WARNING: If any of you find child abuse to be a trigger, please don't keep reading. Please.
It was the same night that I wrote about in my last post. I was still flying high from the peace I felt when I went to bed. I have always been a side or stomach sleeper. Always. Laying on my back, even in the dentist's chair, makes me dizzy and sick to my stomach. That night I happened to think about this silly fact when these words popped into my mind: "Maybe I can't sleep on my back because I couldn't breathe when he would lay on me." Just like that I couldn't breathe. Just like that I was curled up in a ball biting back sobs so I wouldn't wake my husband.
When I gained enough control over myself I crept into the living room to sit on the floor, rock, cry, and pray. I don't know how long I was there. It doesn't really matter. The next day was Sunday. The moment I was able to get a hold of my husband and my bishop at the church building I asked for a blessing. I was numb for a good while.
The next night I sat on our back porch, grateful the kids were gone that evening to various friends' houses. Instead of putting down negative thoughts about myself I began a tirade of angry words at this man (a neighbor). I filled pages and pages until I couldn't write much more. The words most penned - I was just a little girl.
At last I ran out of steam, no more room to be angry...for the moment. It was then more words came to my mind. Be gentle. You have no idea how he was abused as a child. Though I cannot explain it, I knew with absolute certainty that whatever he had done to me and other children in our neighborhood was nothing compared to what his own father had done to him over years and years. This knowledge was placed into my head because in that moment I had a choice. I could either choose to dwell in the misery and anger this new found truth brought, or I could choose to forgive with the understanding that even as it would set me free, one day this man would have a reckoning with his Savior.
Being who I am, I chose forgiveness. What surprised me was the healing it brought when it came to how I thought of myself. I had spent years trying to understand why I always felt like a dirty, sinful creature. I would mentally beat myself up for things I didn't even understand. There was this lie so deeply etched in my child's mind that if something was wrong I couldn't tell anyone. Especially my parents, because my parents would be so mad at me. Looking back on my life, on the things I kept reprimanding myself for, they were due to the false beliefs this man forced on me. I didn't want to live those lies any more.
One day during that week I took some time and attended one of our temples. I prayed. Oh how I prayed. Near the end of my time there an answer came in the form of a scripture:
To be sanctified means to be cleansed, not only just the body but the spirit as well. If I was to move forward and find happiness and light and become the person my Heavenly Father saw, I needed to be cleansed in both body and spirit. That is what I worked on for a good year.
Memories popped up now and again. Some were horrific, others were fairly benign. Yet they each held the emotions of that little girl as she experienced them. I dealt with panic attacks, yet was blessed that I was still able to work through it all. I received counseling from a man who was definitely guided by the Spirit as to how to help me best.
I have to credit my amazing parents. They had no idea what was going on, but they gave me a home full of love and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was safe there. I have no doubt that made all the difference.
Since that time other major changes happened, changes that needed me to be much more whole. Our ward (local congregation) and another ward that meets in our same building had both been struggling for years for enough people to fulfill the necessary positions. Church officials on a higher level counseled together and decided to combine our congregations. When our new bishop was called, he asked me to be the Relief Society President - I was now to watch over more than 300 women in our new ward. I have two counselors and a secretary with whom I work.
Yet I still feel as though I'm not enough. I can't seem to get to everybody to talk and chat and visit with. In the almost one year we've been together my presidency and others have overseen more than 14 funeral luncheons. Being a part-time worker and a full time wife and mom doesn't leave a ton of time to do everything I want to do, and I can feel those ugly lies trying to take hold again.
If I had not been awakened to what happened all those years ago, if I had not let go of all those lies, my ability to function in this position would have had me drowning. Instead I am treading water with a life jacket on. My Savior will not let me drown.
It's been two years since I last wrote, but it's been an amazing two years.