Today’s blog post was written by a woman who I have grown to understand and appreciate more over the past few months. She is a beautiful, witty and caring individual who is finally confronting the past in order to live differently- to live with more peace, joy and LOVE in the present. I’m honored that she chose to share her story here.
Hello, my name is Jo and I was raped.
For years I felt like I was wearing a name tag or a scarlet letter sharing with the world my deepest of wounds. As much as I tried to hide the pain and heartache it came out in my life in ways which will forever haunt me. Abuse causes a ripple effect in people’s lives and my story is no exception. I was raped by my college boyfriend almost twenty years ago. I woke up the next day and wanted to die. Several times in my life I have wished for my life to end and for all of the hurt and fear to subside. Instead of confronting the situation I ran away. I moved to a different country and tried to start my life over. I told myself I would never allow another man to get close enough to hurt me. Less than five years later still in fear and agony I got married after quickly meeting a man. He was charming, a cool musician and offered me hope and safety. I didn’t tell him my secret until after our first wedding anniversary. That was the night he told me about his abusive past as well. That was also the night I discovered my husband’s addiction to heroin. All of the turmoil and pain came flooding back. I was far from home living in a house with a man I barely knew and doubted if I would ever live differently. I began to journal over the next several years and eventually found a counselor who I trusted enough to share my painful past with. She showed me what freedom looked like and I wanted that so badly for myself and my husband.
Over 10 years later I thought I had finally begun to put the past behind me and live a healthy life. Both my husband and I had trusted Jesus and had begun to follow him. While I pursued my love of dance and art again, my husband was called to lead a small church community in our village. Life seemed to have calmed down. But in a short period of time my world collapsed again. After years of struggling I finally became pregnant with our first child. My husband and I rejoiced in this gift of new life and prepared to raise our daughter. Two months before my due date I was rushed to the hospital and my daughter was born. She would only live for a day. She was born premature with an enlarged heart. I held my daughter’s lifeless body and wondered how much more pain my own heart could take. My husband and I covered our grief and quickly adopted a young boy less than a year later. Looking back I was so overwhelmed by grief that I never gave my son a real chance. My husband took on all the responsibilities of fatherhood. Meanwhile I isolated myself and slowly pushed everyone and anyone away. Almost no one could come close to me because everyone had the potential to hurt me. I lived with that lie until last summer.
My husband left for an early breakfast meeting. I kissed him goodbye knowing what was about to happen. He would arrive at a cafe where he would be greeted by his best friend. They would talk and the truth would finally come out.
Hello, my name is Jo. I was raped. I lost a child. And now I’m an adulterous woman.
New country, new life, same story. I was only adding to my guilt and shame. For the past year I had been romantically involved with another man. Even worse, this man was my husband’s best friend and co-pastor at our small church. I panicked and ran. I packed my suitcases and left to stay with family. I went into hiding for the next month trying to figure out how to make all of this go away. I just wanted to be free from everything. Free from guilt, shame, loss, anger.
It has now been 10 months since my life came crashing down on me. Much has happened including another pregnancy loss, the loss of my husband and the ability to see my adoptive son regularly. I am a broken woman. The change I am starting to see is that I believe it is possible for people to love me again. I think I want to learn to love myself again too. This will probably be very difficult but I don’t want to live any other way. I have seen what the other road looks like and it’s not pretty. I believe it’s possible to live a different way. I want to learn to love in a healthy way again. My friend Kara who asked me to write this said she sees so much love inside of me just waiting to burst out. But I can’t love anyone else not even my son in the best and healthiest of ways until I love myself. I am now beginning a new journey of learning to love myself just as I am. I want to see myself the way God sees me.
My name is Jo. I was raped. I have lost much in my life. I was an adulterous woman.
But I am still a child of God and I am loved.