Your Redemptive Suffering

As a Catholic, I’m reminded that Holy week is supposed to be a time of contemplation on the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that all Christians commemorate.  Whenever I reflect on the crucifixion, I can’t help but think about rape survivors and their suffering.  The cruelty, evil, and humiliation that innocent, men, women, and children suffer from being raped or sexually assaulted.
A poem in my book, A Rape Survivor’s Reflections: My Poems and Practical Exercises, seems appropriate along with some positive words of reflection that follow.  Please note the words in italics are God’s, not mine.

Redemptive Suffering

Are you kidding me?
Who am I?  The virgin Mary?
Well, my name’s Mary, and I’m no virgin,
but then you already knew that.
Tell me why.  Why is there suffering at all?
I know we’re all suffering unless we’re physically dead,
so why not kill us all and let the world end.
I’ll give you your answer,
but first answer ME.
Why do people, hate, kill and maim?
Why do they torture, prolonging the pain?
Why do they cheat, steal and lie?
Why do they want a bigger piece of the pie?
Why can’t they be happy with all they’ve got?
Why can’t those that have, help all the “have-nots?”
Don’t get me wrong.  It’s okay to want more,
but it’s certainly not right just to hoard.
Then there are talents.
I gave everyone some.
To some I gave more.  Others only have one.
How many people do you know, tell me now,
that have found and really use the talents they have?
How many have done so and are eternally glad
to go to work every day and get paid
for what they feel is essentially play?
You know the answer, and, of course, I do, too,
because so many come to me unhappy like you.
So, tell me why.  Why is there suffering at all?
You know you’re all suffering unless we’re physically dead,
so why aren’t you doing something about it before the world ends?
Inspired by Fr. William J. O’Malley, S.J.’s book,
Redemptive Suffering: Understanding Suffering, Living with It,
and Growing Through It
(New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997.  Print).


Who Inspires You?
and
What Can You Learn from Them?
Like any good father or mother, our divine creator shares our unjust suffering and keeps reaching out to pull us out of the darkness, knowing that our triumphs over evil will inspire others, so our victories become lights in the darkness transforming the world.
Write about who inspires you and what you can learn from them.

Download my book for FREE in the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble, or on our ePub distributor’s website at Smashwords.com.  Purchase my paperback and Kindle eBook at Amazon.com,  Unfortunately, Amazon.com would not allow us to sell Mary’s eBook for FREE.  However, I do have the mobi file which I can send you for free.  Just email me at mary@apprenticebutterflies.com.

Return to Live!

As a survivor of childhood sexual violence, my faith in God saved my life.  By the grace of God, I held onto my faith when I began having suicidal thoughts.  Today, I am a happy and peaceful person no longer suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Thanks be to God!During one of the darkest times of my life after the abuse, I was living at the YMCA in the Gold Coast in a room the size of a large, walk-in closet and working as a security guard in a River North condo building.  That’s when I was blessed with the remarkable experience and privilege of writing a book I never wanted to write, A Rape Survivor’s Spiritual Journey: My Poems and Practical Exercises.  Visit my website, listen to a clip of my website theme song, and download a FREE PDF of my book.

Below is one of the poems in my book.  Please note the poems with italics are God's words, not mine.  I hope it consoles you.

 

Return to Live!

You hate me.
That’s okay,
but I still love you just the same.
I know that you’re not you, AND you’re in agony and pain.
I see you suffer and hear you cry.
I wish you’d turn to me,
and see me cry beside you
and hear my gentle plea.
Come back.  Come back.  Come back to me!
Let me hold you in my arms.
I loved you into life.  Please let me love you one more time.
I’m here and love you SO much it makes me cry to see
you struggle all alone and no longer call on me.
Hate me.  Yell and swear at me if that’s exactly how you feel.
Just keep talking.  Don’t shut me out.  I’m not going anywhere.
Go ahead.  Do it.  Right now.  I’m always listening, you know.
Remember, you can hate me, but away I’ll never go.
Return to me.  Return to live
the life I meant for you,
and through your suffering and pain
you will find your life renewed.

