Peeling back the memories…deeper…deeper.
There is a room. It has green in it, sheer curtains maybe. I think I’m in elementary school. This is my babysitter’s house.
We watched Flight of the Navigator and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusades; we watched them in the living room. But there was that back room. I can’t remember what happened in the back room, but I can’t forget it either.
I wish I could remember; I wish I had something tangible to point to so I could say, “see, that’s why I’m so messed up, that’s why I have a hard time getting close to you.”
The need to know is haunting. And there are more things I’d like to know.
I’d like to know why I was the little girl in kindergarten who always wanted to play kissing games.
I’d like to know why I had to see the counselor that I don’t remember. I’d like to know why I was so afraid.
I’d like to know why I’m angry if you try and touch me.
So much is lost.
I want to know that little girl. I want to hold her in my arms and kiss her head and tell her how much she is loved.
I want to heal her wounds, the ones that are invisible and untraceable.
I don’t think I’ll ever know the mystery of the back room, or why that little girl had to see counselors because of her unusual behavior.
But I know this, I have a God that is more powerful than that back room.
I have a God that knew that little girl then, and He knows me now.
He knows the depths of my soul and He knows the wounds…and He chose me to be His. And He loves me so well, and so gently. He is uncovering the layers that need be laid bare so I can find freedom, and the rest He is standing in the gap, pointing me back to Him and His unconditional love.
To all of the little girls out there who are hurting, who want to be told they are lovable…
He knows each strand of your soul, because he weaved it. He knows the wounds and where they came from, and He loves you.
You are worthy of His love. If it wasn’t so He wouldn’t have become you.
He became all of us.
And we need Him, desperately, because He is the only One who can really love us. He is the only One who can fill the gap between then and now. He is the only One who can pull you out of the pit and set your feet upon a rock.
If you let Him in, He will put a new song in your mouth.
You will praise Him for His goodness (that you will taste and see), and you will trust again.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in him.
Psalm 40: 2,3
The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse
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Thank you for sharing this. I love the part that says God knows every strand of our soul. I love knowing He can love us and heal us completely.
Oh Sarah Mae, this really moved my heart. I have a little girl inside of me that cannot recall her childhood from the ago of 5 up until about the age of 10. I’ve tried. I’ve even gone to counseling. I do not know why I cannot remember, I can only believe God is sparing my heart. Thank you for this post!
Sarah Mae says
Barbie – I used to really wrestle with the not knowing. I can honestly say that after a knee deep tear fest with God one night, I have complete peace about my childhood. Seriously! I prayed and prayed that God would bring to my mind anything I needed to know to break free of strongholds or be healed, and nothing came…but I know that was God. Now, while I have peace about the missing pieces, that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with intimacy today, I do. And I’m just trusting God with that one, because I can’t seem to do a darn thing to change it!
Serena Woods says
The crime that makes the victim feel more shame than the criminal. I wish every little boy or girl knew that what happened to them is not a reflection of who they are, it’s a reflection of those that hurt them.
I love that you added ‘He knows the wounds and where they came from and He loves you.’ It’s perfect.
This is perfect for me right now. I’m dealing with a lot of shame and hurt and just plain unworthiness right now (mainly from my mom but my dad too by his silence, and all too recent), and I know that Jesus loves me through it all, but it is so hard. I know if it weren’t for Jesus peeling back the layers ever so gently, it would be so much more painful. I especially love the phrase you said Sarah, “He is uncovering the layers that need be laid bare so I can find freedom, and the rest He is standing in the gap, pointing me back to Him and His unconditional love.” All of this post is so apt, but especially the Jesus part on. I need to be reminded over and over again of Jesus’ unconditional love for me. I forget that way too easily. Thank you for posting this Sarah Mae, for me and for all the hurting women out there that need to hear that for themselves
Sarah Mae says
Chantal, I am so utterly thankful that He stands in the gap. We don’t walk alone.
Not remembering can be a blessing. The memories and flash backs take you back to that moment and reliving it… there are no words.
