“Do you feel cold and lost in desperation
You build up hope but failure’s all you’ve known
Remember all the sadness and frustration
And let it go, let it go.” ~ Iridescent, Linkin Park
There are no words for how devastated my soul has felt the past few weeks. I feel like a dark shadow has been cast over most of my life with the memories of what my dad did.
Growing up, I told myself he was a good dad. That he loved his family, God, and church well. And in some ways, that’s true. He has always provided financially for his family and tried to make sure we had what we needed physically.
He definitely loves God and church. But his version of God sees people as needed to be fixed because they’re broken. His god says I’m going to hell because I’m gay. His god controls an says men like him should have all the power. His god turns men into power hungry. His god is wrapped in misogyny and coercion.
This God is so far removed from love and Jesus and what I feel left with is straight men who have made themselves into their own gods. What you’re left with are men.
Sometimes monsters are just men. Just men who think they’re gods…just men who sing sweet lullabies about Jesus to their daughters and then abuse them and torment them in their sleep.
Every time I walk into a church these days, I feel it–that power that seeks to destroy my autonomy. That power that denies that I’m fully human. that power that has devastated me for most of my life.
So, I’m praying for a resurrection–for healing that’s been a long time coming.
Processing this life long trauma for me has been like finding myself sitting in a house that’s burned down…
And sitting in the ashes and debris, trying to figure out how to re-build while the embers are still smoldering. The foundation of the house is still there…there are pieces still intact. But I’m going through the rubble trying to salvage things without accidentally setting myself or the house on fire again.
The beauty in this is getting to re-build. To start over again. It feels like once again a part of me has died, but that new life is coming up from that. Like a forest burned down so new growth can come.
The beauty in this is re-learning how to live. And finding great joy in being in love and enjoying life in the moment. Sometimes it means you have to stop and take a break. Because this walk is long but the journey is worth it.
Sometimes monsters are just men. And sometimes you beat them by rising from the dead to fight back. So, here’s to new beginnings and to fighting monsters.
“And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.”
~ After the Storm, Mumford & Sons
(Content Note: discussion of sexual and spiritual abuse)
“There’s not enough rope to tie me down. There’s not enough tape to shut this mouth. The stones you throw can make me bleed, but I won’t stop until we’re free. Wild hearts can’t be broken. No, wild hearts can’t be broken.” ~ P!nk, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, from the album Beautiful Trauma
There’s so much going on in my life right now so far as processing trauma so this will be more a streams of consciousness post of several things I’ve tried writing in the past couple weeks. It’ll also be a bit of a follow-up of my last post.
oxygen mask – a poem on breaking the cycle of abuse
i’m not taking off my oxygen mask
to give you air
my lungs have been filled with poison before
i will help you breathe
once i can breathe again
i have suffocated far too many times
to give you life i do not have
i am not even sure i have it in myself to give again
i have died too many deaths for you
to live in my chest
it’s time for me to breath on my own
Today I’m lying on my partner’s couch while she’s at work, listening to P!nk, and trying to write because I just can’t function today or be in my own house. But here I’m at home. I keep having nightmares in the middle of the night that I wake from and don’t remember. I only remember a feeling of terror only to find myself held by someone who loves me and will keep me safe.
The writings I’m about to share with you have ripped my heart in two once again. I’m ok. But I’m not ok. And I have to consciously remind myself to breathe. If this resonates with you at all, please know you’re not alone:
(From October 12, 2017)
I am afraid the memories will drown me. They are an ocean and I have forgotten how to swim.
I am afraid. Because the memories seem so real. What am I afraid of?
That he will touch me again…that in the middle of the night he’ll come into my room and be on top of me again.
That I’ll wish I knew why I felt both pleasure and fear at the same time.
I am afraid–so afraid that at one point, as an adult, I locked the door to my bedroom for almost a year–even though the danger had passed. But the memories in the past hadn’t and may never go away.
To this day, he hugs me and I want to pull away. And now I know why. Now I remember and I can’t forget. Now that I can’t forget, how do I move on?
How do I not panic when I hear footsteps walking towards my room in the middle of the night? How do I not jump at every thing that goes bump in the night. It’s like a soldier without a war–where everyday is a battle.
He used to kiss me on the cheek when I was little and I’d brush it off almost subconsciously. That was dismissed as “cute” by everyone else. My space–my body–was never respected. I had to make myself small whenever he was present.
Little girls aren’t supposed to know their dads like this and have to accept it as “normal to survive.
TODAY. Today I cut my hair off.
He never wanted me to cut it shorter than my shoulders. He never liked it when my mom or sisters got their hair cut either.
So today…I cut off that power he held. My hair, my body, my mind, my heart are mine. They are mine so that I can live my life as I please. My life is mine to live even when my memories drown me.
My life is mine. And my love is mine to give to who I choose. Again. I choose life.
In conclusion, a benediction of sorts for those of you processing trauma and exclusion:
For those who have been pushed out when they should have been welcomed in…
For those who were promised a safe space but were met with shame and fear of Other…
Peace be with you. May the love of Christ surround you.
For those who were willing to give up everything for their faith but then their faith asked them to kill a piece of themselves to exist…
For those who feel broken and used by those who promised love and acceptance…
Peace be with you. May the love of Christ make you whole again.
Peace be with you and to you because Christ is for you and in you.
There is a place for you at the table. Come. Sit and know that you belong and that you are loved. Peace be with you, and may the love of Christ fill you.
(CN: for sexual abuse)
“Why do we fall, Bruce? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” ~ Thomas Wayne, Batman Begins
I haven’t always been afraid of the dark. But I remember why. It’s not the dark that I’m afraid of–it’s what’s in the dark. It’s what happened in the dark that scares me.
Yes, I am an adult who’s still afraid of the dark. Because, you see, four year old me learned to be afraid of the dark. That darkness hangs out in the recesses of my mind until certain things bring it to the surface.
These memories are about 20 years old now, and I’ve been keeping them buried for as long as I can remember. This was also my mind’s way of protecting me. Until such a time as it can’t, and the memories come flooding back. Nothing stays buried and hidden forever.
When I was four, that’s when it started. There are things I don’t remember from my childhood…even some good things. I had trouble sleeping. I wet the bed a lot. My pediatrician told my mom I had an overactive bladder. What I had was a normal reaction to terrible things a four year old cannot even begin to comprehend.
Four year olds shouldn’t have to know that kind of pain. The kind of pain that a neighbor and children’s worker can inflict by touching a child in a way that they cannot understand. Things the child who grew up into an adult still deals with. Things that are covered up by a church, by a father, by a wife.
By the time I was seven, I knew I was different than most kids around me. I was known for an overactive imagination, being kind to kids who got bullied, and maturity beyond my years. It turns out trauma makes you grow up really fast.
The memories have been coming back more frequently. It’s the time of year and I’ve gotten how sleep works. My biggest fear now is what if there are more memories? what if other things happened? what if…what if there are more. My biggest fear is what if my dad was involved. To put words to that nightmare…I am afraid. I am afraid of letting myself remember. I am afraid that letting myself remember will break me. And I have already fallen apart so many times before.
Let me tell you: this voice in my head is loud. The voice that says, What if I fall apart this time, and the pieces don’t go back together again?
I try to make this voice louder and repeat it to myself often:
If you do fall apart, it will be ok.
You are safe.
You are loved.
You are not alone.
I know the memories are going to come. But for once I actually feel like I believe I’ll be ok. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel like it will destroy me to remember.
Because for the first time maybe in my life, I believe this:
You are safe. You are loved. You are not alone.
Maybe I don’t believe it all the time. But that doesn’t make it any less true.