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Posts tagged ‘rape’

Wandering Lonely, but not like a cloud

Wading through PTSD years after one is violated is a lonely thing. And it is not like wandering lonely as a cloud. It is not a sunny day. It is not day at all, and it is not now either.

It is then, but not then. It is you, and yet there is a loss to the you that is now. The you that is strong and grounded, with roots that go deep in faith.

It is a fog. And once in a while, the fog clears for a moment.

In spiritual direction, it lifts, which is why a confessor/spiritual director is so important. How could one do it without the Catholic faith.

I wonder.

A counselor, too, helps to guide. Tells you that you are normal in this journey to somewhere other than here.

And, Lord, how I need to know that.

The daily readings are an anchor. My Missal doesn’t know what I need to hear today, but the Holy Spirit knows. And provides.

Like today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles – which is really a quote from Isaiah and is for me.

In his humiliation justice was denied him.

I have thought of the word justice often these past few months. I have felt the judgment of others who want me to keep it quiet, not talk about old things, the humiliation is not mine alone, they think.

Odd how the soul knows this is not true.

It is my humiliation. Crushed. Made something less for a space of time than what you are. Not wife. Not even a woman who is paid for services.

You are less than even that. Something like a slave for another’s use.

The King of kings was nailed to a cross. For a little while, a space of time, made something He was not.

Humiliation. And justice was denied him.

The cry for justice comes up from the ground. It moves up through our toes and into our souls.

Even when the cry is buried for thirty years. Especially then.

And I read the words of St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles; I read the quote from the Old Testament.

With the backdrop of Easter, something else came to mind.

The fog lifted, as it does during spiritual direction and counseling. The fog lifted as it does when I read the day’s readings.

He is with you. Was with you. This is an echo of the old story.

Out of the curse, came life. And you let it be.

You loved it, loved that life with a fierceness that grew with the years.

Life conceived in rape is not a curse. It is not.

She is my beloved daughter. Overflowing with life. Abundant with a salve that only she could render. Soul of my soul.

From my body, yet beautifully independent.

My healing began with her and the yes to life. Her life.

Some think that healing after rape would begin with a no to life conceived in such a way. Some may see rape in marriage as a humiliation for the woman and the other children who do not need to know what their father did. Some would call it no humiliation at all, no violation. Some would think that the need for justice lessens with time, certainly does not grow with the years.

Some.

It is all part of the fog.

And I long to command the fog to go now.

Humiliated, without justice. But life took hold of me. And it was good. Is good.

Is the salve like no other.

This child is a precious gift. Conceiving a child in rape, it is the closest I have been to sensing the cross and resurrection.

Top Three Easter Resolutions

Lent was not easy. Perhaps you can relate.

I began with a simple plan: Trust Jesus more.

On Ash Wednesday, I spent my last full day in Jerusalem, and I promised to trust Jesus.

Easy enough. Wrong. Then it all came to a head. The trauma of rape – though it all happened 30 years ago. The hurts I had sustained from others. Some I loved. Some I had trusted. Some new wounds. Some old.

Some minor. Some life-changing, personality-altering.

Jesus, I trust in You.

A person who prays as much as I do… shouldn’t feel like life is coming apart at loose ends.

A person who goes to weekly Mass, sometimes daily Mass, always remembers to take her hour of Adoration at midnight on Thursdays…shouldn’t feel like she doesn’t know who she is anymore.

She should have her act together.

She should be able to stand up straight.

No self-doubt.

Only self-doubt was all around me and in me and above me and beneath me… the opposite of St. Patrick’s Prayer.

Jesus, I trust in You.

And the words and letters seem to slip around on the page and fall off the page or slid down the page or disappear altogether.

J s  , I   st  n  .

e  s    tr   i  Y

u       u    ou

Nonsense. It doesn’t make any sense anymore.

What is trust? How do I do it?

And you find that you need your husband more, and your priest-who-is-also-your-spiritual-director, and a counselor, and a friend.

You cling to them, and begin to realize… It’s Jesus in disguise. Yes, Jesus, I do trust in You.

And when Easter comes, you find that you can stand on your wobbly legs though they feel like you just climbed Mt. Arbel all over again.

I can do this.

