Going Grey (I prefer silver) gracefully…

FeaturedGoing Grey (I prefer silver) gracefully…

This is my second attempt at growing out my grey hair, the first being January 2016 when I got my husband to shave my head! I must say, I kinda liked that look! The growing out of that look, not so much. It was slow, gruelling, with months and months and days and hours and weeks of looking awkward and having bad hair days.

My friend suggested I write a list of reasons why I was doing this, because I ‘ve started down this road before and gave up. It was too hard to be different. It was too hard to have stupid comments thrown my way. My self esteem suffered. But what’s worse is now having to do it all again.

I could kick myself!

Because that was 15 months of going through so much, wearing hats and scarves and hair gel and waking up with a mohawk….. and then I caved, and I coloured it.

Which felt great….awesome…for about 2 weeks….when those greys started to reappear.

Then I went for blonde highlights. In the hope that I wouldn’t have to cover the grey so much. Which was also great for a while, except I went more and more blonde every time I went back, and the greys still showed if I didn’t go back. As time went by,  the more blonde I went, the more it didn’t suit my rosy complexion, and my hair became so dry.

I proceeded to dye my hair, darker this time. The colour would fade very quickly to an orange colour due to the highlights under the dye. I went darker. Which looked nice for a while, but the greys showed very predominantly. Also, due to having a lot of grey now, if I didn’t get to all the grey at the roots, especially at the sides of my head, those would show through when I tied my hair back or the wind blew my hair in the wrong direction! And the colour looked so false in the sun.

I had also been researching xenoestrogens and the link between chemicals (including the darker hair dyes) and our hormones as well as some possible cancer links. Especially for those who have to dye their hair so often (more than 10 times a year). So.……me. If I had to keep up with covering the grey, that would be twice a month for 12 months, so 24 times a year!

I realised that I needed to put my health above my vanity. And also realised that I was not fooling anyone. Your face, neck, hands all betray your age anyway, so why not just embrace the age and stage you’re in and be your real self?

Here are some of my reasons in list form:

  1. Xenoestrogens and chemicals in hair dye are bad for you!
  2. Root touch ups every 2 weeks is a pain and often can’t get to all the roots….missing spots…and that looks…..weird.
  3. Saves money!
  4. Hair is healthy and soft with  natural highlights.
  5. Blonde did not suit my complexion and also very drying for hair.
  6. I need to do what I like and not what other people like.
  7. I am happy with my age and don’t need to try and look younger.
  8. I choose health and natural hair over vanity and dried out hair.
  9. I choose to be different and to rock it!

I also accept that I may not get admiring glances from other men…..that guys aren’t going to look at me. And that’s ok. Because I have my guy who looks at me and thinks I’m beautiful. The rest is vanity and insecurity.

This time around, I do feel peace about this decision and am quite certain that I will never go back. Occasionally I may need to re read these notes and re-affirm my decision, reminding myself of all the good reasons and try a new style ( or scarf, headband or hat)!

Not everybody has to like or agree with my decision, probably nobody really cares anyway! But to anyone else out there contemplating this route and the freedom of ditching the dye and being yourself, you need to allow people to have their own opinions and not be upset if they don’t agree with you. This is your life, your hair, your health, and you need to be at peace with that.

I think the first time around I cared too much how others saw me. It was such a big jump from always colouring my hair to shaving it and going grey overnight. I am glad I went back to colouring though, because it reminded me why I wanted to stop in the first place, and helped cement my decision the second time round.

I am now, looking forward to a new pathway to natural health and goodness. Both in body and spirit, health and wellness.  There is so much to thank God for, to be grateful for,  that I have lived this long and have the “silvers” to prove it!

Advertisements

Part 5: Some really personal stuff about sex and surviving abuse…

IMG-20180910-WA0002
Gray and I, our 24 th Anniversary last year September.

The sex part.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I have really had an internal battle with sharing the following. A part of me wants to just stop now. Which is probably the enemy trying to discourage me. You know, some things God does quickly, and some things, the majority, are a process of walking out your healing. I would love to say that that was the end of it and we all ended up happily ever after…with no further work or issues to walk out. But what I can say is that even though there are things to work towards, like more wholeness in sexual healing, our marriage has never been better.

As I was making coffee this morning, actually just bringing my confusion and doubts to God, I felt Him say just, ‘Come to Me daughter.” I went outside in the sun and sat next to the pool. I was wrestling with how much to share, because this is so personal. I knew that I was going to be exposing more of not just my life, but also Gray’s. This is as much his life as it is mine, as we are one. And what affects me affects him. How will he feel about me exposing the intimate details of our sex life? And how will I feel knowing that everyone knows this stuff about me? Is it even polite? I have always been very private about my sex life, no surprise there, but now anyone who reads my blog is going to know and what are they going to think? And does God want me to do this or should I just skate over the surface of the details with innuendo? Not that I want to get graphic. Just honest.

Yesterday when I was hugging Gray in the kitchen (again, the kitchen, what’s with us and hugs in the kitchen?), I just felt like I can’t do this to him. I don’t want to jeopardise what we have now. It’s so good. Can’t I just carry on where we are at? A part of that was that I had started writing this part of the blog, and I wasn’t sure how he would feel about it. And especially the part about imagining just shadowy images of men and not him, though not other men either. Just not reality.

But talking to God this morning, I realized that this was the nub, this was the issue. Again, not hiding but exposing the darkness, the sin. I didn’t want Gray to look back on our sex life and think was it all a lie? Because no it wasn’t. I loved him and I had found a way to make sex work, for both of us I thought. What if he looks at me differently, and thinks, “Who is this woman I married?”. The tears are coming even now because I’m afraid of being this honest. Graham thinks the world of me, what will he think now?

But sitting in the sun, in the light, I felt God saying not to hide. To bring it all into the light. Because it’s not like that anymore, but it’s part of confessing my sin. I don’t do that anymore because of God healing me in my soul, but I feel He wants this in the open. For my sake, for Gray’s, and for other people out there.

I felt Him whisper, “Take courage.”

And He reminded me too, that this life is about dying to self, in order to find life. If I am willing to expose myself and be vulnerable, and die to what others may think of me, in order to help those who also battle, I will be choosing the path of life.

Our church’s motto is – “Dying to live.” And how true that is.

If I don’t expose my darkness, then others will be left thinking, “ if you only knew me, or you don’t really know how bad I am, or there’s no hope for me,” because it’s still a bit of a taboo subject. We are supposed to be Christian after all, purified by the sacrifice of Jesus. Which we are, but the process of healing the brokenness and hurts can take a lifetime.

I think that the world outside church will talk about this quite easily, why do we battle to talk about this sin in church? Though in the world outside the church this isn’t even regarded as sin.  I think the problem is, with sexual sin, there is this sense of shame when we know we are supposed to be free.  As I write this I can’t believe I’m still going to put this out there. But this is a way God is using me to reach more people.

Big breath, taking courage….

