Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sharing Pain

Hi. Yes, I'm still in Alaska. Today I have internet service and a little bit of time to write. So here I am. The rest of the family is off on some adventure. I caught words like "20 miles on 4-wheelers" and "gold panning" and "cabin". So my son and I are staying home. Because there were other words that should have been mentioned (and I'm sure will be when I hear the stories), words like "mosquitoes" and "bears" and "no running water". So I am happy to be left at home.

I thought about not blogging. Though I have missed blogging, I have also enjoyed the vacation too. But today I felt the need to share.

It's not amazing Alaska stories (though I have those) nor is it amazing Alaska photos (I have those too) that has driven me to the keyboard. But a relatively short conversation I had that broke my heart.

I'll start from the beginning.

My husband and I lived in Alaska for several years. We met in Anchorage. Then left for him to finish college in PA. Then came back to Anchorage. Then got transferred to Seattle. Then got transferred back to Anchorage. Finally leaving for Kentucky in 2001 (we spent 4 years in KY before moving to WA).

During the time we were in Anchorage we were part of a church. I have been part of this church since I was 16. The people are very dear to me and I try to visit whenever I get the chance, which is unfortunately not very often.

Today I got the chance to attend the church for the first time since leaving for Kentucky. It was wonderful to see everyone again. They also happen to be having a small going away party this evening, so I returned again for the party.

During the party one of the men of the church sat down next to me to say "hi". He was not someone that I had known well, but in a small church everyone pretty much knows everyone else. He now has teenage daughters and was sharing with me a bit about them.

Last time I lived in Anchorage I had been on staff at the local Crisis Pregnancy Center as their director of Abstinence Education. I loved the job and was often asked to speak at churches to promote awareness of CPC. Of course I had spoken at my home church as well.

This father remembered me speaking over 7 years ago and sought me out to talk with me about it.

You see, what I spoke on was that I had been anorexic, could not get pregnant and the struggles that I faced because of it. Honestly, I don't remember anything specific about my speaking. I don't even remember sharing about being anorexic.

But he remembered because he has several daughters struggling with anorexia.

I am all about sharing my story. Especially if it will help others. Either to avoid or to deal with the pitfalls I've become familiar with. It still breaks my heart though.

What I don't tend to share in public is that the reason that I was anorexic stems from having been abused. Not that I mind people knowing, but it's just not something I share when I'm speaking to a large group.

While I was talking with this father I really felt the need to be open with him about why and how I came to the point of being anorexic.

He made the connection of what I was saying, asking if I thought that was what happened to his daughters. I don't know his daughters. The last time I saw them they were just little girls. So, really I just don't know. But how do you tell a father that there is the possibility that his daughters were abused? Even saying that it's not a given, that anorexia can come from other things was not enough to take away those fears. And I truly hope that with his girls, this horrible disease is not compounded by having to also deal with abuse. Unfortunately anorexia comes from somewhere. Something triggers it. Too often that trigger is sexual abuse of some sort.

I don't think I have ever seen the emotion of heartbreak. Sad, angry, upset - yes. But I don't think I ever realized what heartbreak looked like. This father was heartbroken. All he ever wanted to do was to protect his daughters.

What do you say in that situation? There is nothing to take away the pain. Should I have not said anything? I don't know. All I know is that if I never share my story, then my pain will be for nothing. I really, really don't want my pain to be for nothing. And I pray often that God will redeem that pain and turn it into something good. But I do still wish that there was no need for my story, that girls didn't face abuse or anorexia. That fathers could protect their daughters from all the pain in this world. That would be a good day.

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