God and Sexual Assault

Denial, Avoidance, and Choice

Did you know you have a choice?

I’m hoping to keep my posts current again as I started last week, but I will continue to share some more of my earlier posts as I go along so you can see how God has moved and worked in my life. However, today’s is another new one.

Did you know these three things (denial, avoidance and choice) all have something to do with one another?

Let me explain the recent epiphany I had while talking to my counselor. It goes back to yesterday as I watched Simone Biles give an interview about how she is an advocate for sexual abuse victims. She explained that when women began coming forward about the doctor that abused them she denied it happened to her. She thought, “No, that didn’t happen to me.” (I’ve been there done that – how about you?)

However, she became depressed and quit training for awhile when the pandemic hit. Then one day she called her mom crying and told her all about it and her abuse. They cried together. (That warms my heart how supportive her mom was – but less I digress that’s another blog entirely.)

Trauma survivors often go with denial. It seems so much easier to try to go on with life than delve deep back into the murky, slimy, dark water of the trauma. Who willingly wants to do that?

I did the same thing. I got my degrees and began teaching, and teaching was just part of it. I took on extra work at school and I spent my days, evenings, and weekends living the job. Why? Because when I was busy I didn’t think about how I was feeling. What I was feeling…or anything in between.

That is why at about a decade into my job my body and brain had enough. They began to shut down on me and I became unable to function as a normal woman in her early thirties should.

During the first two years I tried desperately to hold onto my job. When I finally lost my teaching job, I kept trying to do things because I didn’t want to admit fully what I’d been through. It was not until 2013-2014 that I fully began admitting to all of it and that was 6-7 years after my brain and body had said, “Enough!”

As I’m beginning to work again I am having to try hard to not do the same thing with denial and avoidance. I don’t deny as much as I try to do things to stay busy. Which by the way, is easy to do when starting up a business and putting life back into full steam ahead.

So, today I had to stop when I got home and delve into those dark waters of trauma again to write out another trauma I had remembered. It sucks big time, but after I do it, I have a little more energy and my body doesn’t hurt so bad. Now, I know the event is there and when the time is right I can process it in therapy.

Here’s the point my counsleor made today. He said, “You may not have ever considered the fact that you have a choice now with what to do with your trauma.” I gave him one of those “Watcha talking about Willis?” looks. Because as survivors of sexual assault choice is not something we think we have since we didn’t then.

He went on to say, “You didn’t have a choice when it happened, but you do have a choice now. Choosing to do the work is completely different than being backed into a corner.” Huh… I hadn’t really thought about it that way.

I still tend to do a few things to avoid dealing with new trauma coming up. Like over the weekend I ate lots of ice cream. My brain liked the dopamine it got from that, but my clothes and body don’t like the other effects it leaves behind.

I decided that today I would remind myself that I have a choice now. I can choose to deal with it and no longer let it be an issue in my life – or I can avoid and deny as I used to. I have learned that though hard at the time, dealing with it by choice far outweighs denial and avoidance. Choosing leads to freedom and winning in recovery, but avoidance and denial lead to me finding comfort in things of this world.

I know God wants the best for me and that means healing. He wants the best for you too. That means that we have a choice. A choice to do the hard work and get better and embrace the life God has for us – or to do nothing.

I’m choosing to take God’s strength and delve into the deep end and be a survivor.

What choice are you making today?

© 2021 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.  

1 comment on “Denial, Avoidance, and Choice

  1. Linda M Ellis

    Love! So needed to hear too! How quickly we forget…

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