I was not prepared for the response I got when I posted my “me, too” story a few days ago. As I said in that initial post: “I tell it so that everyone who hears my story is aware, watchful, and careful to love and protect those who are vulnerable to victimization, or have been victimized.”
I had also not anticipated that with social media being what it is, and “sharing” stories via multiple social media venues . . . there might be someone who would actually put my carefully worded story together and figure out that they knew me back then. I also never considered that a reader might also have been a victim of the very same perpetrator.
When I got that first private text message from someone who knew me then, I was terrified. I had a panic attack. Every single old lie reared its ugly head and wormed its way back into my thought process and it completely overwhelmed me. I turned into a five-year-old. I had a physical, visceral reaction. Was it a mistake to write something for publication? Do I have all the “facts” straight? What if they remember things differently and think I’m lying? Seriously, my mind was flooded with angst, self-doubt, and a zillion questions. I texted my pastor, my sister and my niece, all part of my inner circle of support. I then spent a few hours distracting myself from the whole thing. When that didn’t help, I realized I needed to voice my fears out loud. I called one of my dearest sister friends. Connecting with her wasn’t so simple since she is busy with four kids and lives in a different time zone. When we finally connected late in her afternoon, it took me all of about 30 seconds to share all of my fears and anxiety. When we hung up I felt like I’d just gotten a speed recharge on my battery. She had offered not a single word of advice nor made one single comment, nor had she asked a single question about what I was sharing. Through that impersonal phone line, I felt certain that she was intently, and with deep empathy, listening.
Since that call I’ve been thinking that I need to send out a follow-up post, specifically for other victims. I feel compelled to post because this fear stuff, these lies – they are phenomenally powerful! So, for fellow victims of abuse, as well as those who walk the journey with the victims, here are a few more thoughts:
- Most importantly be assured that if the silence and fear is holding you captive, it is going to be okay to say your story out loud – really. (AND, if you are not ready – that is okay too!)
- I know the fear, the panic (as do many, many others). You will survive the telling – and it will absolutely “set you free!” This is not only a fact, it is a promise to you by the very one who created your innermost being. There will probably be some blowback – like I had today – but never let it put you back into the captivity of silence.
- There are people in your life who love you enough to listen. I believe this. Let them love you through this.
- You may not get all the “facts” right. And, that’s okay. It is YOUR STORY. It does not belong to anyone else . . . it is yours. Telling your truth is a good thing to do.
- You are created in the very image of the creator of the entire universe. Think about that. You have endured something that NO ONE CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF THE CREATOR WAS EVER MEANT TO ENDURE! (Yes, I am yelling this as loudly as I possibly can.) You are profoundly amazing. You are already brave. You have the courage to do this!
- It’s not magic. There is nothing about this journey that actually erases what has happened. You and I, we can be “made new.” One step at a time, one day at a time until you won’t even know that moment you moved from darkness into full light. In being “made new” your story can be transformed into something beautiful and exquisite. (Think butterfly.)
- Be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to do the things that help you on this healing journey.
- Know you are not alone. Out here in the light of the truth where all the horror is exposed, there are many, many men, women, boys and girls who are not only surviving such horror, they are enjoying abundant life. We are in this together. (And, for goodness sake do not be discouraged by what you read and hear on the news.) “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it!”
That is it, for now. I haven’t quite figured out how to respond to comments on the blog – so if I don’t respond to a comment – it is unintentional.
And may “. . . the peace of God, which transcends all understanding . . . guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Janet Lynn Kroeker was born in Harvey, North Dakota. At the age of four she and her family moved to California where she still resides. Janet spent most of her career as a designer and art director, working in the field of Marketing and Communications. Having lived on a farm, in the suburbs, and now in the metropolitan community of San Francisco, CA, she enjoys the many riches the city has to offer. Janet serves on the Board as West Coast Representative for Mennonite Women USA.