I don’t think all stories need to be told publicly. First, mine needed to be told in a therapist’s office. Lying on the couch in my living room. Crying with my husband. Fighting into my pillow. Breaking glass on a country road. But now 8 years after I finally shared my story for the first time, I am sharing mine publicly.
Because the stories need to be told. They need to be known. They need to be named. Because when someone finally gives you the gift of telling you that you have been a victim, you have the opportunity to stop living as one.
Keeping truth in the darkness destroys the soul. Darkness cannot overtake light, neither scientifically or biblically. Darkness, by definition, is only the absence of light. It therefore has no power in and of itself, it only has power when light is absent. Light is inherently more powerful than darkness.
And like in the person of Jesus: Truth and Light, they go together.
I am learning over the years to accept my body as it is. I still eat healthy, and I will likely always exercise to stay “in shape.” I stopped reading women’s magazines years ago because I could no longer handle funding the pictures of so-called “perfection” offered as truth to the women (and men) in our society. Unfortunately their images remain inside at times and taunt me to be like them. Or, at minimum, pursue me so I feel badly that I will never be like them. This struggle is not what it once was, but truthfully it still catches me stronger than I would like at times.
The day I came home from the hospital I stood in front of the mirror. I didn’t quite fit into the biggest jeans I had. Belly hanging over my sweats more than ever; a new squishy-ness to many parts of me. No baby in my arms to help me not care. But as I stood there a new thing happened that I didn’t see coming…ever. I had literally never loved my body so much. Its beauty struck me as I considered all it had done that week. It gave birth to an amazing little boy who I love dearly. It knew instinctively what to do, and how to recover. The “extra”
I have right now reminds me of what was, the beauty of a woman’s body, and all God created us to do. I feel a pride inside of me. I praise God for such mysteries and am honored to be a woman.
A new level of sadness also set in for our culture and the pressure woman face to swallow the “truth” set before us by the magazines, movies, and pornographers. Women who have walked the road of carrying a child especially, to get back as quickly as possible to our “skinny jeans.” To not show what we have done and miraculous road we have walked. I am sad for our culture. Men, good men, who try not to believe these lies but are bombarded with these images. It’s sad.
Life comes with many seasons. Women come in many shapes. I still eat healthy, I still exercise (or will eventually), but with a different heart. With a heart of gratitude for being a woman, for being able to bear a child, for being called to be a (spiritual) mother to those younger than me whether I have living children or not. I am also thankful for the men who fight the good fight with us. Who cherish our bodies for the way they are. Who look away when they are being all but forced to swallow new lies. Who long for women who are real women, and who choose to be men who are real men. I honor you all.
The gown was open down my back. I was numb from my waist down. I was sitting in blood. My body was at its weakest for sure. There were probably 7 machines around me with lights and noises, a few tubes protruding from here and there. A catheter. My hair was in loose, ratty braids. No make-up. My socks smelled and I had been awake for 20 hours with no food other than clear liquids.
When I held my son I everything changed around me. My gown was mantle of honor laid upon me. My body, though weak and numb, was both a womb and a tomb…ushering in new life…twice! The blood reminded me of the cost of loving another. The machines showed the difficult path I had taken to receive such joy. My hair shown of brilliance and beauty; when I braided it that morning I had thought of Jonan, only a child, and I wanted to welcome him with a childlike heart. My paint-less face was a reminder of the purity of that which I held in my arms. My hunger was filled with love. And I was a queen.