After all these years of sharing with others about my abusive childhood, I am still a bit uneasy in my response to "I'm sorry." They (whoever I'm sharing with) are not apologizing, they are expressing sympathy and also affirming for me that I was not at fault. And that's the intent behind my saying "I'm sorry" when someone shares their pain with me.
But... What are we (survivors) to say in response? Do we shrug our shoulders and say, "Oh, I know... It's okay."? Surly not. It's not okay. I think my general response is to nod in agreement and thank them for their concern, compassion and encouragement.
As I've pondered this today, I've thought about what would prompt me to say anything close to "It's okay".
It is not okay for adults to abuse children. Not okay at all. Ever. Never.
What I would mean to say is that I am okay.
That... Because I felt so utterly alone and unloved for 28 years, I have a deep appreciation for the relationships I have with my husband and children. If I had never known lonely and broken, would I take for granted the love and happiness I have found in this family?
That... Because I have never known the unconditional love and acceptance of earthly parents, I have an inexplicable desire for my heavenly father. Would I want Him to this degree if I'd had wonderfully loving parents?
That... Because I grew up in a discouraging, neglectful home, I have a heart for children who remind me of me. Would I be this drawn to children in need if I'd have had it all as a child?
That... I went through the things I went through to help others get through what they're going through. Without my being a survivor of sexual abuse, would I be as passionate in ministry or have the ability to relate to others the way I can now?
That... God wastes nothing. He is so powerful and purposeful that He uses even the ugliest of human sins for good. He has done that in my life...
And that makes me okay. He makes me okay.