Wow, when you are 52, going back decades to childhood is quite a trip! Too funny! But then again, for real, don’t we all sometimes see something that triggers a playful childhood memory? Do you remember playing king of the mountain, or hide and go seek, or playing in the rain, or riding a bike, or trying to dig up a rabbit hole in the woods? I can’t help but laugh. Oh wait; have you ever had a tarantula jump on your bike tire? I have! Have you ever jumped off a cliff? I have! Have you every “rode” down a Christmas tree? I have! Have you ever been attacked by bats? I have! Eeek! I can tell you that this is where my spirit of exploring comes from.
There are so many wonderful memories, experiences and powerful things taught by my parents and family. Things that have seeded into my victories as an adult – lessons learned – wisdom passed down. May I give my son, Zebulon and his children…or anyone I meet a transfer of the blessings from the precious gifts I have retained from my childhood. I love and respect them all. To this day, I have learned to produce by being constructive because my dad would ask me and my brothers and sister, “What have you accomplished today?” What honor I give to my parents as teachers. What encouragement they gave because they always believed I could do anything.
Yes, all that is in my heart! Praise God! But “other” life stuff still happens. The enemy always looks for ways to get people to listen to his whispering lies. Children don’t know that. They just know who is the boss of them and that they have to trust the people around them to keep them safe.
For those of you who do not know my testimony, understand that this sharing is to show the glory that will come later in my blog story. This is necessary now for the later revelation to have the true impact that I experienced when God began to restore me in this area. If you do know of my testimony, I ask your patience as I repeat it. If you are sensitive to childhood issues, I want you to know that I will only reveal my heart’s thoughts, nothing else.
To begin, I will start my childhood story with the story of another child. I was in my mid 30’s and had just completed a year of intense outpatient post traumatic stress therapy in Dodge City, KS where I lived. I was in a setting structured to expose issues buried long ago so that I could learn how to address those experiences. I got off work one afternoon from the hospital where I worked and dropped by the local grocery store. I was tired, wired and just ready to get home. I just had a few items in my hand and walked up to the checkout line. There was a mother checking out in front of me but as she talked to the checkout clerk she left her little boy in a buggy behind her. Then I entered the picture. I walked up and stood behind the buggy where he was. I wasn’t paying him any notice until he began to fuss and complain. I was surprised and didn’t know what he was fussing about to me. I glanced at his mom and she wasn’t concerned at all. He was staring angrily at me and I am sure I just look surprised. All of a sudden I realized what was wrong with him. I was too close to him. I was in his space. I took two steps back and waited for his response. He gave me the biggest smile ever. I have never forgotten him. That is one of those epiphany moments in my life. That little two year old boy knew his boundaries and was healthily claming them. I was so proud of him.
I wished I would have had that option.
As a young girl, I learned that there really were monsters in the dark. I learned that men know how to keep secrets. I learned about living a lie. I learned a false definition of love. I learned how to be a sacrifice. The rapes seemed to happen far away as if I was someone else. I would dissociate. I hid all the reality deep within me. I learned to hate myself and never say a word. Authority figures were the boss and I did what I was told. I begged God to help me but when He didn’t I thought He thought I was disgusting and didn’t love me anyway. I didn’t blame Him. I hated me too. I learned to live life anyway…very angry deep inside.
When the victim season ended I just grew up and lived like everyone else. However, there were some problem indicators. I wet the bed till I was 18 years old. 18 years old. Wow. I struggled with my weight from emotional eating. I didn’t share much personally about myself. Other than that, I was involved in school, ran for elections, bloomed into a young woman, cheered, made good grades, had a boy friend, and worked at a pharmacy. By the time I graduated, we were engaged. No one noticed any issues at all. But I rarely spent the night away from home. No way. What teenager brings a plastic sheet with them? It was always amazing that people looked up to me and wanted their children to have my influence. I was always surprised. No wonder, the secret down inside me was always waiting. As a woman, I just felt numb.
I married my childhood sweetheart at 18. He was the football player and me the cheerleader. We were picture perfect and had fun. I didn’t tell him till many years later about the secret that I hid for so long. At 21 our son was born – life was wonderful – he was precious! Then the enemy began to come between my husband and I with betrayal and secrets. I tried but could never trust again. My heart shut down and we divorced after 9 years. It was so sad that I never learned how to work things out – that things are worth fighting for. I just endured till some unknown time frame ran out and then I walked away. I wasn’t afraid to start over. I just kept going. As a woman, I still just felt numb. I had never really let him in my heart. Truth be told, I don’t even think I had been in my heart.
For the next season in my life, my son and I were together as a single parent family. We eventually moved into the McNeese family apartments and I went to school during the day and worked as a traveling inventory auditor at night and on the weekends. I LOVED life. It was the first time that I had been on my own as an adult. Bless my son for putting up with me! I was part child and he was an explorer! We were both exploring! It was great really. I know that I didn’t have sufficient emotional tools in many ways but we loved each other, we were each safe, we had great times, and we kept growing. God wasn’t a part of our life yet – but my family kept reminding me that God was there. I would just think…maybe one day.
It is time to pause…wow, what a journey I have been on in sharing. Like all of you, we live life as we know it – until we know differently. I never really had personal goals or dreams. I didn’t know a whole lot about myself inside. It had been locked up so long. I loved being a mother, daughter, sister, friend and student – was loyal, honest, smart – all that. But personally, me as a woman…there didn’t seem to be an identity. I had walls up in my life. I wasn’t open or especially friendly with men I didn’t know. Rarely did I flirt. I didn’t know how to assert myself to explore that. In many ways I was still a child. I just wanted to be safe. I just wondered if anyone would ever choose to love me.
To close out tonight, I can so see the video in my mind of the words that I have written. I pray that you are beginning to see some of it too. I still have more sharing before God steps into my picture. That is after all, the purpose for this.
I hope that you are connecting with the idea of “roots and reasons” for why you do what you do. Notice your patterns. My testimony is more than a story. I pray that you receive that hidden pain or destructive secrets are alive and fester – working to destroy life. We need a doctor that will clean out the wound so that it can heal. Jehovah Rapha is our healer and He does all things in His time.
So be blessed this night and forgive me for this heavy sharing. Know that the dawn is coming. In therapy I was taught that the only healthy reason we look back is so that we can glean what we need to go forward. I promise you, you will know the power of God when He gets His hands on all this in the days ahead.
Victory did come for me.
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Patti Corbello Archer