I’m angry, too. I hurt, too. Through years and prayers and 2 counselors, I’ve healed and made strides, but I hate that I am still affected. I long for completeness, wholeness, and entire healing.
The remnants that are left behind make me sometimes feel that there is no victory… I imagine that’s the way it felt in those days between the cross and the empty grave. But we know now, there is an empty grave!
Sarah Mae says
Aimee, check out the books The Wounded Heart and The Bondage Breaker – both have been extremely helpful to me…especially when there is anger (and I know it all too well, friend!).
Powerful message, Sarah Mae. As always. One thing He showed me as He was peeling back my layers was this, “I will not give you more than you can bear.” He won’t ‘lay us bare’ more than we can bear. Being spiritual bare means we are totally and utterly covered by Him. HE is our ‘clothing’. Not the onion peels.
Very Powerful Message…I just wish I could find that little girl (like you) so she wouldn’t hurt no more and she could find the “true” meaning of love to God, her husband and her son…Haven’t been able to do that even in counseling…who am I ? Only God knows.
Sarah Mae says
Patty, God does know, you just have to believe Him.
I know the believing is so very hard. I’m praying for you today, friend.
Lisa H says
Thank you! Thank you to those who have responded also. This past year I have been crying and yelling at God because I can’t remember either. I have no memory of my mom before the age of 12 or 13 unless its unpleasant. I stayed in my own ‘cave’ in my mind and was terrified to speak what was on my mind or in my heart to anyone because I wasn’t allowed growing up. Weekly counseling for 8 months, lots and lots of tears and prayers, and some really awesome supportive friends has allowed me to begin healing. I now truly believe God loves ME even if my mother didn’t know how! Psalm 139 was special to me but it was also a struggle and had me asking ‘why’ more times than I care to admit. I came to the place where I said to myself there is a reason God does not want me to remember. I can’t change what did or didn’t happen back then, I can only focus on TODAY. And today I believe that I am loved by God. I have a family that loves me now–his family! Its still a struggle, its still a battle everyday it seems to choose to look forward and not backward.
Thank you for sharing. It helps me to know that I was not the only person who wasn’t ‘protected’ by the people they trusted as a child.
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I Live in an Antbed says
I am so very sorry for what happened. But you are right: He is Enough. He is the God Who can restore the years the locusts have eaten as if they were never gone. May He continue to bring you to the place of complete and total healing. And my He move you past the point of forgiveness to the place of blessing your enemy. For that is where true freedom lies. Thank you for your testimony of His Love. He is glorified by your words. And I am blessed by them.
Thank you so much!! I needed a reminder of being loved today after what happened Monday–someone who I thought I was pretty close friends with betrayed my trust and shared private conversations with someone who had no real reason to know them who then told someone else. When I found out about this and questioned her she denied doing it until someone else admitted they found out from her and she knew she was caught. Then she just said I know I’m right and it makes sense that you’re mad but I’m right…..so basically someone I thought there was a mutual relationship of love with I found out apparently the love only went one direction and so I’m searching for love right now. God’s love is SOOO good.
Dearest VA….I just want you to know I am so sorry for your hurt….I have been there and I know the sorrow and pain you are feeling from this. Please know that Jesus understands that kind of betrayal, and He is there for you. He will never ever betray you, and He ALWAYS there, He is our friend and our loving Father. Give this hurt to Him, and He will show you how to forgive this person. (doesn’t mean you have to trust or be this persons friend)….He can give you freedom from this hurt you feel! He loves you unconditionally, and He can fill any void that you feel from this hurt. I will pray for you…….my heart hurts for you as I understand what you feel completely. Joseph in the Bible, had huge betrayals with years of suffering, lonliness and injustices, and I am always encouraged when he says that they meant what they did to him for evil, but the Lord allowed it to happen for good!!! The Lord will use this in your life for good!! As you said, God’s love is sooo good!