Inspired by Ezekiel 18:32.

Listening for Love

Yesterday morning, watching the rising sun at 6:20 am made me feel loved by God.  Smiling, I wondered why.  Then, I imagined the curved rings of sunshine were His outstretched arms reaching out to give me a tight hug, the kind that says more than words ever could and makes you catch your breath.

It’s funny how when I make more time for God, I hear him better, clearer.  UGH!?!?  Why do I need to re-learn this every day?  I think because it’s harder to be living in the world but not being of the world.  We’re infinite spirits wrapped up with mortal bodies at our spiritual core.  We keep forgetting that the essence of our true selves is our spirit and the spiritual world is reality because the material world is illusive and distracting.

The more I trust God, the more I love God.  It’s a love relationship that can’t go wrong unless you screw it up, and even when you do, you know it’s going to be okay.  What I’m suggesting is that you focus on listening for the love.  Like any love relationship, it takes work and time, but you will not be disappointed.

How do you focus on listening?
·       Try spending time writing in a journal (maybe write letters to God in it and the answers you get from Him)
·       Praying which can either be just talking to God like you do anyone else, reciting a structured prayer, or however you prefer communicating with Him.
·       Meditating on a prayer, poem, or artwork that reminds you of God’s love; or
·       Just be present and listen for God like I was doing yesterday morning looking out  my kitchen window before breakfast. 
Say and do whatever feels right for you.  Remember, the more time you spend communicating in a relationship, the more you get know someone.  The more you get to know God, the more you will love Him, and the more you will see and hear the love.

Resurrecting Your Spirit

Today, I am a happy and peaceful person.  Every sexual violence survivor deserves to live a happy and peaceful life.  Maybe you don’t feel like it right now, but you are in control of your life.  You and God, Nature, or whatever you call your higher power, together you can do anything.

How do you begin?  In a word, the answer is “self-care.”  I don’t understand why we routinely neglect our spiritual health because it’s the key to our wellness.  I know it sounds weird, but hear me out.  In a house full of people, have you ever been in a room by yourself with your back to the door when someone walks in without making a noise?  Before you turned around, you knew who was there because you sensed their spirit before you heard or saw them.

Think about your close friends.  The reason they’re your close friends is because your spirits connect in a nurturing way.  Among other things, it might be because they’re kind, loyal, always ready to make you laugh or cheer you up when you’re depressed, and maybe spontaneous (or not if that’s what you prefer).  You and they are the sum of the intangible qualities that make up your spirit and make you the person you are today.

We’ve all heard stories about hostages surviving their grueling captivity by drawing from their faith in God in prayer.  Gloria Polanco, the wife of a senator and former governor, one of 15 Colombian hostages held by rebels (all of whom were rescued), prayed for an hour and a half every day.  Her faith kept her sane. “I spoke to God a lot. I could feel His suffering,” she said. “You could see the difference between those who had faith and those who didn’t. Some prayed a lot, and some said that God didn’t hear them.”

The point I’m trying to make is that our spirit is the essence of our true self and is where our infinite strength lies.  Since we’re not taking care of the core of our existence, there’s no way we can be healthy, whole and expect to be living balanced lives.  We need to provide nourishment for and nurture our spiritual health like we do our physical and mental health.

When I wrote the poems in my first book, A Rape Survivor’s Spiritual Journey: My Poems and Practical Exercises, I had lost track of all my friends, and the only one I had nearby made a pass at me knowing that I was a survivor of childhood sexual violence.  It was devastating, but I was determined to beat the darkness.  I vowed to deepen my prayer life and read nothing but positive, uplifting books like The Power of Positive Thinking, the bible, and listen to inspiring music.  I was not going down without a fight.

Recently, long after I wrote this book, I struggled through the worst depression I ever experienced.  My mind, senses, and spirit constantly wrestled with the bleak darkness, and my only consolation came during prayer.  I felt myself slipping away and disappearing, regressing to my tormented childhood days never to return.

