Monday, June 15, 2009

Just Get Over It...

Hmm... this may be a tough one to write. It may come out angry and fair warning, if you have been abused, there may be triggers. It's something that has sort of been forming in me the last couple of days. This is directed at family.... church family... biological family... and all those who would tell a survivor of childhood sexual abuse to "just get over it." Do you comprehend what it is you are asking?


Okay, I would ask you this. Would you go up to a war veteran who lost their legs in battle and tell them to "just get over it?"  Would you tell a woman who has just had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer to "just get over it?"  Would you go up to a father whose only son was murdered and tell him to "just get over it?" Some of you may, at this point, be getting a little uncomfortable or even annoyed - how dare I compare what I went through to that. Well, that is part of the point... how dare you make a judgment on what I went through without talking to me about it.

In all of the examples above, there is no "getting over it." There is only learning to live with it - healing enough that you can continue to live. Get over it? How? It is the same with childhood sexual abuse. I think one of the biggest things people miss about this issue, including many victims, is that if you are a victim/survivor of childhood sexual abuse, you have lost something - something that can never be regained.

What have we survivors lost?

Well, for starters , our childhood innocence. This is something that, for me, went away when I was 2 years old. That childlike innocence that allows you to trust the people around you not to hurt you is ripped away. And once it is gone, it cannot be restored. I can never regain that place where I didn't know betrayal and confusion. And how do you even put into words what it is to have NOT had that as a child? And how the HELL do you "just get over" that? My childhood was warped - twisted - dark - frightening - desperate - and I can't "just get over it." I didn't get to be just a little kid. The wounds from it can heal (and I am working on that) and I can learn to live with the scars that will forever remain (and I am working on that, too). But it is something that will always be a part of who I am. I can't get rid of it (I tried!) and I can't "just get over it."

What else have we lost? Well, our ability to trust - our ability to function normally. For me, it is pretty severe - more than I had ever allowed myself to see. Hmm... I am 46 years old and I have never had a boyfriend - never been on a date. And I am thinking about going to a chiropractor (a friend has recommended him and I have met him and I WANT to go). But I will need her to go with me because I am afraid. Even as I type this, tears are forming, because just thinking about letting this man - a DOCTOR, for crying out loud - touch me is causing mild panic - just from the thought of it, not the actual doing it. 

That is another thing. The panic - the fear. To feel - and walk through - the feelings of panic that rise up every time I go out the door. I have dealt with that for so long that I had gotten to the place where I thought it was normal and hardly noticed it anymore. But it is NOT normal to feel fear every time you leave your house. I have rarely let it stop me from going somewhere, but it is always there. To feel panic every time a man is nice to me is not normal. The ability to have a normal relationship is another thing that is lost. My friend and my therapist tell me I will be able to, eventually. We'll see....

And then there is the pain - the anger - that you are not allowed to feel, not allowed to show - so you stuff it down deep. And your ability to see yourself as normal - as valuable - as not "damaged goods" or "tainted" or "spoiled" or "ruined." The church places such a strong emphasis on being a virgin. So did my family, for that matter (ha!). How is a 7 year old girl supposed to cope with that information - that demand - when that is something that has already been taken away from her?

Part of the process of healing requires recognizing what was lost, where the damage is. It requires being allowed to acknowledge what was lost and being allowed to mourn that loss.

Hmm.... I am reaching the limit of what I can process right now, so this will have to do. But those of you in churches - and families - please, please, do NOT tell someone who has been sexually abused as a child (or as an adult, for that matter) to "just get over it." It is, quite literally, like driving a dagger into their heart, emotionally. It adds to the damage....

26 comments:

Sue said...

Ahh, sweetheart, this is just an amazing post. I'm glad you posted - a big deal to put it out there in black and white. A healing big deal, I am praying for you. I do believe transformation is possible, I do, I do, I do. But it takes so long, it is easy to lose hope. Especially when you don't know any difference.

"Part of the process of healing requires recognizing what was lost, where the damage is. It requires being allowed to acknowledge what was lost and being allowed to mourn that loss."

+++++

Yeah. Takes a long time, huh. Especially when you're dealing with something that happened at such a young age that you didn't even have the language to articulate. And especially because it's basically the most terrifying thing you'll ever do. Is there anything more terrifying than facing that fear? I don't think so.

