Until then... The lesson:
Secrecy gives shame and guilt the power to torment you. Secrecy isolates you within your own mind. It can cause you to believe that you are the only one experiencing such devastating trauma. We spoke earlier of shame being like a plant whose existence depends on water. People, like plants, must have water to survive. A human can live for many days without food, but only three days without water. To use that metaphor in another way, secrecy is the water that the memories of the abuse depend on for life.
In your journal, describe your life of secrecy the victimization and/or your life of secrecy after the victimization. How does it feel to have a secret life?
As you tell your story - in a safe environment with a pastor, counselor, or support group - you will dilute and destroy the strength of the memories of the abuse. By telling the story you destroy the power of shame and guilt. By telling the story you gain power and control over the memories. In our analogy, the memories are the nourishment of the guilt. The kind of toxic guilt and shame experienced in sexual abuse leads to feelings of condemnation.
You are working to memorize Romans 8:1. "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Reciting this Scripture is not enough. Begin to move its wisdom from your head to your heart. Do this by quoting the Scripture, then writing a note to yourself every time a shame memory flashes across your mind. Determine in your heart to tell this memory to someone. As you apply the Scripture and break the silence, you will create an environment to neutralize the tendency for flashbacks. You may remember a new circumstance or incident. God will remove the obstacles blocking your memories and allow you to remember as necessary so that you can experience healing. When your memories cause you to feel shame, quote Romans 8:1 to remind yourself that there is no condemnation, no shame, or worthlessness. The memories can be just memories, without shame and guilt.
If you have not already done so, you are encouraged to begin writing your story when you are with a supportive person in a safe place. You need time alone to do your recovery work, but beware of isolating yourself. You need the presence and encouragement of others.
First review your affirmations.
- I accept God's love and kindness toward me.
- The truth will set me free!
- I am worth to have God lead me and comfort me.
- I am clean.
- I am wonderfully made.
Write down as many details as you can about on incident of sexual abuse. Write as though you were a reporter, answering the questions - who, what, when, where. Use additional pages as needed or write in a separate journal.
If you could only write on sentence, celebrate your ability to do that! Go on a walk, take a bubble bath, or listen to your favorite music. It will get easier! For now, read your affirmations again and thank God for walking with you through this process. You will make it!
"There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1