Thank God I met William Rosado, another survivor, who wisely assessed I had not completely forgiven my deceased father or myself as I told him I already did.  He helped me achieve a miraculous breakthrough on July 7, 2014, my deceased step-sister Mary’s birthday.  Also sexually abused by our biological father, I felt she saved my life and expunged my guilt for not finding her before she passed away.

William reminded me of the power of God’s love while carefully guiding and counseling me through completely forgiving my father and myself.  However, I had to finish the process on my own in private between God and me.  Determined, I had no idea how it would end.  After endless tears and painfully excavating the depths of my soul, I finally achieved absolute forgiveness for my father and me.  Beaten, torn, and tattered, my heart exploded, and my PTSD became history.  Thanks be to God!

I always recommend one-on-one therapy and group therapy if and when you and your therapist decide that it’s time.  However, I also recommend meditation, all forms of prayer, and self-care for your spiritual health as well as your physical and mental health.

While I wholeheartedly support survivors whether they seek justice in court or not, I believe justice and forgiveness are independently possible.  As a part of their healing process, survivors determine what they need to do to resurrect their spirit.  My mission is serving them on their healing journey.  Let me know how I can help you.

I Hope Katy Perry's "By the Grace of God" Reminds You How Much God Loves You This Valentine's Day!

On this Valentine’s Day, I wanted to console survivors who not only didn’t love themselves but were maybe starting to think about giving up.  Then, I remembered Katy Perry’s performance this year at the Grammy’s, and I thought the lyrics and video said it all.  Written by Katy and Greg Wells, "By the Grace of God" is track #11 on the album Prism. The lyrics are underneath the link to the video below.

Before Katy’s song, President Obama spoke about how artists can encourage domestic violence victims to get help and change their thinking, so they can begin to change their lives.  “Artists have a unique power to change minds and attitudes,” the President said.

Then, Brooke Axtell, a domestic violence survivor, took to the stage and performed a spoken-word piece about the abuse she suffered.  “Authentic love does not devalue another human being,” Brooke said to the audience. “Authentic love does not silence shame or abuse.”

After Axtell shared her story, Perry, 30, took the stage in front of a white screen wearing an all-white dress with what seemed to be her shadow behind her.  Then, as Katy began singing, the audience realized the shadow behind her wasn’t a shadow but dancers performing behind the white screen.  It was amazing!

I hope you’re reminded that, like Katy, God’s there for you, too, and loves you more than you can possibly imagine.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Video

 

Lyrics

 

Was 27 surviving my return to Saturn A long vacation didn't sound so bad Was full of secrets locked up tight like iron melting Running on empty, so out of gas

Thought I wasn't enough and I wasn't so tough Laying on the bathroom floor We were living on a fault line And I felt the fault was all mine Couldn't take it any more

By the grace of God (there was no other way) I picked myself back up (I knew I had to stay) I put one foot in front of the other and I Looked in the mirror and decided to stay Wasn't gonna let love take me out That way

I thank my sister for keeping my head above the water When the truth was like swallowing sand Now every morning There is no more mourning oh I Can finally see myself again

I know I am enough Possible to be loved It was not about me Now I have to rise above Let the universe call the bluff Yeah the truth will set you free

By the grace of God (there was no other way) I picked myself back up (I knew I had to stay) I put one foot in front of the other and I Looked in the mirror and decided to stay Wasn't gonna let love take me out

That way no There ain't no Not in the name of love In the name of love (in the name of love) That way There ain't no I'm not giving up

By the grace of God I picked myself back up I put one foot in front of the other and I Looked in the mirror (looked in the mirror) Looked in the mirror (looked in the mirror)

By the grace of God (there was no other way) I picked myself back up (I knew I had to stay) I put one foot in front of the other and I Looked in the mirror and decided to stay Wasn't gonna let love take me out That way

 

Published by

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

Finding God inside the Holy Temple of Your Body

My poem below is also a prayer from my autobiographical poetry book, A Rape Survivor's Spiritual Journey: My Poems and Practical Exercises, which will be released soon.  I recommend praying it out loud whenever possible because there's power in the spoken as well as the written word.  Say these  words knowing that God lives inside the holy temple of your body waiting for you to call on Him.