Blessings and His love…Kelly
Wow, I had no idea there were so many of us with missing memories of childhood. I have very few memories before the age of 9. I struggle with why those memories are buried knowing that there is a reason for it. And, maybe not knowing the reason is better. There IS something unpleasant there. But, God and His grace are bigger than whatever it is. And, that is enough. His grace is sufficient.
Thank you for this. I have several back rooms…garages, outside storage buildings, where the memories are just in bits and pieces. Enough glimpses to know that it’s only by the grace of God that I don’t remember it all. Do you think that’s His plan maybe? For us not to remember? Because if we did, the pain would be too much? I have just had to be quiet, place those scarred places in His hands and let them go.
I’m not sure why people dive in? So they can know all the gory details? As if knowing would make everything better. But God already knows, and for whatever merciful reason, has chosen to keep that information from us.
Thank you again for sharing with us and risking your heart.
Sarah Mae says
Angie, I think sometimes we don’t feel complete without the pieces…even though those pieces won’t make us whole. The cross fills the blanks…
Living the Balanced Life says
Oh, Sarah Mae, that one little phrase is SO powerful! The cross fills in the blanks! I love that!
Thanks for this, It’s so beautiful. It’s so easy to stay wounded, but so much nicer to be healed. 🙂 🙂
“But I know this, I have a God that is more powerful than that back room.” Amen!!
Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your testimony with us.
How touching…moving. I know that I was abused as a young girl….I also saw a counselor and remember also going to my pediatrician and the traumatizing that came from THAT exam! But I don’t remember who or where….and it has bothered me for a long time. I’m at the point of realizing it does not matter who, what, when….it matters that I heal from it. My dad has passed away but I keep wanting to ask my stepmother….but can’t bring myself to do it because do I *really* want to know?!?! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Sarah Mae says
Mirinda, it’s okay to ask her, you know. Sometimes we don’t need the pieces, but sometimes we do.
I remember everything that happened to me in the back room….my grandmothers basement….and the closet.
I’m thankful for a Savior who continues to reveal himself to me and is healing me daily.
Thank you for this.
Sarah Mae says
I pray grace and peace and redemption and forgiveness over those memories.
Love you friend.
emily freeman says
oh sarah mae. I love how you speak of God as the great Gap-Filler. He stands there, in the in-between blurry. Your words are beautiful. Your heart here? More so.
Thank you for this. I too have several backrooms, and for good or ill I have remembered most (?) of it. I don’t know if knowing is better than not knowing, but I do know that God is the reason I survived. I KNOW that He has a purpose for me. My “little girl” is called Lucy and I love her everyday to help remind her/me that we are loved beyond measure!
Thank you for sharing your heart and your hurt. My little girl remembers all the emotional, physical abuse that happened. And God has redeemed it. He has helped me forgive when it was not in me to forgive. He has used it to touch others also.
Dawn Dausman says
I was drawn deeply into your story. And its because I too suffered that way. I felt so much shame and confusion over the things I barely could recall. So much of what you say is how I felt. Yet, I have come to fully understand it all. And have grown to forgive the one who sinned against me. It all came about right before my daughter’s fourth birthday- the age at which it all began for me.
And I say this, perhaps as an encouragement, because I realize, looking back, that God didn’t allow me to know something until I could handle it (Doesn’t His word say that anyway?- He doesn’t give us more than we can manage?) . He was gracious to peel the layers back slowly so as not to open a deep wound again. So, in time, perhaps the full truth will be revealed to you. And in time, perhaps it will not. But one thing is certain, and I know you believe this, He is a mighty God and he is bigger than anything that happened in that backroom, and he is giving you all that you can handle at this time. And he will continue walk through it all with you, when and if the time to comes when more is revealed to you. In the meantime, I will keep you in thought and prayer, as a sister who understands, without really knowing it all. You can read about my experience here, if you’d like- bless you, Sarah Mae!
Sarah Mae says
Thank you Dawn!
Sarah Mae, I just can’t get my mind around why or how someone could violate a child. It’s heartbreaking. Like Serena said, the shame is greater for the victim than the criminal. And then there’s our Jesus who is so perfect and so loving. My heart goes out to you and all the other innocent children.
