Body Memories

If you’ve been around here awhile, you know that Amir has strong opinions and reactions to abuse/sexual abuse. Because he understands enough to know that it’s not a one-time thing one can simply get over. It lingers in all levels of one’s mind and heart and soul and body as long as one has breath. Trauma affects every fiber of us, conscious and unconscious. God’s design of us is so remarkable; He hardwired survival coping mechanisms into us to be there if we need them. Some of us have needed them.

There are times when my body suddenly reacts. Body Memories. Such was a time Saturday.

I walked into my chiropractor’s waiting room, and in every other seat sat a man, each separated by a vacant seat. Not one woman or child was in the waiting room. My whole being went into a survival panic mode. Survival meaning that I acted in a way that no one knew I was panicking while my brain went into overdrive to figure a way out. I leaned over the reception desk and very quietly asked, “Are those all men seated in the chairs behind me?” She acknowledged that they were. I asked if I could sit in the back, and she smiled that it would be no problem.

I’ve been going to this chiro for several years now. He’s treated both my girls. He is a Christian man who lives out his faith. He is gentle and kind and extremely knowledgeable, gifted, experienced, and understanding. I shared with him once that I am uncomfortable with men and male doctors due to the abuses in my past. He totally understood, and he has respected that.

When I got in his exam room yesterday, he gave me a moment to relax. I was still anxious, trying not to hyperventilate. “There were all those men in there. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t sit in there. I just couldn’t do it. I can’t do that.”

“That’s okay. We have many places you can sit and wait in our offices,” he spoke gently from a safe distance, slowly waving an arm to indicate the expanse of their office space.

I took some deep breaths and made it through.

I’m thinking, though, that I might need to go back to therapy to deal with some more memories that have been haunting me lately. I so do not want to do that. Therapy is hard work. Really hard work. Ten plus years ago I worked through an intense six-month Sexual Abuse Recovery Group where we used the workbook, Shelter From the Storm, as our guide. Many go through a support group like this multiple times. I’ve thought, lately, I may need to find a group close to where I live now and work through it again.

If you’ve been sexually abused, there is help, and hope. Sexual abuse is gender neutral; the leader of my first group was a male therapist who had been sexually abused as a child. It’s tragic, but there is help. And there is hope.

5 thoughts on “Body Memories

    • absolutely!
      at that same time i was also in one-on-one therapy with a very experienced biblical counselor who taught me to also look for opportunities to reconnect, if it were ever to become safe to do so. i have looked for those opportunities over the years, but it is still not safe. my mother was also very abusive, and she is still not a safe person for me, either.
      another factor has been that i’m raising two daughters. about a year before i began having memories of the abuse for the first time, my parents spent a few days in our home. my girls were preschoolers. my dad began going around just hitting my girls, and i had to immediately call him on it and stop him. my mom tried to defend him saying he wasn’t hitting them … when we had all just watched him doing so. ugh. so i’ve needed to protect my girls from both my parents. (as a matter of fact, that came up with the attorneys during one of the times after the divorce he sued me, and i assured them i was protecting my girls from my dad). since their dad died, due to severe mental and emotional abuse, i’ve also had to protect them from their dad’s parents. based on some of the things my girls have shared, we think their dad, who did his own damage to our girls, was even protecting them from his parents. sick sick stuff.
      and you are absolutely right … God IS good. all the time God is good. when i was going thru therapy all those years ago my therapist told me to ask God where He was when my dad was abusing me. i have dissociated memories. but God gave me visions, showing me where He was and how He was protecting me. those are always close to my heart.
      i have forgiven my parents … and that is not a flippant statement as it took me ten years of actively working on it (my whole 20’s decade) to forgive my mother. i think there is still forgiveness work i need to do with my dad, though, but, again, it’s a process.
      this kind of therapeutic work is hard … not only on me, but on my family, which is one of the main reasons i’m cautious going back into it. i’ve talked to my kids about it – they know generally that my parents abused me and are not safe people, and my kids are very supportive. my husband is amazing and adamant that i take care of myself no matter what it takes.
      repentance is powerful. i know that God can redeem my parents, but i also know He will not force it on them. they have categorically denied they ever abused me, and the things they will admit to they blow off (and i’m talking some serious stuff) and blame it on their own parents or other stuff. it is rare that perpetrators ever take responsibility for their choices and actions … very rare, but when they do, and repent, and turn from their wicked ways and follow Jesus, it’s beyond beautiful.

      however … i will add this … even if they repented yesterday, it does not change what they did … and it does not change that i will have to deal with it and work through it for the rest of my life. there IS healing is Jesus, but it’s a long, difficult process. forgiveness does not equal trust. repentance does not erase what was done.

      btw – love the link … love stories like that. i had two arabic neighbors years ago with whom i still keep in contact and still pray for their salvation 🙂

  1. The new creation is the restoration of all things. However for reasons I and you do not know God in his wisdom allows evil to play itself out for a certain period of time until the end. For now evil is conserved and its consequences will continue. Only I hope that if God is merciful. In the next life all will be well with you and your parents.

    In the meantime however. Such people may be justly sent to the gallows. But in the next life should they repent all will be healed and such evil will be no more.

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