“You have my permission to consider all men as bastards until they individually prove otherwise.”
That sentence shook me awake from my mental flight. It came from the lips of a man I was struggling, but trying, to trust and had just insulted.
As I sat on the couch in Sam’s office that day, fear had taken hold. The door was closed. We were alone and I realized I was afraid of Sam. The community sees Sam as a good man, a man of high moral character. He is respected and sought after as a therapist, he has a 6 month waiting list. He is a man of power and “men of power-that are loved are dangerous” my brain kept reminding me. As we talked I found myself pressing hard against the cushions of the couch. Shrinking into the corner, holding a pillow in my arms.
“If I just push hard enough into the corner, he will not hurt me. I will be invisible to him.”
Sam was asking me questions but my brain had gone into auto-pilot. I was not really thinking about my answers. All I could think about was how to escape. The back of my neck started getting hot and my head began tingling. My body was screaming “Alert-Alert, run!!” I tried to take a deep breath and focus. “This is Sam, he is ok, stop being so ridiculous!” I tried to tell myself but panic would not release me.
I started mentally analyzing my outfit. It was more feminine and cute than I usually would wear and I worried it would arouse his senses. If I had only worn jeans, a t-shirt and a leather cuff on my wrist, then I would at least feel safer. Sam knew I was a victim of past sexual abuse; that I had been preyed upon by not just one man but 6 men before the age of 23. In my mind, my past abuse could instigate Sam into thinking he could attack me. Fear overtook me to the point that I could no longer continue the conversation we were having. I knew I had to prove myself tough and strong, so he understood I would not allow him to hurt me. I was not ‘that’ woman any more.
“You could abuse me right now and not only would no one know but they probably wouldn’t believe me either.” I tried to be tough as I spoke so he knew I was onto him but tears betrayed me and I blinked quickly to try and hide them. The fear behind that statement was dangerously close to the surface. I was losing control. I had to let him know that I was one smart bitch, not to be messed with.
His response took me back a step…wait, I can think you are a bastard? Really? He then went on to say, “You have my permission to vet me out and ask about me. You have every right to not trust me yet.”
What? My body relaxed a bit and my grip on the pillow loosened. Sam was sitting in front of me, relaxed. He hadn’t moved since I got there. He didn’t look like a man about to pounce in lust or anger. And his eyes seemed to speak compassion…maybe he wasn’t a monster.
I have spent my life dealing with men of ‘high moral character’. Men respected in their communities. Men with power because of who they were and how they presented themselves. The couple times I tried to tell what happened, expose them, I was called many names.
LIAR RACIST BITCH OVERDRAMATIC SEDUCER
My dad even spanked me as a four year old when he found out about an older boy in the neighborhood who took advantage of me. He didn’t go after the boy and confront his bad behavior. It was all my fault. “All my fault” became my mental mantra.
So, I learned to be quiet. I learned that revealing secrets led to intense shame and ridicule. So I locked my secrets up and went on with my life. I felt I could just move on.
How is it that 15 years after I locked my hearts door, I am sitting in a man’s office, opening the door to these secrets? Wasn’t this supposed to be off limits forever, case closed!?
What I have learned is you can only hide for so long.
Your body can only store trauma for so long before it starts screaming for help.
Life had begun to unravel and I had no choice but to seek help. God made it so clear I was to see Sam. I had the choice to trust God, who I view as male. Walking into Sam’s office was the first step in learning to trust a God I had spent most of my life fearing.
What has happened since I started this new journey is I have begun to extend kindness to myself. Instead of criticizing and self-berating myself for being afraid, I have started to find ways to take care of myself. I say no to situations that scare me. No the installers cannot come when my husband is not home. The truth is, those men may hurt me or they may not, but I am not emotionally ready to test that out.
The truth is: All men are bastards until they prove otherwise.
And if you are wondering about my feelings on Sam?
Well let’s just say he has fallen out of the “bastard” category and into the “he has potential” category.
Christy Barber lives in Monument, Colorado with her adventuresome husband and two children. She pursues her heart by writing music, poems and creating whenever time allows. She wants to inspire hope through her own stories of struggle and journey with Jesus.
Dear Christy–Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for your boldness. It is a gift. “The body can only store trauma for so long before it starts screaming for help.” That is so true. I can point to several times in my life when my body has been screaming, which has forced me to pursue healing. I am thankful for Sam being a different kind of man. I think it’s interesting the way God sometimes brings healing through the same avenues as our pain. I hope you continue to write and share your story here. Blessings, Libby.
I love your courage and honesty…you are one brave woman. Thank you for your story. My heart resonate with your statement about the body can only hold so much trauma before it starts screaming for help…so true. I’m glad you sought out help. The kindness you have found in saying no reflects a heart seeking rest and boundaries. I love that for you. Bless you as you continue on. I am so grateful for you💗MJ
“So, I learned to be quiet. I learned that revealing secrets led to intense shame and ridicule.” I am thankful that you are quiet no longer and are on a journey of healing and bravely sharing your story. We need to know we are not alone – and others’ stories help us to know that. Out of the ashes rises beauty!
Yes I agree!! What beauty there is when we find our voice!! Thank you for the encouragement
What a beautiful reminder. I remember the first man I trusted. I am so thankful he truly was as good as I thought he was. He taught me so much about kindness and goodness and Jesus.
I remember my first intense years of therapy with a male therapist who had eyes like my dad. It took so long to allow him to be trusted. His integrity was part of the opening of my story.
Grateful you are speaking. Grateful you can babe and honor both your fear and your knowing.
I am so excited to see you here, Christy, and to read your incredibly honest, vulnerable, and beautiful words! Thank you for sharing your story with us. I felt to present in the room with Sam and you and could feel the tension and grace of that interchange. I love that you name how you are extending kindness to yourself. What thoughtful choices you are making to care for your heart and its healing. Beautiful. Thank you for writing here.
Thank you Susan!! I appreciate your kindness and encouragement. Feel honored to share space with you here at Red Tent!