As I had explained earlier, our marriage was good, in many areas. It was just the area of sex that I struggled with. I had made a way that seemed to be working, but I was convicted of sin. I knew that I was not connecting with Gray, and not connecting in a healthy way during sex. Everything worked fine physically, but I knew what was going on in my head. All I wanted was to be pure. To know what healthy sex was intended to be like and to be free from the patterns in my mind which would work but I knew were wrong. Always after sex I felt shame and once we were finished to just get up and carry on with life. I did learn to linger over time, with Gray, but this shame and resignation was a constant companion. The easiest way was to ask God to forgive me and then forget about it until the next time. Block it off and carry on as normal.

I had given myself in body to him, but not emotionally. Not my whole self. I was still keeping something back. I knew logically I could trust him, but it couldn’t translate into trusting him with my body. Even though we had a “good” sex life, to give him my body, meant I had to go somewhere else in my mind. And not really be with him, but with a shadowy image of a man, in strange place. And imagining masochistic sex like bondage, as that was what would work for me. So it looked like I was giving him my body, and physically we were “being one”, but I don’t think you can give your body really, without giving your mind and emotions and whole heart as well. I was emotionally disconnected to him, even while physically being with him. When I did try and be pure and stay in the moment with Gray, I felt like things were not working physically, and would not be very satisfactory. I would feel then it would be better for Gray to know that he was satisfying me, that that would be better for his self-esteem. I didn’t mind if I was totally satisfied or not, but I knew it was important to him. And when trying to be pure didn’t work, I thought it’s not working for anyone and making us both stressed about sex. So I would fall back into the patterns that would seemingly work.

It is hard to admit this, I feel like I’m exposing all the darkness inside of me and that people will think I’m sick and twisted. Well, I guess I was. And so are other lovely, hurting, Christian women who look like everything is fine. We don’t talk about this because maybe “I’m the only one’, and we will end up even more rejected and despised. Well hello ladies, and men. I’m saying this for all of you! I can’t believe that I’m the only one, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this.

Over the years God has shown me that I am not ugly inside. He had to show me that I was absolutely, a new creation in Him. And as a child of His, I had a new spirit that was one with His, and so my spirit couldn’t be bad, because I was born again. It was the brokenness that needed to be healed. And sin can’t be dealt with unless there is healing at the root first. Otherwise it’s like chopping off branches continually, dealing with the symptoms and not the cause. I used to feel, and be tormented by thoughts of being a slut. That there’s something wrong with me. That men would look at me because there’s something inside of me that screams slut, adulterer. I didn’t even like it when Gray called me sexy. I didn’t want to be sexy. I just wanted to be beautiful. And pure. Spending time with God, my Father, He restored that father daughter relationship with Him. He would talk to me as His daughter; show me what He thought of me. Replace the enemies lies with the truth of what He says, what the Bible says, about me as a child of His. He would sing to me (ok I would sing, but what I felt was Him singing the words over me) and minister deeply to my heart. There is nothing like spending time with God, with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, that can change you as much, in the deep places. He showed me I was beautiful. He showed me I was precious. He showed me I was pure. He showered me with love. He dealt with this before He dealt with my sin, because He knew that in order to overcome the sin, I had to know how loved I was. I had to know my true identity in Jesus. With tender cords of love He bound me to Him. He just loved me, over and over. Over years and years. There were other areas of sin He dealt with, but in this area this was like the final frontier. God is so gentle at times. He definitely was with me. Even as I knew things needed to be dealt with and was trying, He never condemned me or made me feel unloved or that He was disappointed. He just kept bearing all things, enduring all things, hoping all things and believing for me. He never gives up hope for us. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:7

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

God doesn’t deal with things all at once. And He decides which areas He is going to work into at what time. He is the one with the wisdom. And the knowledge. And He knows everything about us. Nothing is hidden. And nothing can shock Him.

I felt that I was an adulterer, in my mind. Which Jesus says is just as sinful as the actual action. Though I did not imagine other specific men or men I knew. It was just imagined shadowy images without a face. It was as though I had to separate Graham during sex, with the Graham I knew in normal life. I am being as honest as I can here, so that you can see what was wrong, and how broken our sex life was ,unbeknownst to Gray. I knew it wasn’t right, and before sex I would try prepare myself mentally to “not sin” and to connect with what was happening. It made having sex a battle in my mind. Sometimes I would overcome, but most times my mind went back to the familiar pattern and afterwards I would repent. And feel resignation. And this emotional turmoil every time we had sex, feeling bad all the time, created even more tension around sex. I pretended that all was fine, even to myself for many years. But as God has been healing me and wanting to purify me, I had begun to pray for absolute healing and for Him to fix me. I began to feel that God was really pressing me gently on this, that He had grace for me for when I fell, but that I was determined to get this right. I had no idea that He was going to take me back to the abuse, but it does make sense as that might be where it all stems from.

Talking about the feelings that still lingered in my body when Gray touched me unexpectedly in an area like my upper thigh, somehow opening up to him, made that not an issue any more. It’s like if it remained hidden, it had power. But once exposed, the power was gone. I don’t know how God did it, but I stopped reacting that way when he touched me. I did pray that God would heal my body from the memories and trauma of the past. But having Gray know me, and know where I was at, made me feel that I could trust him. Because he didn’t freak out. He just loved me.

So I let Graham read what I had written about our lives and the abuse at the hands of my step dad. I felt very exposed and vulnerable, and had to go wash dishes while he read it. He came and hugged me in the kitchen, with his heart pounding in his chest, and just said he was so sorry I had to go through that. I felt so loved and “seen”. I felt us draw so close emotionally, because now he knew more of me.

As we talked over this stuff in the coming weeks, I felt that that barrier that I had erected, was crumbling down, very quickly. I felt emotionally connected to him in a way that I had never felt before. I felt known and loved. Despite my sin and brokenness. Isn’t this the way Christ loves us, the church, His bride? And how He wants husbands to love their wives?

And then one day, we had the most wonderful sex I have ever had!

I truly felt that we were one. One flesh, as the Bible says. In body, mind and heart. I could at last fully give all of me to him. I could look at him and be in the moment, with him and feel connected and loved and joined and whole. And satisfying for both of us. I truly felt that this was the first time I was having real sex with my husband. In 25 years! It was very intimate. I guess that is what true intimacy is, when you are exposed and vulnerable, but wholly trust anyway and give all of yourself.  And it was gooooood.

At last I was pure. I could have sexual purity during sex. I’m not talking about boring sex, hey, still having fun!

That showed me what good, clean sex could be like. But everything is a process, and a walking it out. Which I found in the weeks and months to come. Sometimes the sex isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s still good and right and pure. I sometimes catch myself before sex thinking,” ok prepare yourself”, and then remember, “oh! I don’t have to anymore!” And that takes a bit of time as this all sinks in. This is a new journey and the road looks unfamiliar.

