Updated: Dec 14, 2022
How My Spiritual Journey Allowed Me To Unpack and Heal My Trauma and Pain From My Sexual Assault
*WARNING* This post contains triggers but it also contains healing. Everyone believes in something different any and all Religious/Spiritual beliefs will always be respected here. I am in no way shape or form bashing/shaming anyone I am simply telling my story.
"I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become." -Carl Jung
Secret: Adjective: not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others.
Noun: something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others.
Some secrets are easy to carry because they are light as a feather. You are fondly reminded of when you were in school sharing those for your ears only secrets with your childhood best friend. Or when a sibling didn't want others to hear so they would lean over and cup their hand to your ear and bare their soul. These secrets make your heart feel light and joyful. You feel the warmness of nostalgia wrap around you. Other secrets are laced with sinister intentions. They bind the carrier with fear. Slowly burrowing and lodging its self into whoever is forced to carry it. These type of secrets leave destruction in their midst and chaos in its wake. Think of them as a parasite slowly draining its host and latching on to the next when it has had its fill. I had become the keeper of secrets at an extremely young age. One in particular would change my world forever, leaving scars bone deep. It would haunt me while I slept and make me doubt everything I thought I knew about myself. Allow me to introduce you to trauma box #2.
I was not new to the trauma that ran through my father's side of the family. The problem with family trauma is when it is not healed the cycle just repeats; thus creating generational trauma. Every family has skeletons buried. Some are barely decomposed while others are buried so deep that the remains are unrecognizable. What happens when one brave soul decides it is time to free the skeletons? To dig them up from their grave and cast light onto what was once hidden. To free all of the demons that the patriarch or matriarch of the family swept under the rug. You cannot heal what is hidden. What is done in the dark, will always be brought to the light. Eventually the keeper becomes too burdened down with the secrets they hold and those skeletons are washed up from their grave. Nothing stays buried forever. What do you remember from when you were 5 years old? There isnt't much that I remember in my early childhood years. I remember always wanting to be around my older cousins, who in truth were more like siblings. My second box of trauma was gifted to me at 5. This box changed me the instant it was placed in my arms. It has only been recently that I have been able to really deal with it.
I remember the summer nights spent with my cousins. I remember them loving on me. As well as them being mean to me when they thought I was being a brat; which would lead to all of us being placed in timeout. I remember climbing trees, bike rides to the park, playing in the rain, and catching lightening bugs. Those memories are photos in an album placed in a protective box that resides in my heart. There is one memory that stained that year like red wine on a pristine white carpet. Unlike my other memories I am able to recount every moment of this one vividly. It was the source of so many nightmares. It was a nightmare within a nightmare so to speak. My dad would leave me with my cousin, Gwendolyn, who helped him take care of me when he was working. Gwendolyn has two boys named Tyrus and Jael. Her house was the hotspot during the summer. Her niece, Clara, would bring her two children ,Langston and Cordelia over to her house as well. It would just be the 5 of us running rampant. At this point in time Gwendolyn's brother, Gerard was living in her basement.
The basement that was once apart of our playground kind of became off limits. It was his domain so we were only allowed to go down when we played video games. We were known for staying up super late and passing out wherever we fell. We'd try to see who could stay up the latest and would eventually crash where we were. Most of the time we fell out in the living room. That particular night wasn't any different. We were in the living room watching cartoons. I don't remember falling asleep but I do remember waking up in the basement, naked and on top of Gerard. I remember smelling the cigarette smoke on him. I remember smelling the musk in the sofa he normally sat on. I remember feeling something move in-between my legs. I tried to pretend to still be asleep but I begin to cry. Gerard realized I was awake and told me to let him finish. I knew what was happening was wrong but I didn't know why it was wrong, so I began to cry harder. I don't know how many minutes passed but I remember him picking me up off him and him going into the laundry room where he hid my clothes and redressing me. As he was dressing me he stated that what he was doing was wrong. He said that he wasn't inside of me so it was okay. He told me that I couldn't tell anyone because it was my fault. That I had asked for it in my sleep.
