Thursday, April 19, 2012


I dedicate this post to all who suffer from the effects of sexual abuse in their childhood, like me. My hope, as I share my continued struggle to heal, is to encourage you to not give up on yourself- no matter how great the pain is or how heavy the burden inside feels.
You are loved.

I can't breathe.......

I am asked to do a reading at the Holy Saturday service from Ezekiel 37. I feel nervous as I walk forward to the podium, reaching to push the button to turn on the small light so I can see the words. My voice is strong, sure, but my legs are shaking as I read:

"Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, "This is what the sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live."

I can't breathe.........

I meet my sister Lisa and my cousin Liz at my Aunt Janie and Uncle Bob's house. When I step inside I feel I've gone back in time- way back- to the late sixties. The house is musty, having been closed up and left unattended for three years. I begin to have trouble breathing, try to hide it. I step outside, try to clear my lungs, as I walk around the same property where I played all those years ago. I can see three little girls- Liz, Lisa, and me playing, pretending. But the fresh air doesn't help. My lungs continue to close down.

I can't breathe..........

In the movie "Signs" the family hurries into the basement to hide from the aliens. In their haste they forget to bring the son's inhaler. Fear and panic cause him to have an asthma attack, a severe one. The Dad cradles him in his arms, trying to comfort his son as the symptoms get worse, each gasping breath making him more angry. He tells God "I hate you." He's afraid his son will die.

I can't breathe...........

I am just a child, eight years old, an innocent little girl, but not for long. He's on top of me, pressing into me, crushing me in every way. I give up, quit struggling. I disappear within, hide, in that basement of my mind and soul. I stay there many years- 42 to be exact.

I can't breathe............

The wake-up call comes through my sister. I'm afraid. The pain is too much, I don't think I can bear it. The wind blows into my dormant lungs, forcing them open. And the first thing I do is scream, a blood-curdling, ear piercing scream. Lily, my dog, jumps in fear when she hears it. I write in my notebook in bold, messy letters. The anger and fear and shame spew onto those pages. I feel suddenly calm, quiet inside. And I write two questions:

"What do you want from me? What do you expect from me?'
The reply: "Nothing."

I am trying to breathe, but it's hard.............

Yesterday I am walking at a local park. I see two dogs with their owners approaching. As one sniffs my hand she suddenly becomes afraid, uncertain, and snaps at me. Her owner pulls her back with the leash. He explains she was abused before he rescued her, and even after eighteen months is still sometimes afraid of him. I can see how much he loves her, how patient he is with her fear. I tell him I understand, look with deep compassion on the dog, and continue walking. I want to cry. I want the dog to be okay. I want to be okay, to be free of the fear. But I don't know how.

I wait, and I breathe, a little more deeply..............

I read the four different accounts in the gospels. I write them down. Some parts are the same, some are different. But in each she is there at the center, looking for her Lord, desperately wondering where they have taken his body.

I am looking too, desperately, and on a bright spring day I find myself kneeling in a grassy area in front of a huge white cross next to a church called "Providence." I plead with God to rescue me. I sob.

The tomb is empty. She and the disciples know the body is gone. They return to their homes but she stays alone, weeping, bewildered, afraid. She feels lost and broken. Who took him from her? Why would God allow this to happen? Angels appear, but that only brings more fear.

"Son of man, can these bones live?"

He is standing behind her, this woman he cast seven demons from, the woman who is desperate enough to wait and become the first to see, really see.

Thinking he is the gardener, she says, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." Jesus says to her "Mary." She turns toward him and cries out "Teacher!"

I have to rest and breathe.........

I start using the shovel to dig around the roots. The earth is hard, cracked, and dry. We need rain. Determined to transplant the hostas I use every ounce of strength I have to pull them from the ground. I fall back holding them with their roots exposed, ready to plant them in a new spot in my garden.

I breathe and I hope.........

"Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them."

I see the horse- its beauty, its power, its might. I climb onto his back, hug tightly his neck. I am ready now to let him, and my story, take me wherever it will. Resurrection.

I breathe......... and I believe.

1 comment:

Terence Grandfield said...

Absolutely marvelous!!!!!