It’s also not all about sex. Or that sex is the most important thing in our marriage. But it was important because it was an issue that needed to be healed. And it was part of God healing me and restoring all that the “locust had eaten” as the Bible puts it. I even went through a couple of weeks where I felt this was exactly what God was doing, restoring my childhood innocence and fun. Where I would ride my bike in the sun in freedom and just have this time where I’m not working. To have that time restored to me, which was stolen as a child. My boys are grown and I have this time, this beautiful place of spaciousness that He promised me a few years back.

My marriage is real in every sense of the word. I am married to Gray in every sense of the word. And God is able to do so much more than we can even ask or imagine. In His timing. This happened so quickly it seems, though when I look back I can see that this is” reaping the harvest from the sowing in tears”. The Bible says that “those who sow in tears will again come rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them.” God had been preparing me a long time before this and then suddenly, did a quick work. There is hope! Never give up believing that God can do what you are asking Him to do!

From Graham’s side, he always felt that I wasn’t quite there emotionally. And that there was something missing.

Now we don’t have that. Now we are totally connected and whole and one during sex. And in our marriage as a whole. At the same time, we kind of feel like sex virgins. Having to take our time and explore this new way of having sex. Interesting for almost 50 year olds.

The thing with this issue, is that it doesn’t end in the bedroom. It translates into other areas of your life, and if you are pretending in one area it tends to come across as a disconnect in other areas. I would go away with Gray on weekends, and I would still feel, the only way I can describe it is, separate? I know we are separate human beings, with our own likes and personalities and all that, but when I look back now I see this barrier I had erected. Even unknowingly. And I would feel dissatisfied at times, and then think, “ This is what normal marriage is like, this is what other marriages are like. Now stop it, you’re like a spoilt brat and nothing satisfies you. You have too much time on your hands and now you’re thinking too much. Don’t expect too much. Be happy and content with what you have.” And I knew we had a good relationship. We never tried to hurt each other or even had that much conflict. Not having conflict I have since realised is not an indication of a good relationship. It could just mean that you’re avoiding things and keeping the peace instead of working through conflict to make peace. It is right to be content, but with an expectation for God to do more where you see broken areas. It’s hard to admit there are broken areas too, believe me. Denial is so much easier, but only gets worse in the long run. Denial will rob your joy, your freedom and your wholeness.

Now that I have fully given myself to Gray, and been healed from the lies of the enemy, there are no more barriers. This is the most wonderful thing for me, and for Gray. I will most likely still grow in trust, but this has been a major breakthrough. As the darkness is exposed, the healing comes. Thank God! That’s all I can do. Actually for a couple of weeks after this first all came out, I was filled with such thankfulness and worship God. I just enjoyed it and wallowed around in the liberation He brought me. Brought Us. I remember riding on the back of the bike with Gray as we went out with friends to Babylonstoren, and feeling perfectly safe for the first time in my life. Driving past fields slowly with my visor up, on a beautiful hot day, arms wrapped around Gray and leaning into him; this surge of hope totally surrounded me. Totally safe. Totally one. Totally free. And Pure.

I let Gray read this last night. I wasn’t sure how he would take it, or how much he actually knew or was aware of. I know it was hard for him. It was still hard for me. I still felt exposed, I still felt anxious. You know what he did? After asking one or two questions? He hugged me. We stood and hugged. I asked him to forgive me, choking the words out because I felt so scared. He said of course. He didn’t look at me differently; he still looked at me with love in his wonderful, warm brown eyes. He was sorry I had to live like that, I was sorry he had to go through this because of me. Then we locked ourselves in the bedroom and …

In my next blog, I will back track a bit and talk about more deliverances from the lies of the enemy. I thought this was going to be maybe a one or two blog testimony, but it seems to have taken on a life of its own!

“Till next time, keep hoping, have faith, and take courage.

 

PART 4: SOME REALLY PERSONAL STUFF ABOUT SEX AND SURVIVING ABUSE…

 

Pamela Ann_Belinda Claudia
My Mom and I

I’m back!

I am trying to be more consistent about writing this blog, but life happens and suddenly two weeks have gone by. My aim is to post a new blog once a week. Just some of these blogs are exhausting emotionally and it takes a lot out of me. Some of them take a long time to write as I constantly assess and want to check that what I am writing is helpful, and as honest an account as I can make.

You may be wondering, why don’t I just move forward? Why must I keep looking back at the past? Believe me, I don’t want to. But God has shown me that it is necessary for the next step of my healing. He showed me that I could not ignore the child that went through those experiences, as I had not dealt with them on a very deep level. I thought I had, but there were some unconscious belief systems that I had built on that were lies and that were affecting me now.

You may feel like you can move on, and leave that child behind. But the truth is you cannot leave yourself behind. That child is you, now, today, and I had carried that unheard child with me into my adulthood. Obviously, as its still me! We cannot separate ourselves from our experiences. By trying to just forget and move on, because I didn’t want to be a victim, I never fully dealt with it.

That is why I needed to voice and write down those feelings, to express and acknowledge my real feelings and emotions, because I didn’t ever get to do that. So there it sat deep within, suppressed and unacknowledged and a source of denied internal pain. This created a kind of disconnect within myself, between the child I was and the adult I am today. By expressing those feelings and buried emotions before the Lord, I could finally be heard. And feel acknowledged and that my pain was acknowledged. And slowly I began sharing, first with Graham, then my closest friends and my Mom, and then the world. Because what God was doing to free me, I knew He could do too to free others.

During this process I attended a constellation workshop with a psychologist in our church. Its nothing to do with stars or astroglogy! I wasn’t a client, but rather a representative of the client’s family member for eg. I represent the mother or sister in the client’s family, and where that person fits in the family as well as relational issues. It was emotional and it did inadvertently bring up some things in myself which was totally unexpected.

I came back from that session with a migraine and this anger towards my Mom inside of me. I remember walking around the kitchen getting coke and chips ( part of my migraine remedy) and asking God, “ Where is this anger coming from? Why am I angry at my Mom?” Over and over. And feeling guilty that I was angry at her, because where is this coming from? My Mom is amazing and l KNOW she loves me so what is this?

And right there in the kitchen God dropped a memory. It was the day my Mom took me for a walk and told me she was divorcing my step dad. She said that we were leaving because it was too much temptation for him, having me around. So we were leaving for his sake (is what I heard). Now subsequently we have spoken ( at length) about this and this is what she had said to him, to ease the blow. She was trying to do it in love, and not anger, as she was trying to be obedient to God in it. My Mom had realised that he wasn’t going to change no matter what she tried ( and she had tried many ways to love him, get him healed and delivered, but he had not wanted to or maybe he felt he couldn’t change either. I don’t know.) To be fair, there wasn’t much teaching, counselling or discipling in our church, where someone would walk alongside him and help him with his own brokenness and hurts.

At the time I was just grateful we were leaving and the only thing that I was a bit sad about was leaving my friends.

