April 03, 2014

This is My Story

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Since being involved in a new church community, I've been asked a couple times to share my story. It's really had me thinking a lot about my story lately, not that writing it all down in a book didn't! But I've been thinking about how to simplify it. This is my story in poetic form as simplified as I can make it. Honest. Real. And easy to read. This poem basically sums up my entire story.

Staring at me from across the room.
Faces. Eyes.
They wait and watch me as I breathe.
Gasps. Sighs.

Unfortunately, I don't have
many positive early memories.
Because of this, I used to pause,
not knowing where to start,
when preparing to share my story.

I used to warn people
of the serious air about to filter in.
I don't do that anymore. I can't stand it.
I'd much rather speak openly about sin.

I was first sexually abused
around the age of five.
I know my age because I recall what I was wearing,
and it felt a bit like I had died.

And it was around the same time
that I'd so desperately wanted a cat.
Life was, needless to say,
rather quiet after that.

I willingly suppressed everything
for the sake of holding my family together.
On the inside, heavy.
On the outside, light as a feather.

Though shy and filled with shame,
I was still basically a "normal" kid.
I loved catching frogs and hunting bugs and getting dirty
just as the other tomboys did.

And I had an adventurous spirit
even as a young one.
Was in gymnastics even though I knew I was "heavy"
and coach seemed to be happy when her work with me was done.

I had normal crushes on boys
and normal sad days.
But when something else with my father happened,
my normal would never be the same.

I had no choice
but to share my secret with the world,
thereby thrusting myself into adulthood at the age of 12.
I was all grown up but still a little girl.

I mourned and grieved
the loss of my father.
Then I resumed living. Stopped caring.
Wasn't sure why I should bother.

I stayed in Stevens Point
during the summer when I was 13.
Prepared for college.
Maybe even began to dream.

I kept typed pages
of the things my father had missed,
thinking one day I'd be reunited with him
and I'd share with him my little list.

In time,
I stopped keeping track.
I somehow knew I wouldn't see him again.
And he wasn't coming back.

I loved the beginning of high school,
the beginning of dating
the beginning of sports, the beginning of belonging.
But things quickly went south. From track to the dance team,
more beautiful I thought I was becoming.

From boyfriends
to pointless promiscuity.
From friends
to drinking buddies and cruelty.

From masked sadness
to obvious hurt.
From knowing God a little bit
to not even acknowledging His name
and relishing in the dirt.

I continued living like this
for quite some time.
I hid my shame and hurt with good grades
and performance and hidden crimes.

It worked
For a little while.
I gleaned what I could
from the minuscule approving comments.
Covered up my actions with charm and a warm smile.

Applying for college also provided hope. Off to Minneapolis.
Felt the fleeting freedom that came with leaving home,
starting a new,
and doing whatever the heck I wanted to.

I drank and partied
and met many friends.
Aced most of my classes without studying. I felt free,
but I surely didn't feel cleansed.

Things changed though
When I decided to leave the "love of my life"
because he wouldn't stop controlling and hurting me.
I was sick of cleaning up his messes and taking care of him.
I suppose I really wanted to start taking care of me.

I moved out. Left. Literally tried to run, but feet wouldn't take me far enough away from him.
I boarded a plane to Italy, then France.
I relished in the sun
and a new-found confidence.

Yet I continued
to party.
I continued
to bury.

The following semester,
I continued in my ways,
finding hope, security, value, and purpose
in my overnight stays.

I'd run towards them then from them,
but again
my feet couldn't take me
as far as I'd wanted to go from them.

I boarded a plan to Australia, then New Zealand.
This time, the One I'd been running from followed me, met me there, wouldn't leave me alone.
God found me. Jesus comforted me.
Within a week, I knew I was His own.

A world turned upside down,
I was zealous for love!
And for the first time I really found it.
It wasn't in a bed. It wasn't in my head. It was real.
It was incredible, indescribable.
It could've only been from above.

Boys were friends
as they were in the first grade.
Cares were gone.
And I wasn't afraid.

I met God
at the intersection of "no worries" and overwhelming grace.
I couldn't have been more certain
that I was in exactly the right place.

I eagerly pursued God,
just as He was pursuing me.
This time I wasn't running.
I boarded that next plane to New Zealand out of freedom.

But I soon
slipped away.
Dated a non-Christian and reverted back
to how I'd done life in the other days.

The difference was this time I knew what I was missing.
I knew what I was trading in.
I boarded a plane in order to run.
I knew I couldn't have both, so I left God and chose him.

The fairy tale was for real,
but it didn't include God.
I was "living the life of a Christian,"
but deep down I knew I was a fraud.

Circumstances were wonderful, even perfect.
I was in New Zealand. Snowboarded. Biked to the beach. Played on the glacier.
Drank beers and journaled.
But what looked like bliss wasn't.
There was a giant disconnect.

I poured into school
and finding somewhere to fit in.
Unfortunately, I didn't realize that Christians
are just as capable of hurting me and succumbing to sin.

The people who hurt me
pointed me away.
So I boarded another plane.
And I continued to stray.

I was running from everyone and everything.
I didn't expect to find God in Canada
as much as I didn't expect
to find him in Australia.

Much like before,
God pursued me, showing up on the radio.
I heard a song I needed to hear more than anything.
It showed me something I had previously refused to see.

Blubbering like a baby
with my Bible in a bath tub,
I read His Word, finally went back to Him,
and acknowledged all the blood.

I left the man I was seeing
and bumped straight into who would one day be my husband.
As friends, we ran and ate and laughed and played.
Fell in love, even told him I wanted to marry him.

Then I hesitantly
boarded a plane.
I left for Costa Rica, then Honduras,
not wanting anymore to play the run away game.

I read my Bible
every day. I prayed and let him sweep me away.
I fell back in love with Jesus
before I celebrated my engagement day.

I ran home
after all that had happened there.
Robbed in Honduras and fearful for my life,
and maybe even fearful that no one would care.

As two in love Christians,
we began to do life.
I studied and applied for a job
and planned to be a wife.

Twin Cities Marathon.
Biomedical engineering.
Bungy jumping and sky diving.
My relationship with live was endearing.

In May of 2012 I graduated, got married, got a job
...and boarded another plane.
Either my life was crazy
or I was the one starting to go insane.

I ran with James
and started getting to really know him.
Then we came home
and reality sunk in.

I pitied myself.
Finally saw all the pain and shame.
Starting seeking counseling and therapy and drugs
and all I could obtain.

Started writing every day.
Around the same time I boarded another plane,
got stuck in a downward spiral where I listened to the lies,
took the drugs, and got lost along the way.

But in the fall of 2012 I said no to the prescriptions
and the people feeding me statements untrue.
I realized that listening to God
was the only thing I had to do.

I stayed in Minnesota.
I didn't board a plane.
I wrote and I wrote.
I even welcomed the rain.

Published my story.
And another book.
Wrote until my head was sore.
Started not to care about how I look.

I did marriage
and life
and community
and the like.

Saw progress between Gunflint Lodge trip #1 
and boarding a plane and Gunflint Lodge Trip #2.
And I meant it all the more when I'd say to James
"I love you."

A New Year's goal
was to start EMDR therapy,
partly for the sake
of hoping to one day have a baby.

I started digging
deeper than ever.
Kept on writing.
Continued to try and use my pain as a lever.

Which brings me to today.
Life is simple but so very complex.
At least things are much calmer now
from one day to the next.

Focusing on community
and a life lived for God's glory.
The pain, the problems, the paradise, the promises.
This isn't baggage. This is my story.

Gasps. Sighs. Faces. Eyes.

© Kara Rodriguez