She is talented and smart. She writes books, leads people, speaks French, mothers children, and cooks like a chef.
I admire her for these things, but not as much as I admire her for something else.
She is a survivor of sexual abuse, and she’s had the courage to keep going.
It is the thing I admire most in all victimized survivors, sexual abuse or not…how they keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep believing when they shouldn’t, stay open though life when it told them to stay closed, share their pain and healing to help free others.
It is why, my friend, Mary DeMuth, the one who speaks French, mothers children and cooks like a chef, is a personal hero of mine.
It is why when she writes a book to help other sexual abuse survivors heal their wounds and live uncaged, I share it with you.
Here is an excerpt from her new book, Not Marked.
Whether a sexual abuse victim or not, I think you should read it.
Here’s the gut-honest truth: I would not be okay if I had not told my sexual abuse story. I wouldn’t be writing this book. I most likely would be divorced, broken, possibly institutionalized, most likely suicidal.
Why? Because an untold story never heals.
It just festers inside and hurts the people you love most because you can’t help but act differently when that story is contained inside you. It materializes in your actions, attitudes, and the fearful way you live your life. It’s like trying to submerge a basketball in a swimming pool. You can do it for a period of time, but you cannot sustain it. Eventually the ball surfaces, usually by hurtling into the air with dramatic flourish.
Let me ask you this: Are you bone tired? Do you feel like your life is a constant struggle to keep your story contained? Do you secretly feel that you’re different from everyone else on this planet because of your untold story? Do you have flashbacks? Triggers? A high amount of irrational fears? Does the landscape of your mind look chaotic and frenzied?
I’m not a psychologist by any stretch (with my empathy bent, I’d go nutty), but I can say that finding a safe place to let out your story will change your life.
Sharing your story is much like letting the air out of the basketball you’re trying to submerge in the pool. Once you share it, the air (power) goes out of the story, and you no longer have to fight to keep it submerged. Memory is a strange, fickle thing. Often when folks share their stories, they realize that their fears morph from the Great and Powerful Oz to a short man on a stool pulling levers. Telling our stories deflates the power they have over us.
Recently, I met a woman with a sordid, painful story. She couldn’t meet my eyes, and when she spoke I had to lean in close because of her whisper. Such shame permeated her awful, dreadful memories. In the space of sixty minutes, the story halted, then poured out. I listened. I felt so privileged to be a part of this painful, beautiful moment with her. The downcast eyes upturned at the end of her story. When she knew I understood, and when she saw that her story was much more universal than she expected, something softened and blossomed in her. I can’t prove this, of course. All I can offer is my observation. When I met her, she was a timid wisp of a woman. When we parted, her eyes had dance in them, and she smiled.
Vulnerability is a risk. I won’t lie to you. There’s a chance the person you share your story with (whether it’s about sexual abuse or any other traumatic pain) might reject you, disbelieve you, or minimize your pain. If that’s the case, retreat, ask God to heal you (this could take some time), and share with a wise person who loves to listen. Let out the pain. Letting it fester inside will only cause more damage to you and those you love.
Mary’s website: Http://www.notmarked.com
To purchase Not Marked:
Not Marked (e): http://amzn.to/1cdFsdT
Not Marked (p): http://amzn.to/1ikVasi
A Word From Mary:
I’m humbled and grateful to be here today. A huge thank you to Lisa for allowing me to share my heart. A little background. I’ve shared my sexual abuse story in the last few years, but I haven’t always been so open. Initially I kept it silent for a decade, then over-shared, then went silent another decade. The healing journey hasn’t been easy, but it has been good.
About a year ago, I sensed God wanted me to be bold in sharing about sexual abuse. I wrote “The Sexy Wife I Cannot Be” on Deeper Story, which went crazy (so many comments), followed by “I’m Sick of Hearing About Your Smoking Hot Wife” on Christianity Today. The overwhelming response to those two posts prompted me to write Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing after Sexual Abuse.
The book proved too risky for publishers, so I decided to crowdfund it, which turned out to be an amazing success. I cannot believe that now I can hold Not Marked in my hands, and also offer it to you. What’s unique about it: It’s written from the perspective of a survivor. It doesn’t offer cliche answers. It’s honest. And my husband shared his unique journey of how to walk a loved one through their sexual abuse.
*Conversation: Have something to say to Mary? Your thoughts are heard and welcomed, here.