I’m sending a huge hug to you and the little girl within. You are safe, and you are loved.
Thank you for sharing,
words can’t even begin to express how much my heart aches for you from what you have endured in your past. it shows amazing grace and strength that you held tight to our Lord and let him guide you out of the darkness that could have consumed you.
take care 🙂
Tears in my coffee…I am so grateful to you to share this. To know that I am not the only one who can’t remember. Who struggles to let anyone in and becomes numb to those who love her. I have wrestled with the what is “it”? If I could just figure out what the “it” was I could figure out the rest of why I react. I never saw not knowing as God protecting me. I have been so angry at Him instead never realizing He is keeping me safe. Thank you!
Dawn Dausman says
I can’t help but to say something else. After reviewing all that everyone has said, I see a collective ache, and a collective sisterhood. All of which I wrote about here. Would you meet me over here?
Thanks for sharing this Sarah Mae
I too have huge memory gaps and bits andpieces of horror and the pains that go with.
I agree with Dawn that when it is time and right for us to know then God will show us. He knows what is best for us.
I have been on this healing journey for a long time. I have more peace, more joy, more freedom, more intimacy with my husband, better relationships with our children…..
I encourage all of us to keep seeking God and asking Him and letting Him heal us and teach us. He does want us to be free.
Sometimes the journey is hard but it is worth it.
Blessings to you
So many victims……but such a BIG GOD!
No one can ever make sense of the pain caused by this sin. Humans (men & women) have battled the war within for all of time. Satan has made this his playground.
We have A NEW LIFE if we are HIS! That can be very difficult to accept when your innocence has been stolen.
I cannot own the shame……any longer of someone else’s wrongdoing. My life has value & worth. Shame steals everything that is good. God has redeemed me in everyway.
God, protect the children from this evil. Help me to “see” when something isn’t right in my circles.
Melanie E says
Great post. Thanks for giving me hope and healing. Just ordered those books from Amazon.
ps Love the picture at the top of your post. Reminds me of the sun peeking between the clouds… just like God’s love in the hard times
Absolutely beautiful words about a not so beautiful experience, Sarah Mae. Praying for you and all that you’ve endured and what God has redeemed.
Thanks for sharing.
Living the Balanced Life says
I remember, and by God’s grace I have been able to forgive. What hasn’t been as easy is being able to truly *trust* anybody but myself, even God. WHich sounds really awful to type that out. I was the only one who could look out for me as no one else around me was. Over the years I think that has turned itself into pride and caused me a lot of issues. I came to end of myself last year, and I have had to learn to be more dependent on Him.
Awesome for you to share this, even though it must be difficult.
Getting the respect you deserve
Oh, how this resonated with me! There are some issues I have and some events that I can’t recall from my childhood….. one night, when I was 14 and was staying a few weeks at my aunt’s house, I had a dream that I was little, probably around 4 or 5, and a man was standing over me. I KNEW that man, and I KNEW what he was going to do. I won’t get into any more details, but when I woke up, I woke up crying and in a cold sweat. If I hadn’t had that dream I probably would have gone through life unaware that anything happened. That was the start of the worst year of my entire life…. the months that followed were painful and scary as I got heavily involved with witchcraft (on top of the typical junior high woes-getting made fun of and all that), among other things. This post assures me that, while I want so badly to know what happened to me when I was little so I could work past it, I can’t help but think that God is protecting me. If I had ever learned what happened, it would devastate me, and possibly ruin my life. I am so thankful for a God who protects His daughter from such life-altering knowledge.
Sharon O says
Things hidden will become un hidden when you are ready to receive them. The process is hard and long and very painful. The little girl does need to know you are there for her. I loved it when you said… “I want to know that little girl. I want to hold her in my arms and kiss her head and tell her how much she is loved”
She is waiting… what I did at some point in time in my recovery was to write a letter to her, telling her I was sorry for her pain. Sorry she had to be big when she was little.
