits that child. Once a child has been abused, it is like a bright red bullseye has been tattooed on their body and subsequent abusers aim for the same target. CSA so breaks boundaries that a victim has no gauge for safe and unsafe people and will continue to be abused, attacked, assaulted, until they find a solid trauma informed therapist and experience a good amount of healing.
I have recently been more in tune with the natural grief process that needs to happen for this kind of healing. Contemplation and stillness have been an important piece of this because one needs to understand the losses they are grieving. There are times reflection of this type has caused me to feel a deep aching sorrow. Other times I feel lost and alone, and still other times I have felt the joy of reconnection to parts of me dissociated for survival. Whatever the emotion, I have given permission to the tears they produce. When this healing journey began, my tears had long been clamped off by brutal trainings before I could even walk. A safe healing place and a growing number of safe people, along with a LOT of hard work, have re-established the flow like a giant wrench on a rusty spigot.
You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 NLT
Tears from grief are sacred. The warm, salty droplets reveal the broken place from where they seep. God honors and record tears. I now choose to honor my tears, no longer fighting them in shame. Tears can produce a knowing, a chance to acknowledge how agonizing or difficult a situation truly was. Tears can be cleansing, toxic shame emancipated from the prison walls built by brainwashing. Tears can be comforting, the silent stream bringing calm after a storm. Always, tears are a message.
This particular grieving process, for me, is intensely personal. Whether I weep until I can no longer stand, or a solitary tear sneaks out at an unexpected moment, I now allow them their voice, their space in a time far removed from the time they were created. I give them the respect they have been craving as they desperately tried to tell their story for decades. I know the tears were generated by anguish. I now accept the breaking, the violating, the abuse was not my fault. I was not bad as the monsters professed. What they did to me was absolutely bad, it was horrific, so I also accept this aching sorrow the contemplation brings.
Wherever I am when a tear comes, I place a hand on my heart and take at least a moment to mourn for the child who endured the nightmare. I extend compassion to my wounded self because compassion is what I needed and deserved when I was being raped and traumatized, and it is what I need and deserve today for surviving. Each tear I release makes my heart a little lighter. I have hope that like a child’s pool in the sun, eventually most of these tears will dry up and what will be left will be only a necessary few… reminders sparkling like diamonds reflecting the light of a life restored from darkness.
Do you care? We all desire to be known. As a trauma survivor, I flip between desperately wanting you to see me, really see me, and wishing I had the power of invisibility. What if you really knew me?
For the last several months I have been at odds with my therapist of eleven years. Other than God, she sees me and knows me more than anyone else. That knowledge makes this pain incredible. I believe that if she knows me, she would know the things she said could be extremely hurtful. She called it a calculated risk. Her calculation failed and the pain went so deep I could not find a way to excavate it and set it free. It came on top of another deep wounding on her part, which allowed this one a straight and unobstructed shot to my heart. The blood was dripping, now it forms a pool around every thought of returning to therapy.
I have worked hard to figure it all out, make it okay again, as I sloshed around with the festering wound. I did meditation. I talked to friends. I prayed. I read. Surrendering to my inefficacy, I sought help from another therapist. Finally, I had a remarkable vision which would serve to mend the damage like a mother’s quick stitches of her son’s trousers as he runs late to school. I anxiously returned to my main therapist to share this enlightened moment, and it went well. I followed up the next day with a thank you letter, for patience, for hearing me, for the apology I deserved. And she responded…with another thrust of the sword. Like the boy whose hastily mended jeans would soon burst open, my wound gushed with vigor until I lay dazed, confused, and in incredible pain.
