We may have met, or perhaps you have just stumbled upon my blog and been intrigued.
My story is mine, but it’s also not so unique. I have met many women and men who have had similar struggles and victories. Perhaps you have too. Culture, politics and wisdom prevent me from being elaborate in the details of my life, but I am not secretive of the life I have lived and I no longer carry the shame of my past.
I grew up and spent most of my life on a very small island in the Middle East, born to loving parents of different countries and different religious backgrounds. Being the fourth of five children, my childhood was far from dull. Let’s go out for coffee, and I can spend hours recounting stories to you! Hilarious, disastrous, embarrassing stories.
I was a happy child. I was a happy child until I wasn’t…and then I just pretended.
For the longest time I felt like a shell. An empty person that just carried on with life. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why.
I was sexually abused at a very young age, and as a result most memories before I was eight were repressed. My family were completely unaware that I had become the victim of a man we trusted. And so, without their knowledge and without my memories, life went on.
There was a reality beneath the surface of the one outside me that leaked and dissolved into every area of my life. A sinister, confusing and very lonely world. I wore a mask to conceal my personal cocktail of fear, vulnerability, self-hatred and guilt – a false confidence. The laughter of a child who did what children do. She mimicked the world around her.
Pretending didn’t fix me, it wasn’t working, and further instances of abuse took place over the years. Soon the laughter gave way to other things. A need for power, and control. As a young girl I became obsessed with witchcraft and the occult, stepping into things I didn’t fully understand at the time. As I matured into my early teens, I found it difficult to keep containing my internal torment. Substance abuse, self-harm, eating disorders, and a host of other destructive behaviours followed. By the age of 16, my behaviour became more extreme and harder to conceal.
To their shock my parents discovered my pretending, but with very little understanding. I was battling from depression and suicidal thoughts. I frequently left home for days (sometimes weeks) at a time. In this turmoil my family unravelled. I cannot claim that it was my brokenness alone that threw my family into those years of chaos. It was though, a trigger.
It was a desperate time. In that desperation my parents reached out. In 2006 a series of connections brought to our home a group of people who helped us to see a reality we had been blind to. That is the reality of God. God made Himself known to me. He made Himself real to me in the way that only God can.
Mine isn’t a story of “believe in Jesus and all your troubles will disappear”, in fact I think that is a terrible misbelief that has shattered many young Christians.
For years after this point I still battled with addictions, promiscuity, self-hatred, rebellion…trust me, the list goes on. For years, I faced the consequences of my misguided actions, and continued to try to escape the pain not dealt with.
I am not where I was. Somewhere along the way, things happened. People happened. God happened. Many stories of falling and rising gradually led me to where I am now. Step by step and piece by piece healing took root and restoration took place. Joy grows, and I can with confidence say – not just in me, in my family too. We are rescued by the love of God, and also the love of people.
It is this same love that drives me. It convicts me and raises within me a passionate indignation against the hopelessness in the world around me. This love stirs within me a desire to do what I can, where I can, to introduce to those who are suffering, the Author of this love so that they too may be set free from their chains.