What God showed me in this, was that when I heard “we are leaving for his sake”, what I interpreted was “ you’re not important enough to leave for your sake alone.” My Mom herself was only too happy to leave.

It was difficult to talk about because we have a really close relationship and as I said, I knew she loved me. I could look back on all the years and see her love proven over and over again. And I felt guilty for feeling angry and recognizing that I was angry.

Anyway, as a 15 year old you’re not processing things all that well, or as you would as an adult. I didn’t have the relationship with God that I now have. I believed, but I wasn’t able to draw comfort or strength from Him or really talk about everything with Him. I was also living in survival mode and only now, looking back, I can see how I was  traumatised by the ongoing circumstances and the feelings of helplessness and things never changing. Feeling trapped and hopeless.

So the belief that I formed at that moment, was that I wasn’t good enough, or important enough, to leave for. That my step dad, and my mom, were more important to a) my Mom, and b) God. That the years Mom stayed, was because (she felt) God wanted her to stay, which made me believe I’m not that important to God either. And not that loved. That my step dad and his welfare were more important to God, and my Mom, than mine. And this is where my anger was coming from.

God then showed me how this was a lie, a crack in the foundation of my belief system which I had built upon. Which is why I had this nagging feeling of never being good enough, of being unimportant and actually not worthy. He had to expose this lie, so that He could start building into me anew. Truth. He reminded me of a scripture He gave me a long time ago: Isaiah 54:11 and 12, “Oh afflicted one, storm –tossed and not comforted, behold I will set your stones with fair colours, and lay your foundations with sapphires.” He was busy upending the lie of the enemy, and replacing my foundations with sapphires. Something beautiful and bright and strong and true.

After talking to my Mom about it all during various visits, she could also explain what she meant and how what she said didn’t communicate what she was really feeling. She had wanted to leave for a long time but felt according to her conscience, she had to try everything first. She wanted to leave immediately when it first happened, but felt she couldn’t do just what she wanted to do, and was trying to be obedient to what she thought God wanted her to do. As we talked more and more, we both came to the realization that a lot of what was going on she wasn’t aware of. During this time I just couldn’t understand why as my Mom, she didn’t protect me more. I am only sharing this, as I know that there are others who need to face this and deal with it. I was in denial that I was angry at her, because she was my protector and my safe place. And yet I wasn’t protected. I would ride my bike and wonder why I was wrestling with this and still feeling hurt, and unlovable. I thought maybe I was cute when I was small but then I got gawky and awkward and teenagery and maybe I became unlovable somehow. It’s stupid I know. But that’s the feelings and belief that rose up and I’m not wanting to gloss over them because I know some of you will relate. Some of you may not even realize you are believing the same thing.

During another prayer time God revealed to me that I had felt abandoned by both my step dad, and my Mom, and even God. And He showed me that I needed to forgive my Mom, and release her from my anger.  I had all this time, focused on my step dad and forgiving him, but was in a kind of denial that I needed to forgive my Mom anything. God reminded me He had forgiven her all her sins, and He has forgiven me all mine, and so I can forgive her because she is already forgiven by Him. There was a spirit of abandonment that He delivered me from, as it was unearthed and exposed to the light. As I forgave and realized that God had never abandoned me. And that my Mom had never intentionally abandoned me. It needed to come up so that I could recognize it and  so forgive.

This is when God talked to me about Him knowing me, and choosing me, even before I was born. You can read about that in my previous blog I wrote titled’ “It’s my birthday…maybe?”

I also realize that my Mom was an abused wife, maybe not physically, but emotionally and verbally. She was also living in a traumatic situation and also surviving, and how this affected her as well. We were both living in a negative, emotionally charged atmosphere. She did not have a job and she wanted to be home with me, so she also felt that she didn’t have a lot of choice. Possibly I minimized the things that happened . I was a quiet child and didn’t express myself very well and on some level the shame may have been instrumental in muting my voice.  And again that little voice in my head saying, “ Well, it’s not THAT bad…”.

My Mom meanwhile couldn’t understand why she couldn’t remember all the times I spoke to her about what was happening. She said that I meant the world to her and how much she loved me always, that I was never unlovable. And what was helpful for me was when we both realized she wasn’t aware as much as I thought she was. I know this whole process has been painful for her,  but it did help me to talk to her about it. I didn’t want to because I didn’t want to hurt her, but in the end even though it was rough for both of us, it was worth it. I could understand things from her perspective, and she could understand things from mine. It didn’t make it less hurtful, but there is no healing in burying things. I felt disloyal, ungrateful and conflicted with guilt. It is so much better to talk about it if you can and if you have that kind of relationship with your parent which can withstand this.  I realized I couldn’t protect my Mom from this, but I prayed that God would be in our conversations and in control over when issues should be brought up. You may not be able to talk about it with your parent depending on where they are at and how your relationship is with them, as every case is different. I am just sharing what happened with me. If you can’t get peace through talking to your parent, possibly they have already died, or you just can’t broach the subject, you may have to forgive daily. This is what a friend told me and it helped as I was processing it as it wasn’t overnight. As things come up, even if its everyday, you forgive again. Daily.

 

As far as feeling abandoned by God, He showed me that He was there and that He hated what was happening. God does hate sin. But He has given us free will as humans, and He cannot step in and force people not to do things. He can appeal to their conscience, and convict them. But He chooses not to intervene against someone’s will and what is man’s sinful choice.

He showed me that He was there with me when my step dad would creep into my room. He showed me that because of Him, there was blazing light all around and not darkness and shame. That whatever my step dad did to me was not hidden but exposed to God’s eyes. And His justice. God is a God of justice. He sees the misdeeds of men and in the end, unless Jesus is standing between you and Him, there will be justice. As He is also righteous. Jesus has taken all of our sins on Him at the cross. God’s justice and righteous wrath against these sins and sinners (us!) were poured out on Jesus. So that it wouldn’t have to be poured out on us. Jesus is our scape goat.

Anyway, to continue, He showed my bedroom in our old flat. Now I say “showed” me, and I mean that during a prayer time, I was remembering my bedroom. And I felt a reluctance about it and that God wanted to show me something.

I felt it was a dark place, for obvious reasons, and I didn’t want tot revisit it. But then He showed me that in the spiritual world, my room was blazing with light. There was nothing to be afraid of, that all was exposed to His light and His presence. And even in that place, I could turn to my step dad standing in the doorway in blazing light, and know that everything he had ever done has been and was exposed by the light of God and to the eyes of God.

I was always important to God, because I was His daughter.

Other people’s behavior does not dictate how important to God I am, or how loved or not loved I am. That is their free will and choice. But I can see where that root of rejection comes from. I had interpreted those experiences through my  12-15 year old brain and heart to mean that I was unworthy of love, rejected by my step dad, my mom and even God. Which of course led to self rejection. Over the years God had been working in many of these areas, and I even thought we were done. But there was more. At one point I was getting frustrated and wanted to get on and put these things behind me, but Gray said to me “you can’t expect your whole life to be sorted out in 2 months!” And that made a lot of sense! It’s a process of replacing lies with truth, and that takes time. Some days it would all be too much and I would zombie out on the couch and watch Netflix.

