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Survivor

Yes, I’m talking to you.  I know the easier thing is not to talk about it but you and I both know that isn’t the best thing.

You’ve stuffed it down for so long, trying to pretend it no longer touches you.  But the truth is it reaches out gnarled hands and grabs you when you’re least expecting it. It drags you down and leaves you feeling vulnerable and exposed.  All you want is to cover up so the scars don’t show and the pain doesn’t creep back in.

You married and pledged to give yourself fully to your husband, yet you cannot. Not always anyway.  There are just times when you erect walls you don’t mean to because you feel powerless without them.  He tries hard to understand and to be patient but his idea of working through it is to chip away at the wall when you really need him to live on the other side of it for a moment.  You just need to catch your breath.

But that isn’t marriage and so you feel guilty. Like you’re a bad wife or, at the very least, an incompetent one.  And so you take a deep breath and let him back in.

But it’s the kind of letting in that is replete with vulnerability.  He feels it and you know he doesn’t quite understand though he desperately wants to.

His love is like a balm and a threat all in the same moment.

Clothing is your shield.  Without clothing you feel shamed, exposed, dirty.  Normal people can handle allowing their husband to see them, yet there is nothing normal about you.  At least that’s what you tell yourself.

And so because you want badly to be what you’ve never been since it happened, you try to be brave without your shield.  But your heart races and your cheeks flush and you feel all over again like a victim.

A victim with your own man.  How terrible is that?

Time passes and you think you might be getting better.  The dreams don’t come as often and when they do you shrug past them more easily.  You don’t feel quite as shy or scared and you’re a little more willing to swing the door wide open for him.

Progress.  Sweet progress.

And then it happens.  Something takes you back there.  Sort of like a sight or a smell that transports you to another time or place from your past.  Only this place is not good.  It’s a black hole and you feel yourself teetering on the edge.

You try to run.  You only need to get away from the hole.  Can’t he see it?  Doesn’t he see the danger you’re in?

You’d never have an affair and you’re fully committed to your marriage.  But there is a third party involved and it’s one who cares nothing for your happiness.

It looks a little like fear but that isn’t it entirely.  It’s more like a rich blend of distrust and guilt and apprehension.  Throw in a thick swirl of the need for absolute control over a situation and you’ve got a caustic brew.

Here’s the thing, my sweet friend.  You are a survivor.  Which means you have the victory.  You walked through the fire and you’re entitled to some scars.  You are okay.

When you feel threatened, tell yourself He sees.  He saw what was happening and cried right along with you.  It’s a sin-sick world but it’s also a battleground.  If He stopped all the bad stuff the battle would ultimately be won on terms considered by some to be unfair.  So He has to stand back and weep as He witnesses our pain.

But He feels every last pang.  He knows the damage runs deep.  Maybe it’s time to stop wishing you were whole or normal and learn to live with the pieces of you that remain.  It’s okay if they don’t always fit as you’d like them to.  And it’s okay if sometimes they feel as if they don’t fit at all.

Time and trust are the healers of all wounds.  Give yourself to your husband as fully as you are able but don’t swim in guilt over something you had no control over.  Guilt is a bondage that, when released from its awful grip, will afford you wings you never dreamed you’d find.

Sincerely,

A fellow sexual abuse survivor