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The Challenge, Part I

24 hours ago, I issued a challenge to a dear friend of mine. The challenge was a rather simple one, or so it would seem – to be open and honest for the next 24 hours. I’m not talking about random blurting. I’m talking about when given the opportunity to open up, to expose our “ugly” – we take it and put it out there so all can see. It leaves you vulnerable, exposed but it can also free you, heal you.

As a self-centered society, we have conditioned ourselves and others to hide what I call our “ugly”. Ugly is essentially all the things we hide or suppress from the world around us, so that we don’t look flawed, wounded. I feel this is especially true for us women. How are we suppose to help each other heal, grow strong, be encouraged when we don’t allow others to know the ugly? The simple truth of it – we can’t. We enable ourselves and those around us to hurt / suffer in silence. Somehow it’s been engrained that this is what we MUST do. We shouldn’t dare inconvenience others with our issues. This is why child abuse still exists. Why domestic violence is the “silent killer”. Why we feel so alone when in reality, we are surrounded in love.

As a child I suffered a good amount of abuse from the one man who should have been protecting me – my stepfather. Instead of protecting me from the world’s ugly, perverse ways, he opened up the door and shoved me through it. Physical abuse was the beginning of the show. I suffer from suppressed / memory loss, one of the earliest times that I can remember was at age 5. Bruises that needed to remain hidden, even from my mother. Scared that I had done something wrong I strived to be better. The beatings got worse and I couldn’t always hide the bruises. Once my mom figured out my first dark secret she put herself in harm’s way to prevent me from sustaining anymore beatings. Of course I have vivid memories of the knockdown, drag out fights between them. I’ll never forget the night I locked myself in my bedroom (I was about 14), fearing I would never see my mom again because he chased her out of the house and down the street with a butcher knife in his hands. The whole time screaming he was going to kill her.

*****I pause here to let you know that you need to focus on the escalation of the abuse and mental process. I warn you to not criticize my mother in anyway if you wish to remain in my life. There are more details not being given simply because they aren’t relevant to this post.*****

When I got to be about 9/10 (4th grade) the verbal abuse set in. I believe that this is when all my thoughts of not being good enough were sealed. I was berated for anything less than what his idea of perfect was. My looks were the biggest target – weight, clothes being the two main zones. This was also when I entered “womanhood” so yeah, talk about being screwed up. The next couple of years ushered in the sexual abuse. Now this is when my mental stability crashed to the ground. I realized during this time, also hidden from my mother, that I was only good for giving pleasure. That was my sole purpose in life. I took that ball and I ran with it! I finally found something that didn’t get me beat or yelled at – it also got boys at school to finally notice me. My worth was confirmed by one of the “popular” boys actually speaking to me. Of course he only wanted to meet under the stairway, after school, to fondle my breasts in seventh grade. His attentions continued that year under the terms that I didn’t tell anyone – he couldn’t dare be linked to someone like me. Finally someone spoke out, someone I got extremely angry with because she was suppose to be a friend. She took away the one thing I was good for! The authorities stepped in, gave my “dad” a slap on the wrist and then vanished. My mother made sure from then on to never leave me alone with him. Funny thing was the beatings didn’t really stop until I finally stood up to him, age 16.

I am still struggling to break the mindset that physical relations are the only thing I’m good for. I fight, more often than I’d like to admit, the feeling that I’m worthless.

I’m sharing just a sliver of my “ugly” in hopes of driving my point home. Had someone seen the subtle signs that were there, taken the time to care just a bit more than they were expected too, my healing could have started years ago – possibly even decades ago. I didn’t deserve my body being used in those ways and my mother didn’t deserve the shame and guilt that she silently carried.

So now I’m throwing the challenge out to anyone – everyone to spend the next 24hrs being open, honest, vulnerable! When someone asks how you are, answer with honesty!

“I’m feeling down”
“I need a random hug from someone who doesn’t know I need it. Someone who just wanted to hug me.”
“I want to run away from all the pain and sadness”
“I’m not as good as I would like but God is on the throne!”

Wonder how many will take me up on the challenge?

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