Darkness and Light

Once upon a time, I was molested. It happened at a church camp I was attending in 1969. I was ten years old. It happened on a sunny afternoon when I should have been swimming, but a forgotten towel had sent me scurrying back to my cabin, alone, but not for long. My camp counselor, a man old enough to be my grandfather, was there in the dark shadows of the cabin. Years later, I would wonder why he was even permitted there, alone in a girls cabin. I would have so many other questions about what followed. Questions like, why me? Why didn’t I tell anyone for the next thirty years? If I had told, would I have been believed? If I had been believed, what would have happened? Would he have been confronted? Or would I have been further shamed in the process of telling my story?

Years passed during which I experienced episodes of severe depression. Severe enough that I made a plan to commit suicide. I would drive off a familiar road and into the deep waters of an old quarry. I would not struggle for breath as my car sank. I would just peacefully drift along until someone discovered my floating, dead body. I was just so very tired. Tired of wearing a mask of happiness. Tired of pretending everything was fine when it wasn’t. Only in hindsight can I now say that back then I was also so very tired of suppressing a deep, childhood secret.

ginny taylorFinally, in 2003, I told a spiritual director when I couldn’t stop crying while on a retreat. She was a Catholic sister, and much to my amazement, she didn’t further shame me, as I expected anyone who knew about my childhood abuse would. She empathized, said there were so many of us out there, so many who had trusted church authorities and been taken advantage of. She encouraged me to seek further counseling when I returned home.

I didn’t seek further help. Instead, I told my husband, and washed my hands of the sordid tale. I was healed. It was so easy! I just had to tell someone. But we all know it’s never that easy.

I continued to struggle with depression. In my head, I downplayed the molestation that was always intermingled with questions. I would repeatedly remind myself, I wasn’t raped. I had only been fondled. I wonder if he’s still alive? After all, it happened so long ago. Could my depression be somehow connected to my past history of trauma? I needed to just get over it, pick myself up by my own bootstraps, and move on. Why am I crying? What’s wrong with me?

Eventually, at the prompting of a good friend (herself a childhood sexual abuse survivor), I went into therapy where I began to realize the tentacles of abuse reach deep into a person’s psyche and spirit. I started doing yoga and realized how disembodied I had become over the decades. I had a deep tissue massage and realized how memories are more than mental images stored in our minds. They are emotions stored in our muscles, bones, and in the very cells and tissues of our bodies. I started to write seriously and truthfully about my past and realized I needed to unburden my fears and story into the safe vessel of my journal again and again until a new narrative began to emerge.

Healing from childhood sexual abuse, I now believe, is a complicated, long process. There is no “once” and done. There is no closure.

Rather healing is like tending a plant. There are times of growth, dormancy, yellow wilting leaves, attacks by aphids, and times when a good fertilizer is needed. And there are painful times when you’ve outgrown the comfortable pot, and need to be uprooted and replanted into a larger vessel, where eventually the entire cycle repeats.

The solace lies in the leaves. The leaves always turn to seek the light, even when their roots are shrouded in darkness.

Over the years, I’ve been “repotted” many times, now to the point where I want to help other women through Women of Wonder @WomenofWonderCircle.com, a sanctuary that offers women with a history of sexual trauma space to explore lingering shame before moving into empowerment.

So much healing can happen when we share our stories, our shame, and lives with others who have lived similarly. We realize we’re not alone, and we move from darkness into light.


Ginny Taylor House or Cards Crumbles

About the Author | Ginny Taylor

Ginny Taylor knows first hand that life happens, changes happen, and so do new beginnings. 

Over the years, Ginny Taylor has learned a few things about life changes and the hopelessness and chaos they create in our lives.  She knows that simply “getting over it” or “bucking up,” is not the right answer. Instead, the answer lies by going inward because that’s the journey that will gracefully open the path from our old life into our new one. This healing journey is never easy or simple. Yet with the right navigational tools and guidance, it’s a transformational journey worth every step. At Women of Wonder, Ginny empowers women in life-transitions on that journey towards their new beginning. Her signature program Emerging Butterfly: The Power of Writing Through Change offers women knowledge about the normal transition process and provides writing opportunities for that inward trek where women can begin to let go, heal, and discover their opening to a new way of being. Whether the life transition involves divorce, grief, retirement, menopause, or any other traumatic event, Ginny's workshops and 1:1 mentoring guide women through the chrysalis of change to emerge with their own unique wings. Learn more at Women of Wonder.

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2 comments to "Darkness and Light"

  • Jody frost

    I have felt so alone thru my life, So much shame of the sexual truama of my childhood and young adulthood…. I know it has crlppled me, hampered me from being a fully realized woman that I could be ….. Self-doubt … Insecurity …to name just two detrements have been Constant companions that I’ve never been free of.

    • Jody, thank you for your response. It takes a lot of courage to be able to articulate in writing your feelings and emotions, and then to share them here is very brave of you. One thing I’ve discovered is that we as trauma survivors feel very lonely. We think we’re the only ones this has ever happened to. We think we can handle and process the trauma by ourselves, that we’re weak if we can’t. We are so filled with shame that we can’t imagine even talking to someone about this. But there is hope. If you haven’t yet told anyone, try to find just one person to share your story and emotions with, but make sure it’s someone you trust, someone who has never given you a reason to expect anything but a compassionate response. A therapist, a friend, a partner, someone who cares about you. Telling just one person can release a lot of pent up shame and anger, and someone else will shoulder this burden you’ve been carrying for decades. But don’t stop there. Healing from sexual trauma is never easy or quick. It’s a journey of many steps. It’s complex. So find a support group. You might want to check out my website at Women of Wonder. I wish you strength and grace with every one of them.