If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that one of the things that i greatly enjoy is helping others share their story of survival and hope. I’m truly honored and humbled at everyone who has shared their story as a guest blogger or guest podcaster.
This one comes courtesy of someone who I connected with on Twitter, and as it turns out lives the same area that I do. Small world right! Liria Forsythe started Speak Truth Ministries, with her husband Matthew. She is also the mother of a small army, survivor, warrior for the abused, author, speaker, and head over heels for Jesus.
Her upcoming book, Thrive, is scheduled to be published in Summer 2017, and is her story of sexual abuse, PTSD and God’s redemption through it all. To learn more about Liria, Speak Truth Ministries, and her book, head over to her website and connect with her. Just tell her that Matt sent ya 😉
Thank you again for sharing so openly and honestly, you are an inspiration to so many!
Nobody ever wakes up one day and wishes their life was turned upside down. Nobody thinks to themselves they need more drama to make their life interesting. Not one person looks around and desires life would go to war against their soul because that would be fun.
Yet, sometimes, that’s exactly what life does to us. It wakes us up in the dead of night, terrorizes us with memories long forgotten or blocked out, then stands back and laughs while we lay crumpled on the floor, gasping for breath.
That’s what happened. My life, my beautiful, happy, fairy-tale life, was ripped from my grasp in one 24 hour block of time and replaced with so much trauma and abuse that I couldn’t breathe. My soul was shredded into tiny fragments of its former self with each memory that returned and each realization I had to face.
But I had gotten very good at changing the story into something that was my fault. I had adapted my thoughts over twenty-two years to believe what my boss did to me for almost two years when I was fourteen made me an adulteress and a home-wrecker. I had changed the story of my cousin repeatedly raping me at nineteen to be one that wasn’t that bad and probably something I led on.
Because that’s what I had been told when I tried to get help all those years ago.
- I was the problem.
- I was a slut.
- I was being dramatic.
- I was a disappointment, an embarrassment, and a humiliation.
All the things a daughter longs to hear after she’s been molested and raped.
So I chose to adapt and change my story to accommodate those in my life who didn’t want to talk about such things. I didn’t want to make them uncomfortable, because then they’d make me more uncomfortable and all I wanted to do was to forget.
That’s what I did for twenty-two years and it worked for the most part. Until life happened.
When the memories returned and clarity came, so did a whole new wave of shame, guilt, fear, self-loathing, and sometimes despair. Most of those emotions had become so constant in my life, I didn’t realize life could be had without them. I didn’t recognize them as the emotions they were because I had learned to live with them. Especially the shame and guilt. Those two were my go-to emotions for almost any situation. They were the reasons I did things I didn’t want to do and talked myself out of moments of happiness that I deserved. They had become security blankets for me, wrapping me in their oppressiveness, reminding me I was the problem. I was always the problem.
But just as strongly as those memories came at me with fresh forces of guilt, shame, and fear, I had new voices whispering in my ear, comforting me, affirming me and believing me. These voices were coming from people who authentically loved me and saw me. They were trustworthy, kind, and compassionate. They said the most important words an abuse victim can hear: I believe you. Without hesitation, without questioning, without accusations.
These voices were equally as strong as my shame, guilt and fear and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t simply bowled over by waves of negative emotion. This new support allowed for something new. I was not immediately victorious, but it created space for conflict. Thus, began a war between my mind and my soul.
- My past versus my present.
- My past versus my future.
- My “past” versus truth.
How was I supposed to change everything I’d believed about myself for the last twenty-two years? How was I supposed to just let go of all the weight I’d been carrying and hold onto the possibility that I wasn’t to blame? How was I supposed to walk towards healing and wholeness when I had become so comfortable functioning in my prison?
This war for my soul was bloody. There were artillery fire and casualties. There were betrayals, ambushes, and those who looked like spies. It was messy and hard, but I chose to listen to the voices who currently spoke into me rather than the voices I’d heard for the last two decades.
And that choice was the difference between a war won, and a war lost. Life wanted to use the sexual abuse in my past to destroy my pretty world and keep me weeping in that ball on the floor. Life wanted to cripple me – and my household – by reminding me of my “indiscretions” as an adolescent while mocking me for believing in happy endings. Life wanted to create havoc by revealing just how violent the rapes had been, then sit back and smugly watch while I try to survive.
I had a choice. To flee, to freeze, or to fight. Twenty-some years ago I froze and then abided there. But these memories, these horrific, disturbing, soul-shattering memories, brought the opportunity to do it all over again. To make different choices. To deal with the pain instead of pretending it wasn’t there.
And as I fought, the boss who took pieces of my innocence began to morph from someone I ruined to someone who ruined me. As truths were revealed, he turned from the kind man who showed interest in an awkward little girl to an ugly creature who manipulated his way into the heart, mind, and body of a child.
As I fought, my rapist, who was already a monster to me, evolved from being unbearable to think about to a powerless man who had no place in my current life. He went from causing panic in my soul at the mention of his name to feeling nothingness and maybe even a touch of compassion for his own past hurts.
Every guy that took advantage of my brokenness after the abuse, every guy that thought they were helping, every guy that thought they had a right to me… And every symptom of PTSD, every part of my cutting disorder, every ounce of shame and guilt I had from those years… I fought and they fled.
One night without warning, life threw immeasurable trauma and pain at me that derailed my beautiful world for over a year. Then one morning, just as quickly as those memories showed up, the dragons controlling them were gone. The sun was rising again. The fog had lifted and there was peace in me once more.
Because I had won. I had won my war and survived.
And now I can truly live.
-By Liria Forsythe
- Founder of SpeakTruthMinistries.org
- Author of Thrive. – coming late summer 2017
- Speaker and advocate for abuse victims and their support systems
- @LiriaForsythe on twitter