No, the guilt I have been consumed with comes from feeling that I should have done something to stop the sexual abuse I have experienced. Many doctors, therapists, clergy and friends have told me that there is no need for the guilt I feel--that I MUST stop blaming myself. But I still can't seem to get past that. And each time I feel undue stress in my life, that guilt and blaming thing kicks into high gear, my self-worth drops out from under me, and life and living lose their appeal. I know my family needs me--but how can one such as I be of help to them? I know there are others who depend on me for various things--but if they knew the TRUTH about me--that I'm dirty, used, broken--they would leave me behind and find someone else. All these thoughts flood my head. It's difficult to see reason, to logic through them, to find peace.
Every once in awhile someone says something that cuts through the misery and gives me hope. A friend once saw me when I was REALLY having a hard time. I must have looked incredibly bad. He approached me to talk to me, and I let him know I really didn't want to be around him--I know, rude. However, this person has been blessed with a forgiving heart. I went home and found this message from him in my e-mail: "I am worried about you, but who ever wants to hear that? I love you, and I want to help you... I believe God can inspire the optimist in you. He can restore the peace that you have worked so hard to gain. He can fill your soul with strength to replace the exhaustion that cripples you... I know He can do these things because He's done them for me. I believe in a God who loves and is so grateful for children who fight against the most (seemingly) natural feelings within them because they believe in something better. I believe in a God who is ready to bless those that fight against popular opinions, or against deep feelings, or against any of the demons that we face. I believe in a God who loves me and who loves you, Sam." That was helpful. It lifted my spririts for a time--but it didn't solve the problem.
Support and love are wonderful things. Many, many times I have depended on those things to get me through darkness. I have felt love and support from friends and family both in person and in cyberspace--which is a pretty strange but very amazing phenomenon. But last week Ward told me something which finally made it through all the STUFF I've been holding onto for years. It's something I should have known, and maybe I did, but just couldn't accept it. Regardless, I was finally in a place where I could both hear and accept it, and I'm truly grateful. He said, in reference to the abuse, "It's not your fault." He said it three times. Let's see, I was about twelve when the abuse happened. My daughter is close to that age. Would I blame her if one of her older cousins abused her? Of course not!! It wouldn't be her fault. So I thought about those words. Is it possible that it's true? I kept going back and reading..."It's not your fault."
Then he added, "You didn't "let" it happen....you didn't know how to make it stop. There's a difference." What's the difference??? Because I didn't know how to make it stop, I let it happen...wait...I think I understand. I truly did NOT know how to make it stop. I remember thinking through my options at that time:
1. Tell my parents. But when I had done so in the past, nothing had happened. Simply the fact that my cousin was back abusing me, after I had spoken to my parents about him, proved that. No this was not an option.
2. Tell my cousin to stop. But what if he didn't? And I had already spoken to him about the past incidents, so he was aware that I didn't want him to hurt me or touch me anymore. And he was so much bigger than I was. And I was afraid...
3. Tell one of my sisters. But what if they didn't believe me. How could I prove what was happening? And what if he denied everything...it would be my word against his. Also, I really didn't have the words to describe what was going on. I didn't understand, myself, so how could I tell anyone else?
4. Wait. My cousin would leave when the summer was over. He was going far away. He couldn't hurt me anymore. This seemed the most logical course of action. This is what I chose.
"You didn't "let" it happen....you didn't know how to make it stop. There's a difference." There IS a difference. It's subtle, yet HUGE at the same time. I didn't know how to make it stop--I really didn't! I was innocent--is that a possibility? Is it possible for me to let the guilt go? to stop taking the blame for something over which I really had no control? Can I do this?? I want to do this...but...I DON'T KNOW HOW!!!!!!
I think, someday soon, I have to stop punishing myself for acts beyond my control. At some point I have to stop punishing myself for having a body that could be abused. I have to stop punishing my body.
"You didn't "let" it happen....you didn't know how to make it stop. There's a difference."
"It's not your fault."
"I believe in a God who is ready to bless those that fight against...any of the demons that we face. I believe in a God who loves me and who loves you, Sam."
"sam i love you *hug* "
"You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God..."
"To me alone there came a thought of grief: A timely utterance gave that thought relief, And I again am strong..."
"It's not your fault..."
"It's not your fault..."
"...There's a difference..."