We all have a story to tell. We were made to play the leading roles in our personal movies filled with tragedy, hope, heartache, loss, resilience, delight, honor, and betrayal. This array of feelings somehow make a good movie.
They weep and wail, fight and play, and wish and ask with confidence. We all start in this place of trusting in life and ourselves, until one day…tragedy hits.
A tragedy is something too overwhelming to hold a narrative for or make sense of.
One of the most common tragedies that people face is sexual abuse. As Dan Allender says:
A victim of a abuse no longer trusts in her goodness, her desires, her honor. (I use “her” for the sake of simplicity here, not to exclude male victims.)
Then suddenly, delighting in her being becomes a dangerous wooing of her soul that she desperately longs for yet vows to shut down because it’s now been marred and named by her abuser. She gives up the leading role in her beautiful and tragic story and accepts the part of the fugitive. She is trapped inside of a life on the run from anything and everything that might cause her heart to open up again.
While thinking she is protecting herself and others while playing the fugitive’s role of valor and strength, she is only recreating and replaying the havoc of her initial abuse in and around her.
If you’ve suffered from abuse, you need to be able to do that with someone who will see you through your act. Someone who has the courage to stand in the darkness of your contempt, offering you the kindness of a face that is willing to grieve with you over all you have lost, and who has the audacity to reveal the truth of how you have harmed others in the process. Someone with the fierceness to rename the parts of your glory that have been marred by shame and abuse.
Knowing full well that you will never be the child you once were, that guide will call forth the hope of that child inside of you to dream a new dream and enter into the world of Good and Evil — the land of already and not yet.
You will be both bloody and bruised, open and willing, with clear eyes and rooted feet. As you stand on the battleground of your recovered heart, you can take the next breath in and the next step forward into the life you were made for and the story you were born to play the leading role in.
Kate Hughes is a therapist at Sage Hill Counseling in Nashville, TN. She was led to Sage Hill through her own personal story of recovery and interned for a year and a half while earning her Masters in Counseling at Trevecca Nazarene University.