Have you ever asked yourself, “When will I be healed?” I have, many, many times.
In November of 2013, I put myself into counseling. On the outside I seemed fine, but deep down I knew that I was struggling. I had been in a depression since 2005, because of issues inside my home. On top of that, as a kid, I was a victim of child sexual abuse by two different abusers. I had forgotten about the memories until about the end of 2012. As the memories came back, I called my mom to ask her what she knew. What I was starting to realize was that the abuse affected every part of my life growing up. I could easily connect it with the way I acted or things I did. For example, I hated hugs, and all touch for that matter, and I had major trust issues.
Fast forward to May of 2014. It was just another Wednesday and I was seeing my counselor. At this point, I had not told her everything, but at the end of the session she told me I was fine and didn’t need to come back. I was caught up in the excitement that it took me a few months to realize that I was, in fact, not okay. This was really frustrating because I thought I was healed. Boy was I wrong. So, I went on a hunt for a different counselor. I started seeing her in August 2014 and immediately I knew she was going to be a great fit, and even see her occasionally to this day.
Over the past two years, I have spent a lot of time wondering just why I wasn’t healed yet. I had expressed this to a local priest once, and he followed up with the question, “How long have you been hurt?” I was abused when I was ten years old. Then when the memories came back, I kept it a secret. I eventually asked my mom about the first case, but the second case I kept a secret much longer. I thought I did something wrong. I was afraid my family and friends wouldn’t believe me. Here I am, in my twenties, finally getting the help I needed, but wanting to be “healed” immediately. If only it was that simple.
When I was fifteen, I had major back surgery due to scoliosis. I was bed bound for three days, and I didn’t return to school until about a month and a half after. I didn’t heal overnight. It was physically impossible. I couldn’t lift a certain amount of weight; I had weeks and weeks of physical therapy. It was all part of the healing process. Eventually I could play soccer, jump on the trampoline, and snowboard as normal. But it took time.
Just like my surgery, the healing from my abuse took time. A major part of the healing was the power of forgiveness. First, I needed to forgive my abusers. I started by writing an honest letter to them about how I felt. I wrote this knowing they would never see it. What I thought was going to be a lot of angry words, turned into me not blaming them. They both were abused themselves. They lived in troubled households. Unfortunately, abuse can be a cycle that continues on for generations. Once the letter was complete, I took it on a hike with me. Along the way, I ripped it up and threw it away. Brene Brown wrote in her book Rising Strong, “Forgiveness is not forgetting or walking away from accountability or condoning a hurtful act; it’s the process of taking back and healing our lives so we can truly live.” It was on that day that I felt myself start to come alive again. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders that day. I was able to stop focusing on the past, and focus on the future.
The next step was for me to forgive myself. Because of the depression I found myself in, self injury took place on multiple occasions, as well as a plan to end my life. I wasn’t okay with what I had done to myself. So, I turned to the confessional. Fr. Mike Schmitz talks about how in confession you say, “God, I give you permission to give me your mercy, to love me and to forgive me.” He’s the one saying, “Give me a chance.” And that is exactly what I did. I let God wrap His arms around me, and just love and forgive me. It was in His love that I was able to forgive myself.
No matter your past mistakes, no matter what has been done to you, you are worthy of love and forgiveness. Be patient with yourself and remember that healing takes time. Remember that God never stops forgiving; we just stop asking for forgiveness. I have been forgiven, and so have you. Now, let’s enjoy today and look towards tomorrow.