As for me, the tip of the balloon was stretched over life’s leaky spigot when my dad left. The dripping was the constant beatings from my brother. This abuse taught me to always be on guard, to be cautious of the clear and present danger that shared my bedroom. In time the valve of that spigot opened wider, causing the slow drip to turn into a steady stream of bad experiences. A predator then opened up a flood of horror.
Chains Be Broken
I met Jay through a Christian outreach during the height of the Jesus movement. Jay took an immediate interest in me. Before long, I was looking up to him as a father-type figure. He drove me to church every Sunday, bought me things and took me to Disneyland and all those other merry and magical places. He also protected me from my older brother. If Rick even looked at me wrong, Jay would tear after him. At six-foot-four and two hundred fifty pounds, Jay served as the ideal bodyguard. I was feeling safe again. Plus, I felt loved.
It wasn’t long before I found myself sleeping over at Jay’s house on a regular basis. Jay convinced me that he was demon possessed. It wasn’t long before these demons began to terrorize the daylights out of me. They were not shy about their intentions either. Their repulsive behavior proved them to be wicked child molesters. When they came to do their dirty deeds, I would cry out to Jesus. Eventually they fled, but not without leaving the smudge of some very foul fingerprints. According to Jay, the demons were the real violators. He claimed he needed me to keep them away and I believed him. I also believed I was safer at Jay’s home than at my own. I convinced myself that I could stop Jay and that I could stop the demons, but I could never stop my brother’s violent attacks. I also believed that Jay truly cared about me and that he would never do anything to cause harm if he could help it.
Jay was extremely manipulative, using all kinds of creative ways to rob me of my innocence. The abuse and terror continued over the course of a couple years. One particular incident landed me in the emergency room. Back in those days, doctors didn’t have an obligation to involve police or social services. I’m very grateful that is no longer the case. Jay should have been arrested. He should have been locked up for what he did. Kids deserve to be protected from predators.
Not for a moment did I ever welcome Jay’s perverse behavior. His schemes were never met without protest (or a quick exorcism). Without fail, his touch left me in a most sickened state that consequently kept me that way for prolonged periods. When I finally caught on to his antics, I grew even more disgusted. I also felt stupid, and ashamed. But I never told anybody what had happened, not even my own mother. I never worked these things out with a counselor or minister. I stashed it all. I simply felt too dirty and too foolish to share what went on. I had resolved in my mind that no one would ever understand and that I’d only be regarded as damaged goods.
My only outlet was my pillow. For years I would bawl myself to sleep. I would cry out to God, “Why? Why me?” Those tears quickly turned to anger and the anger eventually turned to bitterness. Yes, I was mad! I was mad at Jay for abusing me. I was mad at my father for abandoning me. I was mad at the world and mad at God for every misfortune that had ever happened. Most of all, I was mad at myself for being so foolish. I had a lot of negative energy brewing inside: hurt, pain, self-pity, frustration, unforgiveness and rage. But I didn’t talk about it. I kept my mouth shut. And I stewed… for a very long time I stewed and stewed and stewed.
It wasn’t until after I turned twenty-two that I came to the end of myself. Unable to carry the anguish any longer, I turned to God and called upon Jesus to save me. What I experienced that day was nothing short of a miracle. All the shame, hurt and anger was lifted in an instant. For the first time in years, I felt free, clean and forgiven. God not only took away my hurt, He healed my heart. I even found forgiveness for those who wronged me. The bitterness was entirely purged, enabling me to move on from the grief.
Though the bitterness was erased from my heart, some bad data was inevitably stored somewhere in the muscle tissue of my pelvis. Furthermore, my childhood trauma had trained my body to always be on guard, especially while in bed. I had been taught well that sleep was a high-risk endeavor. It left me vulnerable. I still remember those nights when I slept over at Jay’s house. I would do everything in my power to try and stay awake. Petrified by what might happen, every muscle would clench tighter than a pair of vise grips. The bottom line is that sleeping didn’t offer much rest in those days. It wasn’t safe – not at home, not anywhere. Warning flags were always sailing. I had no choice but to keep watch.
That was then and this is now. The guard has been dropped. The war is over. Trust has come. The warning flags have been lowered. A banner of love waves in their stead. I feel safe – wonderfully safe. The bed has become my refuge. It’s the one and only place in which I feel no pain at all.
Recently, I talked about my abuse for the first time ever. Christy thought it might be helpful on my journey to wellness. She has always been well aware of the fact that I was molested, but I never discussed specifics with her… until recently… after thirty years of marriage. It was painful to recount my horrid past. But wisdom has taught me that it’s more painful to bottle things up.
For now, that sad chapter in my life is closed.
The past is the past.
Now I can rest. Even in a bed if I want to.
“And he said, My presence shall go with thee,
and I will give thee rest.”
From my book ‘Pain in the Offering’
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
1601 Pecan St., Pflugerville, TX 78660