“I was sexually abused when I was seven by my step-sister…”
I’ve told this trauma narrative over and over again at various tellings of my testimony. Naturally, it’s always become hidden during times of telling family friends or anyone who may tell my parents because that is the worst possible thing that could happen… I can’t even imagine what would follow my parents finding out.
Nonetheless, it has never really been a difficult point to add into my testimony. The most difficult part has been recounting the event to people who may be insensitive and discount the pain and shame that came with this event. Their hints of rendering this situation as insignificant has been what has compelled me to do likewise. I have invalidated my feelings more than anyone else ever could. I’ve hardened myself to this event. I’ve ignored any emotions that have accompanied my retelling of what happened when I was seven. There have been times, however, such as after watching Perks of a Wallflower, that triggered a lot of pain, whereby I retreated to the prayer room and remained there weeping till 4 A.M.. And there have been moments in church services where the pastor has hinted at one finding healing from sexual abuse that has resulted in many tears wetting an “old-fashioned altar,” even though I don’t think that churches should be allowed to call the steps leading to their stage an “altar,” and they especially shouldn’t be allowed to call it an “old-fashioned altar.” A true old-fashioned altar would have a damn goat’s blood shed on it and would likely be outdoors… because that is an actual altar, Old Testament style.
Back from my rabbit trail and onto my point, it’s never really been difficult to tell anyone this part of my testimony… so I assumed that it wouldn’t be very difficult to talk to my counselor about… I’ve told the story. I’ve been able to tell dozens of people about it. I should be able to easily discuss it and move on with my life.
Boy, was I wrong.
We barely even discussed it, and suddenly, I found myself sitting in a chair across from my counselor not as my young adult self, but as my seven year old self filled with confusion and unable to adequately retell the story as I felt everything all at once.
This story I had told my whole life had become a memory for the first time since it occurred.
I left counseling in shock.
What I felt was what I felt when I left the house of the guy who sexually abused me about three months ago. It was a very familiar feeling.
I went home, attempted to talk to God, but out of sheer emotional and mental exhaustion, I retreated to my bed and slept for nearly four hours.
I awoke, and went to a place of prayer. I heard him remind me of what he told Moses, “I will be with you.”
That brought healing.
Because going back into the trauma narrative and inviting stories to become memories is scary. Going back into what often feels like a terrifying forest of my mind as a little girl is frightening. It feels like I’m Piglet trying to get through a forest without having any run-ins with any Heffalumps or Woozles. (If you don’t watch much Winnie the Pooh, then you likely don’t understand that reference.) But as we go into the forest, Abba has reminded me that he will be with me. He won’t leave me there. He keeps his promises. It may be dark and scary and extremely difficult, but he will be with me.
Nevertheless, this memory triggered another bout of depression (discussed in my previous post). But fam, I had a game plan, and I’m kicking depression’s ass. Sometimes, it feels like it’s beating me, but joke’s on it. “Nothing formed against me shall prosper.” (Insert me pulling out a handkerchief and waving it saying, “Amen, Hallelu-yer to Jesus” and speaking in tongues in the most Pentecostal fashion I can muster up—like Paul, I speak in tongues more than all of you. AH, I’m going to offend someone one day. That’s okay. “The Lord offends the mind to reveal the heart.” And I don’t necessarily know what that means but go with it.)
My depression game-plan (because practicality is necessary and may help you or a friend or a neighbor or your neighbor’s friend or your friend’s neighbor or your neighbor’s friend’s cat, Pebbles) is as follows:
- You may feel like shit, but it helps not to look like shit. (So get your ass out of bed, brush your hair, put some pants on, and put your damn make-up on—if you’re a girl, of course… unless you’re a guy who wears make-up, which is fine… rock on.)
- Do something that makes you happy. (For me, that’s loving other people. You may enjoy playing with puppies. Do that. You may enjoy going for a drive. Do that. You may enjoy napping. Do that, even though actually… don’t do that. Cause that defeats getting your ass outta bed, in the last point… Stay out of the bed. It’s for your benefit.)
- Take a break. (Seriously, skip a class or call out of work or cancel an appointment… unless it is an appointment with your counselor or therapist or doctor or psychiatrist. Go to that. They want to help you. Let them. Sometimes they really suck and say silly things that make no sense, but SPOILER ALERT: they’re humans too and doing their best. Just have some grace. They deal with everyone’s shit every day with kindness and grace and try to leave not reeking of shit… counselors are kinda like toilets. They take all our shit and try to make it disappear, but sometimes it gets clogged cause it’s just too much… so we have to take more time to deal with that shit than we ever wanted to… and that’s okay. Cause no toilet is perfect. They do their best. This is a weird analogy, but it works. Just go with it.)
So there’s my game-plan for when I continue my trauma narrative and it becomes a series of memories, rather than just stories I’ve become comfortable and distant from.