It would take a week for me to even speak of the incident as I tried to get any traction on the slimly viscous fluid which continued to pump out of my body, draining all my energy and clarity. Unlike my quiet, non-confrontational “good girl” part, I found my voice and explained in detail what her words continued to do to me. She graciously listened and responded, ending with, I will wait to hear from you. I thanked her again for hearing me and explained that I didn’t know what to do with all the confusion and pain. I received an email full of psycho babble which ended with, I will wait to hear from you. The letter tasted bitter like the pith of a lemon which is followed by the sting of the juice when it reaches a forgotten canker sore. I waited a week and sent a text emoji which was answered with another. I am not a trained professional, and I didn’t know how to mend this again, the edges were too tattered to hold a stitch. I was trying to trust her knowledge, and hoped eventually she would reach out, after all she had “heard from me” three times.
After nearly two weeks, a YouTube entitled “Necessary Endings” came across my notifications. I took this as a sign, a message from God, and I immediately listened and agreed. This is probably a necessary ending. After eleven years of her seeing me as though I was naked before her, overcoming this will require grieving. We have bound up wounds together, painfully scraped old dead tissue, used surgical grafts as required, and applied endless antibiotics on stubborn infections which would long defy healing. I have incredible gratitude for her perseverance, treatment has made me stronger and more resilient, and I am finding my voice again.
This morning a message keeps looping in my mind, can you find me? At the heart center, this translates to, do you care? She told me she loves me (I won’t even get into how difficult that made my therapeutic life) so why can’t she find me?
Here I am SIX years later. I honestly felt it had been three or four. So much has happened. So much pain. So much grief. So much healing. So much growth. I want to start fresh with new courage, fresh writing, more vulnerability, and hopefully more words of hope and healing.
Truthfully, I am going to have to learn WordPress all over again and will appreciate everyone’s patience while this happens.
I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
This has always been one of my favorite quotes, and as a Christian, I believe it is what our Heavenly Father would want us to do to honor His Son. Last night a friend, who exudes every definition of friendship, shared a story with me in her annual Christmas letter. It turns out that it is a sermon by Peter Marshall from 1952. It re-opened my eyes, touched my heart, and answered some questions I was having about gifts for others. It is the messge of Christmas that gets tangled up in bobbles and bows, trees and traffic.
I pass on the gift as I offer it now to you. My hope and prayer is that if you will take a few minutes to read it, your focus and your thoughts will be impacted and you will be uplifted in a worshipful way. As the angel said so many years ago, “I bring you good tidings of great JOY, which shall be to all people.”
Let’s Keep Christmas ~ Peter Marshall
Changes are everywhere. Many institutions and customs that we once thought sacrosanct have gone by the board. Yet there are a few that abide, defying time and revolution. The old message, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” is still the heart of Christmas. It can be nothing else. And this message can neither be changed—nor quite forgotten, although there are many things that tend to make us forget. The idea of Santa Claus coming in a helicopter does not ring true. No interior decorator with a fondness for yellow or blue or chartreuse or prink could ever persuade me to forsake the Christmas colors of red and green. I must confess that modernistic Christmas cards leave me cold. I cannot appreciate the dogs and cats, the galloping horses and the ships in full sail, the ribald humor…or any of the cute designs that leave out the traditional symbols of the star…the manger…the wise men on their camels. Angels there must be—but they need not be modernistic angels in evening dress with peroxide permanents or avant-garde hairdos. There is no need to search for stories new and different. There is only one after all—and no modern author can improve it:
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. “And the angel said until them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
We all feel the pressure of approaching Christmas. The traffic is terrible…You can’t find a parking space…The stores are crowded…Mob scenes make shopping a nightmare. You are thinking about presents—wondering what in the world you can get for so-and-so. You think of friends and loved ones who are so hard to shop for. You can’t think of anything they need (which is rather strange when you take time to think of it). Maybe there is nothing in a store that they need. But what about some token of love—what about love itself…and friendship…and understanding…and consideration…and a helping hand…and a smile…and a prayer? You can’t buy these things in any store, and these are the very things people need. We all need them….Blessed will they be who receive them this Christmas or at any time. Let’s not permit the rush to crowd Christmas out of our hearts…for that is where it belongs. Christmas is not in the stores—but in the hearts of people. Let’s not give way to cynicism and mutter that “Christmas has become commercialized.” It never will be—unless you let it be. Your Christmas is not commercialized, unless you have commercialized it. Let’s not succumb to the sophistication that complains: “Christmas belongs only to the children.” That shows that you have never understood Christmas at all, for the older you get, the more it means, if you know what it means. Christmas, though forever young, grows old along with us. Have you been saying, “I just can’t seem to feel the Christmas spirit this year”? That’s too bad. As a confession of lack of faith, it is rather significant. You are really saying that you feel no joy that Jesus came into the world…You are confessing that His presence in the world is not a reality to you…Maybe you need all the more to read the Christmas story over again, need to sit down with the Gospel of Luke and think about it.
