I know I have not been very personal on my blog—especially about my abuse—mostly because I have felt people didn’t want to read the personal stuff. And I think I have made a mistake in that.
Reading about other successful bloggers, one thing most of them have in common is their ability to move their readers with their own life experiences. And I have plenty of those. Haha!
So, I have decided I will add more posts that are personal, raw, and hopefully encouraging to my readers.
Don’t worry, I will still post all the things that drew you to my blog. I just hope this will round out my blog in a healthier way. 🙂
So, now that we have that out-of-the-way, let me start off by saying, no, the title was not clickbait. And I know it may even sound insensitive, especially if you have suffered abuse and feel anything but grateful.
But this is my story and, yes, I AM grateful for my life experiences, even the worst ones. I’ll tell you how I can be in a minute, but first, a little back story:
Without going into too much detail, when I was 8-9, my babysitter’s brother sexually molested me. This went on for quite some time until a conversation with my mom made me realize that what was happening was not normal (like he said it was).
A few years later, however, more abuse happened by other men which eventually spiraled me into a vicious cycle of trying to find men to love and protect me only to find most of them offered more of the same.
This also led me to self-harm and abuse over-the-counter drugs to numb the devastating effects this had on my heart and mind.
Thankfully, my parents loved me through the “rebellion” (even though they did not know what was going on) and I had a close relationship with God, which I credit for getting me through.
By the end of my freshman year of college, my husband (then boyfriend) saw that I was breaking down emotionally and encouraged me to tell my parents about everything I had gone through.
So I did. And they did not push me away as I feared but loved me even harder. And I finally began to heal.
It’s been almost 20 years since healing started in my life and, though I still struggle with things, I can honestly say I am grateful for who I am now and for what I have learned because of the past I had.
Let me explain.
1. I learned true empathy through abuse.
I know my experiences are not the same as anyone else’s, but they have allowed me to live in the same fear, the same hell, and the same whirlwind as every other person out there who has been through abuse.
Those experiences unite us all. We know what it is to feel alone in a crowded room, to hide a secret life from our closest friends and family, to smile when there is no warmth in the heart. These things can never be learned outside of the first-person experience.
And because I can wear that invisible badge of membership, I have been able to help others who are looking for the same healing I have experienced.
I have seen thick walls crumble under the weight of my testimony and even the most hardened young women tear up when they realize I am not someone just trying to “help”, but someone who walked the same path before.
That access to a person’s heart is not something I take lightly.
When I was learning to forgive—others AND myself—I asked God to never let my experiences go to waste. That if He would use them to help someone else, it was worth going through.
And He HAS used them, and I have agreed it was worth it, over and over again.
2. I have learned mercy through abuse.
This is something very dear to my heart. I love the word mercy.
Not only has it given me power over the ones who took so much from me, but it has been the healing balm that has calmed the swells in my life.
And it has allowed me to look at others differently.
Where once I might have been judgemental, I now see someone hurting who needs to feel that same mercy I have been extended by God and others in my life.
It’s a beautiful thing to love the unloveable, to forgive those who might not deserve it, and to see people for the vulnerable human they are and the beautiful soul they can become.
It is something I teach our girls. Because they have friends who HAVE been abused.
They see with their own eyes the devastating effects it has on a life. But I teach them to love others and to be there for those who might just need a friend to love them, to share a smile, to be a listening ear.
Not everyone will reach the mercy stage of healing. There are those who will hold on to their hurt and pain for the rest of their lives. I hurt for those dear people.
There is so much more to life they could experience, good memories to replace the bad, if they only embrace mercy and its life-giving benefits.
3. My experiences have opened my eyes to the hidden dangers of abuse.
There are far too many stories, staggering statistics of abuse in this world. I am one of them. You may be, too.
There are few things more frightening to me than to think of my own daughters experiencing what I have. But if I had to go through it to know how to protect them, it was worth it, 100 times over!
But just because I have been through it, does not mean my children are immune. Far from it. But I am way more cautious than maybe the average parent would be and that will help protect them.
We talk openly in our family. No subject is off-limits. We want our girls to always feel they can come to us about ANYTHING.
We also want them to know what I went through. All of my girls understand the basics of what abuse is and that it can happen to anyone and by anyone.
We teach them about appropriate touch, but we also do our best to keep them from situations where they would feel uncomfortable.
Because I was a sweet kid who never wanted to make others feel bad… I never felt strong enough to say no… in case I was reading the situation wrong. It’s one thing to teach a child to say no, it’s another to have the courage to say it.
My husband and I strive every day to raise strong, well-balanced young ladies, but we also protect them while we can.
I have lost zero sleep over the fact our girls have never been to a sleepover (unless it was at our house where I could supervise), aren’t allowed to have smartphones until they are much, much older, or that I supervise most of their outings with friends.
And our girls still have incredible experiences, tons of friends, and the only things they are missing out on are the feelings of shame and guilt that haunt those who suffer abuse, which can and all-to-often happen in unsupervised situations.
4. Abuse brought me closer to God.
I know there are many people who have experienced abuse in their life and it has made them question God and why He would allow something so horrible to happen.
I can honestly say, I’ve only done that once or twice.
Because when I felt the most alone, when my heart hurt so bad I feared it would burst, when I could hardly breathe, that was when I felt God the most.
He was never more real to me than when no other human could be. God is not just my Heavenly Father, He is my best friend.
God has caught my tears, listened to the words I spoke in secret and wrapped His arms around me, and held me tight whenever I was too weak to make it another day.
HE got me through my darkest days; HE brought me through situations I never thought passable, and HE gave my life renewed purpose and meaning. Through it all.
Somehow, at a young age, I understood people were flawed, and that God was working in my life. I have seen Him do amazing things with my life because of my past. He has also allowed me to witness His judgment on the people who hurt me.
His goodness in my life has been tangible and so incredibly loving. What He and I have gone through, together, has been a gift to me. Something I would never trade for a million offers of a different life.
And because He never left my side—not one time—I will never leave His. I have learned to trust God. I have learned to see His hand working in my life. And I have seen it working in other people’s lives through my own.
Writing this has made me feel very vulnerable. But I know the statistics. There are too many people out there who need to read this. To know there is life after abuse. A GOOD life!
Healing is a journey you must take alone.
You can get help, learn from others, but you are the only one who can let go of the weight of your past and give it to God. Only then can He take the pieces of your life and mold them into something beautiful.
There is no relationship on earth more satisfying than with Him. Only He can love unconditionally. Only He can love so fully you cannot contain it. And only He can make you whole again.
He can take a life so broken, circumstances so damaging and replace them with a life so fulfilled, you can’t help but feel grateful for the garden He planted out of the ashes you thought worthless.
Won’t you let Him?
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About the author
Kimberly McGraw is the founder of Life Worth the Living, a blog focused on helping mothers live their best life. Her desire is to help moms find purpose in who they are as a person, not just as a mom. Life Worth the Living has been featured in Making Sense of Cents, Outwit Trade and Believe and Create.