April 2018 Newsletter

MINISTRY AT A GLANCE
Financials: Monthly Revenue Required: $7,100.00 and Monthly Revenue Received: $1,437.00 Remaining Need:$5,663.00

Current Ministry/ Ranch Projects 1.) We redid the foyer entryway finally. The original tile has been cracked and broken for five years. We replaced it with the wood that was in the old cabin that we pulled out. It is nice to have some good floors in there. 2.) Chris has had the privilege of being a co collaborator and presenter at the Fremont County Interfaith Partnership training. A training educating pastors, lay leaders and ministry leaders about the intricacies of domestic violence and sexual assault. 3.) Chris has been wrapping up with her individual clients and readying herself for the Sabbath. It is a big transition.

Something Interesting or Unexpected that Happened Last Month: 1.) April brought the annual “Take Back the Night” Event where our whole family had the honor of marching with survivors of, and advocates for survivors, of sexual assault/abuse. This event is sponsored by Family Crisis Services where Chris works part time.

Top Prayer Requests: 1.) Pray for abuse survivors. Pray that their memories can fade, their bodies can come into alignment, and they can feel what it is like to walk free from shame.

Mountain Haven April 2018 Newsletter

Sexual Wholeness

“It would be foolishness to think that the language of love…can be at all explained in words of any kind.” St. John of the Cross

In recognition of sexual assault awareness month I want to talk about sexual wholeness.  We have often referred to sexual intimacy as the spark plugs of a good marriage. Just like spark plugs ignite the fuel in a vehicle, a healthy sexual relationship can ignite connection and cultivate closeness in a relationship. However, many people bring fractures or parts of themselves to the relationship. The other part of the self is damaged and disconnected from the authentic self. Often sex can be faked by many people, but real intimacy takes an awareness of all aspects of ourselves including that part of us that was damaged.

Sexual wholeness first begins with an awareness of your unique sexuality and the gift that sexual intimacy can bring to help you in a healing journey, if you have been sexually abused. Many times there is fear around intimacy or sexuality; the fear that it can trigger a memory, the fear that there won’t be enjoyment, the fear of feeling used, the fear that you can never be enough. The intention in healthy, deep, sexual connection is for there to be safety, to be known. The second awareness is finding a partner that sees you for who you are and what your experiences are, not someone who defines you by your past, or your story, but a person who regards your story as an integral part of who you are, and strives to understand how to love you better, not just dismiss that part of your experience. This person needs patience, and a willingness, to listen when it might be tough; coupled with hope and encouragement that it will get better. This will require you to talk; to share your heart and your fears.

The third awareness is the awareness to seek help when you are stuck. As a trauma informed counselor, I have had a unique and distinct privilege to walk with many abuse/assault survivors through a part of their healing journey. It always begins with listening without judgment. Survivors often feel so much shame, regret, guilt, and condemnation about their experience. From a one time sexual assault to the insidious experience of long term sexual abuse, the survivor will inevitably take on a false guilt. Perhaps this is because offenders are often devoid of insight into their actions and the responsibility has to land somewhere. Or perhaps it is the defiling act of sexual actions that should be pleasurable, and often is for the body, but is torment for the soul. Whatever it is, shame is a heavy, unbearable, invisible cloak. Many survivors wear it, but have not told anyone their experience, have not heard that their trauma responses are normal, have not shared the dark details of how their body responded, or did not respond, or have not learned to love their own bodies that feel like a crime scene or an enemy. A good counselor will listen, reframe, ask questions, give ideas about how to get back in touch with the body, accept, and offer hope, and present a challenge: that sexual wholeness is not an illusion.

Lastly, because sexual abuse/assault are so rampant and insidious for both men and women, we cannot be a culture that feels the isolation and regret of being a survivor.  Regret must be used as a call to growth. I have been privileged to help many people turn their regret and shame into courage and the bravery to tell, the bravery to confront, and the bravery to change and no longer be defined by their abuse. Often people have used regret and shame to cultivate and grow in resentment and build walls between them and those they love, but I believe sexual abuse/assault functions as one of the most horrific breeders of regret and we as a society can help turn regret into growth. We can educate ourselves about sexual wholeness, we can confront our own fears and insecurities about it, and we can reflect on our own biases, assumptions, and erroneous beliefs about sexual abuse/assault. You can meet a survivors regret with your own brand of courage by responding, listening, and encouraging them to tell their story. As a partner of someone who has experienced abuse/assault, be attentive, be educated, supportive, and ask questions if you don’t know what to do. Respond.

Sexual wholeness and sexual intimacy can ignite deeper closeness in a relationship. However, there are too many couples living in the shadowlands of their abuse/assault story. Having surrendered themselves to a life without intimacy, or a false construct they call intimacy which is really a perfunctory attempt at sexual closeness. It’s never too late to rewrite the story that your abuse/assault tried to tell about you. Call a friend, call a counselor- grab the hand of your partner and seek help. Throw off the invisible cloak of shame and turn regret into action. You are not alone.

 

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