Thursday, September 25, 2008

the picture of my most life-changing experience

i don't know if anyone will really read this. i'm not sure if anyone is actually reading this blog--it is pretty new. but for the last week or so i haven't been able to get this out of my head.

i believe 100% that i am being prompted to write this. i don't know why. i don't know for who. maybe it's just for me. but i decided a very long time ago that if at all possible, i would use this experience to help other people. so, if this helps, then that's wonderful.

as a child (approximately from the age of 6 to the age of 8) i was sexually molested by a close family member. i will not go into detail as that is not my purpose in writing about this. all you need is the background, really: my parents did not become aware of the abuse until i was 13, after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. it was battled in court for almost 6 years, due to a loophole in state law.

i spent my teen years (and even into college) in and out of therapy,battling major issues with depression, my self-esteem, guilt and flashbacks from the abuse. i became aware that my experiences are not uncommon. i was extremely upset by this. i had been through hell, i could not stand to think that so many others would experience what i have. as i went through counseling and saw the HUGE difference it made in every aspect of my life, i decided that i would do everything i could to help others with my experiences. this is not something i talk about a lot. this is not something i will discuss with just anyone. i have found that i have been prompted to share my experiences with some very different people, some i know well and some i do not.

at 18, my senior year of high school, i began seeing a new counselor.she was with lds social services. i had never seen a counselor from ldsss before. my counselor told me of this new program, a class specifically for women who had been through some form of abuse. the class did not concentrate on the abuse itself, but on learning to heal through Christ. so that is how i found myself attending an eight week class with 9 other women. the name of the class is called SOLE:Survivors of Life Experiences.

walking into class the first week, i was extremely apprehensive. i was by far the youngest woman in the class. i have no idea what type of abuse those amazing women had been through--i believe some had dealt with spousal abuse, some parental neglect, others physical, emotional,and sexual abuse. but really, it didn't matter. we were there to support and love each other, to pray for each other, to help each other overcome the struggles we dealt with daily as a direct result of the horror we had each been through.

in the front page of the manual we received was this quote:

"The gospel of Jesus Christ is not insurance against pain. It is a source in the event of pain, and when that pain comes (and it will come, because we came here to earth to have pain among other things),when it comes, rejoice that you have the resource to deal with your pain."
-Carl Broderick

how true this is! life happens. terrible, horrible, unspeakable things happen as a result of the choices of others, and even as a result of living here on earth. but i know that Christ is there to help me heal from my pain, the same as he is for every other person.

over the next few weeks we discussed who we were as children of God.we talked about who He is, how we can find peace in faith and obedience to Him. we discussed forgiveness, repentance, humility, and the application of the atonement in our lives. through the scriptures,talks and stories from apostles and prophets, and each other, we learned how we can endure to the end--with the help of our Savior.

one night stood out to me the very most. each lesson was accompanied by some sort of interactive object lesson. this particular night our counselors set up an obstacle course. they blindfolded us, put us in a dark room, and one by one handed us the end of a rope. this rope was tied to desks, chairs, wound around stacks of books, portable blackboards. the rope went under desks, led us in circles, and at times was tied in so many knots it was difficult to tell where it counselor gave me a little push and i was on my own. completely.slowly and methodically i felt my way forward with my feet. at first i tried using one hand on the rope. this did not work well at all! after a few steps i ended up using both hands. one inch at a time i scooted forward, feeling my way in the darkness. i crawled under desks. i stepped over chairs. once i even had to get on my tummy and scoot under a row of desks--all to keep from losing grip on the rope. after what seemed like forever in darkness, i felt a hand on my shoulder. i was pulled into a tight embrace. my counselor held me for a moment,and in my ear she whispered: "well done, thou good and faithful servant. welcome home." (see Matthew 25:21)

i felt the tears roll down my face. this was it. i knew, the entire time, she was there, watching me. she was helping me and i didn't even know it. the whole time i was wandering in the dark, she had been right by my side, just waiting for me to get to the end, to welcome me home.

and so it is with my Savior. i cannot see him. sometimes i don't even know he is there. and yet, he is right by my side, helping me, cheering for me, crying with me. he loves me. he knows the pain i have gone through, the pain i continue to go through. the nightmares. the flashbacks. the neuroses, the struggles, the temptations, the hurt and anger i have been through. he knows that i still struggle, on an almost daily basis. and he is there weeping for me, and bolstering me up. he believes in me.

"Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days" (D&C 24:8). i hope this has helped whomever it is meant for. i am more than willing to talk to anyone who needs someone to listen. someone who has been through something similar--or even not. i will be more than happy to give suggestions of scriptures, talks, quotes, and poems that have helped me get through the worst.

but most importantly: do not forget that you are loved. you are not alone. you can get through this, whatever it may be. be strong. rely on the Lord, he is there for you.

i look forward to the day that i will hear in my ear,
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."


onelowerlight said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing that experience! It was very moving, and a tremendous reminder that Jesus Christ is the Savior.

I'm really impressed with the honesty and openness that you share in your blog. I'm LDS, and I've seen a few Mormon blogs that put me off because they seem to be merely repeating what other people say or have said about spiritual things. It's really refreshing, though, to hear someone speak sincerely and genuinely from their own personal experiences, and I really appreciate that.

I look forward to reading more from your blog in the future!

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

I stumbled upon your blog today, and I just have to thank you for this amazing post. Your ability to have faith and hope in the face of darkness is inspiring. Thanks for the reminder that my Savior is there for me always.
Looking forward to reading the rest of your archives. :)

Cheryl said...

Oh, wow. Wow, wow, wow.

I've been meaning to come over here for a while; obviously, I'm reading some of your archives (I know there aren't very many) and this one just touched me so deeply. I am not a survivor of abuse and my depression (that you already know about) is not nearly as bad as it could be. I can't even begin to imagine the pain you have experienced, but at the same time, I'm sure I can't imagine the joy, either.

What a beautiful blog. Thank you for giving me so much to think about today. Thank you!

Mother Goose said...

a very moving and very hard post to blog about. Good job!

Enola said...

I stumbled across your blog from the Blog Carnival. I'll definitely be back. Thank you for the wonderful post.

I've struggled with my God relationship as I've worked through the abuse. It's tough - but it's worth it.

Marj aka Thriver said...

Thank you for your courage and hope in sharing with us. I'm glad this post is part of our holiday edition of THE BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE. Thanks so much for joining us and I hope you will take part in another edition soon!

The Rambler said...

Wow, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I'm really humbled by it.

Dawn-Marie said...

I just came across your blog while look for into on SOLE. I too have been to SOLE, it has been almost 5 years since I have gone. It completely changed my life. I am now hoping to write a book and include the things I learned through SOLE. Thanks for sharing your experience. Dawn-Marie Nebeker

Dawn-Marie said...

I have created a whole SOLE group blog! It is private but I can invite anyone who has been in SOLE or anything like that to share stories.

Katie Fritzsche said...

a DEAR friend has turned me onto your blog and so far... well it will probably be (aside from my facebook addiction) the place I go to find places of comfort. Thank you so very much for your words and your "time wasting" as you put it... it certainly is not... more people need to be so free with their words to release what they have been thru. thank you.

Patricia Singleton said...

I write about incest on my blog for the same reason that you write about abuse on your blog. I know that out of the abuse comes the triump of recovery and sharing with others is part of that recovery. I look forward to reading more. If I help just one person, then I have fulfilled the purpose of surviving my childhood.

LaurieS said...

I am new to your blog and I must say by reading just the first few posts and looking around, I first of all commend you for your strength to write about your experiences as we survivors know how hard this is..and I just want to encourage you to keep writing. I plan on being a regular on this blog, popping in to see what new and very important and meaningful, or just interesting posts you will be posting. I really want you to know that I am with you, I commend you, I support you, and if I can ever do anything possibly human for you, please let me know. From one survivor to another. You are in my prayers and in my heart!