 

The Spirit of God lives and breathes with me.

I breathe with the Spirit.

I AM one with the Spirit.

I AM God’s Spirit.

 

At all times and in all places, the Spirit of God lives and breathes inside me.

I breathe with the Spirit.

I AM one with the Spirit.

I AM God’s Spirit.

 

The Spirit of God empowers me with the strength to

[insert your greatest challenge here].

I breathe with the Spirit.

I AM one with the Spirit.

I AM God’s Spirit

Change Your Beliefs, Change Your Life

Yes, you can change your life.  I've done it.  Keep in mind that it doesn't happen overnight because you didn't get where you're at overnight.  I recommend seeking the professional help of a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.  If you're willing to work hard and make it a priority to change your life, you can.

Try it out with just one of your goals.  Write one of your goals in one column and the steps you need to take to achieve that goal in another column on separate lines.  Be specific.  If you start coming up with reasons why you can’t achieve each step toward your goal, list those reasons in another column next to the step to which it applies.

Then, write your beliefs that reflect those reasons and start thinking about how you need to change your beliefs to achieve your goal.  What should you believe about your destiny?  Remember, your destiny begins with what you believe.

Believe.  Receive.  Achieve.

Open the Door of Your Heart and Let God Into Paradise


“God’s paradise is the human heart.”  Reading this quote by St. Alphonsus Liguori, always  melts my heart.  It also reminds me how intensely pure and unconditional God’s love is for me: something I’ve always wanted yet feared my whole life.  In any love relationship, being committed is terrifying because you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable.  You don’t know what’s going to happen or how much you’ll have to give up of yourself to grow together, so you don’t grow apart.

Then I remember that God’s love is perfect and mine’s not.  Paul talks about God’s ideal love in 1 Corinthians 13:4 – 8, “Love is patient, love is kind…It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things...Love never fails.”  I’m always moved after reading these words precisely because they speak to my heart.  They remind me that God’s love is always authentic.  He passionately loves me, you, and everyone else like that, and the words “God’s paradise is the human heart,” not only melts my heart but consoles its trepidations.

God gave us an intellect, so I don’t believe God wants us to have blind faith.  Otherwise, I don’t think Jesus would have said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."  (Matthew: 7:7)  All we have to do is open the door of our hearts and let God into our paradise.

Creating Joyful Holiday Memories to Replace the Horrific Ones

My heart goes out to survivors who find the holidays difficult and depressing due to horrific memories of the criminal who assaulted them during this time of the year.  I pray you find a good therapist to help you resurrect your spirit and you learn to enjoy a life that far surpasses your hopes and dreams.  I pray one day you grow strong enough to crush those dark memories and replace them with new memories filled with endless peace and joy.

Meanwhile, I would like to suggest that you to start writing about the good memories you want to have some day.  Write in detail about everything you see, hear, feel, taste, and touch.  If you’re not sure how to begin, I’d like to give you a couple of ideas.  Maybe start off writing about a far away sound or a close one, and let your heart guide you to your holiday paradise.  Where are you?  If you’re indoors, what’s an object in the room you’re curious about?  Pick it up and do something with it.  How much light is in the room, and how does it make you feel?  If you’re outdoors, describe everything you see, hear, feel, touch, and taste.  Describe every detail.

Start focusing on exactly what you want no matter how impossible it may seem to you right now.  Believe it will happen.  Pray for it to come.  Keep your dream alive, and it will keep you alive until it becomes your reality.

You Have the Power You Need to Heal Yourself

As a child, the criminal sexual assaults and rapes I suffered at the hands of my father tormented and tortured me mentally, physically, and spiritually.  He brainwashed me into believing I was solely to blame.  After many years of therapy, I finally know and truly believe that I was NEVER to blame.
More than 10 years ago, when I started having suicidal thoughts, I fought back by holding onto my faith in God and NEVER letting go.  Like I mentioned in a previous blog post, earlier this year, long after I wrote my book (soon to be published), I struggled through the worst depression I ever experienced.  My mind, senses, and spirit constantly wrestled with the bleak darkness, and my only consolation came during prayer.  I felt myself slipping away and disappearing, regressing to my tormented childhood days never to return.

