Whenever I see a new born baby, I see a picture of faith and hope and love in its purest form. These are our factory default settings. As we grow older, facets of these three factors are stripped from us and unless we hit ?Restore Factory Settings?, we become less than what we were destined to be. A person with little or no faith or hope or love is a person who is hurting, and hurting people, usually hurt people - Which leads me to my story, a story of my journey from my default setting of hope to a temporary place of absolute hopelessness ?
It was a very normal wintery day and I had things to do. I set off in my vehicle with a list as long as my arm, knowing that I had to be back at the office by midday for a staff meeting. On my way back, I decided to pop in at the sweet factory. It was there that I was confronted by a young man asking for money to supposedly visit his son in a hospital approximately 100 km away, in another town. I did not have the cash he was asking for, but gave him what I had. He was not happy and forced me back into the car and made me drive him at gunpoint to the town where his son was hospitalized.
I am a parent. I can understand his dilemma. A parent needing to get to his sick child, perhaps urgently, perhaps desperately, perhaps before he died. I can sympathise and even in a weird way, condone what he did under the banner of ?Unconditional parental love?. But that is not where it ended.
During the journey he had sifted through my belongings: my handbag and shopping bags and taken what he wanted. In going through my handbag, he had come across my lipstick. I should have known what was coming when he told me to put apply some and demanded that I lick my lips.? I should have seen it coming when he started to run his hand up my leg and under my skirt. I guess I did know what was coming and yet it still came as such a shock!
Half way, between the two towns, I was forced to stop the car behind some trees in a field. It was there that he raped me. It only took a few minutes, a few minutes which seemed like an eternal age. My back was twisted between the back and front seats, my hand swollen and bruised from being hit with the gun, my neck muscles pulled and stretches as he yanked my long hair. My dignity taken as he helped himself to what I cherished as being something I had reserved for my husband and only my husband.
We had met when I was only 13 and knew that we would get married when we were both older. Eventually we did. I was only 19, he was 24. We had both kept ourselves pure for each other and what was taken from me that day, was almost more than what I could live with.
Eventually I escaped. Eventually I was re-united with my husband. The story is too long to go into all the details now. But I had to wait for almost two hours for my husband to fetch me. In these hours, I decided that he could not know. He could not know that I was no longer ?pure?, no longer ?only his?. Obviously looking back now, I can see how blinded I was and how much of what I suffered after this was my own fault. However, when we do make mistakes, the greater mistake is not forgiving ourselves, not getting up and going forward.
In the years that followed, I spiralled down into a very dark place. Not only was I living with a lie, but I had the worry of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS, my own sexuality and my conscience. I eventually found myself in such a dark place, that I decided to end my life. Once again, it is too long to go into details, but enough to say that I was rescued in the nick of time and resuscitated and given another chance. It was then that I came out with everything and realized how absolutely unwise I had been in thinking that I could carry the burden on my own.
My long road to recovery and restoration began. It was not for one moment easy. My husband had to make me repeat after him every day ?I want to live?.? He sang and played his guitar at my bedside when I could not sleep and held me tight all through the long nights. My relationship with my husband grew even stronger, despite his disappointment that I had not told him right at the beginning.
Loving friends visited and let me cry and talk as much as I wanted to. I took medication to help me through the dark days and I received professional counselling from spiritual and medical sources. I took a year off work and rested. I forgave myself, my perpetrator and God. Yes, I had to get to a place where I had to forgive God for what I felt was an injustice. I can now say ?I am a friend of God, and He too, calls me friend?.
By facing the facts and getting help, I basically hit ?restore factory settings?.? I developed a little formula and whenever I hit a snag that makes me feel like I am losing faith, hope, or love I apply it:
Name the problem ? I could not say ?I was raped? ? I called it an attack, a violation, an abuse. Nonsense! It was Rape
Process it ? If I don?t process it, I will allow it to take root in my life and that lie will continually haunt me.
Make it your friend ? I cannot live with an enemy ?- it?s torture. I have to make bad experiences my friend ? it will be with me for the rest of my life.
Make it my story ? And that is what you have just read. Telling my story is part of my healing and part of my destiny.
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