I heard a song on KLOVE a couple of days ago that so touched my heart and made me weep. The song is called More Beautiful You by Jonny Diaz. It is so beautiful that I have actually made it the theme song of my blog. I was so grateful that my husband took the kids in his car that day because I was alone when I heard it and alone when the tears wouldn't stop falling from my eyes. I wonder how my life would have been different if I had known all along that I was beautiful and made for a purpose, a purpose that didn't involve being used and abused.
Maybe did I know, I just never felt it. I knew I was my daddy's girl. I knew I was the apple of his eye. I'm sure he must have told me I was beautiful but I never felt it. Today when sharing my blog with a friend who has also been through eating disorders she emailed me this. "It was more than a body image thing for me as well. I get so frustrated with people who think that's all it is. It is part of it. I know when I got help for mine the first thing they asked me was if I was ever sexually abused. They told my parents that the most common factor for eating disorders was sexual abuse. They had not come across a case yet that it was not the case. The eating disorder was my way of controlling something I could when i felt helpless when being sexually abused. That is why I was anorexic and earlier than that bulimic."
Oh boy, another can of worms to open. A counselor actually said this? I suddenly realized it should have been so glaringly obvious that I never knew I was beautiful. Moving to Colorado was among the most merciful things my parents ever did for me (though they didn't know it for many years to come.) Where we were living, the molestation/abuse started for me at age 3. It continued until we moved which was right after my 10th birthday. It was at times extreme and severe. I wanted to be safe, I wanted to be "normal", but I never was. I never fit in with other kids my age. While they were worrying about Barbie clothes, I was worrying about bruises on my arms and legs and when/how I would be degraded yet again. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in.
My parents are good people, they love the Lord and as my best friend says, they were good imperfect parents. Their world was rocked when they discovered the first case of molestation. They didn't learn about some of the others until after I graduated high school and some of them they still to this day are unaware of. In their own devastation though, somehow I got overlooked. I think because I was so young they thought they could shield me from the aftermath and emotional barrage that would follow. They became so obsessively protective of me, always afraid that I might "discover" sex somewhere. They had no idea that I was regularly being subjected to more graphic sex than possibly they had even known themselves. They were terrified that I might discover boys and live a regrettable lifestyle.
Little did they know that I already led a secret life. At a very young age, too young, I knew what I needed to do to experience as little physical pain as possible. Unfortunately I was too young to process the amount of emotional pain that I was experiencing. All victims of sexual sin will tell you this, there is a safety mechanism in your brain that takes your mind away to a safe place when your body is being hurt. You don't think about what is going on, you think about something ANYTHING else. I, like all others who have been though trauma, learned quickly how to separate my mind and body. I thought I was protecting my heart through this separation but I really was wounding my heart just as much. This brain trick later would greatly affect my marriage, but that is a blog for another day.
It seems obvious now that would end up dealing with depression, suicide, self abuse and anorexia. I was desperate for anything to take away the pain I felt and to give me back control of my life. I had to put on the good girl Christian facade though because people don't like negative emotions. Christians especially don't like them. It is difficult for many, my family included, to claim God is good and still allow for life to be bad. The two ideas don't mix well. Good God, bad life? Not what most sign up for when they decide to follow Christ. On a side note, I tell my children often that God is good even when life isn't. He can still be good even when life is ugly. Trust me, I know first hand God's goodness during life's ugliness!
Wow, wasn't planning on writing all of that, at least not yet! It is funny to me that as I allow God into areas of my heart that I have kept secret and hidden exactly how much He brings out. It is like an oozing wound that as soon as you think it is looking ok, it spits out more grossness. That is my heart right now! And since my goal is to address all of the different things that played into my eating disorder, I have to address it all.
I said it in my preface but I have to recall it again. I cannot point to any one single factor and say, "That is the single reason I refused to eat." Years of sexual abuse is just one more aspect of my story. My story is riddled with hurt but it is also a story of hope and redemption. I pray that through it others will have the courage to seek the help they need. It's time to stop playing church and pretending there are no hurts or questions. It's time to allow God to heal those wounds. And it's time for the church to stop acting like people don't hurt. Jesus went to those who were broken and wounded. He healed them. Church, start letting Him heal instead of criticizing that he is spending time on the broken and wounded hearts along the way. That is why He came, for the lost, the hurting, the needy, the one's that no one else wants.