The pain of being a desolate woman inside a marriage – is more than a person can take. Proverbs 18:14 states, “The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit?”
My 11 year marriage was the most isolating experience I’ve ever had, I was beyond lonely. In addition to seeking safety by becoming anxious, depressed, and hyper-vigilant, I misplaced my God-given longings and engaged in the avoidant behavior of a two year on and off again affair. It was cheap, shallow and manipulative, much like my marriage. Again, I was consumed and devoured while easily exploited by the man on my phone and the man in my home. My brain was coping not connecting, my only desire was to escape the reality that I couldn’t put into words. They devoured me, as I devoured the table scraps of validation that were thrown on the floor for me to pick up. I knew how to “flip the switch” in order to play the game – it was a perversion of my feminine soul and power. I was living as a prodigal daughter, rather than fully clothed in dignity, my goodness, identity and the Father’s love.
I was ruined – a shell of a person – devoid of human soul and going thru the motions. Dissociating during sex – I would be anywhere else, except inside my own body. I would say things like, “just get thru this and then I will get to….” like a reward system for myself just to survive another time. Sometimes, I would be left in immense pain. Oftentimes, tears would roll down my face onto the pillow case during intercourse and it took all I had to silence my quiet sobs. I could not understand why I was crying. None of this was noticed by my sexually addicted spouse- he got what he wanted and moved on when done. I felt like a prostitute and at one point I cried, “You don’t care that I’m here – you don’t even know me”
When I wasn’t dissociating I was condemning myself for not being “skilled” enough, being “hot” enough, or thinking there was something biologically wrong with me! Why was I not attracted my sexually addicted spouse? To make matters worse, we tried marriage counseling for 4 long, miserable years. (click here to read why Marriage Counseling does not work for abusive relationships) Instead of picking up on my desperate cries for help and my descriptions of sexual abuse, the counselor sat there and told my sexually addicted spouse that it WAS my responsibility our sex life was dysfunctional. He stated, “women are like crock pots and men are like microwaves – she’s just taking a really long time to warm up.” and another session, “Rochelle, do you just not like sex?” Oh! And if that wasn’t the icing on the cake: My homework assignment was to read the book “Sheet Music” by Dr. Kevin Leman. COUNSELORS: please don’t recommend this book to the betrayed partner of a sex addict And before you ask: yes, our counselor knew my addicted spouse was using pornography. The possibility of marital rape NEVER crossed his mind.
All of this added up to SHAME. SHAME. SHAME. and MORE SHAME. I was drowning in it.
In addition to the overt forms of sexual abuse was the discovery of his addiction and the multiple “confessions” he placed on me. These were not disclosures – they were incomplete forms of the truth, each one ripping my heart from my chest with the lost hope that change was happening and his soul was being transformed. Each projection of his shame, was another reminder that he was continuing to lie, and I was powerless to stop his behavior. He continued to devour my body as a means to an end all the while gratifying the lust of his flesh with images of other women. To me, he became like
Sex was tainted, dirty, manipulative, dysfunctional, inappropriate, grotesque, and abusive. I was a product: something to be consumed. Author and Psychologist Andrew Bauman describes this consumption in his PSR descriptors, “The fourth category of a Pornographic Style of Relating is hunger. There is a frantic need that must be filled by the other. This cavernous need consumes and devours both partners in an attempt to mend something broken inside.” I caught my husband looking at pornography the FIRST year of our marriage, it was doomed from the start. I weep because I have never experienced the love, intimacy, tenderness and peace that God intended when two souls become one. This was stolen from me; a precious gift ripped from my hands by the Enemy himself. “A thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy” – John 10:10 Childhood sexual abuse in my story made it equally challenging for me to bring boundaries to the marriage. Beauty and goodness stolen. Annihilated and Diminished.
I longed to be the object of my husband’s desire, to feel wanted, admired, cherished, pursued, tenderly carried, chosen, and beloved. Instead, he chose images of fantasy over the tender touch of a wife who longed to embrace and fully accept him for who he is. He chose masturbation over the warm caress of his Eve, the one who would have comforted and invited him to share his pain. He chose cheap validation rather than opening up in complete and humble vulnerability. Sadly, as the place in his heart for intimacy grew vacant and the other “women” took up residence, I was left standing abandoned out in the cold – believing the lies that I was unwanted, unloved, undesirable and unworthy.