But you are, in this ongoing process. I applaud you for continuing on, from across the sea (I hope that doesn't sound patronising. Believe me, babe, the last thing I feel is patronising right now)

Katherine Gunn said...

Sue, you don't sound patronizing. :-)

Thank you. It is easy to lose sight of progress. I'm glad I have a close friend - and a therapist - who can give me feedback other than my own self-condemning loops. I have made and am making progress. My therapist told me last session that I am not as fragile as I used to be. It's funny. I never thought of myself as fragile... but I was - very. Still am some. But getting stronger. Thank you, again. :-) {{{HUG}}}

Sue said...

Isn't it amazing how we can't see ourselves in certain ways. How blinded we are to ourselves, and I guess that is part of the recognising what was lost too, isn't it. The shock of seeing certain things about ourselves we couldn't see before. That's why the journey is so hard, takes such courage. But then the truth makes freedom, right?

And I don't like to make comparisons because suffering is suffering even if it's not Auschwitz, but your journey IS harder than mine, and mine is hard enough, and so that's why I unpatronisingly applaud you. Awesomeness :) I was thinking about this post all day today.

PS: Your anger in this post was not out of place one iota. I'm so glad you are feeling able to express it.

One other thing that comes to mind (sorry for blathering. It is a blogupational hazard of mine commenting on people's posts when it's past midnight here - I always blather bucketfuls). I was talking with my art therapist, who was abused when she was younger also, and she was talking about how she is unable to scream now, even if she wants to. That as a young girl she was able to scream, but this is what was taken away from her when she was abused. And yet she had some sort of peace about it, you know? She said she wears it as her scar now. I believe even the worst scars can be transformed by God into something that can reflect beauty, somehow. It is far beyond my comprehension to understand but I do stand with Julian of Norwich in her way of seeing things :)

Okay, I"m going away now :)

Tracy Simmons said...

Katherine, man, the insensitivity of some people makes me sad. So sorry you've been on the receiving end of this. Hugs from across the miles,
Tracy

Erin said...

I haven't been through what you have been through, but I have certainly been told to "get over things" that are really painful.

There is someone in my life who loves to tell other people that they shouldn't feel the way they feel...that the things that hurt the person weren't meant to, or that they have no right to feel the way they do. Or they are "too sensitive".

Who are any of us to judge another person's pain? Whose right is it for anyone who hasn't lived in another person's life to suggest they shouldn't feel something?

Sigh.

Katherine Gunn said...

Ah, Sue, you do not seem to be blathering to me. :-)

Thank you for your comments. Feedback from those who understand is so important.

WOW. You thought about this post all day? I'm amazed. As to my journey being harder than yours. How do you even compare things like this. Your journey looks pretty tough from over here. {HUG}

Hmm... not being able to scream. I hadn't thought about that for a long time, But yeah, I don't seem to be able to do that, either. There are days when it feels like the scream is stuck in my chest.

And Julian or Norwich.... I don't know much about her, haven't read anything of hers, but what little I have read that is attributed to her, I like... :-)

And Sue? Blather on my blog any time you want!

Katherine Gunn said...

Tracy, thank you. Hugs back!

Katherine Gunn said...

Erin- yeah. That is one of those things that seems to be more prevalent the more religious someone is. By religious, I mean rigid - unbending - things must be this way and no other or they are just wrong. That type of person does not accept that people might feel any other way than the way they think they should. Wow. That was a bit convoluted, but I think the point managed to remain stable. :-)

I don't know if your friend is one of those types, but in my experience, they are not comfortable with the real, unfiltered emotions, whether it be pain or joy.

Thanks for stopping by...

A. Amos Love said...

Katherine - I will cry with you.

Then they cry to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saves them out of their distresses.
He sent his word, and healed them, and
delivered them from their destructions.

For I am the LORD that healeth thee.

The LORD builds up Jerusalem:
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted,
and binds up their wounds.

Attend to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes;
keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those that find them,
and health to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all diligence;
for out of it are the issues of life.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace
was upon him;
and with his stripes
we are healed.

Call to me and I will answer you,
and will show you great
and mighty things
which you do not know.
Behold, I will bring to you
health and healing...

But to you that fear my name
shall the Sun of righteousness arise
with healing in his wings.

And he will love you, and bless you...

I have loved you with an everlasting love...

As the Father has loved me,
so have I loved you...

For the Father himself loves you...

And to know the love of Christ,
which passes knowledge...