Having said that, in one way He did do some things quickly. It felt like it was a very intense time. What I had been feeling when Gray would inadvertently touch me, how talking about it, writing down that stuff about my step dad and releasing that, finding my voice (for another blog), and not hiding anything…..it did something for our marriage.

Something really gooooooooood.

Which I will  write about in my next blog, Part 5!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interlude: Pappa, a real father

Lawrence Umdoni Park Toti
Pappa

I feel like thinking on good things. Writing about a memorable good person who had a huge impact on me in a positive way.

And because I have been writing about my “father’ figure who had a negative impact on me, I want to write about someone who built into my life and showed me what a true father looked like.

This was my maternal Grandfather, Laurence Gordon Haylett.  Pappa to his grandkids.

I truly only got to know him better when we moved back down to Cape Town when I was 15. He was the one who came up to Durban and fetched us, drove us back to Cape Town. To me he was my rescuer. I was just so glad he was there. I remember sitting in the back seat and Mom and Pappa talking in the front, feeling safer and safer as the miles stretched on behind us.

For some reason even the burgers we stopped to eat at a Garage tasted amazing!  We stayed overnight in a motel, and Pappa and I decided we would go to the dining room for supper.  I remember sitting across the table from him and eating our soup. He was just so kind, in mannerisms and thoughtfulness and words.

Back in Cape Town, we lived with Granny and Pappa for a year and a half.  He would come home after work with sweets or chocolates he would hide behind his back and get us to choose which hand. Sometimes he would trick us and give us an empty hand but always with that twinkle in his eye and give us the treat anyway. Christmas morning he would march up and down the corridor with the Scottish bagpipes playing on the record player, Amazing grace.  He was always busy making things, pool pumps and filters etc. on the side. His inflatable windsurfer he designed and built and then would take us windsurfing on the weekend to Sandvlei. Granny would come along with a big flask of tea and picnic on the grass. He was always motivating us teenagers to come along, and when we didn’t feel like it he would manage to change our minds (most times), and we would have a lovely time. I wish I had gone more often.

Grass skiing down the slopes at Rhodes Memorial! Pappa was always so active and full of life. The joy of living and doing and being. He was a skinny tall man with a beak of a nose,  twinkling amused brown eyes, and always told these corny jokes. Which he would laugh at himself and find so funny while we kinda smirked and rolled our eyes. Flip I miss him.

He would take us down to Sea Point promenade at night, when the colourful lights were still strung along the beachfront. So many people would be out strolling on warm summer nights. Donna and I would rollerskate while Mom and Pappa would walk and talk, and eventually at the end where the Hard Rock Café used to be, he would buy us hot mielies from the stand.  At other times it would be ice cream. We always hoped he would treat us but we never expected it all the time.

When I was going to ballet classes at UCT school of dance, he would fetch me after work ( as he worked in Rondebosch) and drive us home. Often he would get us to sing his favourite hymn, “How great thou art.”

At this stage I was a very quiet teenager. Not very confident and very much in the shadows. Which is where I wanted to be.

One day as he was working on his pool pumps at the kitchen table, he called me in to sit down. He used to keep a big aviary outside with doves and pigeons and birds he would rescue. I remember these words so clearly…

“  Belinda, you are not like a loud or colourful parrot, you are like one of those gentle doves,” He said and indicated with a nod of his head towards the aviary outside the kitchen.

He saw me. And knew that I was feeling inadequate and comparing myself to others who were more confident, and he was showing me who I was. Those words have stuck with me my whole life, and not merely the words, but that Pappa saw a shy, awkward child, and decided to build into her life. To encourage her with words of life. That’s what good fathers do. They see and they notice and they speak the words that build us up.

He has been the father image I look up to, and a healthy picture of my Heavenly Father . I thank God for Pappa, for having someone in my life who was father, provider, protector and encourager, who loved me, and who could show me what a good father looks like. So that when I turn to God as my Father, I know what that love looks like. I see now how blessed I was to have those years with him, what God was doing, restoring what was lost. He died when I was 18 so I only had about 2 and half years with him. But for those years, I am so grateful.

Humorous, kind, full of life, responsible, funny, engaging, interested, helpful, enthusiastic Pappa! There are so many more memories, but its not the events that are important, but the person who defined the events.

Father, send a message to Pappa for me won’t You? Thank you Pappa for showing me a father’s love, for being the father I never had and for your kindness. I always said I wanted a husband who was kind, and a gentleman, because of what I saw in you Pappa. And thats just the kind of husband I got. Thank You Father, for giving me someone on earth that I could relate to in this way, in Pappa, and so see You.

Hayletts_001
Myself, Granny and Pappa

 

 

Part 3: Some really persnal stuff about sex and surviving abuse….

 

My Mom and I

I don’t feel like writing and I don’t feel like examining everything. I need to write so that I can remember the process, remember what You’ve said to me, remember I have forgiven, remember how you have redeemed me. Once it is out on paper, I don’t need to think about it.

I can move forward.

I know I need to go back to the next part of this story, but in light of recent events, I need to deal with what has happened in the interim. I really want to get on to the good stuff! But this first.

A few years ago, after our lead elder had shared some of his life and childhood with regards to his own father and the forgiveness and mercy that he was able to extend to him through God, I felt compelled to look into my own feelings and past. Again.

Again I was like, flip haven’t I dealt with this enough? Is there more? Haven’t I already forgiven over and over? But I did feel strongly that God wanted to talk to me. So off to Blouberg beach I went, with coffee, snacks and notebook and no rush to get back home. There I sat on the sand and wrote how I felt as a daughter, I wrote to my step dad, some of the hurts, but also forgiveness. This was maybe 4 years ago? And I felt to send it to him then.

As I watched a little girl playing in the surf, God showed me that He was that Father to me, who loved and protected and doted on me. Just like this little girl’s father. That I was His little girl and always would be. In the end, after reading the letter to both my mom and my husband, and holding on to it for a while, I thought it better to just throw it away. I felt it was enough to just get it down on paper, that even though my intention was to offer forgiveness, I did not know what I would be opening the door to. Would I then open up communication with him? I was leery of his response. I knew he was not a believer anymore and I did not know what to expect. Also my Mom and hubby seemed to be reluctant for me to send it as they did not want me to get hurt or open myself up to more abuse.

Now fast forward a few years and two weeks ago, as reading about forgiveness again and how it is always the responsibility of the believer to extend forgiveness and mercy, I really felt God wanting me to write again, and send it this time.