In that moment I had internalized his words. Those words became my truth. Since he was the adult, what he told me was right because at 5 you believe adults never lie. In that moment his words were bonded to my soul. Standing there I had decided I would not tell a soul and I would carry this to my grave. Then he walked me to the bedroom Cordelia and I were sharing, made sure I got in bed and walked away. I don't remember much about the day after. I know I was quieter then normal and I clung to my cousins more. I also remember telling myself to make sure I go upstairs when I got sleepy. It was a constant reminder I replayed in my head. Unfortunately I didn't listen to that reminder and I fell asleep in the living room again. I was woken up to the smell of cigarette smoke, the feeling of carpet on my leg and the pillow my head was resting on. My back was pressed to his chest. It was happening again. Gerard had moved me from the couch to the floor this time. He had positioned us in the walkway of the living room and dining room so he had a view of the steps in case someone came down. Afterwards he told me not to tell anyone and to go upstairs.That I had asked for it again.
I felt even dirtier than the night before. I felt tainted and as if part of my soul was stained. My innocence was corrupted and ruined. I avoided him like the plague after that. I spent less time at Gwendolyn's house; only stopping by for Thanksgiving. I hadn't told anyone about what happened those two nights. I had kept Gerard's secret. I had mounted his sin on my shoulders as if it were my own and bore the full weight of it. I tried telling a childhood friend once that lived in the same apartment building as me. I trusted her with my life so I thought I could tell her my secret. She asked if I were joking because if I wasn't joking she had to tell her grandma. Her words shook me to my core. If she told her grandma then her grandma would tell my dad and then my dad would tell everyone. Everyone would know that it was my fault. Everyone would know that I had asked for it or at least that's what Gerard said I did. Everyone would know how dirty and tainted I was. How ruined I had become. So I lied. I told her it was a joke and went home. I knew she didn't look at me the same after that day but it was a small price to pay to be the keeper of this secret. I tried to tell one more person before I buried it. It was a cousin I had looked up to and at a point in time wanted to be just like. I spoke the truth about what happened. At this point many years had passed and my hatred for Gerard had only grown. I told my cousin that I hated him for what he did. Only to hear this person respond saying that Gerard was family and since it was never done to them, I shouldn't bad mouth him to any one else.
All the respect and admiration I had for that person died that day. I have never been able to see them the same way since that moment. Around this exact time I had made a new friend. She was new to the complex. Her mom had introduced us while we waited at the bus stop. Overtime our friendship grew, we became best friends. One day she was over my house and I told her. She had shared her big secret so I only thought it fitting that I tell her mine. She convinced me to tell my dad. At the time he was on the phone with my grandmother. I went into the living room and told him I had to tell him something. He asked me what it was and my best friend egged me on to tell him. I told him and my grandmother what happened. He asked my grandmother how was he suppose to look him in the face after this and how was he suppose to address him. My grandmother told him not to do anything. My father was a victim of circumstance. He grew up in an era where you respected your elders and their word was law. He was in a battle between protecting his child or going against the circumstances that were ingrained in him. He chose his upbringing. I decided that I wouldn't tell anymore family members after that.
As time went on I buried it again, even deeper this time. Even with it being buried deep, I couldn't escape the damage Gerard had done. He had planted seeds and over time their roots grew deep. One of those roots being my confusion around my sexuality. I had begun to question my sexuality which lead me to experiment. I was in the third grade when I had my first sexual encounter with the same sex. It was with a fellow classmate. I don't remember the exact details of what happened. I do remember telling myself that it felt different than what Gerard did. I didn't enjoy what he did to me but I kind of liked what this girl did. I was intrigued by how she made me feel. I didn't feel dirty or used but I also didn't understand. That feeling was short lived. We were in the bathroom and I think I accidentally hit her in the stomach with my belt. She got upset and told another classmate that I forced her to do it, that she didn't want to. She had initiated the whole thing and because she was upset/embarrassed she blamed me for everything. The classmate she told said I was disgusting and called me gay girl repeatedly. I began to cry because I wasn't gay. I still liked boys too so how could that make me gay? The feelings of disgust rose in me once more. I felt ashamed for liking the girl so I repressed those feelings and hid my confusion. I was too embarrassed and ashamed to revisit those feelings again.
