“Get over it; it was a long time ago.”

I’ve been told this, including by a man who raped me.

Do you understand that an unwanted and unexpected touch from a principal during a meeting to advocate for my daughter can make me jump, yelp, cuss, because my body can’t get over it?
“What could have happened 20 years ago that would still matter today.”

I’ve been told this, including by a man who trafficked me 20+ years ago.

Do you know trauma memories are stored differently, coming to life in nightmares in which it feels like it’s happening today?
“Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

I’ve been told this, delivered not as a question but as a statement about my credibility.

Do you know all the ways I tried to tell with fresh cuts on my arms & meals revisited in the toilet & extreme overachievement to earn something like worth?
“Why speak now?”

I’ve felt these words as accusations, hurled at me or other survivors who begin to find their words.

Did you not hear, see, cringe, turn away from all the ways I tried to speak, tried to die, tried to run from sobriety, tried to work hard enough to matter?
“You seem so sad/mad/hurtful lately.”

I’ve heard this from the people who were used to my habit of folding words back into my mouth.

Do you know how much what I survived is worthy of sorrow and anger, how honesty about hurts is good for everyone but the abuser?
“Don’t you know [person/church] has done good things too?”

I have heard these words from those who prefer the blindfolds of comfort to the reality of discomfort.

Do you understand that I would say nothing if I believed everyone to be bad, that speaking is an expression of hope?
“You seem so happy and healthy, though.”

I have smiled at these words, not knowing how to respond to a person I don’t yet trust enough to peek behind the façade.

Do you understand I am a full story and not just a cover?
“Just call your family. It isn’t healthy or Christlike to be estranged.”

I used to follow this advice, as if God’s intent for me was to be broken and abused for the sake of my familial abusers.

How is it healthy or Christlike to keep petting the snake who reliably strikes?
“Jesus wants them to know he loves them, though. You need to keep telling them.”

I tried that. I nearly died trying. Now I’m working on telling me that Jesus loves me.

Do you believe in a Jesus so small that women have to bleed, burn, be violated for God to be made known?
“You just want attention.”

I hear this from those who prefer happy beginnings, middles, endings, even if they are all woven with lies, from those who would rather dismiss me than the harsh tragedies in my life story.

Do you do this to yourself too, wounding instead of tending?
“This - #metoo, #churchtoo, #sextrafficking, stories of women’s bodies sacrificed on altars of silence - is new.”

I heard these words years, decades, a lifetime after I lived them.

Do you see now that the things in the dark were always there as you turned to the light instead?
Precious one reading this, I’m sure you could add to the list. Please know you were born valuable, worthy, beloved even if you were taught different.

In the words of pop prophet Katy, there is a part of you that they could never ever take away. Water that.

Your story matters.
But one more:
“Telling your story publicly is brave.”

I have heard that & disagree. You don’t have to publicly perform pain to earn a merit badge. In @BreneBrown’s words, share with those who have earned the right to hear your story.

Living in the after is brave. Period.

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More from @ShannonDingle

Dec 10, 2017
Things you should know about those living with chronic pain:

1. We minimize our reality because we don’t want to be seen as whiners & because we’ve noticed the “she had cancer & never complained once” stories that are usually bullshit but still consumed happily as inspirational.
2. We carefully curate our stories so we aren’t othered or pitied. I woke up in the middle of the night earlier this week, needing to pee. I had to take pain medicine and wait uncomfortably for it to kick in before I could manage to get out of bed. But that’s too sad to post.
3. We notice all the Christian testimonies about healing. We see celebrations over those. We wonder if you’d be willing to see God or even see us in our stories, the ones in which prayers for healing are answered with no or not yet or silence.
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