I knew that it didn’t matter if he asked for forgiveness or not, I needed to send it. Reading about the servant that owed the Master so much, and was forgiven of his debt, then going to someone else who owed him a smaller debt and not forgiving him, it was also highlighted that the second servant did not even ask for forgiveness, just more time to pay the debt. By the way, this was in John Wimber’s book titled “Power healing” and it’s a good, balanced thorough book.  I knew that I had forgiven him myself, but I thought he doesn’t know that. If I send this letter, then he will read it and know that I have forgiven him. I even thought that maybe it would help him in turning back to God. At least then I felt that I have done everything God wants me to do on my side. Before I sent it I went for a walk and a talk with God. I felt that the letter did not sound very loving. I had prayed before and during writing it, and felt to just offer the forgiveness matter of fact, simple and without any details. Just that it is over and the slate is clean, in case he ever wondered. God reminded me again of that parable, in which the Master, who forgave the servant his debt, forgave him as an act of love. As love is an action. He was not mushy or sentimental or syrupy, he just forgave him and that was an act of love. And that was all that was required from the servant himself towards his fellow servant. I thanked the Holy Spirit for that clarification.

Before I sent it I let Graham read it. We decided that that would be that and to not enter into any further communication with him or to open the door to dialogue as we were not expecting a good reaction. We were not sure of what that reaction would be or if he would just ignore it, but I had to do it. I sent a copy to my Mom as well, and BCC d Graham in. I didn’t realise until a friend told me that BCC is hidden, and CC is when you want someone to know that the other person can see your emails and replies etc. I wanted him to know that whatever communication followed Graham would know about it.

I emailed him and sent the letter as an attachment so that it wouldn’t be open to anyone.

A couple days later I received a one word response- “Why?” Which I did not respond to, and then a further couple days later a letter full of lies. I woke Graham up to read it. He accuses me of initiating things (at 15), when he started when I was 12. He has made up a story, which I think he must either be delusional and actually believes, or is trying to be vindictive. As others who have survived abuse know, it’s a classic abuser move, to say “she” initiated it or “she” came on to me. If anything his letter confirms his guilt. The story he relates did not happen at all. For one thing I was desperately afraid of him and tried to avoid him at all costs. For another we were not in that house he claims we were in but had moved to our flat already two years. I was this nerdy little girl who couldn’t even talk to boys and only had my first boyfriend back in Cape Town when I was 17 and in Matric. In photographs taken at the time you can clearly see my body language which is to pull away and separate. He also accuses me of initiating something with his best friend Jon. When I was 7. My Mom and step dad had gone to bed, in our flat in Sea Point, and I was watching TV with Jon. I remember sitting on his lap (somehow) and he started to probe with his fingers. It was a bit painful and rough and I jumped up and made an excuse to go. I can’t remember if I went to bed or told them straight away, but my Mom remembers me telling them in the morning. When Jon was promptly kicked out. In what state of mind do you need to be in to think a little girl would initiate something like that or make up something like that? I do think that maybe he must believe his own story and possibly has a personality disorder. This makes it easier actually, to think that there is something wrong with him rather than he is being vindictive. Though he probably is trying to find a way to protect and defend himself as well.

He had also found my blog, which was unexpected, and came face to face with what he did. I had never had any intention of him reading my blog, but sometimes God works things in mysterious ways and maybe he was meant to. Maybe he can one day admit his guilt, be forgiven by God and his life redeemed. But I know that I have done all I can on my part.

No further dialogue or response is needed as God, myself, my Mom, my husband,  my step dad, and the devils himself, knows the truth. God has reminded me that He is a God of justice, and that He is my defender. It would have been great if life is like a Christian movie or novel, and everything works out well, but it sometimes doesn’t. In the ultimate end we know that God does work everything out for the good of those who love Him. I love God with all my heart and I’m glad I was obedient even though the response was what it was. Or maybe I didn’t hear God and shouldn’t have sent the letter at all? I don’t know. I really do think that it was God giving him another chance though.

Actually, before I even wrote the letter, God asked me, “What am I afraid of?” And I realised I was only afraid of the words that would come out of my step dad’s mouth, which are just lies. Lies are from the devil, so why would I fear the enemy’s words?  I know God’s words and His truth. That is what set me free to write the letter, and to not be afraid of what would follow. God’s truth has set me free; He is my rock and my fortress, my defender. He will vindicate and justice is His because He is the only one Holy enough to judge. I can’t judge him.

I had to forgive him again for the letter. To be honest I had a moment where I thought I should just stop writing the blog as this process is so messy and emotional and at times painful. This is for all those girls and boys out there. For your healing as well as mine. God wants us healed and free and whole again. God has done so much and I’m not going to keep quiet about that.

Once you have forgiven and done all you can on your side to show that forgiveness and extend mercy, there is no need to have further communication with that person or to have them in your life. Especially if there is denial. Or even if that person is not good for you to be around. You are not a helpless child anymore, but a grown adult who can choose who to spend his\her time with. It does not mean you haven’t forgiven them. There are certainly other people you don’t spend time with because they’re not healthy individuals…it does not mean you have unforgiveness towards them. Forgive, extend mercy in your heart towards them if you ever think of them, and move forward. You are not held captive by being a Christian and having a “Christian attitude” as those who like to accuse you tend to say. You are not held captive by the love of Jesus, rather you are set free. What I mean to say is, sometimes as believers we feel that we are “stuck” in that we have to show love to our abusers. But the definition of love is not what people like to think at times. Love is kind, gentle, keeps no record or wrongs, humble and all of those things. But it does not mean that you are keeping a record of wrongs if you choose not to spend time with that person. If you forgive in your heart and hold no malice towards them, but to be around them is unhealthy for you, then don’t feel that you need to be around them to show the “love of Christ.” God is not going to surround himself with those in heaven who have not admitted their sin and received His forgiveness through Jesus either.

In the words of popular 80s Christian musician Don Fransisco:

“Love is not a feeling it’s an act of your will!”

 

 

Part 2: On some really personal stuff about sex and surviving abuse…

Part 2: On some really personal stuff about sex and surviving abuse…

I ended off my last blog explaining that God had brought me back to my experiences as a child and the emotions I felt at the time. I felt that He wanted me to write it down, with Him. There is nothing hidden anyway, before God, and He knows what is inside of us, lurking beneath the surface and hidden in dark crevices. The places that we think we are “over”, the places where we don’t want to go digging around in.

I then allowed my husband, Gray, to read it. I couldn’t be with him while he read it, and went to wash the dishes. My intention was to delete it after, but he came back to me in the kitchen, and said, other girls, other women, needed to read this. Don’t get rid of it. We hugged and I felt his heart thudding in his chest. I asked him, ‘why is YOUR heart thudding so fast?” and he said, “because he can’t believe I had to live through that.” Which made me love him even more (if that’s possible)!

This is what I wrote. As I said, it is the emotions I experienced at that age. Somehow, expressing it, voicing it, allowed the child I was at that age to be heard. And to become whole with the woman I am at this age. Instead of minimizing what happened and how it affected me, I faced up to it- looked it square in the eyes and said….