The other roots were that I had major trust issues and my self-esteem was non existent. I hated myself. I hated myself for being so weak. I hated myself because it was my fault. I thought I did something that made him think it was okay. I mean the man even said I asked for it. I hated every facet of my being. Around the age of 13/14 my self hatred poured into self harm. I began cutting myself. I would cut in places I could easily hide and for a brief moment I was brought relief. I had felt something other than the numbing pain and the ache of hatred I had grown use to. This was also the start of my rebellion phase in life. The more my dad tried to reign me in the more oppositional I became. Around 20/21 I began smoking, drinking and partying. I wanted to escape it all even if the escape was short lived. I wanted to be free from the numbness that nestled it's way into my heart. When I was under the influence I didn't have the constant hate fueled thoughts that normally ran through my mind. My escape never lasted long and I wasn't bold or crazy enough to try anything other then weed. Looking back I realize I was on auto pilot for majority of my life. I put a mask on and pretended every thing was fine. Deep down I really wasn't fine. My rebellion was really a cry for help. The proof of that started to pour out in my day to day life. I wasn't confident in myself which made me feel like I was less than. I ended up dropping out of 2 colleges because I felt lack luster. My relationships tended to be failures because of my own insecurities. I went through life coasting. Barely staying above the tide but not weak enough to give up treading water.
During my first couple of sessions with Ms. Kim in 2018, she helped me begin to unpack this box at my own pace. When it first came up she told me that if I wasn't ready then I didn't have to talk about it. She assured me that she would be here when I was ready and that there was no rush. I was ready. I was more than ready. I was ready to be released from the binds that were holding me down. I was ready to be free. She lead me to the realization that what Gerard had told me was a way for him to manipulate me. Most child molesters and child sex offenders use their power and manipulation to control their victims. She went on to explain it was in no way shape or form my fault. Ms. Kim helped me realized that I wasn't tainted or soiled in any way shape or form. She helped me work through the self hatred. Though the self harm stopped years before, I still suffered with self-esteem issues. I was extremely insecure in who I was before and after my assault. She helped me figure out that my confusion over my sexuality was due to the assault and that it was time for me to stand in my truth. This revealed more boxes that I needed to unpack. These were the boxes filled with emotions that I had pushed so far to the back of my mind. I had to sit in those feelings about what really caused me to self harm, why I hated myself, what happened in third grade and all the way down to the sexual assault itself. This process was painful. Every box of pain I unpacked triggered me to feel all the emotions I hadn't dealt with. I cried tears sea deep during this process. I ugly cried, but this purge was needed. I had to release it. I had to let go.
During my sessions I realized that I was more then just my sexual assault. I survived a very serious trauma. Instead of continuing to try to escape it, I faced it head on. In deciding to stop running from it, I realized how blessed and protected I truly was. I could still be caught up in the grips of escapism or so mentally and emotionally unstable that I need to be hospitalized for the rest of my life. I can be nothing but grateful because God kept me from going down a path where I would not be here to share my story. His grace and mercy kept me from causing myself permanent harm. During those unpacking moments, which includes while I type this, I felt nothing but immense gratitude. I could have been just another sexual abuse statics. I made it. Battle scars and all I made it. I had even went as far as forgiving Gerard for what he did. I forgave my grandmother for allowing my voice to be silenced. I forgave my family for failing 5 year old me. Lastly, I forgave myself for not giving my inner child the love she needed. For all the self inflicted abuse I put her through. With that forgiveness I had felt the weight partially lift off my shoulders. I had done it, I had let go and given it to God. I laid my burden down at His feet. I still had one more thing to do. I had to confront my abuser and tell the ones who meant the most to me. That was a step I was not ready for yet. Just thinking about it made me feel like I had a panic attack on the horizon. Ms.Kim eased my worries by telling me I didn't have to do it right away that over time I would be able to, and she was right.