You are resolved:

  1. I will not be silent. I will speak out. I will keep speaking out. I will not be embarrassed by what happened to me. Jesus, I trust in You to help me be vocal about it.
  2. I will affirm life, even the life of the unborn conceived in rape. I will speak out. I will keep speaking out. I will not be embarrassed by what happened to me. Jesus, I trust in You to help me be vocal about it.
  3. I will continue to heal. I will not be weak. I will not quit. I will do the things that are hard for me. I will not hide. I will not cling to what is easy or familiar. I will not sit more than a few seconds in a place of old memories. I will not let unwanted dreams linger when I wake from them. I will reach for everything that heals. Jesus, I trust in You to finish the healing You have begun.

I will not be silent. I will affirm life. I will continue to heal.

So be it.

Amen.

The only wise choice: having the baby conceived in rape

I had the dream again last night. Same, but different.

That’s the problem with dreams. You can’t make them stop out of an ironclad will. Those who are walking with you as you sort through the buried violation of an old rape aren’t there either.

You are there all by yourself, and you aren’t even you.

That is to say, you feel all of it. Every emotion. Every fear. Every injustice. But you are in a weakened state without your coping strategies and the advocates who stand beside you in the waking hours of life.

I read an article yesterday.

It was about the road rape survivors walk. But it was from a secular viewpoint. The baby conceived in rape is the alien, unwanted, a constant reminder, something far from the human created in the image and likeness of God.

The unborn child is an extension of the violator.

Like they are joined more than the mother is to her child.

I wonder, sometimes, where I fit in this modern hashing out of the conception-in-rape scenario.

I feel the burden of memories and dreams-I-can’t-stop.

But I do not, at all, in any way, feel what the world says about the unborn-conceived-in-rape.

I’ve lived too long with my daughter who is a gift. A gift. A gift. A gift.

A GIFT!!!!!!!

She is the only good that came from those nights when I was violated.

Even in the dream last night, she was there, and I was protecting her. Getting her away. By force. By ingenuity. By biding my time. By any means.

She does not belong to him.

She doesn’t even belong to me.

She belongs to God, and I am entrusted with protecting her.

It is, perhaps, my only weapon against the violation. What was meant for evil, God has used for good.

And He has given me a path to something good and beautiful through the memories and dreams-which-are-nightmares.

Conception-in-rape is a topic used for the advancement of abortion.

Even the pro-life community doesn’t go there because it seems to be a difficult point to refute. Especially for a pro-life man. Especially for a pro-life woman who has not been raped. Even for a pro-life woman who had a child in less than ideal circumstances.

You just don’t know what it is like for the woman who carries with her a violation. A conception without a yes.

But I do.

And the only wise choice is life. It becomes the only good in a swirling mix of memories and nightmares.

It is a triumph over violation.

A living, breathing triumph.

Silent No More

Did Lazarus want to be known as the stinky man raised from the dead? Did he want everyone throughout history to imagine a raised corpse in grave clothes walking from an opened tomb?

Did the woman with an issue of blood want to be remembered in such ghastly terms?

The woman caught in the act of sin. Did she want her story to be told and retold, how the men gathered around her to throw stones?

Did Mary Magdalene want to be remembered as the woman from whom the demons were cast?

For that matter, did St. Augustine want to be remembered as the man who had a child with his mistress?

Did St. Maria Goretti want to be remembered as a rape victim? A young woman murdered because she fought back?

St. Maria of Egypt, did she wish to be remembered much the same as the woman at the well?

Did St. Paul want to be remembered as the one who persecuted Christians?

*************************************************************************************

Yes and no.

No, if that is all there is to it. No, if the story ends there.

But yes. They shared their stories. Spoke of them. Wrote of them. Their stories were lifted up and attached to the Cross of Christ for the glory of God.

I wonder if there were some who shook their heads. Talked about them behind their backs. Assumed they just liked to wallow in the old stories because they wanted their names to be remembered.

Were they judged and misjudged?

The stinky man?

The trashy woman?

The victimized girl?

The murderous zealot?

The disbelieving, womanizing orator?

Their stories call to us. It is okay to have a past that frightens you. A past that horrifies you. A past in which you were victimized or victimized another, when you love Jesus Christ and give the past up for His glory.

In fact, you are supposed to do that with your past.

Let them think you are talking about yourself. Let them feel justified in saying whatever they want to say.

They can be angry. Or hurt. Or judgmental. Or confused. Or scandalized.

May Jesus Christ be praised, both now and forever.

May the ones who are lifted up from the mire because of your story be healed and redeemed.