Mercy and Grace

A. Amos Love said...

Katherine - I will pray with you.

Lord, I cry with Katherine to you
in her trouble.
And thank you for saving Katherine
from these distresses, fears,
confusion and doubt.
How many tears oh Lord..
Katherine and I thank you
for your healing words
and your delivering words...
Make these words real
in Katherine’s life.

Lord, we know you are
Katherine’s healer.
Give to us the gift of faith to believe...

Lord, you are working even now
to build up Katherine
and gather Katherine to yourself
as you work to heal her broken heart
and bind up Katherine’s wounds.

Lord, I pray, that as Katherine
attends unto your words and
inclines her ear to your sayings
That your words and sayings
would become NEW LIFE and
NEW HEALTH to Katherine.

Lord, We’re calling to you now.
Give Katherine ears to hear your voice
and a heart to receive your love.
Lord, Katherine looks to you
for health and healing.

Lord, we do fear your name.
Sometimes it’s a real fear; like Aslan.
Your perfect love casts out fear.
Pour out your love upon Katherine
that she would feel safe
under your healing wings.

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusted in him, and I am helped.

He is a shield to all them that trust in him.

Put your trust in the LORD.

In you, O LORD, do I put my trust...

O taste and see that the LORD is good:
blessed is the man that trusts in him.

I will say of the LORD,
He is my refuge
and my fortress:
my God;
in him will I trust.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct your paths.

Whoever puts his trust in the LORD
shall be safe.

Mercy and Grace

Sue said...

Hey A. Amos. I think your prayers are Jesus-hearted and kind and sweet. Just wondering about this, though:

"Lord, I cry with Katherine to you
in her trouble.
And thank you for saving Katherine
from these distresses, fears,
confusion and doubt."

+++++

I understand where you are coming from, calling what is as though it isn't (in this case, all of KG's distresses, fears, confusions and doubts). I have always had a problem with this sort of approach, though. It feels, in some sort of Christianly-legitimised sense, another form of "get over it."

I don't intentionally mean to criticise you because it's so obvious that you love Him and are doing your bit to help him bind up the broken-hearted, but I just wonder about how helpful it is to say those sorts of things when KG is struggling TO understand those distresses, fears, doubts and confusions, etc. Those sorts of things get sidelined in the dark recesses of our souls out of necessity. To learn to reintegrate them back is, I believe, part of the journey to healing. I just never found that faith-based sort of thanking in advance to be very helpful.

Katherine Gunn said...

A. Amos -

Thanks for stopping by. Like Sue, I believe your heart is to help out of love. I appreciate your willingness to cry with me and pray for me. Truly.

I have a question for you, though. It is not meant to be a slam or a criticism. I grew up in church and know a lot of the little indoctrinations that are outside the lines of Truth. So... Cry with me. Thank you. Pray with me (um, you are assuming I am praying what you're praying...or trying to manipulate me into praying what you're praying???). But, are you willing to be angry along side me? Does what was done to me make you angry?

I'm not talking about spitting-fire-wanting-to-beat-someone-up angry. I am talking about this-kind-of-thing-should-not-happen-especially-to-children angry.

Are you willing to look past the surface of what you saw in one post and read the entire blog and see where I have been and what I have been through - and what I am doing about it?

If so, then your tears and prayers are more than surface, too, and are very welcome. If not, then what are the tears and prayers about?

I may be projecting onto you the mind-set that I grew up with - that was prevalent in the church I used to be a leader in. If so, I apologize. But I do not welcome all things that claim to come from God. Some things claim so do not....

Katherine Gunn said...

Sue, thanks. :)

Those two posts by A. Amos certainly have some triggers in them... sigh.

I hope I was not too harsh...

A. Amos Love said...

Katherine and Sue

Thank you for telling me how you feel.
You could have just cut me off.
I thank you for that and
apologize for the triggers.

I have also left an abusive church
and the abusive religious system.

I also was in so called leadership and was responsible for some of the abuse. (ouch)

Left early nineties. It’s 16 years now.

But Jesus never left me. (sigh)

I went through a lot of pain and
a lot of tears. Lost friends and family.
I had many fears, confusions and doubts.

I felt like I was in a large paper bag.
Everything around me was dark.
All I had was these two little slits to see thru.
True tunnel vision.

I couldn't see how I could make it
thru even one day.