After my dark night of the soul(my depressive episode from part I) I was different. I felt renewed and revived. I felt like something inside of me had awakened with such fierceness. With this new sense of awareness I was ready to tackle the world. It was like I was placed in new armor, my chainmail replaced, and my sword and shield replaced. I was ready for war. I was ready to battle my demons head on. I told Ms. Kim I had been feeling like it was time to tell my loved ones about the assault. It was time this keeper spilled her secrets. She encouraged me and stated that maybe I'd have enough courage to face him as well. I had kept this secret from them for far too long. Back then I knew they worshipped the ground he walked on sometimes and I didn't want to taint their image of Gerard. This couldn't be kept from them any longer though. Tyrus and Langston protected me through out my life. So the 5 year old me wanted to finally tell her big brothers and protectors what was done to her. I had been staying with Langston, his wife,Ashley, and daughter whenever I had an upcoming trip out of JFK or when I had a short amount of days off in between trips. I decided to tell Langston first. I had no problem talking to friends about it so I should be okay telling someone who is like a big brother to me. I assumed wrong, so wrong. We were sitting on the couch and for the life of me I couldn't form the words to speak. It was like the secret had a body of it's own and was wrapping it's hand around my throat preventing me from speaking. I took a few deeps breaths swallowed my fear, with tears in my eyes and my voice breaking I barely got the gist of it out. As I tried to form coherent thoughts into words, Langston stopped me and said he knew what I meant. He had hugged me and told me he loved me as he held me. Langston is a man who rarely shows his emotions so that meant a lot coming from him. I had finally got it out to someone of value to me. As trying as it was I had begun to free myself that day. Now for the extremely hard part; telling Tyrus and Gwendolyn whose house it happened at.
After my conversation with Langston, I began doubting that I was ready for this at all. I had shared with Ashley that I basically choked when trying to tell Langston. I didn't think it would be so complicated. I had shared it with strangers with ease so why was it so hard now? Ashley and I automatically clicked when Langston first introduced us but during this time we grew extremely close. This phase of healing I leaned on her a lot for moral support and sometimes just for comfort. We both were taking sessions with Ms. Kim so we were each other's accountability partners and sounding boards. I told her that I didn't think I would be able to tell Tyrus and his mom. Especially after I couldn't manage to tell her husband. She reminded me to breath through my anxiety, that I could and would do it. She had already messaged Tyrus telling him I needed to talk to him and his mom. Ashley, at times, also gave me tough love. She knew I was ready just as I did. I was just letting fear overtake me. After Ashley got off work she drove us over to Gwendolyn's house. My heart was beating out of my chest the entire car ride there. As Ashley sat next to me, Gwendolyn sat across from me and Tyrus sat to my right. This was it. This was the moment I had been waiting for. It was now or never, do or die. As I opened my mouth to speak the invisible hand from before came back and stopped the words from spilling out. I felt like I was going to be sick. The lump in my throat grew and I felt an unbearable pressure in my throat. I took a deep breath and asked them if they remembered when I use to spend the summers here. I had Gwendolyn's undivided attention now, she sat up straighter and put her phone down. She said yes. The more I tried to say it the more it seemed the invisible hand squeezed tighter. Trapping the words in my throat. At this point I am fighting tears and Gwendolyn tells me to say it. She said she needed for me to say it. Ashley placed her hand on my leg and told me to take a deep breath. I then proceed to tell Gwendolyn and Tyrus that I was molested twice by Gerard. I told them everything, every detail down to what he said.
The first thing Gwendolyn said was that she believed me. She asked why I didn't tell her or anyone. I told her that I did tell a few family members but i had told them that it wasn't their story to share, when I was ready I'd share it. She then shared her own child sexual abuse experience and how it affected her every day life. After our emotional moment she said she was going to call Gerard. Ashley and I assumed she meant she would call him after we left. Boy were we wrong. She grabbed the phone and said she was calling him right then and there. As the phone rang, dread filled me. A slew of thoughts ran through my mind, none were coherent enough for me to process. He answers and by this time I'm wrapped up in Tyrus's arms. The only thing I can think of is that he's going to deny it, he will deny it all. Gwen starts the conversation saying that she was sitting in her living room with Tyrus, Ashley, and me. She then goes on to tell him I told them what he did to me and without a shadow of a doubt she believes everything I said. There was a short pause before Gerard asked was he drunk. Gwen then said how was she suppose to know she wasn't there watching him. He said he didn't remember. Gwen said he need to come by and allow me to confront him. He agreed to meet at Gwen's house and to allow me to speak my peace. Gwen hung up with him and told me that if I felt comfortable what day worked for me. She said this is what should've happened in the first place and that if no one else would do she would/will. We agreed to meet back at her house Saturday after Ashley got off work.
