Any idea of who I thought I was completely shattered upon the acceptance of a single memory. For years, my husband and I wondered if I was sexually abused as a child. We talked about what I always remembered and discussed certain bedroom behaviors of mine. As far as I knew I lived a completely uneventful and normal life. I believe what solidified this division of my personality was the extreme contrast between lives that I was made to live. One, being the good girl in a catholic family – a good, non abusive family and the other as the slave to the horribly evil torturous people I was exposed to. Sometimes I am still in awe of this extreme contrast I was made to live through. It is hard to bring these existences together.
One thing I have learned is the idea of nature vs. nurture is very well expressed through these experiences. There is the idea of nature – being the personality characteristics and qualities we are born with, and nurture being how our experiences in life and those who shape us (parents, family, friends) affect the person we become. I have learned that one person, if plucked up from their life and placed into another situation completely will be affected in a way they may have never expected. What I really mean to explain is that say you have a person born into a nice life with a good family, not void of pain, but still a decent life; then what if that same person was never born into that good family but was born into an abusive one – well, the two extremes are going to produce different results.
This can transfer to humility and gratefulness. In a way I am thankful God preserved me as in amber and allowed me to split rather than have to deal with trying to understand these extremes as a young girl. So, while I could be angry with God that He allowed me to go through what I did, I am still thankful that part of me was preserved. The humility comes in when I recover a new memory. Usually the memories where I am older cause me feel that moral conflict inside. I am talking about the things that I would never in a million years do, but did anyway because it was not me who did those actions. The humility learned here is that I am not bigger than any sin. If I was plucked up and placed into another situation growing up, those experiences would nurture certain weaknesses or strengths which would in turn directly affect the decisions I would make in life. Josie never learned what I learned about the catholic faith or Christianity at all. Nicky made any and all of her decisions based on the programming that was done and her strengths in holding memories and all the pain (emotional and physical). Emily is the little girl who started out with the most of my hopes and faith that someone would some and save her, but nobody did, and faith and hope suffered.
What these parts of me were taught as well as what they learned through the abuse is going to affect their opinions. Because each of my alters are separate, they do seem to have different personalities. They are each unique because of how they were nurtured. I, as the core or host, may not have been affected directly by their experiences, however, I was affected by their existence within this psychological system. In small ways their experiences, their opinions or personal paradigms bled over into my own thought process.
The second thing I have learned is about sin; its rippling effect as well as forgiveness. This has a similarity to the nature vs. nurture or rather cause and effect. I am not very good at providing adequate examples, but hopefully you can understand what I have learned. It has been said that sin darkens the intellect and weakens the soul. One thing this means is that sin takes away some of the clarity we may have had. We grow further from God. It becomes easier to sin more, and harder to persist in resisting sin. This is seen on a personal and spiritual level, but also on a superficial level we can see how this happens. A pretty blunt example would be child abuse. You have a pedophile and torturer who is only considering satisfying his own urges. This is a person who has given himself over to sin completely and any consideration regarding ever fighting those vices is way too weak to make a difference on its own. Then you have the child this person is hurting. The sin only belongs to the pedophile, but yet the child has to bear the burden of that horror. The child is affected for the rest of his or her life. This makes me think of Christ carrying His cross. He didn’t deserve the torture He went through, but he carried the burden anyway.
You can also think of having a moment of selfishness on the road. Say you are in a rush, trying to get somewhere and wrapped up in your own life. So, what if this mood you are in causes you to cut somebody off or just make someone else angry who is trying to get to their own destination. Maybe, because you were a little bit rude on the road, this person is upset and their demeanor then affects their own life and causes them to be rude to the people they love.
That is the rippling effect of sin. Yes, in the end we are all responsible for our own actions. The rude driver is not necessarily to blame for someone else treating someone they care about badly, but whether the driver realizes it or not, they were somehow involved in the life of a complete stranger.
Then you have forgiveness. What if the stranger who was put in a bad mood by a rude driver decided to forgive that driver? I learned that forgiveness means not letting the sin of another person affect you anymore. If you forgive that rude driver, then you won’t upset people you care about because of your bad mood. In essence you stop the cycle of sin and put an end to the ripples. That is the power of forgiveness.
Let’s apply this idea of forgiveness to childhood trauma. Healing is a process of forgiveness. Here, forgiveness does not mean pretending the horrors of abuse never happened. Neither does it mean that to forgive you have to be comfortable around people who abused you. You do not have to be friends with the abuser who sinned against you. It just wouldn’t be safe. In the interest of safety I refuse to have anything to do with my aunt and uncle who caused my dissociation. But, even though I can not practice forgiveness by showing direct kindness and charity to them, I will practice forgiveness as well as I can through healing and trying to put an end to the many effects their sins have had on me.
Here is a quote I like:
“God could in no wise permit the kind of evil out of which He could not bring good” – St. Augustine (354-430)
I know God is more powerful that the devil. I do not understand why God allows these horrible sins to persist, however, I do know that He is more forgiving than any of us – as long as we acknowledge we need His forgiveness. What I have also learned is that God is relying on us to allow Him to work in the world. As long as we co-operate with His inspirations, as well as forgiving others by healing ourselves, we are allowing God to work through us.
Our healing can be more powerful than we ever imagined!