Reflections | Mary Lee Writes
In this week following my 79th birthday, I have been reflecting on many factors that affect my happiness and peace.

First on my list is my faith in God. I believe in an understanding and forgiving God, who is non-judgemental, showing an all-encompassing love for each creature. I imagine that when terrible things happen, God is shedding a tear along with his children. Most of all, I believe he is holding me in the palm of His hand and supporting me. Even when the unimaginable happens, it is made bearable for those who love and believe in God. Often when walking down a hospital hallway to a much-loved person’s room, I have the image that Jesus is holding my hand and giving me strength. With the presence of the Holy Spirit, I can forgive and move on, realizing that my role is not to judge, leaving that position to an all-knowing God.

I am grateful for the years shared with my husband, John. When I met him, I had graduated from junior college and was headed for a university degree. Six weeks after meeting him, we were engaged. We were married six months after we met. I was barely 20, and he was 26.  He fought the disease of alcoholism, and we divorced for one year after 17 years of marriage. The judge who granted the divorce told us that he did this with a heavy heart and said he would annul the divorce at any time. I didn’t know that was possible until it happened to us, and our wedding day of December 29, 1956, remained our special day. I matured emotionally in the year of being single and went to counseling, as I realized that it takes both to create the problems leading to a split.

The encouragement of our son and daughter is primary in my life. They seem to think their mom is capable of making decisions, and I feel so loved by both of them and also my son’s husband. They bring laughter to my home, and I like the warmth I feel when around them.

My Little Rock cousins are such fun to be with, and I enjoy the discussions with them about topics ranging from church, family, and politics. Because of my father’s jealousy of my uncle, we were seldom together. I longed for a relationship with them.

My extended family is an important component of my life. Through them, I have another daughter, another son, granddaughter, grandsons, great-granddaughter, so many life experiences that would have been denied me without their love. I cherish every phone call, text, and visit. And isn’t Facetime fun with a child.

Childhood sexual abuse affected my life. I was able to keep the hurtful memories at bay by burying them. I have had a few return, but just enough to let me see the night child versus the day child, so compartmentalized. I have few memories until I married. My son became so concerned about my need for affirmation that he encouraged me to see a counselor, but I ignored his suggestion.  A few years later, I was seeing an internist who recognized that I was way too tense, and he saw signs of an abusive history. He only told me he thought counseling would help with my blood pressure problem and gave me the name of a counselor in Memphis. I went to him for over two years. In that period, I convinced myself that I was fine, and the symptoms were unfounded. One afternoon near the end of my appointment, the counselor told me he didn’t need to see me again. I commented that I appreciated that, because I felt the visits were not necessary. He replied that he thought I should get on my knees each day and thank God that I didn’t remember what had happened to me. He said he had become convinced that I was the victim of ongoing sexual abuse. I now have enough memory to accept that it did occur, but I am content to leave it in God’s hands as somehow his love has strengthened me to cope. I get teary about the lost years and how much fun I missed out on by being so self-conscious, seeing myself as someone unworthy.

Since I have acknowledged the abuse to myself, I realize that I couldn’t and still can’t comprehend that someone who should have been protecting me could have mistreated a child. Now I understand my extreme fears, the panic attacks, the agoraphobic feelings and the night terrors. I have worked hard to put the resentment and anger aside. I have been able to let go and am happy and free for the first time in my life. I enjoy each minute, I am at peace, I rejoice in my family and loved ones. I am grateful for my husband who would get up with me at night to wait out the panic attacks. Neither of us knew then why I would awaken with such terror, but he was always there for me.

My biggest regret is that I could have been such a better mother and enjoyed just being the child inside of me. I would look at friends on the floor playing with their children, and I didn’t know how. Now I feel joy in the simplest activities, and laughter instead of tears is always near the surface. I am not bound by wondering what others think of me. As long as I am true to myself and my conscience, it doesn’t matter. It is between God and me.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose. –Romans 8:28 (King James version)

(image via Pinterest.)