Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Testimony ~Part 3

It was some where around ten or eleven years old that I started having the nightmares. And at first, I thought that's all they were. That is until my cousin, *Rose, came to me and asked me if I remembered what they did to us. Oh, dear God it was true. It was not just some crazy dream-it really happened. From that moment on, my life would never be the same.

I don't have all my memories even now, and maybe I never will. And maybe, it's better that way. What I do know is that when your mind blocks out pieces of your life, it is for your own protection, because mentally and emotionally, you are not strong enough to face it yet. I have known those who have pushed themselves through therapy and hypnosis to remember(usually to help them prosecute their offenders in court)-only to fall into very deep depressions and in some cases face the fall out of a nervous breakdown. I have learned from others that the Lord has placed in my life along this journey, and I can tell you that I will hold God's hand as I face each memory or flashback and we will cross that bridge together as we come to it.

Facing my own s<#*@/ abuse has been by far the hardest thing I've ever had to face in my life. At times, I've nearly let it destroy me. Life experiences and the circumstances which we grow up in are what shape us into the people we are to become. For some of us it is an encouraging, nurturing environment, and for others it is a survival of the fittest -filled with crisis and chaos at every turn with every man for himself. And for some of us, it's a little of both. As I said before, when my mom stopped drinking and my parents made the effort with God's help to start healing, I made up my mind to shut the door on that part of my life and start a new one. My mom always said that going into rehab hospitals never helped her, but the Lord Jesus did. On June 1,1986, as we moved into a new home, in a new town, in a new state, momma prayed with her whole heart for the Lord to deliver her from the desire and temptations of alcohol. And He did just that. She felt that He instantly took it away from her, and she was ready to start over. For years we never even mentioned it, not even to each other. It was our secret. Secrets. I feel like my childhood was filled with so many secrets. And if I thought keeping a secret about our family was hard to cover up, gloss over and smile through, well I had no idea how hard keeping my own little deep dark secret was going to be. Pretending that you live in the perfect little family is one thing, but when you wake up in your own body everyday (a body that has been violated, a body that disgusts you, a body that is filthy and wretched and dirty no mattered how many showers you take, a body that has been stained and scarred by the evil of someone else's lust) it's a lot harder to pretend away.

I used to feel like an apple, all shiny and red on the outside that was brown, mushy and rotten on the inside. Why an apple? Well, I guess because it reminded me of Adam and Eve, and the story we hear as children. The apple that looked good to them on the outside, but held their very death on the inside. The death of their innocence, the death of their family and intimate relationship with their heavenly father, the death of all His hopes and dreams for them. They found themselves in filth, cut off from God and no matter how hard they tried, it would never be the same. How our Abba's heart must have broken in that moment. He had tried to protect them, but sin was already out to steal, kill and destroy. And then there is the flip side of that point of view, where an apple is perceived as good and wholesome, an aid in health and wellness. As a young girl, I wanted so badly to be that girl, you know, that all American apple pie girl. The sweet and innocent one. Even now, it may seem old fashioned and out of date to some, but it is an ideal I still hold to in my mind.

I could write a million posts on my thoughts and feelings about abuse and the devastating effects it has on young children. I don't think many people understand just how crippling it is or how hard it is to over come. I spent so many years scared, and angry and ashamed. TOO MANY YEARS. I hated my self for what I thought I had let happen to myself. (Which is only a lie from the pit, because I was merely five years old.) I tried so very hard to make myself better. I thought I had to work harder, just to be as good as everyone else. I tried to be the best girl,daughter, friend I could be- whatever it was the someone needed me to be -in order to validate the worth of my existence at all. Other times, I just prayed for God to let me die. I just wanted to escape. I fell into an eating disorder, for a few intense years when it really got bad, because it was the only part of my body I felt in total control of-(what a laugh.) I would binge to cover up and stuff down all the feelings I couldn't deal with whenever I started having an anxiety attack over a flashback. And it helped for a few brief moments- I would feel calm. But then, then I'd feel so ashamed and disgusted with myself that I would purge to get out not only the food, but the feelings and the filth and the secrets and the lies and all the things I hated about myself that I couldn't control. And again for a few brief moments I'd feel calm. I have to be careful, because even now, just writing about it, I feel such a high...I have to stop myself and say NO! I am attracted to my own insecurities and self destructive thought patters even now. There is a part of me that would love to be back there, in that place where at times I actually felt beautiful, accepted, and in control. But, I know now that it was all just an illusion another lie from satan.
And although food in some form or another (emotional eating or emotional purging and fasting,) is still a battle for me, it is something I am trying desperately not to pass down. I may not be an alcoholic, but I still struggle with the effects of "learning" addictive behavior. I pray everyday for the Lord to help me to break this pattern, and become a healthy woman, wife and mother. I want my daughter to grow with a healthy body image. She will have so many pressures to face from this world. I will not add to that, by the grace of God, I just won't! I will not have her watch me stare at myself in the mirror, pulling on my fat, belittling and degrading the temple the Lord has given me. I don't want her to ever see that and then look at herself and think there must be something wrong with me. And you know so many of us have done just that, not even knowing it. We see our mother's so unsatisfied and over preoccupied with their bodies. Naturally, we think they are beautiful, and how could they ever think they're not. (I think most little ones really think this way because they look up to their parents and love them so much.) And we think well my goodness, if she thinks she's fat then there must be something wrong with me. It's bad enough we face that kind of thinking subconsciously as we look at our friends, neighbors, or other women on t.v. As a mother, I want my daughter to be able to come to me or just be around me and escape the world's image pressures, if just for a moment. I want her to feel not just accepted, but, treasured. I just feel like it is important that in her own home, she ought to learn what a beautiful young lady the Lord created her to be.