September 14, 2019 will be remembered for the rest of my life. This day is one I never thought would come. I thought I wouldn't get this chance, I wouldn't be brave enough to take grasp the opportunity. The Saturday we agreed upon came quicker than I had anticipated. I was nervous but in my heart and soul I knew this had to be done. We were the first to arrive at Gwen's house. Gwen was the only one home since Tyrus had to work. We sat and chit chatted for a bit before Gwen asked me was I ready. I told her I was ready as I'll ever be and with that she called Gerard to let him know he could be on his way over. I don't know about Gwen or Ashley but time was moving in slow motion. The more time passed the more nervous and anxious I grew. After 30 minutes he shows up and ring the doorbell. As he walks in my heart is in my throat. All of a sudden I am 5 years old again and terrified all over again. My anxiety washes over me more and I feel my throat start to constrict. He sits down in the chair to my right and I can't meet his eyes. I'm petrified to stare him directly in his face. This is the face that caused so much damage and so many nightmares.
It is at this moment when Gwen tells me to say whatever I needed to say. I knew I was going to need extra back up to help me, so I called in the archangels and my angels. I called in my guides. I called on the God in me to take over, speak for me and to help me face this. I remember asking for my words to be guided with love and for me to be filled with peace. After my little prayer I turned and looked at him. I told him I had dreamt about this moment for a long time. I imagined how I would feel. Would I be angry, scared, filled with rage and burning hatred. Or would I be filled with pain. I looked him dead in the eyes and told him in this moment in time all I felt for him was pity. I told him I knew it happened to him and that he wasn't strong enough to seek healing. I told him I pitied him because I am free of the bondage he placed on me. I said that I had carried his sin for him for too long and it was time I gave it back to it's rightful owner. I told him that I willingly and gladly placed his sin at his feet. For him to bare the weight of it because I could no longer carry something that did not belong to me. I told him that there was no hatred in my heart for him. That I gave up hating him because I refused to burn in Hell over him.
It was quite for awhile and then Gwen asked me how I knew it was done to him. He said he hadn't told anyone but it was Gwen's father who had molested him. I told him that molesters are normally victims or sexual assault so I assumed it had to be a pattern. He got up and left after that and as he left he took his bag of sin with him. I had felt so exhausted and relived all at once. I knew in that moment I had completely and whole heartedly released it. Now he bore the weight of his deed. Before we left Gwen told me that even though I faced my abuser there will always be work that I'd have to do. She shared with me that from her own experience she didn't trust men and had to use them the way her abuser tried to use her. I shared with her that I knew the areas where it had changed me in. I had come to terms with me being attracted to both sexes and that I had a really hard time trusting the opposite sex. Before we left Gwen hugged me and said how proud of me she was. As we got in the car I didn't even have to tell Ashley how I felt. She was so in tune with my emotions that I jokingly said that I needed to nap for 2 weeks after that. I felt so light but I was also tired. I no longer bore the weight of this sin but the releasing of it took a lot out of me. There were others who had touched me inappropriately after what Gerard had done to me. All cousins close in age to me. I don't fault them nor do I blame them. We were, and some still are, traumatized kids living through their trauma. We had traumatic experiences which were deemed normal to us so that's what we projected. I wish them nothing but healing.
I do not know much but I do know that this didn't happen without reason. I believe that my traumas were predetermined before I was placed on this Earth. That there is a plan for my life and in that plan there was some pain that I had to feel and overcome. I had to go through all of these for the greater good. I believe that my story will inspire others to began their healing process and it breaks a family cycle that has lasted too long. That's why I am baring my soul for all to see. Giving the world a tour of the skeletons in my closet. I hope that those of you reading this know that you are never alone. There is always something more than pain. Even when that's all you can see. I want you to know that there is hope after every storm. There is healing after trauma. Nothing was taken from you and you have not lost anything. Look at the power you've gained. The resilience to power through and keep moving forward. The courage to face another day. In the pain is where I found my salvation. In the darkness is where I birthed my light. Maybe that's where you'll find yours, you won't know unless you start.
Create a life outside of pain.
With so much love and light,
-Thee Nomadic Goddess
*Some names were changed for privacy reasons*
*Kim Warner is a spiritual life coach/advisor who helps clients deal with addiction, depression, and many other mental health issues. As well as helping clients to unpack and heal their trauma and leading them to understanding their triggers. She also offers video conference sessions. For more information about her services feel free to contact her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org *