I had to go to work, I prayed Lord just
get me thru till coffee break,
I’ll talk to you then. Then it was lunch.
Then afternoon break. Then home.
Only a few steps at time. Day after day.
Darkness, uncertainty, how did this happen?
Questions and more questions.

“(um, you are assuming I am praying what you're praying...or trying to manipulate me into praying what you're praying???)

I certainly don’t want to assume
what you are praying.
Sorry if it sounded that way.

And I have been manipulated
and I don’t like it either. Sorry again.

If it’s okay with you,
can I change it to, “praying for you?”

And anything I pray or say that doesn’t
sound okay to you, you can slam or
criticize all you want.

And if I sound like the religious system
please, slam me quickly.

Sue - “calling what is as though it isn't.”
“distresses, fears, confusion and doubt. “
I know they are real.
They were real in my life and
I know they are real in Katherine’s life.

The reason I prayed,
“And thank you for saving Katherine
from these distresses, fears,
confusion and doubt,” is because
Jesus did it for me.

Jesus healed my broken heart and
I believe He will heal Katherine’s
broken heart.

I make no apology for that belief.

Jesus asked us to ask, seek and knock.

I believe all our answers are in Jesus Christ.

I believe all our answers
and understanding
are in the Bible somewhere.

I believe it is God that heals.

Would it be okay if I pray for you
and send you scriptures
that have spoken to me?

In His Service. By His Grace.

Sue said...

"I felt like I was in a large paper bag. Everything around me was dark.
All I had was these two little slits to see thru. True tunnel vision."

+++++

Ah, yes, I understand that space. I have been in it myself. Still am, in some respects.

I guess that's why I reacted in the way I did to your calling things as they aren't as though they are. I DO understand it. I think it's looking through eyes of hope, you know? Some days it's all I can do, to think to myself, "Well, one day this will be different." I love that you look at things in this way :)

I guess it's just that there IS so much "get over it" in the church system, you know? And in our theology (so much of which I think is skewed). I hang onto the "rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn" verses because we all need to feel heard and validated. It seems like so much a basic of human experience and yet within that church system it's so often not like that. We are jollied along, feeling like we are sullying the brand of Christ if we are depressed or traumatised or whatever. When part of moving on sometimes involves sitting still and not moving forward at all.

As I am sure you are more than aware of from your time looking through paper bag slits :) So what verses did speak to you at that time? For me it has been "The joy of the Lord is your strength," and "Be still and know that I am God" :)

Katherine Gunn said...

A. Amos,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I sense some grace in your vicinity. :-)

Yes, you can leave comments whenever you like. I will only exercise the right to not publish if they become abusive...

Oh, and my comment moderation program kicks in after a post is 7 days old. So if you leave a comment and it says it will be posted after it has been moderated, you aren't being singled out. I have it set up that way so that if someone comments on one of my older posts, it goes to my email and forces me to moderate it so that I know that someone has commented.

A. Amos Love said...

Katherine - Sue

Thank you for your kind responses
and allowing my participation.

Sue - I heartily agree.

“there IS so much "get over it"
in the church system, you know?
And in our theology
(so much of which I think is skewed).”

“yet within that church system
it's so often not like that.
We are jollied along, feeling like
we are sullying the brand of Christ
if we are depressed or
traumatized or whatever.”

“We are jollied along.” :o)
Interesting description.
Put a smile on my face, thanks.

I believe the word is “hypocrite.”
which means stage player, actor,
trying to be something we’re not.

Found out God loves me just the way I am.
Strengths and weaknesses and character
defects and all. Ahhh, unspeakable peace.

I was saved by grace but raised up in
the Martha, Martha, syndrome.
Just, do more, pray more, fast more,
give more, submit more. (grunt, grunt)

It seems our Father is more intrested
in us resting, ceaseing from our own works,
and waiting on Him in His prescence.

His word is a lamp
unto our feet,
and a light unto our path.

It is the spirit that gives us life;
the words that Jesus speaks to us,
they are spirit, and they are life.

It’s not by might, nor by power,
but by my Spirit says the Lord.

Let the word of Christ
dwell in us richly.

Every word of God is pure.

His words... His sayings...
Are new life... And new Health...
Do not let them depart from our eyes...
Keep them within our heart...

Speak the word of God
with boldness.

All of our words fitly spoken
will be like apples of gold
in pictures of silver.

