Sunday, April 5, 2009

Someone Listens to My Story

Last week I spoke on my life as a survivor of child sexual abuse. I stood before 170 women at a Magnificat, where Catholic women come to praise and worship God and hear a woman’s testimony.
Funny, I have written a book and I have spoken on my childhood in a general way before, in little snippets here and there, but never have I shared the “whole story” in front of an audience before. Never have I stood in front of a room full of people and told the story from the beginning: the story of sexual abuse, the effects of the abuse on me and my life, and how God has helped me in my healing journey. A journey that is not over, but a journey that has come a long way.
Oh, I had a lot of fear beforehand. I really struggled with writing the talk. I was stressed to the max and cried many tears as I struggled to put into words, my feelings and my fears and my hopes and my pain. I wasn’t sure I would be able to finish it. It was way more painful than I thought it would be.
For years I have dreamed of standing up in front of people and telling them the truth of child sexual abuse. I have dreamed of telling the world what it was like and why I am the way I am and how it never goes away and why I cannot just forget it and put it in the past.
How can we forget it and put it in the past, when there are so many pockets of pain that suddenly bubble up from way down deep and come to the surface, crying out to be healed? How can we forget, when we still hurt?
I have this deep sense that that was a momentous occasion for me. I have this feeling that something happened that day, something new, something good. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it is there, simmering below the surface.
I got a standing ovation when it was over. That was unexpected and I was a bit embarrassed, not knowing what to do. But I just stood there and I thought, this is for all of us.
And I thanked God for helping me through it and for bringing me to this day, when I could open up and tell the world about child sexual abuse and the poison of it, the pain of it, and the healing love of God.
And when it was over, a woman came to me and told me, You were telling my story. Another said, Your story was my husband’s story and I understand him better. And another woman said, You gave us hope.
May God grant us all healing and hope and a moment like this – a moment when we can tell our story and know someone is listening.

7 comments:

Just Be Real said...

Colleen, that was simply awesome!!

I wish I had been there in the audience with the other women too! I commend you highly, fear and all, to tell your story. Do you know how long you were talking for? Did you take questions at the end? Kudos to you dear one. You know you were in Gods will by sharing as the women that came to you afterwards with their stories, must have encouraged you greatly!! Our Lord gave you the grace and peace! Blessings and thank you for posting!

Colleen said...

Thanks for your encouragement and support. I spoke for 45-50 minutes. No questions. Didn't seem that long. I will be getting an MP3of the talk and will post it on my blog. Blessings!

Just Be Real said...

Great, look forward to listening to the MP3. Thank you.

Patricia Singleton said...

Grace, it takes real courage and compassion for yourself to be able to tell your whole story about incest to other women. Those of us who do this work are truly blessed by the experience and by the hope that other women get from the sharing of our stories of recovery. I look forward to reading more about you.

The first time that I told my whole story, I tape recorded it and listened to it twice before I got an important message about myself. I missed it the first time that I listened to the recording. It was an important piece of my story that I needed to hear. That was why I was guided to record my talk. Blessings to you for sharing your courage and strength with others.

Colleen said...

Thank you Patricia. You are right, I do feel blessed by the experience. And now actually look forward to doing it again. God bless.

Marj aka Thriver said...

Kudos to you for having the courage, standing up (literally) and telling your story. I think it's harder in person than in writing...for me, anyway.

Thanks for letting us have this inspiring post to include in The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. Awesome!

Colleen said...

Marj, I found it quite painful to prepare it, more than I thought it would be. Once I got up there, I got in the "zone" so to speak, and I was OK. Must have been grace!
Thanks for your encouraging words and your blog and support! The Blog Carnival was great. God bless.