Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Don't Let Them Win

Originally written 29 August 2010

Some people, when they hear a story or watch  a scene in a movie, or see a place that takes them back to a traumatic experience in their life, they freak out.  The first time that happened to me, I was 17. 

 I was watching an afternoon talk show with my boyfriend, and the topic was incest.  I didn’t even know what the word meant.  As I watched and listened, I was horrified as the girl on the program described similar things that had happened to me.  I ran outside and my bf followed me and asked what was wrong.  In a rush I told him what happened, how before today I thought everything was just a part of life, but after seeing the show I felt ashamed, dirty, evil, soiled.  I told him I would understand if he wanted to break up with me.  My boyfriend put his arms around me and hugged me for a long time, without saying anything.  Then I noticed he was shaking from crying. 

He then told me that what happened to the little JoAnn was horrible, unforgivable, unfair, and just wrong.  He said there was nothing to be ashamed of – that THOSE men were evil, dirty, and soiled, not the little JoAnn.  He told me it was OK to cry for the little JoAnn, to feel for her and to be angry for her, but he also said I shouldn’t let what happened then control the present and the future.  He said that Little JoAnn had no control over what happened, but THIS JoAnn can take steps to control what SHE will do with what she just learned.  Then he said something I will never forget:  “Don’t let the deeds of stupid, wicked men take away the joy of what happens between a husband and wife.  If you do, they win.  Don’t let them win.”

Then he said this wasn’t over – this 17-year-old high school senior with no psychology background said to me, “You will have days when memories will come pouring out, and you’ll wonder if they really happened.  People might deny things happened to cover their backsides.  Events will happen that will take you back to a bad place.  These things will happen, and I want you to know I will ALWAYS be there for you.  I would NEVER break up with you.”

That night, I prayed that if there were more bad memories to come, that He will give me the strength to endure them and not to go crazy.  God did better than that – He sent people my way who listened and understood, who didn’t judge but only prayed, who didn’t accuse but only hugged.  He still does that to this day.

Oh, by the way, that 17-year-old boyfriend was true to his word.  I’m still married to him.  I win.

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