The LORD is Katherine’s shepherd;
Katherine shall not want for anything.
The Lord is supplying green pastures
for Katherine to lie down in.
The Lord God is leading Katherine
beside the peaceful still waters.
The Lord God almighty is
restoring Katherine’s soul:
Jesus is leading Katherine
into the paths of righteousness
for His name's sake.
Yea, though Katherine’s walk has
taken her to the valley of
the shadow of death,
Katherine will one day say,
I will fear no evil:
for you Jesus, My Lord and My God,
are with me;
Your rod and Your staff
they comfort me.
You Lord Jesus, prepare a table,
a feast, for Katherine in safety,
in the presence of her enemies:
You anoint Katherine with oil
and the Holy spirit;
her cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow Katherine
all the days of her life:
and Katherine will dwell
in the house of the LORD
for ever.

A. Amos Love said...

Katherine

Jesus wept.

Seeing then that Katherine
has a great high priest,
that is passed into the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God,
let Katherine hold fast her profession.
For Katherine has not an high priest
which cannot be touched
with the feeling of her infirmities.

When Jesus therefore saw
Katherine weeping,
and her friends also weeping
which came with her,
Jesus groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.

Who hath believed our report?
and to whom is the arm
of the LORD revealed?
For he shall grow up before him
as a tender plant,
and as a root out of a dry ground:
he hath no form nor comeliness;
and when we shall see him,
there is no beauty that we should desire him.
Jesus is despised and rejected of men;
a man of sorrows,
and acquainted with Katherine's grief:
and we hid as it were our faces from him;
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne Katherine's griefs,
and carried Katherine's sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of Katherine's
peace was upon him;
and with his stripes Katherine is healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD hath laid on Jesus
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth:
he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
so he openeth not his mouth.

For he said, Surely Katherine is mine,
a women that will not lie: so I am her Saviour.
In all Katherine's affliction Jesus was afflicted,
in his love and in his pity
he redeemed Katherine;
and he bare her, and carriies her
all the days of her life.

And when he was come near,
he beheld the city called Katherine,
and wept over her.

Weeping may endure for a night Katherine,
but joy comes.

Katherine Gunn said...

A. Amos~

I believe that you probably mean well. But the comments and the emails are not helping. They feel mostly religious to me. So I am asking you to please stop. Thank you.

Katherine

A. Amos Love said...

Sorry for the intrusion.

Please forgive me.

Be blessed in your search for truth and wholeness.

James said...

It’s a know fact in the psychological community that clients who come from dysfunctional families are at higher risk for psychological problems and are know to suffer from depression and other emotional and physical issues. It is also noted how many people from dysfunctional families are at greater risk to get involved with abusive relationships. Because these children were taught to accept abuse as “normal” they are less able to understand and see personality traits that can be abusive and dysfunctional after long term exposure to those that suffer from these disorder. Also it’s be noted that some children raised in loveless homes and feeling rejected from a parent and/or parents will try again and again to fill this void in others they become involved with.

“If you're reading this because of problems with someone you know now, the chances are excellent that one or both of your parents was a narcissist. Narcissists are so much trouble that only people with special prior training (i.e., who were raised by narcissists) get seriously involved with them. Sometimes narcissists' children become narcissists,”

(taken from: http://dslweb.nwnexus.com/jmashmun/npd/howto.html )

The writer goes on toe explain how we as children become somewhat bend in our attempts to correct that mistake in our early training.

Dana said...

Wow, this is so honest and heartfelt and just what needs to be said. Saying "Just Get Over It" is a reflection of why this abuse was allowed to occur in the first place. I am imagining how it must feel like a dagger. I am so, so, so sorry. Grieve, be angry, tell your story. We are listening with love. Be good to yourself. Truth in love will pave the path of healing, my friend. I send you waves of healing love, now and everyday.

Katherine Gunn said...

Dana, thank you.

Davida said...

hey katherine...maybe this is completely random and off-base, but after reading the previous post, then this post, it occurred to me that the incident of the guy in the laundry room was possibly quite a break-through for you. or maybe that is just stating the obvious. :-) whichever it is, thank you for sharing your story with us. we are the better for it.

Katherine Gunn said...

Davida, thank you for stopping by and reading.

Anonymous said...

God bless you for writing about it to help us all through it & to survive it &/or our part in it. I'm so happy to see your blog on this, as it wipes out the remaining doubts I had about making my own blog on our abuse. Thank you for your courage.