I thank God for Christmas. Would that it lasted all year. For I have observed that on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day all the world is a better place, and men and women are more lovable. Love itself seeps into every heart, and miracles happen. When Christmas doesn’t make your heart swell up until it nearly bursts..and fill your eyes with tears…and make you all soft and warm inside…then you’ll know that something inside of you is dead. We hope that there will be snow for Christmas. Why? It is not really important, but it is so nice, and old-fashioned, and appropriate, we think. Isn’t it wonderful to think that nothing can really harm the joy of Christmas? Although your Christmas tree decorations may include many new gadgets, such as lights with bubbles in them, it’s the old tree decorations that mean the most…the ones you save carefully from year to year…the crooked star that goes on the top of the tree…the ornaments that you’ve been so careful with. And you’ll bring out the tiny manger, and the shed, and the little figures of the Holy Family, and arrange them lovingly on the mantel or in the middle of the dining room table. And getting the tree will be a family event, with great excitement of the children…and there will be a closet into which you’ll forbid your husband to look, and he will be moving through the house mysteriously with bundles under his coat and you’ll pretend not to notice…. There will be the fragrance of cookies baking, spices, and fruit cake…and the warmth of the house shall be melodious with the lilting strains of “Silent Night, Holy Night.” And you’ll listen to the wonderful Christmas music on the radio or television. Some of the songs will be modern—good enough music perhaps—but it will be the old carols, the lovely old Christmas hymns that will mean the most. And forests of fir trees will march right into our living rooms. There will be bells on our doors and holly wreaths in our windows….And we shall sweep the Noel skies for their brightest colors and festoon our homes with stars. There will be a chubby stocking hung by the fireplace…and with finger to lip you will whisper and ask me to tiptoe, for a little tousled head is asleep and must not be awakened until after Santa has come. And finally Christmas morning will come. Don’t worry—you’ll be ready for it—You’ll catch the spirit all right, or it will catch you, which is even better. And then you will remember what Christmas really means—
The beginning of Christianity…the Second Chance for the world…the hope for peace…and the only way.
The promise that the angels sang is the most wonderful music the world has ever head. “Peace on earth and good will toward men.” It was not a pronouncement upon the state of the world then. Nor is it a reading of the international barometer of the present time…but it is a promise—God’s promise—of what one day will come to pass.
The years that are gone are graveyards in which all the persuasions of men have crumbled into dust. If history has any voice, it is to say that all these ways of men lead nowhere. There remains one way—The Way—untried, untested, unexplored fully…the way of Him who was born a Babe in Bethlehem.
In a world that seems not only to be changing, but even to be dissolving, there are millions of us who want Christmas to be the same…with the same old greeting “Merry Christmas” and no other. We long for the abiding love among men of good will that the season brings…Because we believe in this ancient miracle of Christmas with its softening, sweetening influence to tug at our heart strings once again. We want to hold onto the old customs and traditions because they strengthen our family ties, bind us to our friends, make us one with all mankind for whom the Child was born, and bring us back again to the God who gave His only begotten Son, that “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
So we will not “spend” Christmas… or “observe” Christmas. We will “keep” Christmas—keep it as it is…in all the loveliness of its ancient traditions.
May we keep it in our hearts, that we may be kept in its hope.