My friend Karen came over this afternoon (Saturday, June 8th), and she brought her year-old baby, Jonathan. We sat on the grass outside my apartment, and Jonathan, in perpetual motion, walked all around both Karen and I, and pulled up bits of grass, making mud-pies with the dirt and grass-blades.
Jonathan laughed and babbled in baby-talk. He’s getting close to saying his first words, making bi-labial sounds. He’s such a delight, and a joy to watch and listen to.
I had picked up my mail during our walk, so after we sat down, I let Jonathan play with it. He was carrying pieces of it around and dropping them in various places. That didn’t bother me any, because I didn’t want any of it anyway, plus I loved that he was having so much fun with it.
Jonathan With a Dirty Face. He’s so CUTE!!
Being around Jonathan is making me realize something, a lot of things, actually.
The abuse I endured as a child was so extreme that I had to become multiple in order to survive, both physically and emotionally. Additionally, what was happening to me was so traumatic that I had to repress the memory of it, because, as a child, I wasn’t equipped emotionally to be able to process or handle what I was experiencing. The maturity required for that wouldn’t come until many years later. As a consequence, the first ten years of my life are pretty much blank.
As an adolescent, I babysat to earn money for clothes and other incidentals. One time, when I was about thirteen years old, I was taking care of a friend’s one-year-old baby, and the baby started crying and couldn’t stop. I think she had colic. Her crying turned into shrieking, and I couldn’t make her quiet down, and I didn’t know what to do. She kept on crying and shrieking and crying and crying, and I finally lost it, and started shaking her.
Immediately I got really scared, because instinctively I knew that what I’d done wasn’t right. So even though she was still crying, I put her down.
I’ve never forgotten that experience. Ultimately the baby did stop crying, thankfully, and I’m gratefully able to report that she suffered no lasting effects from being shaken. But I came to the conclusion after that babysitting session that I could no longer babysit, and I could not think of becoming a parent, even though, at the time, I had no memory of being abused. I was sure that, if I had children, I would abuse them. I had no idea on what I was basing that fear, other than that one time of babysitting. I just knew with a strong certainty that I would abuse any children I produced if I were married. So that also meant I could never be married.
At the time I was a little disappointed about the idea of not being able to be married, because I’d long held a dream of an amazing wedding ceremony with a beautiful wedding dress and lots of gorgeous flowers. But a wonderful day meant nothing along side a life of misery if the miserable life was made that way because I was treating my children in unloving and ungodly ways by abusing the life out of them.
In later years, after memories started to surface and I began to fill in the ten blank years with reality, I began to understand why I was afraid of having children. I began to see that my fear of abusing any children that I might have was realistic, based on what I’d gone through myself, though my reasons for not wanting to be married changed somewhat. Part of the reason still had to do with fear of abusing my children, but I now realized I was terrified of sex as well, because of what Harry had done to me throughout my childhood (see the post from October 10, 2016 called Am I Afraid of Anger or Do I Get Angry At the Fear? for a good explanation).
All of that is to say that God has done a tremendous amount of healing in me, and I’ve only come to realize just how much in the past year since being around Jonathan.
Once I knew what was in my background I made it point to never be alone with small children and/or babies. I’ve never been afraid I would abuse them sexually. I’ve never been tempted in that way. In fact, the idea of doing that is utterly repugnant to me. What I’m terrified of is that I would hurt them physically.
But since Jonathan came into my life, I’ve had several opportunities to be alone with him, and even though there were times that he began to cry, I was never triggered or tempted, not even a little bit, to hurt him or get upset with him.
Wow! Just Wow!! I’m in awe at the wonderful works of God! I can feel a qualitative difference inside from the way it used to be. It used to be that when I was around a child and that child started crying, I could feel a lump rising in my throat, and my fists would start to clench and unclench. I could feel tension building up inside, and the lump in my throat would begin to make my throat close. I would want to scream at the child, “SHUTUP!! STOPCRYING!!“ until the crying stopped, and I could barely keep from hitting or shaking the child to make him or her stop crying, though logically, if you hit a kid, or shake him, he won’t stop crying. He’ll cry even more. Duh!!
Needless to say, you can see why I had to stay away from children!
But it’s different now. All of those negative feelings are gone, thank God. Now I feel a wonderful peace, and a deep, abiding joy when I’m with Jonathan. I’m able to sing to him, and play with him, and just enjoy being with him, rather than worrying that he’s going to trigger me into abusing him. I will probably always be careful when I’m around children, out of an abundance of caution, because I would never, ever, want to be guilty of hurting one of God’s innocents in the way I was hurt. But I’m so grateful to God for healing me in such marvelous ways that I can now allow myself to be around children. Having to keep myself away from them always caused me tremendous heartache, because I love children! They’re amazing!
Thank you, Jesus!!