Love Showed Up: Friendship Overpowers Shame

Today’s brave and breathtaking post comes from my friend Lisa. Kel and I were Lisa’s Youth Pastors almost 10 years ago and I’m so humbled and honored to have reconnected with her so she can share her brave story, which I still cannot read without tears. 

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The ribbon included with my post is simple, but that simple ribbon means so much to me. That simple ribbon gives meaning to all I have been through…all I have overcome and all I will overcome. That teal ribbon stands for surviving sexual abuse.

“You haven’t beat me down. I may have fallen before but I will stand tall now.”

Those words were the last ones I said aloud in a very emotional speech on sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of my father.  This is the first time I have ever written those words for the public to read.

I looked up to the small audience of close friends in my living room after speaking those words one close friend in particular overcome with emotion. I understood then that I was truly “loved”…love showed up. You see…the girl I was didn’t believe those words yet. I was brave enough to speak them again the following night at a Take Back The Night event, but that girl was desperate for acceptance. That girl was so strong that she was afraid to admit that she was actually weak.

The night I practiced my speech I shared this for the first time:

“From about age four to age six I was sexually abused by my father…In those two years he did the worst things you can imagine to a little girl. The abuse pretty much set the tone for the rest of my childhood. The effects were far reaching. I wasn’t confident. I didn’t feel pretty”.

I am 24 years old today and this speech took place about 4 years ago. I can say with confidence that this event was the first time in my entire life that “love showed up” for me (at least that I recognize). I shared such a vulnerable piece of my life with more people than my husband (boyfriend at the time) and expected to be turned away. Instead I was greeted with tears of compassion and quiet support from good friends.

A lot of survivors of sexual abuse wait for the proverbial “anvil” to drop on their heads. I was no different. This was the first time I got that people have the capacity to care…to care about me. Also in that moment I felt God’s presence. Love showed up has dual meanings in this event. I got that people cared for me, and I got that God cares for me…always. His presence was just a flicker… and to this day I struggle with trusting a heavenly father when my earthly one treated me so horribly. It was this event that made me understand that I truly had a family in these people. To this day I can count on them for anything that I need. If it’s a phone call after a hard day or lunch just to socialize…I can count on them. I also understand that I can bring anything to God. It’s just laying my problems (or especially myself) at his feet that I struggle with.

Through good friends, an awesome husband and an equally as awesome therapist I am closer to believing these words I wrote in my speech:

“For me taking back the night means taking back all I lost…taking back the world [I] had begun to fear. To say to [the person] who assaulted me. You will not stop me from living my life to the fullest. You will not stop me from becoming the woman I want to become. Strong, confident, poised. My head held high, you haven’t beat me down. I may have fallen before but I will stand tall now.”

419534_10151195673834275_311131210_n Lisa Smith is a devoted wife and student. She strives to move beyond her experiences and eventually become a licensed therapist. Lisa hopes to be an inspiration to others both that share her history and those who don’t. Lisa is passionate about bringing women’s issues to the forefront and out of the shadows of shame and silence. Her hobbies are far reaching…everything from singing and playing the guitar to writing stories and reading. If you find yourself wandering Barnes and Noble you can find Lisa in the psychology section, the reference section, or the fiction section (P.S. you should look in that order). Lisa hopes that she can touch others with her experience and for those who share her history she most wants you to know you are not alone. 

Interested in contributing to the Love Showed Up series? Send me an email at leannerae (at) gmail (dot) com and let’s have a chat about it. 

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