I will not be mute

I will not stay silent

I have a voice

And I will raise it!

 

Get away! You pervert you sicko

That’s not any way for a father to look at his daughter

To speak about my breasts

To leer at me in my bikini

 

Get away! What’s wrong with you?

I’m only quiet because I’m scared

Not because I’m coming on to you!

Why must I go anywhere alone with you?

I’m just outside the flat door

Mom on the other side

And you’ve already started with you crude

observations

 

I hate riding on the back of the bike with you

My legs open and having to lean against you

My breasts pushing against you

I hate this!

Mom why don’t you stop this?

 

I have no voice

It’s been silenced by fear

A wrong look a wrong word

And I’ll get the wrath of the

King of the castle

I am deaf and dumb

I’m the dirty rascal

 

You creep in at night

When mom is asleep

You tickle my tummy

I don’t make a peep

How long before I can push you away?

Have a legitimate excuse when your hand wanders

that way?

Just go on get out!

Don’t touch me at all!

I’ll lock the door

Just you try coming in

I’ll kick you in the balls!

 

I can’t escape

I’m trapped and helpless

Every second of every day I can never rest

Be peaceful or secure or know joy

The shadow of your presence hangs over every

moment

I wait in trepidation

I wait in silent anger

 

I punch the wall

My cupboard door

But I’m a Christian after all

I’m supposed to be a good little girl

I’m supposed to forgive this Sunday school teacher

This “Christian” man whom I know better.

 

Any way, it’s not so bad

He hasn’t raped me

So many have said.

 

You sit on the couch

Your legs open wide

No undies under your short shorts

Your tackle hanging out.

I can’t help but see

I look quickly away

But not before I’ve caught

That gleam in your eye.

 

I want to tell you that I find it disgusting

That there’s no attraction or fascination

I don’t like it no,

Not at all

 

I wish you’d never come home

I wish we could leave

I wish I never knew you

That you’d leave me alone!

 

We go to church

You scream all the way

We come back from church

More of the same

 

I sit quietly in the back seat

Look out the window and try to disappear

I try not to catch your eye in the rearview mirror

See the grim line of your mouth

Your eyes full of determination

 

I’m constantly watching

Gaging and seeing

What will set you off next?

Maybe my breathing?

 

I know you don’t love me

Care or even like me

But you do climb on the speaker

To spy through the air vent

While I’m having my bath

I see your eye shining

In the bathroom mirror.

 

I’m mortified, embarrassed

Jumping quickly out

I wrap my towel round me and storm on out

To find you sitting on the speaker

You’ve moved from the lounge to the passage to get

nearer

Head down

You apologize and beat yourself up

Good! Now get lost!

Of course I don’t say it

My lips are zipped

I had my period too

You would have seen all my private bits

 

I wish I could scream!

Throw things about

But all I can be

Is a little brown mouse.

 

You keep us hidden away

You don’t like friends or people

You isolate us but we have found our way round this

We enjoy ourselves when you’re not around

 

I see a middle aged man

In the downstairs flat

He has his shirt off and quite

A large gut

You catch my eye in the review mirror

Think I’m looking at this guy

You reverse angrily so I don’t see him

Jealousy!

Seriously?

You must be mad! I think you are.

I want to laugh but I’d rather kick you in the back!

 

We don’t have a TV for a while

Probably cos it’s “ evil”

TV has nothing on you

Oh hypocrite that you are

 

When I’m 15 we somehow do have TV

I’m watching AHA and Morten Harkett

You look at me and say

” does that turn you on?”

I say nothing as usual and go to my room.

I think I hate you.

 

You take me for “driving” lessons

Oh what a laugh

It’s just an excuse to get me alone

We drive through the sugar cane fields

I’m wearing shorts (stupid me)

So now your fingers trail up my thigh

I don’t know what to say because it’s not really bad is

it?

He’s just stroking my thigh

Not touching anywhere else

But of course it’s a lie!

It’s all inappropriate

It’s all wrong!

But still I feel I can’t speak

He’s my father after all

The authority in the house.

 

How I hate Sunday’s

The afternoon naps

The quietness the loneliness

A dark abyss.

I want noise

I want people

Help me forget

Drown out the silence

That would be bliss!

 

We go to a river

Just you and I again

You sit behind me

Wrap your arms round me

Hold onto my breasts

I just have to take it

Why don’t I freak?

How could you possibly think I could enjoy this?

I’m 13 or 14

I never feel safe

 

You criticize the way I look

You tell me I’m drab and dreary

Why do I always wear grey?

Gee whizz I wonder hey?

Maybe because you make me f****** depressed!

Yes I swear alot

In my head

I grow up hearing it from you

But I supress supress supress.

 

There is no colour in my life

We are beaten down

No affirmation

NO kind or gentle word.

 

When I’m 9 I won’t eat my maltabella

You stand in a rage and tell me you’ll whip me

I still don’t eat it and I’m late for school

 

The cat eats the mince you left on the table

You hold him by it’s neck

And bash his head over and over on the edge of the

table

You throw it out the kitchen door

I walk to mom in the bedroom and tell her

Mom I wish you would jump up and do something!

Shout!

But you don’t and I’m left feeling scared and hollowed

out.

 

You’re so mean!

And cruel!

You beat up our dog!

You’re a freaking bully

Our cat Prouw came back when we moved again

Like the 5th time

He escaped from the flat and up the stairs

The last thing I saw was you chasing him in a temper

I never saw him again

What did you do?

I can never trust you

 

You said you couldn’t find him

I don’t believe you

For weeks after I look for him

On the way back from school

 

What about Mandy?

Our lovely big dog

You were so jealous of affection

We came home from holiday

To find she was gone.

Are you really so insecure?

Do you not love anything?

 

You’re always so tightly coiled

Just waiting to spring

I wish I could run away

More than anything

 

If I could find my voice back then

What would I say?

NO NO NO!

THIS IS NOT OKAY!

IF YOU EVER TOUCH ME I’LL SCREAM AND SHOUT

AND BEAT YOU AWAY!

IF YOU SAY YOUR RUDE THINGS ILL TELL YOU YOU’RE

GROSS AND TO SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!

YOU’RE A CREEP AND A PERV SO STAY FAR AWAY.

But how do you say that to someone who is supposed

to be your father?

 

I’ve been angry at you

At mom

Even God

But I think I’m actually

Angry at myself

 

Why was I so dumb and quiet?

Was I a coward?

Why didn’t I put up a fuss?

Why did I take it and live in this sludge?

I should have done better!

I wish I had!

I wish I had been stronger

And fierce!

I felt like a wimpy dreary nothing

Though inside I was raging!

 

You know what I’d say?

You suck! Big time.

You were a terrible father figure and a terrible husband.

I hate living with you because you are mean and cruel

and unkind.

You have a horrible temper. You should have been the

one to leave. Right at the beginning when you started

having thoughts about me.

You aren’t just a jerk. You’re sick.

