Today is the day we ponder the resurrection of Christ. When He was crucified, I’ll bet many weren’t sure how they would go on without Him. This person who had been their teacher, their friend, their savior…was now gone. This part of them was cut off and they no longer had access to the thing they loved the most. I think that when we go through trauma, we experience a sense of loss that is similar to what they must have been feeling during those three days while they waited to see what would happen next. Stay with me on this. I know it might be a stretch for anyone who hasn’t experienced trauma, but I’m sure that nearly everyone out there can understand what it is like to lose a part of yourself and not know whether or not it will ever return. And maybe even wonder if it needs to return in order for you to be whole. These are the thoughts I had during my prayer time today and I hope that you can find something helpful in them.
When I was 22 years old, I was raped. Up to that point, I had been a virgin. Yes, believe it or not, I hadn’t been a “normal” sexually active teenager. And I never understood why so many of my peers were or claimed to be. It had been very important to me to save that part of myself for the “right” guy. It had also been very important to me not to become a raging alcoholic, but I failed in that respect as well. In the days before I was raped, I had been very vocal about how I felt about those who drank too much or slept around. I had been very judgmental and was probably seen as quite an awful person by those who weren’t quite so rigid. And in those days, I also felt like there was no battle I couldn’t fight. I didn’t put up with any crap from anyone and I was determined to be a strong, successful, single woman. It was going to take a great man to pull me away from my goals and an even better man to make me want to become a wife and mother. I knew this with absolute certainty and no one could tell me any different.
Scary as I was, I managed to date quite a few people. I was never in any danger of settling down, but I did maintain a fairly healthy social life without compromising my values. This was probably much to the chagrin of those I dated, but I was okay with that. I figured if they were the right one for me, they would wait it out. And so, time went on and I found myself in a situation I hadn’t expected. A longtime friend had been dating my roommate and he had decided that he was in love with me. The two had been living with me and after a time, the pressure to join the party had become too great. I was tired of being the only one who took life so seriously. I got mad one night and decided to drink the alcohol that they had in the refrigerator. I drank pretty much all of it and from that point on, my life took a very dark turn. I’m not sure if it was that night or a few nights down the road, but on one occasion I drank so much that I blacked out for several hours and only woke up because my admirer had decided that this was a great time to show me how much he loved me. I hadn’t asked for this. I hadn’t even been able to speak or move, so clearly this was not something I’d wanted. But once it was done, it was done. And I was forever changed.
In that moment, a part of me died. A part I’d never meant to let go of. A part I thought that I needed in order to survive. He might as well have killed me because I was broken beyond what I believed could be repaired. And I acted accordingly for the next several years. I was no longer myself. That girl was decidedly gone.
This all happened in or around the end of 1995. For several years, I acted out by drinking and living a very promiscuous lifestyle. By my former standards, I had become everything that I hated and I couldn’t figure out how to erase the picture that was forming in my life. I was a mess for the next five years or so; spending my time in bars, playing pool and drinking. I had a few “relationships” that I thought might become significant enough to make an honest woman out of me, but because I had so much contempt for myself, those fizzled out before anything good could materialize. By the time I met my now ex-husband, I figured I was lucky to have anyone at all. And when you go into a marriage with such a broken mindset, you can’t really expect much. Ten years later, we were divorced and I found myself alone again. But this time, I was relieved. Some healing had taken place and I knew it was time to move on.
It has now been a little over ten years since that divorce and the more I have time to really think about all that happened, the more I come back to this notion that the girl I had been had been taken too soon. She wasn’t ready to go and having lost her the way I did left a wound that is still healing. I hadn’t thought there was still so much pain after all this time, but since I hadn’t ever taken the time to grieve the loss of myself in that way the healing hadn’t been completed. I thought that because I had dealt with most of the issues that I’d had as a result of the rape, I was finally okay. But those were just pieces. When I think back now to the days when I wasn’t afraid in my own house; the days when I could sleep through the night without thinking anyone could ever hurt me…I can’t even recall what that security felt like. I’m not necessarily afraid these days, but there is an edge to me that wasn’t there before and it attached itself to me with so much subtlety that I was scarcely aware that this part of me had changed. I just chalked it up to losing my mind and tried to move on.
So, thinking about the resurrection of Jesus, although the connection isn’t apparent, made me wonder if that girl could still be saved. It made me wonder if she still had any place in my life. Or should I just let her go completely and accept the fact that the person I once was is not ever coming back in a way that I will recognize. I’m no longer a drinker. I set that aside a long time ago. And I hardly date at all these days. I like myself a whole lot more, but sometimes I wonder what would have happened if so much hadn’t happened…if you follow. Would I have had the courage to talk to women and girls about protecting themselves from harmful relationships? Do I really have that courage now? If I hadn’t been raped, would my perspective still have been so narrow that I would never have developed an understanding for women who act out when they’ve been broken? Some people can understand things without having to have such a harsh example set for them. I’m not one of those people. I tend to have to learn through experience. But what if my experience had been different? What if it could be different now? What if the girl I lost could be somehow resurrected and I could get back that part of myself that was so damaged? Would she make sense to me at all?
When Jesus was taken from His disciples, they were changed. He was still Jesus, but those who followed Him no longer felt the security of having Him in their midst and it probably wasn’t easy for them to figure out how to access the power of His presence without experiencing it in the physical. But He never really left them. Not even when He was in the tomb. Everything that He had been to them, He still was and intended to still be. It was their reaction to the loss that changed them. Just as it was my reaction to my loss that changed me. I was and am still that girl. That headstrong, snarky, stubborn girl who won’t take any crap from anyone. She simply isn’t the only part of me that exists now. She’s there, but not as obviously as she once was. And in some ways, that’s a good thing. She needed to step back and allow the rest of me to break through. She needed to give way so that the rest of me could develop. Just as the perception of Jesus as a human needed to make way for the knowledge that He was the Christ. Far more powerful than He had been in human form and of so much more value than the disciples had placed on Him when He was alive in the flesh. We are so fortunate to have access to Him in the way that we do. I know that sometimes we wish we could have been the ones to walk with Him and experience His presence as a person, but many of us don’t take enough time to appreciate Him in the Spirit. And I’m guessing that until we do, we won’t experience the full benefit of the resurrection that took place all those years ago.
The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
~Job 33:4 (NIV)~