I had an interesting childhood. I have a sister two years older and a brother a year younger than me. My parents never got along well, if at all. There was always yelling and tension in my household. So we weren’t to surprised when my dad began cheating on my mom. After this point we grew up with deception being part of the norm. That continued for about seven years until my dad moved out my sophomore year of high school.
Less than a month after he moved out I started dating a boy at my school. He was two years older than me and not from my town. In hindsight, I didn’t know him very well enough to date him, but at the time I needed some outside support. A few weeks after we began dating I turned 16. Around that time he began pressuring me for sex and was extremely controlling. For the entirety of our relationship this continued. But I stayed. I stayed because I needed that outside support and I convinced myself that the relationship wasn’t that bad. It was my sisters first year of college, my mother was severely depressed, my dad was practically nonexistent, and I needed more support than what I would get from my younger brother. He was just as in need of support as I was.
Before dating him I had only been in one previous relationship, had only ever kissed someone, and wanted to wait until marriage or at least until I was 18 to have sex. Due to my familial environment and experiences I didn’t know how I should be treated in a relationship. Naively, I thought that most relationships were like my parents or like the one I was in. If your wearing rose colored glasses, red flags look like regular flags. We dated for about four months. It ended with him taking what he wanted, I was sexually assaulted. I remember going home after and not knowing how to act, what to say, and not being able to feel clean no matter how long or how hot the shower was.
That day I lost part of my identity. I grew up in a house where you didn’t talk about sex, where we weren’t supposed to have sex before marriage, and to do that was seen as failure. Even though it wasn’t something that I had wanted, I thought that I fit in to that category. I thought that somehow it was my fault. That I could have done something or acted differently and it wouldn’t have happened.
That somehow, I could have had control of the situation. So, I didn’t tell anyone. I convinced myself that it didn’t happen and if I didn’t talk about it, I would forget about it and it would go away, that I could compartmentalize it. That if I did all of that, it wouldn’t be real. So, I stayed quiet.
I questioned everything about life that I had been told at this point God, relationships, purpose. How could there be an all seeing, all caring, all loving God, if He would let something like this happen? How could He be considered just? What was the point of having a relationship, if the person you are supposed to trust or love ends up being the end of you? What’s the point of striving for anything if all you’ve worked for could be destroyed with the actions of one person in such a short amount of time? It changed the way I looked at sex, relationships, and men in general. I became numb.
I don’t remember making the decision to stop pursuing my faith, but I did. Not everyone is religious and that’s okay, but I was. I grew up with strict parents, we always went to church, and were taught to always pray. Believing in God was something as ingrained in us as taking our shoes off when we walked in the door. I was again giving up part of my identity and with that some of the main principals I had grown up with.
I thought that if someone could so easily just take what they wanted, and use sex in that way, then who cares? If someone can so easily make things only about the physical aspects of a “relationship”, then, why couldn’t I? So, I did. I dated two people in a row, on my end they were both mainly physical, and neither were healthy. The first, was verbally abusive and would undermine me every chance he could. The second guy I dated right after the first. He was six years older than me who was an alcoholic, we ended up dating for two and a half years. I broke up with him during the fall semester of my sophomore year of college. At this point I hadn’t been single for over three years.
During those three years I had been through a lot and so had the members of my family, including actually family and my closest friends. Two members were hospitalized for depression related reasons, two member contemplated suicide, one actually attempted, one was drugged and raped at a party, one became pregnant through rape and then had a miscarriage, three fell into drug use, two of which used hardcore drugs. You would think that with some of those instances I would have been able to share what happened to me with someone, but in fact I did the opposite. I would sit quietly through conversations about these terrible things and “say even though I haven’t been through this” or “even though I haven’t had that happened to me” yada yada. I was still carrying all of my pain and, up until this point, I thought I had at least some semblance of support. I continued to act like everything was fine and nothing could touch me. Being single after three years was freeing, but I didn’t know how to deal with that freedom.
I didn’t party or drink in high school or college up to this point, even when I dated the alcoholic, I purposefully stayed away from that lifestyle. But this immediately changed. I started partying and drinking, I made friends, lost some, hurt people, was hurt by people, and I made mistakes (some mistakes having names). I lived like that from October- March. I didn’t know what I was doing to myself. I was miserable and became depressed. Pretending what I was doing was “fun” or enjoyable. When in reality I was trying to hide my pain.
Since freshman year of college, I had periodically gone to WNF, not usually for the fellowship but for the social aspect. I went one night in March when Scott Michael was speaking. After the time was up some members stayed to ask questions, I almost left multiple time that night but for some reason I stayed. One girl asked a question with the word “forgiveness” in it. “Forgiveness” was a trigger for me. Immediately the question “How do I forgive myself?” popped into my head. It wouldn’t go away. I’m usually very good at compartmentalizing things, but I couldn’t focus on anything else, nor pull my focus from it for even a second. It was like my mind had been wiped and I could physically see the words in my head in green and lilac lettering.
The same time the question was put into my head I started crying (thank God I can cry quietly). I wasn’t sure if I should ask Scott my question, as soon as I decided against it, without missing a beat Scott said “someone in here has a question and they don’t want to ask it, but they should.” Jennell gave him a questioning look as he scanned the room. We made eye contact, after that he kept expectantly looking over at me. I knew that he knew it was me that had a question, but I didn’t ask. After I left that night, I prayed for the first time in four years. It had been four years to the month since everything happened in high school. I emailed Scott and met with him to discuss my question. At the time I didn’t understand what it was referring to, I thought it had to do with somethings that transpired in January. But it wasn’t.
I hadn’t dealt with what happened in high school, I hadn’t acknowledged it, I buried it deep down, and carried it with me everywhere I went for four years. It was time for me to let go and acknowledge my own pain. (In case you’re wondering) Four years of pent up emotions was a lot to deal with and a lot of tears. Especially for someone who had been numb for four years.
Scott directed me to Revelation 3:20 “Behold I stand at your door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will eat with them and they with me.” Meaning that God will accept you if you accept Him. You are both the good and the bad, and He wants all of you not just the good. But He will wait for you to open up to Him, He will be waiting right where you left Him. But you have to be the one to instigate the relationship by letting Him in. If you don’t let him in and accept him, he will just keep waiting at the door. Sometimes, and for somethings, God has already forgiven us long ago. Sometimes we are the only ones still carrying our past transgressions. I was the one still carrying my past and all of my darkness, everything that I had been through, with me. Romans 5:8 is paraphrased to say “I loved you at your darkest.” God wasn’t asking anything of me in that situation. He was just waiting for me to accept Him back into my life.
I realized that I didn’t have to carry my pain anymore and that I could deal with everything from my past. I could finally let it go. I have felt so much lighter since I let go of my past. I don’t let it hold me down or dictate my decisions anymore. You can overcome your past if you let go. I had to let go of over four years of experiences and actions. It was one of the hardest things to do. But it was one of the most liberating and by far the best decisions I’ve made. I found that what you’ve been through and what you’ve done, isn’t who you are, but makes you who you can be.
Please Select: I wish to remain anonymous