Thank God I met William Rosado, another survivor, who helped me achieve a miraculous breakthrough.  William wisely assessed I had not completely forgiven my deceased father or myself as I told him I already did.  He helped me achieve a miraculous breakthrough on July 7, 2014, my deceased step-sister Mary’s birthday.  Also sexually abused by our biological father, I felt she saved my live and expunged my guilt for not finding her before she passed away.

William reminded me of the power of God’s love while carefully guiding and counseling me through completely forgiving my father and myself.  However, I had to finish the process on my own in private between God and me.  Determined, I had no idea how it would end.  After endless tears and painfully excavating the depths of my soul, I finally achieved absolute forgiveness for my father and me.  Beaten, torn, and tattered, my heart exploded, and my PTSD became history.  Thanks be to God!

After my breakthrough this summer, I saw the Wizard of Oz at Millenium Park with a friend.  Growing up, it gave me the hope I needed.  Now, all grown up, after seeing it I realized that it not only kept me from running away, it also taught me a valuable lesson about my own healing earlier this year.

Below are the lines from the Wizard of Oz that I’m talking about.  When I heard Glinda say the last line, I turned to my friend and said, “Oh, my God, that’s exactly what happened to me this year.  I had to learn on my own like Dorothy that by the grace of God, I’ve always had the power to heal myself.  I just had to learn it for myself.

Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda, the Good Witch: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda, the Good Witch: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

What Do You Need to Do to Take Back Your Power?

If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted, I am so sorry for the senseless suffering you are enduring.   Please know it’s not your fault.  You are a crime victim.  Rape and sexual assault are about power.  Criminals commit crimes because they feel powerless.  To empower themselves, they choose to take away someone else's power.  

It’s devastating.  Because you’re struggling to survive every moment of every day, you don’t even realize they’ve taken away your power on so many different levels.  After you start receiving counseling and healing, you will come to a point where you should start thinking about what you need to do to take back your power.  For me, it was going public and telling everyone I know and meet.  Then, volunteering for sexual violence prevention non-profits.  Eventually, it became writing a screenplay which turned into a book and grew into starting my own book publishing company for trauma survivors which I’m launching soon.

With the guidance of your therapist, it might helpful for you to start thinking about what you need to do to take back your power.  It’s different for everyone.  I recommend consulting a qualified healthcare professional to help you sort out your feelings and goals.  You can do this!  I know you can.  If you delve down into the depths of your soul, you’ll realize that you know you can, too.

How to Practice Self-care and Still Be There for Others


Years ago, one of my counselors at the YWCA told me that survivors of childhood sexual assault usually have difficulties setting boundaries.  She said we’re like a house with all of the windows wide open or all of the windows closed and locked down.   There’s no in between because we were groomed (or I like to say brainwashed) as a child.  The child predators carefully talked to us as they went a little bit farther physically each time.  This made us feel as if it was consensual and therefore our fault. 

Now we know by definition of the law that a child cannot consent to sex, so children are not to blame and don’t have anything to be ashamed about because they were manipulated.  All of the blame and shame belongs to the criminal who assaulted them. 

I still have problems setting boundaries because I tend to put other people’s needs ahead of mine.  Reminding myself to think about what I want first, helps me not lose track of my wishes.  Then, I work on figuring out how I can help the other person while still practicing self-care.  It’s not easy when you don't have a lot of extra time like most of us don't these days, but it works for me most of the time.

Awareness About Your Numbness is Huge!


Wisely, the YWCA always had a focus or theme for our sexual violence group therapy sessions which I think lasted about 8 weeks.  I remember one where we focused on listening to our body.  We explored painful or uncomfortable sensations and learned these feelings were a manifestation of the sexual assaults we suffered.

