Today’s guest blogger prefers to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons…
Like many others I have experienced several areas of abuse in my life, from parental figures, those in positions of authority, and even my husband. Although I live each day fearing some kind of altercation I make no effort to change or get away from it. To those outside it seems hard to understand why.
Do I want something better? Sure I do. Do I long to feel loved? Absolutely. Do I wish for a relationship that does not rule with guilt, mind games and intense anger? I can’t even imagine. Do I wonder what it would be like to be an equal in my marriage? Everyday. But do I think I deserve such things? Not even a little bit.
My world was rocked at a very young age, as a child much too young I was introduced to sex. It was horrible and awful, a secret that was to be kept leaving me feeling dirty and ashamed. For years, into my late twenties in fact, I carried that secret, and the shame grew. I punished myself, as a child I tore at my skin creating large open sores. It was my punishment, and it was my cry for help. I was shuffled from doctor to doctor, none able to figure out what had caused my skin to open up. So they bandaged me up and I carried on not saying a word. Inside though I was screaming for someone to notice how I was hurting. Didn’t they see my bandaged hands, couldn’t they see my wounds, my pain. But no one could see how I was suffering inside, they only saw the physical wounds I had created on the outside.
Years past and I became a teenager, boys entered the picture. My early teenage years saw breakups and typical teenage heartbreak. But as it progressed into later years I learned quickly what men wanted from me as a series of older men started hitting on me. It always started with a showering of affection; they would tell me I was beautiful and special. The broken child in me longed to hear it, to feel somebody loved me, somebody cared. More than one showed up at my high school at lunch and drove me away for my lunch break. My friends worried, tried to intervene even, but I craved the attention they gave me and slowly broke away from any friends that discouraged me. Each man pushed the boundaries a little more physically, until I would eventually say no and the relationship would end. Slowly I was forming the realization that if I didn’t want to have sex, men didn’t want me. And then one day at the age of 17 a man 18 years my senior didn’t stop when I said no. His anger raged at me and he told me that I couldn’t say no to him after leading him on all this time. I was scared, I cried but I let him take from me what he was after. When he dropped me back at school I felt more broken, dirty and ashamed then I had ever felt. I believe completely it was my fault and I told no one.
At 18 I found myself pregnant. At 19 married to a man who was controlling, angry and abusive. At 21 I had two children was depressed and slept all the time. At 23 I began a series of affairs, with married men. Men who, in my eyes, were good, kind, and loving men. The type of men who would never choose me as their wife because I believed good men don’t choose women like me. They would, however, choose me for sex and in that moment it felt like enough. It felt like love, but I would go home emptier than I was before. I felt more dirty and more ashamed each time. And so I started cutting myself. I lived in a vicious cycle I couldn’t get out of. I felt like I couldn’t stop myself, but I also couldn’t live with myself because of what I was doing, I hated myself. I most certainly could never forgive myself.
And then one day I decided it had to end, I left my husband. I stopped having sex with other men, and I even stopped cutting myself. I remarried and secretly wished for a happy life I knew I didn’t deserve. I worked hard so that from the outside my life looked pretty close to perfect. I thought I could make myself forget it all by changing my life. Everyone believed things had turned around for me. But the truth is I had married a man remarkably similar to my first husband. And the abuse cycle started again.
Every day I struggle with finding self-worth, to feel valued, loved and respected. Every day I believe a little less that I will ever find those things. Truth is I probably never will in my marriage.
So why can’t I break free? Because he is willing to stay with me, because I fear being alone, because I believe my past means that no good and decent man would choose me. Because I do not feel I am worthy of that kind of love.
I feel unable to move past what I have done and what’s been done to me. I see myself as used, dirty and damaged. My body is covered in self-inflicted scars, I have made it ugly. Every time I think I am making progress I find myself here again. Even now I am hiding cuts on my body so no one can see them, and when I see them I silently remind myself that this is why no one will love me. No one really could.
I fully believe that people are made new in Christ, but I remain unable to see myself as anything but this horrible person. I would love to say I have found healing, and self acceptance, that prayer has healed me, or counseling. But it isn’t reality. I have felt God’s healing at times in my life and I continue to work towards healing. But I am human and I battle my head daily. I used to believe I didn’t have enough faith for God to completely heal me. I know believe it’s about the journey, the things we learn and grow from along the way. Even if it takes a life time. I may never see full healing this side of heaven, but can you imagine how amazing that day will be when it comes.