Monday, January 24, 2011

Not destroyed

I never set out with the intention to write a certain kind of post on here - I just write what's on my mind and in my heart.  Recently, without realizing it, I wrote several posts in a row that depict the really sad consequences of sexual abuse in my life.  If there is someone else out there going through the same things I have (and I know there are!), I want them to know that they are not alone.  And for those who have harmed a child, I want them to know just how far-reaching the devastation can be.  The details are hard to read, but it is a cold hard truth that sexual abuse destroys relationships...and very possibly lives.

I have received the kindest, most compassionate, emails and comments from readers here, in response to those posts.  So many expressing heartfelt sadness over the loss in my life.  I am deeply touched by your heart and concerns toward me.  Humbled to be so tenderly received.  Thank you.  I love the community of survivors.

I want you to know though, that I am not destroyed by what happened to me.  I once was, but I am not anymore.  It is indeed very sad at times.  I think it always will be...  But I am so very good.

I think it's only natural to grieve a loss.  Much like a death of a close family member, I will always grieve the loss of family I loved but can no longer be in relationship with.  However, it is truly for my benefit to not be in relationship with them. 

I am happy.  Honestly, I am way beyond happy.  I never in my wildest dreams thought my life would turn out the way it has.  Happily married.  Mother of two.  No chaos.  At peace with my past.  Finishing my college degree.  Volunteering at church and in my community.  Surrounded by countless loving friends who have become family.  My life is incredibly full.

I have not been defeated.  I am not defined by someone else's sin.  I am not even defined by my own sin!

Praise God for the healing truths found in His Word, the Shelter From the Storm study and groups, trustworthy counselors, wisdom and support of other survivors and cherished friends, and of course my beloved husband and children.  These incomprehensible gifts have changed my life!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


A friend request was waiting for me as I logged onto Facebook last night.  Right away I clicked the "do not know this requestor, block future requests" button, as I didn't think I knew the person.  After about a minute though, it donned on me...  It was my adopted father's step brother.  In my family we've never specified "adopted", "step" or "half" - we were all just FAMILY.  Here I only do it so that readers can have a better chance at following my family tree with branches going in all directions.

My dad was my abuser, and this uncle is his brother.  My dad is a master manipulator and liar to the Nth degree.  I don't know what he told his family - if anything - about his broken relationship with me.  But my policy has always been to never put others in the middle.  Never throw all of the dirty laundry on the family dinner table for everyone else's consumption, judgment, and involvement.

Instead, I've just gone away quietly.  So quietly, and so far away, that I did not even recognize my uncle's name when I read it.  I haven't heard from him in well over 20 years.

As I looked at his friends list, I saw faces and names I hadn't thought about since I was a kid.  My father has four brothers and two sisters.  I had four uncles and two aunts, cousins too, and grandparents...  I loved them.  They seemed to love me.  They never laid a hand on me or said an unkind word in my presence.  They were not your leave-it-to-beaver types - lots of dysfunction for sure, but they never touched me the way my dad did.

I don't have them in my life anymore, and I suspect that I never can again given what my father did.  Their brother.  Their son.  In all likelihood, given the emotional condition of my family, I am guessing they would choose his side.  Perhaps these thoughts only come from my woundedness, the feelings and very low expectations of a little girl whose abuse carried on for years despite the family members who did know and did nothing...  Perhaps they would respond with loving kindness and righteous anger.

My uncle had to search for me on Facebook by name.  I was on his mind.  Did he look for me on his own, or did my father put him up to it?  Having been sexually abused by my father makes me almost paranoid - second guessing the intentions of my uncle.  His brother.  I think I sort of lump all of them together.

As I thought about the extended family that so abruptly fell out of my life all those years ago, I laid on my bed and wept over the loss.  So much loss.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Where do we go from here?

Many people know that I recently celebrated Christmas with my birth family for the first time in ten years.  A handful of friends have asked how it went, but I struggle with my response...  Not sure what to say or how to say it.  There are so many emotions, so many harsh realities, so many things wrong, and even one startling revelation.  When I think about verbalizing our Christmas celebration, the story that comes to mind is not about that one night but about where everything stands.  The words decorum and discretion fill my mind, as I ponder answering their questions completely...  Reminding me that polite people want to hear how the evening went, but very few people want to hear where I think it might take us.  I expect that people from relatively functional families will have their heads spinning as they hear the unsavory dynamics of my family.  Every family has their issues, but issues like ours are kept quiet - they are still taboo dinner fodder.  The issues faced by my family are made for Intervention or Celebrity Rehab or Dr. Phil - shows that people can watch and gasp at in private.

For those polite people who merely want to know about the evening...  It was awkward, but nice.  My mother was beaming, as she sat with her daughters and all of her grand kids for the first time ever.  The cousins played together, just as I remember playing as a child with my cousins.  The menu was simple, and the mood was relaxed.  Conversations easily flowed as we discussed jobs, budding romances and mutual friends.  I felt more connected to my sister and her kids than I had in many years.  I enjoyed seeing the tiny boys that I loved so very much...that are now early teenagers.  And I loved looking into the face of my niece and being reminded of the little sister that I once shared a bedroom and secrets about boys with.

There were also parts that were difficult for me.  Seeing into my sister's life, and knowing some of the brokenness that holds her captive in challenging situations.  Knowing that my nephews and niece have sad holes in their lives...  My heart goes out to them - my sister, her kids, and my mom - and I yearn to make a difference in their lives.  At the same time, I pull back to protect my own.

And I remember my extended family...  Those who offered kind words of encouragement and spent time with me, yet made no move to help me in the ways that I really needed.  To my knowledge, they never tried to give me a solid, loving home.  I felt so abandoned.  I frequently heard that my mother was doing "the best that she could".  The older I got, the angrier that statement made me.  My emotional response was to say that she failed miserably and could have done better.  It wasn't until our family Christmas that those five words finally made sense to me.  As my mother shared that she is bipolar, I understood that she actually had done the best she could without medication.  In a new way, my heart goes out to my mother.  I am grieved by all that she's lost to her mental illness.  And by what it's cost my brother, sister and me.  And my nephews and niece.  And my children.

What do their futures hold?  What is my role?  How can I help?  And how do I get convinced that helping them will not destroy me in the process?