By Lavinia Masters
Memories are permanent visions of our past experiences that lie dormant in our minds until they are retriggered by certain circumstances or surroundings as well as present happenings and or conversations that occur in our lives. Once retriggered they begin to replay over and over again like a DVD stuck on repeat mode until we either decide to stop it or let it play on until it malfunctions or overheats and ultimately self destructs.
We find that some of these memories brought us so much joy and pleasure that you are amazed at how you easily dismiss them until they are brought back up to your remembrance. While, on the other hand, some memories are so painful and devastating that you can only pray that you had the power to erase all of them permanently. Then, there are the memories that you are so detached from that when they are brought up again you will find yourself questioning your own sanity because your mind fails to put all the missing pieces together from certain occurrences and you find yourself digging and searching for more answers and clues to bring you some sort of resolution but still…nothing. However, some have discovered later in life that during those “memory lapses” that nine times out of ten something so traumatic has occurred in your life that it eventually caused a drastic change in you.
Although doctors, therapists and scientists have their medical and scientific reasons as to why people suffer from “memory lapses” or suppression…I always like to say that it is God’s way of protecting you from certain elements of your past that you are not ready for or prepared to handle at the present time; and when He has physically, mentally and spiritually prepared you, then those things of your past will be brought back up in the present. Recognizing that any damage can be permanent to an individual life, but only some of it is total loss, and can be repaired or restored.
So is the life of a survivor of sexual or relationship abuse/assault…the damage that has happened to that individual can never be reversed because it did indeed happen to them. However, if the issues surrounding the trauma is never addressed or treated before that victims demise then it becomes a total loss because the victim never had the opportunity to live their life as a survivor…they never had the opportunity to know that there is life and healing after sexual and relationship trauma. Unfortunately they continued to live their lives with a victim mentality and possibly even found solace in unhealthy and immoral lifestyles.
However, when a victim is given the opportunity of counseling, therapy and or support after such traumatic experiences, then not only has the victim be put on the road to recovery, but will also discover that their lives are in recovery and that they are on their way to restoration. They have learned that the damage that has happened to them was only structural damage and has not destroyed their total being...it did not destroy who they are and as well as their self worth…that they are not a total loss.
So is the story of my sexual assault…many of you know that when I was 13 years old that I was brutally raped at the hands of a stranger and did not find total closure until about 4 years ago when DNA was able to identify my attacker. Now those are some memories that I will never forget….the night that I was attacked and the day that I found out who my attacker was…both etched permanently in my mind, but, I made a conscience decision that I was going to “stop” reliving my assault day by day and “play” the good news of Sgt. Welsh telling me that they identified my attacker. It was the day that my wings were fully released and I realized that I was in flight.
Yes, the damage that the rape caused that day was painful, annoying, crippling and, of course, traumatic, and is a part of my permanent being or memory bank and that is only because I will remember that incident for the rest of my life, and, unfortunately, it cannot be reversed. However, with the prayer and teachings of a loving grandmother and DNA technology, I stand and appear as a person that is whole and my outward appearance is normal. Yes, the memories are traumatic because the experience was traumatic. Had my grandmother not taught me about the healing power of a loving Savior and I not decided to seek healing for myself, then the final results could have been beyond repair or a total loss or even my demise.
Thankfully, I was given the opportunity of healing because I would rather have structural damage that may come with a few unpleasant permanent or foggy memories than to have suffered all that I went through and not discover the joys and pleasures that this life has to offer only to die in that misery and pain. The pain that I endured was bittersweet because not only did it teach me that God knows all and sees all and those that thought they got away with those things that caused you to suffer will eventually be exposed and will pay for all their wrongdoings but it also taught me that I am not alone in this struggle and as I share of myself unselfishly…I help bear the burdens of other victims.
I said all of that to say this…that our past traumatic experiences can be teachers and healers. They teach us to raise awareness in our situations so that we may not only help others but ourselves and they heal not only those that are inspired by our strengths and stories of triumphs but they further heal our souls us as well.