Mine was a huge, black, jagged rock in my chest which felt like it was shredding my heart.  Yes, talking about it was painful, but continuing to live with it was worse.  That’s why I kept going to my group therapy sessions and one-on-one therapy.  Over time, awareness about this sensation and consistent, one-on-one therapy helped me eventually obliterate it.

During the “listening to our body” group therapy sessions, I also remember another woman there who said she was only experiencing numbness.  Slumping in her chair, she said she just couldn’t feel anything.  One of the counselors said, “That’s great!  You’re awareness about the numbness is huge!!!  The woman’s face lit up.  She smiled the warmest smile I’d ever seen on her, and she sat straight up.

At the time, I didn’t understand the counselor was right.  I thought she was just trying to make her feel included since she was praising everyone else for their insights.  Later, I realized that acknowledging her numbness was huge since awareness is the first step to healing.  Unfortunately, like most sexual violence survivors, we all suffered from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which mirrors the PTSD war veterans experience.

The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) categorizes numbness as an avoidance symptom for obvious reasons.  Other categories include re-experiencing  and hyperarousal symptoms.  Read more about PTSD symptoms on the NIMH’s website.

Finding Your Wonder of the World

Wonders of the world
They say are seven
All breath-taking,
A slice of heaven,
Yet, they always forget the most
Beautiful
Mystical
Amazing
Wonder of them all.
Miraculous.
Deeper than the ocean,
Infinite, yet mortal, and
Reading this now.
That wonder is you.


Feeling lost?  You can be found.
Don’t keep going round and round,
Afraid of losing and finding you
You are amazing.  Breath-taking
The eighth wonder of the world
You are the slice of heaven that you crave
Stop living with one foot in the grave


I pray you find professional counseling in your community.  Meanwhile, I hope Mariah Carey’s song “Hero” inspires you to follow your healing path.

 

I Hope You Dance!

While most people I knew were exploring the world in their twenties, I was hiding from it.  Living in survival mode in my twenties and thirties didn’t help me develop long-lasting friendships.  Among other things, I realized the other day that I feel as if I missed out on making lifelong friends because of it.  Now, I feel the urge to explore the world, so what do I do now?  I’m not sure, but I’m not dead yet, so there’s still time.  Meanwhile, I'll be dancing.  Watch this video of Lee Ann Womack singing I Hope You Dance, and you'll know exactly what I mean.

Feeling Sad or Depressed? Try Writing about What Makes You Happy


Feeling sad or depressed?  Try writing about what makes you happy.  For me, it’s seeing bunnies in my neighborhood on my way home since I usually don’t see them in the morning.  I like stopping and talking to them for a few minutes while giving them their personal space.  Although I’m sure they probably think I’m kind of weird, they also seem to like the company.  Then, there’s exploring the forest preserves with a friend when we came across a doe with her baby deer.  We couldn’t stop telling the beautiful doe they were so adorable.  Like the bunnies, she stuck around for a while before leaving.  Wow!  What an adventure for a city girl like me.  That was cool!

Get the idea?  Of course, if it’s something that you can do right now, do it instead of writing about it.  If not, try to think about what’s the next best thing that would make you happy that you can do or write about.  Don’t wait for someone else to make you happy.  As part of your self-care, make it a habit of asking yourself what makes you happy or what would make you happy.  Then, write about it or do it.

Don’t Ever Give Up!


There will be days when you feel like you can’t take it anymore.  Days when you can’t think, focus, and can’t even begin to pray because all your energy and strength is almost gone.  When that happens, close your eyes, open your heart and ache for God.  Words aren't needed.

Promise me whenever you feel like this, you will always remember, you are loved.  You are precious.  You are remarkable, and you’re still here for a reason.  

Promise me you will fight the lies the criminal(s) who assaulted you repeated and the victim-blaming crap you read and hear about in the media and society.  They're all lies from people who don't want to believe that someone in their community can commit such evil acts.  

God loved you into life.  When he created you, he sculpted a masterpiece.  You’re a beautiful work or art.  Some people will appreciate you and others won’t.  Some will criticize you and others will praise you.