Have I overcome all my own self-hatred, insecurities, and self destructive behavior that are a direct result of my abuse? No, I still have to lay it down at the foot of the cross over and over again, every time it comes bubbling to the surface. Does that mean that I don't trust my Lord or believe that He can and has wiped it all away for me? No, that is not what I am saying at all. But, I can say from experience that the devil will use anything he can against you to break you down or sift you as wheat. He will tell you that God doesn't care, that He can not forgive you, that you are not worthy of His love and acceptance. The devil will use your memories, thoughts, flashbacks, emotions and insecurities to try and destroy you again and again. And every time I feel that old feeling try to swell up within (especially when I face a new memory or flash back,) I rebuke it in the name of Jesus and I lay it down. And I will keep doing that no matter how long it takes. -And I know He will always be there right by my side.

There are a few verses that I hold on to in times of battle. 1 John 4:4 ~Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Philippians 4:13 ~I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

And Romans 8:37~ Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

I am not just a survivor, I AM A CONQUEROR! I live my life as a promise of that fulfilled, EVERYDAY. I hold tight to that promise and to His love. I know now that no matter what fiery darts satan throws at me, Jesus is my shield, my protection, my shelter and fortress. I pray for this to be a promise fulfilled in your lives as well. Blessings to all!


Ashley said...

Thank you for being so vulnerable and honest, Tiffany! I know how hard that can be. I so admire you!

Denise said...

You are my hero precious one. I love you my friend.

Denise said...

You are my hero precious one. I love you my friend.

laurawh said...

OH Tiffany you are such a wonderful role model in Christ for everyone. Those are some great verses too and some are on my list. After the loss of my sweet dear angel Grace, the devil certainly was trying to get me. I found so much comfort in the Lord and his scripture and wrote down and carry verses with me and read them when I need them. Some of those are on my list I carry around. I will share some of my favorites with you that get me through the rough times.
Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 10:36, Psalm 34:18. I Peter 1:6-7

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your testimony of how God brought healing and still heals you every day. The process never really ends, that is until we see Him face to face.

Pigtails & Pearls said...

I love reading your blog. You are an amazing example of a Christlike woman!

Kimmers said...

You are such a blessing and a true example of the Lords goodness.

Christy said...

Again, this echoes my own personal story and your strength amazes me and shatters me all over again.

God is so, so good.

I also fight that demon every day-right now more than ever because I am running again. Thank you for being honest, for being so vulnerable.

Again, God is good and He is doing a mighty work in you.

Tiffany said...

Ladies, Thank you! I am touched by your kindness. I go to God for my strength, but I have been in turn so blessed and comforted by the sweet Christian sisters, like you that He has brought into my life. It truely has been an extra blessing from above, and unexpected as well. Thank You for allowing His gentleness, love and kindness to flow from you. It's like a great, big, hug form God. I love y'all and I pray that if nothing else, this story gives you strength to know that you can go to Him with ANYTHING! He cares about every part of our lives, and He fulfills every need. I truly believe that from the bottom of my heart.

CrazyCarellis said...

You are very brave and your courage is a shining example to others who have been devastated by abuse.

Too, too many of my dear friends have been harmed in this way. I am proud of the way that you are stopping the cycle of emotional damage. Your daughter is blessed that you are her mother.

Penless Thoughts said...

What a gift honesty is, both for you and for others who have to deal with this issue.

I trust that someday it will be so far removed from YOU (the real YOU you now are and have become) that it will just seem like something that happened to someone very close to you and you know all the details but it isn't really YOU. Does that make sense? I've never suffered what you have, childhood abuse, but I've had several really hurtful things that I have dealt with and now it doesn't seem like it was me. We never really FORGET but we can break the emotional impact of them on us now.

Tiffany said...

I know exactly what you mean. I really feel that way with a lot of other issues in my life. I'm just not quite there with this one yet. But, I will be someday. I claim that as part of His promise and His healing. ~Thank you though, because it is always good to hear! I need reminding sometimes!~Blessings

Kimberly said...

I hardly know what to even say, Tiffany. I know this was probably hard to share and yet there is such blessing in our transparency. You never know...there could be a woman who never comments who is turning to the Father for healing because of your obedience to Him in sharing all of this.

Thank you for your beautiful heart for Him! I pray that it is settled deep within you that when He looks at you, all He sees is your stains of what was done to you...just your beauty.

Marsha said...

I'll come back and read this Friday. I'm so tired. I've got to get some sleep.

SharonB said...

Hey sweet girl! You are very brave and I am proud of you!

I realized something today. God has healed the deep wound in my life but He leaves the scar.

He leaves the scar, not so that I look at it and remember the pain and heartbreak. He leaves it so that when I look at it I remember what great things He has done.

I remember the miracle of new life! New life in me! I remember that I was once broken, abused, and dead, but NOW in Christ I am ALIVE! I am a new creation!!

Cristine said...

Hi Tiffany... I've just read this post before realizing that there is probably a part 1 and a part 2... I'll have to look around a bit and see if I can find them.

So much of what you said here really resonates with me...It is amazing how God's Word can just sink into our hearts and transform us from "survivors" to thrivers despite the ugliness from which we came.

Thanks for this vulnerable post. It will bless and encourage many other journeyers out there.

God Bless you,

Now, I am off to try and find parts 1 and 2.