“Will it hurt this bad forever?”
Those words, the initial response of a victim of sexual abuse when they first allow themselves to face the pain and devastation of past experience, is common. The victim will become an surviver, and then an overcomer. But at first, when raw pain invades, they are truly victims, for a moment in time. And that moment can all but knock the breath out of body, spirit and soul. Just for a short while.
As the initial agony gives way to the long haul of hard work, of facing waves upon waves of grief, nausea and anger, resilience is tested; the heart weary, and longing to return to the numbness of the past.
“Can’t I just close this door and never think about it again? Can’t I just go back into denial, and stay there?”
That question, after a while, is just as common as the initial one. And to this question I always, always respond, “Do you really want to?” And inevitably the answer is, “No, not really. But sometimes I think I do.”
And as we explore the advantages, without fail the upside, and the thing that makes them not ever want to go back to that denial, is the ability to feel joy and to really love.
For couples, when one partner moves from denial and being ‘shut down’, the marriage often comes alive in a whole new way, all else being equal. (If the spouse is abusive or was molested and has not dealt with it, this does not hold true.) *Love awakens in those situations, into a thing of celebration, beauty and wonder, and sexual intimacy a whole new ‘party in bed’. And what a gift that is!
It’s almost as if we take the painful memories, and everything we felt at that time, and push it all in a secure box–a very secure one, made of metal–and then lock it all away.
The tragedy is that we lock much of our ability to really feel, at a meaningful level, in the box with the bad. And then, when we dare to look at the dark and painful things, we rediscover our ability to feel… To feel loved and to love; to feel secure and accepted and offer that to our loved ones; to feel God move within us, stirring us to life.
The beauty of unlocking pain is the ability to feel joy and love in a whole new way, painting our world in vibrant colours.
~ T ~
* I have worked with situations where couples struggled for most, if not all of marriage, with intimacy. And when healing happens on the front of sexual abuse, dramatic positive changes transpire. I have also worked with several situations where that struggle with intimacy continued intensely, for various reasons–some obvious, some not. If you continue to struggle, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. We should not be ashamed to talk about our sexuality, and get help from doctors, counselors, and mentors. Don’t settle without a fight.
© Trudy Metzger