I have to admit that this is a huge deal for me to speak up on uncomfortable topics. You feel weird reading it. I feel weird writing it. I don’t mind speaking on things that don’t pertain to me, but when the very things I am talking about come from the deepest, darkest parts of my heart…I freeze. It’s as if I’m having that dream where you’re surrounded by people and they’re all staring at you. Some are pointing and snickering. Suddenly you realize you’re naked. Then - BAM! - You wake up. If you’re like me, you breathe a sigh of relief just to know it was only a dream.
I have fears of judgment. It’s always easier to point fingers than to evaluate yourself, isn’t it? It’s usually our first response. I’ve been mulling over this blog series for months now, even before this blog existed. I almost wanted to just get it all written and never touch it again, but I realize that it is a dialogue that has to happen - not only with me but with you, too. My whole goal is to just “start the conversation”. A big thank you to my friend Lois Solet from Dirt & Divinity who has helped me edit and encouraged me the entire way to find the words to put to my story. I love you, girl!
"Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light." - Norman B. Rice
We have a huge walk-in closet in our master bedroom. It was one of the things that sold me on the floor plan of our house. Since then, that very closet has become a constant reminder of one of my biggest life lessons.
A few years ago, we hosted a small group at our house. At the end of each group, we'd separate the guys and girls for a private prayer time. The girls and I would head upstairs to the master bedroom while the guys usually ended up out back in the yard. They had no idea that just a few hours before, I was scrambling like a mad person, shoving everything I didn't want to deal with or want anyone to see into that closet. You name it, it was in there. High school letter jackets, old tax forms, boxes we'd yet to unpack... I even threw all of the laundry there right in the entrance. The pile was so high, I could barely shut the closet door. No one was going to open the door. It was my house. It would be considered highly rude to snoop like that. No one needed to know anyway, right?
For most of my life, my heart has been like that closet. The more I open up the door, the more I find things I've shoved away that are unlovely, “dirty little secrets” I want to hide from the world or from myself.
I have them. You have them. Sometimes it seems like I have too many to count. They wave when I open up the door as if to taunt me.
Several years ago, a friend of mine decided to put her testimony on video to share during a church service. It was my job to log and edit the raw footage. As she recounted memories of being sexually threatened, as well as memories of promiscuity, I sucked in my breath. She was bringing up topics I didn't want to talk about. Things that I've experienced but hadn't told but one or two people. Things I didn't want to acknowledge happened let alone tell the world about.
My story begins when I was very young. As a three-year-old, I didn’t understand what was happening when a 14-year-old friend of the family touched me in places I learned were my “privates”. It sparked a curiosity about my body that ended in confusion. Why would that boy want to touch me there?
At the age of twelve, I was an early bloomer. That fact didn’t go unnoticed. On a day, seared into my mind in vivid detail, I was molested by two teenage boys at school. The three of us gathered to take a make-up test during our teacher's prep period. After passing out the exam, he left the room. When the crude, sexual comments started, I found it hard to concentrate. These boys were known for fighting and troublemaking. My heart hammered with one sitting right behind me, the other right beside me.
The next thing I remember was struggling and screaming in a corner with one boy pinning me up against a wall, the other taking liberties with his hands. When they let me go, one of them grabbed my math test. I continued screaming and they just looked at me and laughed.
It was at this moment, five to ten minutes after he left, my teacher came back wondering what the commotion was about. He asked me why I was crying. Trembling with fear and filled with shame, I looked down and all I could say was, "They took my math test." Right then, I wanted to run, to change my clothes, to take a bath, to wash the filth off of me. Instead, I was sent to the office.
Having seen the way they treated those who spoke out against them, I feared that something worse might happen to me if I was honest about what they did. We all served an In-School Suspension together for fighting and disruptive behavior. I took my "punishment", kept my mouth shut and tried to move on. For years, I never did…
The images, the sounds, and the smells haunted my dreams. I’d wake up with screams in my mouth, feeling hands on my body, hearing their laughter in my ears. While my mother walked in on the boy and me when I was three, I didn’t tell her what happened when I was twelve for many years. For many years, I didn’t tell anyone…
I pasted on my good, church girl face and pretended everything was fine, but deep down inside? I was dying to be free from fear and shame. I was dying to be loved. I was dying for someone to care. I was simply dying…
To be continued...
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