Coming Home to My Body

An Excerpt from the book,” In The Eye of Deception” by Sarah R

From Cutting to Christ“Today, can we talk about the self-abuse? ” Toni asked.

I crossed my legs under me in the chair. I nodded, feeling a bit uneasy.

“Tell me when you started the cutting and throwing up and what that is about for you?”

‘I was only eight years old but the image burned in my mind like it had just happened. My mother told me to wait on my bed for my father to come home so he could “deal” with me. I failed a French test and needed it signed in order to return to school.

I heard the front door open. His voice. He was home. I prayed he was in a good mood. I could hear my parents talking in the living room but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. I didn‘t have to. I knew. I listened intently for every movement, every sound. His heavy footsteps making their way to my room, opening my door, his face visibly upset, my failed French paper in his hand.

“What’s this?” He screamed.

I shrugged my shoulders, petrified to say anything.

“Answer me you idiot, you dumbbell, you stupid retard. What is this garbage?” He waved the test paper at me. He was becoming furious.

I swallowed hard, terrified. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” He shouted his voice getting hysterical. “What do you know? Do you know anything at all? Is there a brain in that stupid head of yours? What do I send you to school for?”

Without warning he lunged at me and brought the full weight of his hand down hard on the side of my head. I screamed in pain, the tears starting to fall down my cheeks. He didn’t care.

He dragged me off the bed and slapped me across the face. I cried out begging him, “Stop. Please stop! You’re hurting me.”

My cries meant nothing to him. He kept hitting me, punching me with his huge fists, on my face, my head, my arms, yelling insanely, “I’ll teach you to never bring home a failed test again. I am not raising an imbecile. I work hard, not for you to fail and be a dumbbell.”

I was screaming, choking my words out. “Stop. I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.” I couldn’t catch my breath. I was gasping, the sobs getting stuck in my throat.

“You’re sorry?” He was in a frenzy now. “I’ll teach you what sorry is!” He snarled.

I managed to slip free of his grip. I slid over the side of the bed and cringed in the corner, my hands over my head in an attempt to protect myself.

“I’m not finished with you yet.” He bellowed and sprung at me. He hit me repeatedly with unbearable force, swearing vulgar profanities.

I lay sprawled on the floor yet I could feel myself falling, spiraling down into a bottomless black hole. From far away, in the distance somewhere, I could still hear him screaming, and my mother now in back of him, “Stop it. You’re going to kill her. Stop it!”

His fists continued to beat me but I couldn’t feel it anymore. I closed my eyes and let go. My body went limp. I was consumed by the darkness.

When I came to, I was lying in my bed, unable to move. My body felt very sore. I opened my eyes halfway and saw my parents standing near the bed.

“I think we should take her to the hospital.” I heard my mother say. “You hit her too hard. She doesn’t look good.”

“She will be all right. Keep her home from school tomorrow.” My father’s voice was calm, sounding a bit scared.

My mother bent over me. “Sarah, try to drink this water.” She lifted the glass to my lips but I couldn’t drink. The water trickled down my mouth onto the pillow.

“I’m scared.” My mother said. “I’m really scared. Why did you have to hit her so hard?”

It took a few days for my body to recover from the assault and for the bruises to heal; however, that vicious attack affected me far deeper then the physical pain.

I looked at Toni not wanting to catch her eyes. I sat stiff, my body on edge, holding my breath. My voice quivered, “I remember not being able to feel. The only thing I felt was fear. I was afraid all the time. I remember being outside by myself and picking up a rock and pulling it hard back and forth across my arm. It sounds crazy but the pain felt so good. When I saw the blood start to trickle out it relaxed me. I know it sounds nuts but slashing my arms with razor blades and rocks was the only way I knew I was still alive. Seeing the blood reminded me I was still living. It confirmed to me that I was still alive.”

I felt strange talking about the self mutilation. I had never told anyone about this destructive habit. No one ever knew how desperate I had felt.

“Can I see your arms?” Toni asked quietly.

A sense of panic went through me but I nodded. I rolled up my sleeves and held out my arms wishing the floor would swallow me. Toni took my arms in her hands and very gently ran her fingers over the gashes and scars. I abruptly pulled my arms back and yanked my sleeves down. I was angry and embarrassed.

“What’s the matter Sarah?”

“I don’t want you to touch me! I don‘t like to be touched!” I answered, my face sullen.

“You know I am on your side Sarah. You must know that by now. I have only admiration for you. You have gone through so much. Week after week you have sat here and disclosed to me the awful trauma you went through. That takes so much courage. You need to know you are not in this by yourself anymore. I am here for you, to walk through this with you.”

I shrugged and kept my head down. I couldn’t look at her.

“Will you let me see your arms again Sarah? I am not judging you. I will never judge you.”

I rolled up my sleeves again and held my arms out to Toni. I wanted to run, to get away but for some reason I couldn’t.

Toni kept her eyes on me as she ran her fingers lightly again over the cuts. I flinched as if in pain. I closed my eyes as tight as I could and tried to go away in my mind.

“Stay present Sarah. Don’t retreat in your mind. Stay with me.”

I was breathing hard. I felt like running. What was it about Toni touching me that felt so bad? I didn’t know. I just knew it was unbearable.

As Toni rubbed my arms, she reassured me. “The Lord wants to heal you Sarah. He wants you to know that He also was beaten. He took a beating so that you wouldn’t have to hurt anymore. With the stripes that wounded him he has healed you and made you whole. He understands what you have gone through.”

Toni spoke with gentleness, still holding and stroking my arms.

“His accusers oppressed Him just as you were oppressed by your father and Christian. When they did that to Him, He also said nothing. He never opened his mouth. He let them do whatever they wanted just as you did. He knows exactly what you went through. The people that did that to Him killed him. He didn’t deserve it just like you didn’t deserve what they did to you. The difference Sarah, He took your pain when he died and He overcame it for you because He loves you.”

I sat rigid, afraid to move but hearing Toni say those words soothed me in some strange way.

Toni continued. “That’s right Sarah. He was wounded for you, so you can be free.”

I felt calmer.

“Take a deep breath in and let it out very slowly.” Toni instructed. “As you let that breath out, let your body relax. Relax your shoulders and know that no one is going to hurt you. Right now, here, you are safe.”

I always held my breathe, waiting for the inevitable attack from somewhere or from someone. My body was always tense. I took a deep breath in and tried to let go of the tension with the slow release of that breathe.

“Again Sarah. Do it one more time. Feel your body as you release that breath.”

I did. I looked at Toni. “Thank you.”

“You don’t have to thank me Sarah. God has begun a wonderful work in you and He will complete it. I am just privileged to be on this journey of healing and recovery with you.” Toni smiled, tears in her eyes.

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