Depraved. A paedophile. You’re wrong.

And I did nothing wrong. I was a good quiet

conscientious kid.

I didn’t deserve you. I don’t deserve you. You’re sick

and disgusting and leave me the hell alone.

 

NO I will not keep quiet

I will not zip my lips

I have things to say

I will finally be heard

 

Even if it’s only God who hears me

The whole ugly truth

The feelings inside

I could never hide though I tried

I need to say, to speak, to cry out

Injustice was done

And I was hurt

 

To vent, to purge

The hidden cyst

The words must form

And leave my lips

 

That was cathartic and healing and scary to write. I felt guilty for feeling this and getting it out, but realised that it NEEDED to come out, as it was there anyway. Keeping me trapped and stifled. I can read this now a month or two later, and it does not hurt. The sting is taken out. In my next blog I will explain more of the process and healing that God is taking me through.

If you are a fellow survivor of abuse, my hope is that reading my story will serve as a catalyst for your healing. It may at first be a catalyst for some painful ugly stuff, but ultimately will lead you on to more wholeness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some really personal stuff about sex and surviving abuse

For those who have survived abuse, this is my story.Belinda_Little Toti River_002

Maybe you’re shocked to see that I am putting it out there for all the world to see.
But something God has been showing me is that I, we, have nothing to be ashamed of.

 

It’s not some deep dark dirty secret, ours to own. It was injustice done to us, and it deserves to be exposed. One of the biggest lies is that somehow, we are shamed into silence, of not having a voice. Being mute, we were made to believe, kept us safe. Instead it fed the lie that we have something to hide or be ashamed of.
Therefore, I have felt God leading me to share, no, shout it from the rooftops!
This year has been both agonizing and freeing, as He has taken me through some very emotional memories, healing me of belief systems built on a lie. Breaking my old foundations and building new ones in truth.
It started for me, with a friend sending me something she had written about her own history of abuse. I felt God putting His finger on some things I had been unaware of, though subconsciously aware. Bringing me face to face with it, making my heart beat faster and my mind freeze.
I wonder if any of you can relate to this, but one of those things was- I would be sitting in bed reading, and my husband would touch my upper thigh or stomach unexpectedly, and my body would respond in fear and adrenaline. I would want to push him away, feel angry and invaded. I would tell myself, all the while looking at my book as if I’m still reading, that this is my husband, who loves me. This is normal. Except I wouldn’t feel normal. I would sit and pretend like nothing was wrong, and accept that this is the way things are always going to be. I was always going to be broken, even though I had had healing over the years. That there was some part of me that would just be weird, stupid, sick.
My husband, flipping amazing husband, knows all about my history and we have worked through some of it in the past. But, we were married young and trying to deal with this at ages 23 and 25, you don’t really have the tools or emotional maturity to deal with it properly. So sex, which was the issue for me, became something huge in my life, but in a struggling negative way. We couldn’t understand why rationally I could know that Gray was not my abuser, but physically and emotionally I couldn’t seem to get it. We managed, I think, and all was good considering. But I always felt that something was missing, and only recently found out that he always felt that too. The thing was, I could give myself physically to him, but emotionally I didn’t. I managed to disassociate myself with what was happening, disengage and be somewhere else. Even sick, weird fantasies of being hurt during sex. Somehow that seemed to work for me physically, which I think has to do with control. Because if someone is controlling me, and I feel pleasure, then its not my fault. Again, abuse plays weird tricks on your psyche. Obviously guilt somehow, even though I knew rationally, it was never my fault.
Maybe I should give some history first.


My Mom’s third husband, (my real Dad died when I was a baby), was my abuser. Even now a little voice in my head says “it’s not such a big deal”, but actually it is.
They got married in Sea Point which had been my home my entire short life, when I was 8. Soon after we moved to Grabouw, for one term. Then Pietermaritzburg , for one term. Then to Natal South Coast, Warner Beach. My step dad kept losing his job due to his temper. We lived in Warner Beach, Illovo Beach and Amanzimtoti until I was 15. At the end of Grade 10, my Mom divorced him and we moved back to Cape Town, Sea Point.
He molested me from the age of 12 to 15, just when I was emerging sexually. So I understand why I’m messed up. But, we left, we fled, back to Cape town and I minimised all that happened as I wanted to forget. And he had never raped me so was it so bad?
Well yes.
So back to sex. Over the years I had forgiven Neil time and time again when God would reveal things to me and bring healing. Layers and layers through the years. One way I had to control the “sex” situation, was to make “sex” nights. That way I knew when it was going to happen and I could prepare myself emotionally and mentally. That lasted for a good few years but things did start to become more spontaneous. Even so, afterwards, I would never want to cuddle or be kissed or touched. I cringed inwardly. Immediately I would want to get up and carry on with life. That was the emotional disconnect.
Of course we are creatures of habit, and as long as something is working reasonably well you just carry on and let things be. But for the longest time, for the last year or more, I have been praying and crying for God to fix me. I prayed that I would know what good, healthy sex felt like, between a man and woman who love each other. Who are married. To feel one, as God intended with Adam and Eve before sin messed everything up.
Anyway, back to more recent events, I sat with this knowledge that I needed to go back and revisit some painful places. God kept pressing me, but gently. I was afraid to speak to Gray about it, in case he thought I was sick and broken and would look at me differently. In case he thought I wasn’t the person he thought he was marrying, but actually a mess and dark and sick. My friend however convinced me that he would listen and love me and that he knows me and has known me for nearly 30 years. To take my time and talk to him when I was ready as at that time I was feeling too fragile. My other friend who has her own abuse history encouraged me that things could be better in my marriage and my sex life. It could, really.
I had come to the point where I knew I could either pretend and carry on as we had been, or I could trust God, and Gray, and turn the corner and expect something better.
It all came out inadvertently and unexpectedly a few days later after attending a psychological workshop where I wasn’t even the client. There were two parts to that, but I am just going to focus on this part. I sat on the bed next to Gray and with tears I told him about how I feel when he inadvertently touches me. Like my body has a memory its holding even though my mind knows its irrational to respond the way I do. Gray, because he is trustworthy and does love me, the real me, was understanding and kind and gentle. This is when he admitted that he had felt something missing emotionally as well.
This was the start of something really, real, with us. Something new and something better, the start of a process that God took me through over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime I asked that he would let me know when he is going to touch my leg or stomach, just so it wasn’t out the blue and just while we worked through this. But there is so much more to tell.
I will start off part two in my next blog with something I had written. I felt God leading me back to some experiences and memories with my step dad, and to feel those emotions and voice the anger I felt as a 12, 13, 14, 15 year old. The anger I had never voiced but had stifled and supressed. It is unsanctified and raw, and know that I have forgiven him, my Mom, God and myself. But this was part of the process. And it may bring something up in you when you read it. Perhaps, like me, reading someone else’s story will provoke a response in you that is necessary for you on your road to healing too. And you won’t feel alone.