names have been omitted in this post
this post contains strong language and sexual content
I sat on the dark blue wool rug wrapped in a towel, my dark hair wet and dripping water droplets onto my forearms. The room was pitch black and I leaned my back against the front of the burgundy upholstered couch. The detailing of the dark paneling on the walls in the den was not visible in the blackness and behind me to my left was the door to the kitchen. Beyond the closed door was my father on the other side… a tiny crack of light escaped the bottom of the door letting anyone know he was in there… not that you couldn't hear him. He was on the phone with my one day husband and also in that my one day ex. "Do you even know what you're getting into?!" He could be heard yelling into the phone at him "Do you even KNOW what you're marrying?!" My father sneered loudly on the phone to him. A slight pause for him to take a breath and then he continued "She's a WHORE!!!!! She laid there every FUCKING NIGHT AND LET HIM FUCK HER!!! YEAH, THAT'S WHAT SHE DID! AND THAT'S WHAT YOU WANT TO SIGN UP FOR, HUH?!" He screamed into the phone.
Tears rolled down my cheeks silently on the other side of that shut door.
Tears, tears, tears.
They slipped down my cheeks and somewhere God caught them and counted them with sorrow.
It was so lovely to be spoken of like that. It was so lovely to be continually told that you were now worthless. It was so lovely to be continually told that you were a horrible person merely because you chose a different toxic situation over what you had been living in and wanted to escape. What one finds to be a tolerable situation another may find to be not doable. What one person looks at as "laying there aka prostituting yourself" another person… maybe the one in the situation just sees it as not wanting to get physically hurt so they shut up and acquiesce but in their mind it's not wanted… it's seen as a silent rape… because fighting back just gets you hurt like the first time. It may not be the best way but yet it is the only way to explain something so horrible to someone else… something that is incredibly difficult to explain or even understand. It's the best I can do to covey something very complicated and I can't even begin to explain how much shame I carried around for years… mostly shame that was multiplied by the words used to describe me afterward. Wounds eventually heal… for the most part… but words linger… words haunt you in the back shadows of your mind… things trigger them and occasionally bring them to the forefront and like a projector screen they flash before you taking you back to a time you'd rather not remember. But you do… you remember all the ugliness, you remember those dark doubts you held about yourself for years… the way they would wash over you or maybe just nipped at your toes like a relentless rabid dog that wouldn't leave you alone. But you remember what you endured… and you look back and marvel at what you see… you see God… you see the love of Christ… who collected your tears one by one and kissed your cheeks and helped heal you along the way… you see people who He placed in your path to encourage you, those who were a safe place to share your story with and they are the lifter uppers… they are shining lights… they are those who helped you see yourself in a new way… a girl who is loved and sees her worth as the daughter of a King not the worthless whore she's been called time and time again.
Fast forward to today the days of crying when I tell others about my time gone are long gone. Once upon a time visible shaking and tears would have coursed from me. Now for the most part I can talk about it as if I were discussing the weather... and yet even if occasionally emotion creeps in I've accepted the decisions I made in 1994 and have made peace with them. It is what it is.
It had left me with many things… a deep aversion to white rice which I never eat because it brings back memories of having to eat it or starve way back when… it had left me with an intense startle reflex and caused me to jump so badly people laugh or look at me strangely… it had left me with memories imprinted in my mind of the pale yellow sheets on the bed that first night… it had left me with an avoidance of driving on a main thoroughfare because the side street where it happened... that house I didn't want to see… it had left me with always being in fight or flight mode… it had left me with being in CVS and seeing Dunhill cigarettes behind the counter and panicky and needing to get checked out quickly so I could leave. It had left me with PTSD.
And yet the PTSD was like a pile of dark mental junk that just continually got bigger over the years... it was added to during my marriage as my then husband would put on the cheery nice facade to others but then behind closed doors shut me down whenever I tried to speak my mind. He'd speak my praises to my family and yet behind closed doors act like I always needed to improve. I always felt like I wasn't up to snuff with him. My clothes weren't right (I wore pants, he wanted me to wear dresses), my parenting wasn't right (I expected rules and supervision to be in place), my housekeeping wasn't right (I cared too much about the house), my time spent and how I managed it wasn't right (I needed to not do my errands but instead bring him lunch and get a manicure) my relaxing wasn't right (I kept too busy and then didn't have the energy for sex three times a day) the food I cooked wasn't right (the chicken was overdone) my hopeful outlook wasn't right (I was continually told I needed to be more positive), my staying at home full time or part time wasn't right (He told me to go get a job), His behavior and expectations gave me anxiety and it became so bad it infiltrated everything I did. Slowly over time the bright positive person I once was disappeared... and with each chipping away he did in all areas I began to experience heightened anxiety all the time. Anxiety over things that I knew rationally were not warranted or normal... anxiety over taking a new prescription, anxiety over trying a new food, anxiety over the unknown, the constant what if's in life... I yearned for the person I was once upon a time... but no matter how much I tried the anxiety got worse... it's comparable to trying to keep from drowning but the dead weight holding you back in the deep end prohibits it. The dead weight was him. When I divorced him he told me:
"You're just like your father said!!
You're nothing but a whore!!!
And I'll be sure to tell the kids exactly that!!! "
With divorce comes a renewal... with leaving comes arriving at a healthy place. With shedding the toxic comes a brilliant new glow and a slow but steady process of rediscovering yourself... you lose the one who caused you to walk on eggshells, the one who seemed annoyed every time you tried to broach something important, the one who always acted as if you weren't good enough... and yet ironically you were chosen by them because of your intrinsic goodness.
But the great news is now you feel that heavy cloak of weariness and anxiety you wore while with them fall away... you feel it all slip bit by bit and you begin stepping away from what you lived... from that limiting cage that you were trapped in... you buy the leather pants, you try the new food, you pop the pill, you travel to new places, you get a manicure, you buy yourself lunch, you pleasure yourself, you laugh at a movie on your own, you recognize your value and positive spirit that was almost completely snuffed out. And you smile. And in that smile is power and healing by Christ. You are not what they say you are. You are not a whore, you are not an anxious mess, you are not inadequate. You are not a label of PTSD.
You are His.
You are a light in this world that has been dimmed for
far too long and now is your time.
Shine on like the star you are.
Shine and help someone else do the same.