May all things work together for the greater glory of God.

So let the stories come up and out.

Jesus has always used our stories to bring others to Himself. And there have always been well-meaning and mean-spirited people who wanted to suppress and silence the witnesses.

Can I have a witness?

Yes.

I am silent no more.

Conception after Rape

Last night’s dream could be analyzed by an amateur.

I was pregnant with my third child. I was back in high school taking a class or two, embarrassed that others were finding out what happened because it was all coming out, spilling out on a public stage.

I wasn’t a teenager. I wasn’t even the young mother I had been with my third pregnancy. I was my age. Me. Right now.

And it was all coming out.

There was a swimming pool at our high school, which there never really was and still isn’t.

I had to get in the water, with that six-month-baby growing inside of me.

I loved that child. Fiercely.

But what was everyone thinking? They were staring at me. And now they knew.

The child was the product of a rape-in-marriage.

 

I woke up then. I do have three children from my first marriage. The third one was a girl. I love her fiercely.

She is six months pregnant with my eighth grandchild.

We talked yesterday, and that may have seeded my dream. Not that we talked, because we do that every day, but the content of this particular conversation was new. Healing. A treasure that will stay with me always.

We talked about her conception. It was one of many conversations we have had about that night. She asked me questions with love and so much gentleness that I cannot write it now without a few tears.

“Mom, she said, “what else could it have been if not rape? I have always known that was what it was even if you didn’t use the word.”

I have always thought of it as molestation. Middle of the night. Sound asleep. Just a month after a marital separation.

Back then, I wasn’t Catholic. I had been on the pill. But during the separation, I had stopped taking it while I was living with my parents.

Then, he changed his mind about not loving me anymore, deciding that he did want to be married, that he wanted me back.

I went back. It’s what you did when you married at 18 and your dad was a pastor and you didn’t know there had been infidelity, especially when you had children together.

It’s what you did.

But the middle-of-the-night-thing needed to stop. It had become a trend with him. I hated it. If I wasn’t good enough to love in the middle of the day or at night before we fell asleep, why was the middle of the night the time? Wake me up out of a dead sleep? And, wow, could I go into a deep sleep after a day of running after two toddlers!

I made myself clear:

With moving back home after a separation, no longer on any contraception, I underscored the stipulation and doubled down on it. Don’t touch me. And especially not during this week.

Lord, I could not get pregnant now. Our marriage couldn’t take it. I didn’t realize that there wasn’t a marriage. Not really. Even though the truth was pretty darn clear.

I’m saying no to that intimacy. No to the middle of the night whatever-that-is. And no especially on the precise night that I am most likely to be fertile.

I blocked off a week and highlighted the three most worrisome days.

I woke up to the moment of our daughter’s conception. I knew immediately that I would conceive. It shook me to my core.

For years, I thought of it as a kind of marital molestation. But yesterday, my conversation with my now-grown daughter was incredibly healing.

“Mom,” she said, “what else could it have been if not rape? I have always known that was what it was even if you didn’t use the word.”

I suddenly felt free. I felt a bond with Kari. Love beyond description. She let me talk about it. Encouraged me to talk about it. Called it what it was. Gave me the freedom to do the same. And she is the only one who could free me from the memory. Redeem it, in a way.

This is it. The gift of yes to a little life that grew within me in the darkest hour. A gift I didn’t fully accept for five or six months into the pregnancy. But a gift that has become one of life’s best surprises and greatest treasures.

She looked at me and smiled. She gave me the freedom to see the truth, to call it for the first time what it was. And there is no pain in naming it because she said it from her own lips.

Man, I love that girl.

The last six months haven’t been easy. I have been thinking about this, in a kind of desolation spiritually, contemplating whether or not to write it, to include it in a new book.

It is so much easier to keep it tucked away in a room with a door only a few people could open, a door marked “molestation” and not “rape.”

I have come full circle, and it is a peaceful, grace-filled, miraculous embrace by the Divine One who makes all things new.

The water in last night’s dream? I think it was a beginning, a cleansing. Sure, I am still nervous about the crowds knowing. But it happened.

And there is joy and beauty on the other side of dark nights. There is peace in the middle of a terrible truth. There is laughter that gets multiplied when the grandbabies come along.

I won. The pearl of great price. It is mine to behold.

The non-Sacramental marriage fell away, but my yes to God and to a little girl made all the difference.

Kari, I love you.