This leads me back to my original questions:
“How do I invite the Lord into sexuality when it has always been something so dirty, shameful, used to manipulate and control me?”
“Lord, how does sexuality become redeemed after it has been so mutilated?”
“In what ways am I reclaiming the power that was surrendered to cowardly men?”
ANSWER: The painful imprints left behind by Evil, perpetrated in the masculine form can be healed and redeemed! God is slowly and gently doing this work as I find my secure attachment to Him, understanding I am a precious jewel, valued and beloved. The Lord will bring opposite experiences thru my community to undo the damage done by the immature community which failed me to begin with (family of origin and marriage). As my community reflects my value and provides loving, safe experiences – I will begin to melt in the TRUTH of my identity. This process happens on God’s timing and his slowness and gentleness is for MY protection. We don’t know when the shift will occur – but when it does I know I will finally comprehend AND believe I am precious and redeemed.
My sexuality is renewed as the Lord tenderly and slowly unfolds the purity of my body. He teaches me the goodness of my body and all it is capable of – she reflects HIS IMAGO DEI. The good, glory – filled longings I have for sacred love are dripping with TRUTH from my Creator. The One who longs to cherish, pursue and love me – it’s reciprocal, mutual and the picture of TRUE UNADULTERATED INTIMACY.
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” -Song of Solomon 2:4
He enters and redeems my sexuality because He and I have never been tainted. His desire and my desire have become one. My longings are cradled by who He is, He is the husband that caresses, pursues, cherishes, carries, and affirms ME! He is the husband that weeps over the tragedies of evil done against me. He feels FIERCELY about my goodness and body because He created it. He protects rather than consumes. He is the Father that would defend me, when my biological father would not. He is the Father that FIGHTS for me when my biological father placated an abuser. He is the Father that would step in and say, “STOP TOUCHING MY DAUGHTER.” instead of sitting, steeped in indifference. He WANTS me to walk in my body and the POWER He endowed me with, therefore it is my responsibility to RECLAIM my body and it’s power.
My Creator and Beloved say to me,
“I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you MINE, and you will finally know me as Lord.” -Hos. 2:19 -20
“I will be like a lion to Israel, like a strong young lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces! I will carry them off, and no one will be left to rescue them. Then I will return to my place until they admit their guilt and turn to me.” -Hos. 5:15
“I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope… I will remove all weapons of war from your land, all swords and bows, so you can live UNAFRAID in PEACE and SAFETY.” – Hos. 2:15 – 19
My Dear Sister,
It is hard to fathom all the ways the pain of sexual abuse effects our lives. We can only handle so much at a time. If this were your story, I would tell you to be gentle with yourself. Healing the wounds of sexual abuse is a God -sized problem and is nothing we can conjure up on our own. I can also tell you that the slowness of this process will directly correlate to the amount of pain and trauma you have been living in. The prayer in my heart is one of strength and fortitude for the process of change, to have the courage to look honestly at my sexuality and the broken pieces which lay at my feet. I pray, I receive healing in safety and the blessing of my being is restored within attachment to God alone as I come back into my own body. I pray this prayer for you as well:
“Lord, you have raised up a warrior. You have selected her to be a voice. You have found your girl, you have anointed her with holy oil, you will steady her with your hand, with your powerful arm, you will make her strong. The broken men in her story will not defeat her, nor the ignorant behavior of those who claim to help and preach. The evil done in masculine form will NOT overpower her. You will beat down her accusers before her and destroy their hold in her mind, body, spirit. They have NO territory there. Your faithfulness and unfailing love will be with her and by YOUR authority, she will grow in STRENGTH, IDENTITY and JOY. You will extend her influence over those who are hurting, and she will say to the Most High: “you are my my mother, my father, my husband and friend.” She will say, “God is my Rock and my Safe Shelter.” You will love her and be kind to her FOREVER, your covenant with her will never end. She will flourish in your unfailing love and tenderness. You lift her up, elevate her to be Queen. You will NEVER stop loving her, you will NEVER fail to keep your promises to her. You will not take back a single word you whisper in her ear. You have sworn an oath to protect her, honor her, love her and embrace her. And in your holiness – you cannot lie. Her influence within her body will be as eternal as the moon, your faithful witness in the sky!” (A prayer of strength and fortitude Psalm 89, written by Rochelle Sadie)
You are not alone.