The following testimony was one of the most challenging disclosures of my life that I have ever ventured to write about. In all of the chapters of my life, this one was the most painful, and but for the grace of God, I surely would not have survived. Through the pain you will read about I have come to know and trust a very real Jesus and His healing power.
Chapter Eight: THE DAY MY LIFE CHANGED FOREVER
As I said before you would think the day I was a victim of incest by my own father was the day my life changed forever. But it didn’t compare to the pain I felt when I learned that I was wrong if I thought the incest stopped with me.
In horror, I stared at my 11-year-old sweet little Heather as she, with tears running down her rosy cheeks, recounted the times and places her grandfathers had molested her. Yes, grandfathers. I was torn from my place of denial with a vengeance that knew no mercy. A war waged inside of me and threatened to destroy me. The little girl in me who had not faced her own issues, and the mother who I thought was always overly protective of her daughter, fought for freedom from reality. How could this be? How could God let this happen again? I was in total and absolute shock.
The stark realization of it began to sink in as I tried to make sense of everything I had been thrust into. I was 35 years old and had never told a soul that I was an incest survivor. I was totally convinced I would go to the grave with the “secret”. Now, because of my silence and denial, my own precious little girl, whom I thought I had protected with my life, had fallen victim to the very same thing I had endured. While telling about my father, she told me some very definite inappropriate things my husbands’ father had done to her, as well. “Dear God, how does one survive so much pain,” I asked. I honestly thought my heart would break. Everything else, including ministry, took a back seat now. My house of cards was beginning to crumble. I had given God so much of me and yet He didn’t protect my child. How could I go on?
As my Heather began to share with me the many horrible incidents, outwardly I listened intently, allowing her the much needed validation from me. I assured her that she was ok and would be believed and protected in spite of the grip of terror that had me bound. Inwardly, I wanted to throw my hands over my ears and scream that it wasn’t so and please don’t tell me anymore. Because what she was describing to me was as if it were happening to me all over again. The very same words, places, acts, and sick realizations that I had experienced when molested were what I was hearing from my own child. I knew she couldn’t even begin to tell me these things without having experienced it. I was thrown into a tailspin of confusion and horror, crying out to God to reveal to me what to do and give me the strength to do it. If not for me, then, please, for Heather. If it hadn’t of been for my intense mothering instinct I probably would have succumbed at that point.
My whole foundation of belief was shaken to the core. I had convinced myself that because I was a new creature in Christ I would never again have to deal with what happened to me as a child. By this time I was in such denial that I had convinced myself that perhaps it hadn’t happened at all and I had dreamt it. But reality was I had very vivid memories of every incident down to the details. My addiction to ministry, though I was not aware of it at the time, had covered up the pain and still operating as a victim, I had let my walls down with my little girl. How could I possibly live with that? I wanted to die.
Later, I came to learn that when a child has been traumatized with molestation or incest, they either block out all memories and have all the mental and physical manifestations that accompany keeping the memories shoved down deep into their psyche, or they have all the memories, but have blocked out all the emotional turmoil that goes with it. I was the latter. I had blocked out all feeling but remembered the details of everything. I don’t know why. Except that the details were so horrifying to me that I disassociated from them as if it were someone else the incest happened to. As a little girl I had taught myself to separate from my body when I couldn’t deal with the trauma. The real me floated on the ceiling playing with the butterflies while watching what was going on below. I would feel sorry for the little girl below because she looked so sad, but I was just glad it wasn’t happening to me. And, I thought, isn’t it strange that she looks just like me? This fit right in with my ability to paint whatever kind of picture of myself I wanted, never revealing the pain I was walking in and not really admitting it to myself. I had taught myself well to create whatever I wanted in life to cover the pain of reality. But this blow put that ability in me to the test.
In the months that followed after finding out about Heather’s violation I sought God for direction and healing. I asked Him for a healing that would eventually reach out to others and see them walk free of the past, just as He was teaching me. Though I was still unaware of it my focus turned from my addiction to ministry to seeking God for healing for Heather. Interesting how when you’re in the fires of life everything else takes back seat. As I began to face what had happened to me I wanted desperately to help my little girl. But before I could help her I had to begin my journey to healing. My ministry work was beginning to slow down at this point of my life.
Coming next month: Chapter Nine: Drowning in Sorrow