“Who I Am” is completely overwhelming to me because, frankly, I believe I’m still in process. The million-dollar question that I’ve been processing thru countless hours of EMDR therapy and betrayal trauma coaching: How do I get back to the girl God originally designed me to be?
I don’t think it’s accurate to say I got “lost” when referring to my identity because this implies, I was actually given a healthy road map for life and I’m the one who didn’t read it correctly. When the truth is; a beautiful girl was ready to receive a map to her identity, but when she showed up; she was given a map that was torn, folded in all the wrong places and the roads led to a dark and twisty dead-end. The map given to me said, I was forsaken, and unknown…and then my abandoned heart was buried under experiential lies thru infidelity, neglect and abuse. I was overlooked and left to create my own map that would help me survive. So, I think in order to tell you who I’m becoming, I must tell you about the map of what I am Unbecoming.
In my recovery I have had to say good-bye to 2 very distinct people – within myself.
I realized I was “Unbecoming” them in order to BECOME myself. I needed to integrate the little girl who had been lost, abandoned and alone. Then, I needed to bless and release the 22 year old bride who was betrayed and neglected.
This is my letter them and my story. May you hear TRUTH as you courageously face your own story.
I am UNBECOMING the fallacies of family my origin: I did not take my given name back after divorce because it represented a distorted belief system that I am in the process of detoxing. Like slowly bleeding poison from my blood. This letter to that young girl is adult Rochelle rejecting the burdens of shame received from my origins. Nothing about this map was about her value and I get the unique privilege of advocating for her goodness.
Dear Little Rochelle,
You are not a pastor’s daughter; keeper of the family secrets. You are not holding the shame of fights within the church and angry parishioners. You are a little girl and should be free to run wild and play, to giggle, get dirty, ask questions, explore and make mistakes. You are not a failure and you are not valued by performance. You are not responsible for their shame. You are not a bad daughter.
You are not your father’s image or his image bearer. You are not the shame of secrecy, abuse, patriarchy, or misogyny. You are not the shame of violence. When you were told this was necessary “discipline” – this was a LIE, it was twisted, gross and distorted. It was abuse thru control. He didn’t see how you were humiliated or how your little spirit was crushed. You are not wrong for wanting the hugging and kissing to stop. That was a good instinct you had! – your “STOP” should have been heard. It is okay if you don’t want to be touched or tickled. Every cringe you felt inside of your body was GOOD – you were RIGHT! Your body was RIGHT!
You are no longer the little girl sitting in the Baptist church pew, hoping her daddy will notice her and being accused of worshiping God the wrong way. You were never responsible for their indifference, ignorance and arrogance. You no longer have to LIE to your TRUE self in order to fit in a rigid system.
I am UNBECOMING the 22 year old bride:
I did not keep my married name after divorce. I was married for 11 years to a man who was abusive in all categories. The most painful aspect for me was his indifference and his idolatry of pornography in our marriage. In the process of divorce, I sold my childhood home that I wanted to raise my future children in, I lost money, and my entire community. This is a letter to her.
Dear Bride: you died paving the way and making the hard choices, sacrificing yourself for the woman I am today.
You are no longer the young woman who was told she had no choices, and “must forgive, forget and use her body as a tool to keep her husband from straying from her bed.” They forced you into marital prostitution. This is NOT who you are. You are NOT something to be consumed and devoured. You are NOT responsible for his addiction. You are NOT on this Earth to prop up his relapses, ministry, seminary education or any other fallacy you were told. You are NOT called to follow someone’s leadership- if that leader is walking you right off a cliff! You are not bitter, resentful, disrespectful, unsubmissive, hard-hearted, crazy, discontent, a bitch, or uncaring. You are not in charge of his salvation. Jesus already died for Him and lost His life – so that YOU wouldn’t have to. You were not trying to control him – you were asking for mutuality and respect. You are NO longer a woman who makes herself SMALL because a man is insecure.
Somehow, between the fallacies of family of origin and the 22 year old bride, I intuitively knew that the truth and intimacy I so desperately wanted could only happen if I let go. This is a poem I wrote 4 years ago, when I finally began to realize, if I wanted to find Rochelle and the God I’d always longed for, I needed to let go of my ENTIRE life and the control I desperately gripped, as I continue to grow – this poem takes on new meaning with each breakthrough in my healing. At this point – I believe the poem is about letting go of each piece of Rochelle that has died, specifically her distorted beliefs and self-contempt, she dies in order to give birth to new life. “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” – John 12:24
I was tethered to you
I hung on to a rope that was tight
I gripped and gripped while my fingers turned white
I looked in your eyes
I heard your voice
It was time to let go of that rope
I held by a thread
You see, I was already dead
With my nails stained red
From fighting, scratching and clawing my way back to life
The rope that tethered me to you
When I let go
I fell back over time
To a place that was mine
Peaceful, serene and sublime
My fingers still ache from the white-knuckle grip
And muscles still sore from the pose that I kept
But as I let go of that rope-now bare
I will never forget the way that you stared
I am the one who leaves the room
I no longer need the rope that tethered me to you
When I let go of my life; I found Rochelle Sadie
She is good. She brings the beautiful gifts of mutuality, respect, honor, kindness, integrity and honesty into her relationships. She chooses to be a woman of vulnerability and transparency. She lives from her values and can use her voice. She is a human with dignity, reflecting the Imago Dei. This is a blessing written for HER.
“Her soul praises the Lord. Her Spirit is rejoiced, delighted and cherished. She finds rest in her Savior, her rescuer, and her hero. He is everything she has ever craved!
He took notice of her, when she was awkward, self-loathing and insecure. She felt discarded and He came after her, transforming her, now she joyfully tells others of His power. He says to her, “don’t be afraid – I will keep you safe, so that you can trust. Many men have let you down, but I will not.” The peace and confidence in her goodness is a mirror of Her Redeemer’s. After the generational curses have been broken – her children will call her blessed. In beautiful love she embraces herself and lets go – falling into the arms of the One whom carries her. She says, “I am the Lord’s girl – He is mine forever. May everything He has spoken over me be true.” Fearfully, fantastically, treasured. He wanted her. She is a work of Art. She acts in love, not fear. She moves thru pain in the refuge of His fortress. She shall not be overcome.”
My Dear Sister,
Is it hard to believe those words for yourself?
What is stirred in your spirit as you read the blessing?
As I was piecing together this blog post – a song keeps coming to mind. It is Listen from the movie Dream Girls. In the song, the main character sings about leaving her controlling abusive husband to find her own voice. It is a perfect picture of the past 3 years of my life – beginning recovery work, taking the brave step of breaking free from abusive systems, and then finding my own voice. At 34 years old I am just beginning to come into my own and find out who was under all the lies and distorted beliefs.
Sister, you can be free too! As the song says, “Listen to the song here in my heart… Listen, to the sound from deep within, it’s only now beginning to find release…”
What might you need to do to begin to let go of that inner girl or that young bride? Let her breathe. Let her have a say. Let her have a voice. Be her advocate.
What does she have to say?
You are not alone.