Just a letter and it helped. I will pray for you and this new journey.
Mel @ Trailing After God says
I’m right there with you Sarah Mae! I want to talk to that little girl, hug her, wipe her tears away. I want to tell her it will all be okay someday! I’m certain it’s one reason I feel called to love on hurting women. Thanks for sharing your heart and being so honest. ♥
Excellent post. This is one post that hits home.
Me too… not wanting to let anyone close… not even my husband whom I married out of “lovelock”. He was the one that did all the loving. I still don’t know how . Intimacy I can hardly handle. And no explanation as to how to solve the marital woe of being someone like me.
Having children when broken like this creates another series of sadnesses… and on and on. All I ever want to do is go Home. 24 years of sad marriage and children loved ever so weakly. Seems all so senseless.
But – I’m reading a book called “Equipped to Love” by Norman Wakefield. Has to do with why we don’t love properly. Something to do with idols that we make. I just read and try to learn. Imagine if we could all sit in one room and share and cry and pray… but God says “my grace is sufficient for you”. Trying to figure it all out.
Isn’t this post amazing? Isn’t there a big huge need here?
“All I ever want to do is go Home. 24 years of sad marriage and children loved ever so weakly. Seems all so senseless.”
Oh I hope you do know down deep in your heart that all you have had to offer–even in wounded form–is not senseless?!
The word salvation in the Greek is “sozo” and it is not only saving from eternal damnation, BUT saving, restoring, making whole the you now! For now! I am so glad you have found a book that is helping you. My prayer for you (how I wish I knew your name!) is that complete healing would be yours now. All shame, all guilt, all “woe” laid at the cross of Christ so that Satan is defeated over you–powerless to control any longer.
Peace to you–deep, deep peace,
I am sitting here and my heart feels like it’s going to explode. I am a 40 year old woman who is still haunted by both what she does and does not remember. I have no memory of before age 6. What I do remember of age 7, I wish I could forget …again. I repressed it until age 12, when I started puberty. It started with strange nightmares and sensory memories. I could not stand to have my dad or any other male touch me – and then the visual memories started coming back.
After years of counseling, I still feel broken and damaged. Even the thought of being intimate with my wonderful husband can send me into a panic attack. I am a Christian. I believe in God’s redeeming grace and his power to heal. Yet, I am so full of anger and mistrust and hurt. I cry out to God, I forgive and release over and over – yet here I am. And I not only carry the shame of what happened to me, but I carry the shame of being a failure as a wife because I cannot be a complete partner to my husband.
My heart breaks for you. There is no easy answer because this is not an easy fix.
May I suggest that the evil one was able to secure a place deep within you at the time of your abuses and he has been launching missiles of assault aimed at you ever since. This is how strongholds are built. Some are by our own choices. Some are built as a result of injustices against us. I am wondering if you have strongholds of rejection, insignificance, and fear??? Anger is usually a sideline emotion–it comes into the game as a result of other strongholds–but it can be one in itself also.
Can I suggest a book that may be of help to you? Reclaiming Surrendered Ground by Jim Logan. We do not battle against flesh and blood but in the spiritual realm against the evil one.
I pray that God will gently guide you to permanent, whole restoration in your life so that you can be healed in all of your relationships–including your marriage. I pray deep peace in and over you, Dawn, as you continue to seek the power of the cross for your saving–including emotionally!
Thank you for sharing that. The passage of scripture at the end is one of my absolute favorites.
What I didn’t realize was that the little girl needed to be forgiven for not understanding…for not *knowing better*. I was almost 30 before I let the little girl in me off the hook for being responsible for what she had no idea was going on. For allowing it for so long–without telling any one. For enjoying the attention, the *love*, the being wanted in a *special* way. So for those who have a little girl like mine, she may need to be forgiven.
And the big girl she grew into needed to learn how to break the soul-tie developed through the relationship. If you still feel drawn to think about, fantasize about, even miss the man from your dark room–ask God to break through those feelings carrying that kind of guilt, shame and confusing attachment.