It’s not always going to be like this.  I pray you get the counseling and support of loved ones that you need.  Don’t ever give up!  I will NEVER give up on you and neither will God.  Remember that when you listen to this Jason Mraz song, I Won’t Give Up.

PTSD Trauma Survivors Suffer Mirrors the PTSD War Veterans Suffer, so Please Be Gentle with Yourself

Did you know that as early as 1993, the American Psychological Association published a report referencing 45 clinical studies that found post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often occurred in child sexual violence victims?  When survivors of childhood sexual violence and other trauma survivors experience PTSD, the disorder mirrors the PTSD war veterans suffer, so please be forgiving and gentle with yourself or your loved one.

It’s unfair you’re fighting a war with yourself because you’ve been brainwashed into believing the sexual assault you suffered was your fault.  That’s a lie perpetrated by the criminal who assaulted you or your loved one.  To make matters worse, it’s outrageous you’re also in combat with a society and worldwide media that refuses to believe that someone in their community can commit such violent and evil acts, so they usually choose to blame victims.  Remember, not only is God there for you, but millions if not billions of survivors are sending you their love by praying for you every day: for your peace, joy, and healing.  I pray you hear and feel our spirits reaching out to yours cheering you on.

Here are the lyrics of the beginning of Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” video that talks about fighting for her soul.  Below is a link to this YouTube video.  I hope you find it inspiring.
Days like this I want to drive away
Pack my bags and watch your shadow fade away
‘Cause you chew me up and spit me out
Like I was poison in your mouth
You took my light, you drained me down
That was then and this is now
Now look at me

[Chorus:]
This is the part of me
That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no
This is the part of me
That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no
Throw sticks and stones, throw your bombs and bones
You’re not gonna break my soul
This is the part of me
That you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

You deserve to live a happy and peaceful life!  Maybe you don't feel like it right now, but you are in control of your life.  You and God, Nature, or whatever you call your higher power, together you can do anything.  Keep praying/meditating, fighting, and we'll keep praying/meditation for you and continue sending you our love.  It won't always be like this.  You will feel better one day!  You might lose some battles, but you're going to win this war!!!
I’m not a licensed doctor or therapistI’m one of your billion cheerleaders.  We're all someone just like you or your loved one:  conquering evil one day at a time.  If you or a loved one is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or another anxiety disorder and is not in therapy, please seek professional help in your community immediately.  Here’s a link to Resources on my website page that can assist you in your search:  https://apprenticebutterflies.com/resources/

Remember, you are loved.  You are precious.  You are remarkable, and you’re still here for a reason.  Belong to the truth.

Who and What Do You Want To Be?

I always recommend therapy for sexual violence survivors and all trauma survivors.  It helped me tremendously.  Hand in hand with my faith in God, therapy saved my life.

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been” is a quote attributed to George Eliot aka Mary Ann Evans.  No matter how bad things are right now, there’s always hope as long as you hold onto your faith in God and never let go.

Consider visualizing what you want to be and writing about it.  Whenever a negative thought comes to you, turn them into positive ones.  Yes, of course, it will be awkward and difficult at first, but you can do it!  Constant prayer and meditation will help you remind yourself that God’s in charge and you’re not, so you don't put more stress on yourself.  Remember the biblical quote in Philippians 4:13, "I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me," and keep repeating it to yourself as well as other inspiring words.

Connecting with God

To find God, look inside your heart and start talking to Him and telling Him everything like He’s your best friend.  Ask Him to keep you focused on His endless love and your healing path.  Always remember that you are precious, and you are loved more than you can ever imagine.  You are remarkable, and you’re still here for a reason.  Consider starting a God journal where you write everything down you want to tell God and His responses.

So you can begin or continue your healing journey, please also consider seeking out professional help in your community and letting trusted friends and family know you need their love and support.
Remember, you are NEVER alone.  God is always with you, and so is the love of millions of survivors everywhere praying for your peace, joy, and healing every day.