So far in these posts, I have not yet shared about the deepest hurt and sharpest pain that I have endured due to my being molested as a child. This particular wound has been the hardest one for me to face and discuss. It has to do with the subject of sex. Just writing that last sentence was painful for me. In today’s society, sex is commonplace, but for me it is hard even just to say the word sex.
But it hasn’t always been that way. When my husband and I were newlyweds, we seemed to have a normal marriage, healthy in all aspects. I cannot really tell you when the changes in our intimate life began, except that I remember starting to have problems at about the time that our son reached puberty. The timing makes sense to me now, since my molestation had come at the hands of teenage boys. Back then, though, when those memories were still stuffed away in my subconscious, I did not know why our sex life had suddenly become a problem.
In counseling, I have learned that women who are molested as children generally follow one of two paths as a result. Some victims become sexually promiscuous. Others go in the opposite direction and hate sex. Of course, this is an oversimplification, but you get the picture.
I chose the latter path. When I heard other married women talk about their husbands in glowing terms, I only thought about how much I hated to be touched. Going away on a romantic weekend was not my idea of a good time. These irrational feelings only made me believe even more that I was weird or that something was wrong with me. I hated to watch love scenes in movies, explicit or implied. I especially could not watch a movie that involved rape or the sexual degradation of women. I began to dress inside my closet so that my husband would not see me without clothes. Sex became torture for me. I gritted my teeth and felt actual physical pain. I cried out to God, but continued to spiral into deeper and deeper depression.
When my husband and I tried to talk about this issue I always came away feeling worse about myself than ever before. All the things he shared with me were true. He said I “should” want to be with him. I “ought” to feel the way a wife is supposed to feel. I knew all those things in my mind, but my body just would not cooperate. It really is a miracle that my husband stayed with me through all those years—a miracle, but also a great testimony of his love for me and his commitment to our marriage.
I began to derive my love and acceptance from my children instead of my husband, because my children didn’t demand any physical love from me. I turned the love that I should have had for my husband toward them. I knew that this was wrong and that I should love my husband first, but the sexual issues were too hard to overcome. My sexual problems multiplied ten times over when our daughter first started dating. I felt that I was in a pit of despair and found myself with no hope.
Then I found a counselor who helped me believe that there was hope for me. Oh, how I wanted to believe that I could be “normal” when it comes to sex. And the journey to wholeness began. Little did I know that I would have to confront dumb, stupid, ugly, unforgiveness, bitterness, and all the other pains and heartaches that I encountered along the way before I could actually start dealing with the issue of sex. Each victory over those other problems gave me strength and courage to believe that this struggle, too, would have a good outcome, and gave me hope in my future with my husband. I really could be the woman God created me to be.
Joel 2:12-13 says, ‘Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and […] return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil” (NASB).
I knew that now was the time to give myself wholly to my healing, because it involved more than just me. Only then could I claim the promise found in verses 23-25:
So rejoice, O sons of Zion, and be glad in the LORD you God for He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, the early and latter rain as before. The threshing floors will be full of grain, and the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil. Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust, and gnawing locust.
But the most cherished promise of all is given in verse 26: “Then My people (including me!) will never be put to shame.” I have hope that all the years that were stripped from me will be made new and I will never again have shame!
I am ready to face this new challenge. Come with me, Friend, and He can do it for you, too.
Blessings – Lisa