God cares about abuse. I’m so grateful to Brenna for her honesty and vulnerability in sharing her story in this guest post about abuse. If you’ve got something you’d like to write and want a place to share it then please get in touch. This space is for you.
I was a very free and wild child, as almost all second born children are. My lack of fear drove me to test and push every limit possible. I had an obsession with motorcycles which led to my parents finding the tiniest bicycle known to man. At age two I demanded the removal of the training wheels and off I went. I did anything and everything I was dared to do and my pain tolerance was through the roof. I dreamed about pursuing the most adventurous jobs. I was outgoing. I was loud. I was what I considered to be fully alive.
But something changed.
I learned what fear was. I became guarded. I got nervous around people and I had very little trust. By the time I was in middle school I had become a total introvert. I didn’t like visiting new places. My anxiety was overwhelming… I knew I felt different but I didn’t know how or why. Eventually by the end of 8th grade I was visibly depressed. I started self harming. I felt like I was slowly drowning.
Summer after my high school freshman year I got a job as a camp counselor. One of our requirements was that we read through the “signs of abuse” packet since we were working with youth. I remember getting to the sexual/physical abuse section and preparing my heart for such a heavy topic. I started reading. I gasped. I read more, and more and more. Almost every sign of abuse I read about… I was exhibiting in my own life. I sat there in shock.
And then, like a nightmare, I recalled a night at basketball practice, age 10.
I genuinely thought because of my height and ability I would play college ball, maybe even go to the WNBA. Granted I was young… I still LOVED this sport. I had played for two years with a great team of girls and amazing coaches. It was community ball but we all took it very seriously. So when it came time to decide what I would do for winter it was a no brainer. I would forgo theater (my normal Fall and Spring ventures) and look forward to an almost undefeated season of… community basketball. This season would be especially important as my home life felt unstable. My grandma had recently died from cancer and my parents were newly separated.
I got in the car that night and sobbed.
My mom tired to figure out what happened but I felt so much shame and confusion and fear. The only thing I said was that I had to quit. This of course didn’t make sense, but I was persistent.
The days, weeks, months and eventually years following were like a funeral procession for myself. I stopped changing in front of people including my parents. I never took my coat off in peoples houses no matter how much I was sweating. I couldn’t be in close proximity to men. My parents marriage was restored (which is a whole other story of redemption), but even if my dad, who had never hurt me, sat next to me on the couch it would only be a matter of seconds before immense anger washed over me and I had to move.
After the realization at age 15 that I had been molested as a child I wrestled with that reality. I saw a counselor every week for four years all through high school and never brought it up. I thought it was too late. I thought I did the wrong thing. I thought it couldn’t matter anymore. But the pain was apart of my every day life. You see, I love my dad.
Before my parents separation I was very much my dad’s twin. We spent weekends going to look at motorcycles together. I always asked if that day would be the one day we would take one home. I liked watching him fix stuff. We have the same sense of humor and same taste for hot sauce. The fracture that occurred when my dad left our home within the same time frame that my innocence was taken by another “male in leadership” grew into a canyon. I wanted so badly the trust and comfort and peace I had before then, but I had no language to express what had happened. The enemy comes to steal…kill and destroy and I was practically a rotted out body with little to no life left.
At age 18…
At age 18 I found myself living in Maui, Hawaii doing Youth With A Mission. The weeks speaker was talking about the Father heart of God. It was a weird week, and it felt like everyone had gotten something out of it except me. I was encouraged to stay home on Saturday to get some down time praying which pissed me off. I rather be on the beach tanning and breaking the rules with my bff Syd. So reluctantly I went back to my room after telling Syd to leave without me. I laid on my bed and while rolling my eyes I asked God “what do you have for me?”.
“Call your dad”. As clear as day I heard God say… “call your dad”. I burst into tears. I didn’t want to. But I did. My dad said he had missed me, not since I had been gone, but that he missed ME, Brenna, since I was young….since things changed. I was still too nervous to say anything, but we talked about my parents separation. It was good. “I came to give life….” I thought of Jesus saying those words after I hung up the phone.
At age 22 I got married. And then really quickly after that… (like 3 months after our wedding) I got pregnant. Rudy Saint was born two weeks before my 23rd birthday. I sobbed. My anxiety came back. I was scared of everything. My midwife (who is living proof that God is a LOVING God and I could write a whole other blog about) encouraged me to get into counseling. I was stubborn so she made me see her weekly until I found someone (see..). My first session with my counselor I mentioned an eating disorder I had struggled with. She looked me dead in the eye and asked “were you sexually abused ever?”.
It just came out.
It just came out. I don’t know how or why after all this time and in a moment I was finally able to say something.
I was abused at age 10. I told my mom at age 23. Because it mattered. It matters. Even after all this time.
So here I am, almost 25, in counseling monthly for bipolar disorder…anxiety.. depression… and sexual abuse. And you know what? Finally getting help….Its hard. Its painful. Its annoying. But I truly and deeply believe that God (and therapy) can lead us in our time on this broken earth towards the path of “Life to the FULLEST”. Not the “fullest” like prosperity gospel or motivational speaker fullest…. But fullest in the sense of what Jesus calls us to in John 10:10.
A fullness that leads to hope and peace and contentedness and then ever lasting life with Him.
So if you’re reading this and you’ve thought at some point “its too late, it doesn’t matter, ill get over it” you’re wrong. It does matter. Healing matters. Getting out from under the isolation matters. Getting professional help matters. Telling your story matters. God cares about abuse. God cares about you.
If you’ve got something you’d like to write and want a place to share it then get in touch with me about writing a guest post at email@example.com.