Do not be embarrassed before Abba–He already knows those feeling fed thoughts of yours! He wants to free you and make that place whole–as He originally intended.
Thank you, Sarah Mae–for opening a safe place to share!
Laura@Life Overseas says
Thank you, Sarah Mae, for having the courage to speak out first, so that others have the freedom to speak out, too. Beautifully spoken . . .
Amy ~ The Crimson Beloved says
Thank you Sarah Mae for writing this post. Talking about sexual assault and it’s effects in the Christian community still seems to be frowned on a bit. I started The Crimson Covered Farmlife blog to talk about how I came to forgive the young man who assaulted me as a child. The effects of sexual assault are long reaching but we are never out of the reach of God’s love.
Renee Stam says
thanks for being so honest!
I read the recommended book, The Wounded Heart, when I was going through deep healing just after my daughter was born 21 years ago. It was a vital part of my healing, along with “Door of Hope” by Jan Frank. Both are excellent resources. (-:
I cannot wrap my mind around the number 38% of girls…….. It’s simply too horrible to think about. What is worse is that it is never spoken of in polite circles. A young girl in my Sunday school at church recently had a flashback to when she was 5 and brutally attacked. I held her as she sobbed, it was like it had just happened in her mind. She still can’t grasp the unfairness of it all, and quite frankly neither can I. I pray she can seek Christ, because he is the only way she’ll be healed, He’s her only hope and yet there is so much anger there. It’s comforting to read this post and the comments to see that freedom can one day be found.
Good for you for writing about such a difficult topic I really think as long as nobody is talking about it, we are protecting the perpetrators and providing no support to the victims. What a great post… I have learnt Psalm 40 because of it, and will carry it in my heart. We can indeed set our feet upon the rock. After years and years of looking for a good book to read that wasn’t all about blame and anger I found “The Wounded Heart ” to be really helpful. (http://www.se7en.org.za/2010/03/15/sunday-snippet-lets-not-talk-about-it)
thank you for this. I was molested by my father for 6 years and have really struggled with it for years… i still continue to struggle. It warped everything. It affected/affects my view of God, i struggled with issues in my marriage from it. Be thankful you cannot remember…..i wish i could erase what i do remember…
I hope someday i can say there was a reason for it all.
I had one of those back rooms, from age 4 to 9. Some of the memories are clear as if they were happening today…and some of them are dark, blank, and gone. The unknowing is infinitely worse than the knowing.
I love how you said, “God knows every strand of our soul” That is so visual and powerful and true.
I have found much peace and healing from my Heavenly Father. This is still a path I walk down and there are still issues that I am working through, but I know that He is enough.
Here’s my entry for the “Warm Reads Gift Basket” giveaway. It’s a wonderful thing Bloom is doing tryig to get those books to so many
Sarah Ann and all the Little Girls who are now Big Girls,
Thank you so much for your gift of words. You wrote, ” I want to know that little girl. I want to hold her in my arms and kiss her head and tell her how much she is loved.” She is loved by Abba Father. I recently started an Art Journal and it is looking like my Little Girl is claiming her victory and healing. I am 60 years old and really thought I had healed but it’s looking like there is more work to do.
I do have the memories and I can revisit there like it was yesterday.
May His love fill the soul of your precious little girl who longs to be free. I know it possible as my word for this year is HOPE and He gives me the Hope.
Sarah Mae, Since I read this post several days ago I have wondered and asked God what to do with what has been stirred back up in my mind and heart. I have 5 beautiful daughters and the thought of what happened to me happening to them suck the breath out of me.
I’ve thought about how I should begin to share with my story, in part so that my children will recognize that this is a world of sin and pain, but that the God I tell them about is bigger than all that sin and pain…
But right now I don’t really have any word.
Don’t Silence the Stories : The HomeSpun Life says
[…] get along and encourage one another as they share their Deeper Story. Hot Blog posts this week: In the Back Room by Sarah Mae at InCourage The Pastor’s Affair by Sisterlisa (moi) at Soul Liberty […]