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June 6, 2007

If you touch me I freeze. Cold. Still as a statue. My heart will constrict, my chest will hurt and I will have to consciously try to breathe.

I can hear your words, I can find nice little words that tumble out of nervous lips. A brittle smile will travel across my face. Never quite touching my eyes.

You will never know it.

There have been only 2 men in my life with whom I have been instantly at ease. I married one of them. I knew I could trust him from the first time he sat next to me and I didn’t instantly pull away to form my literal two foot personal space. I knew. To this day the barest touch from him melts me. No matter where I am. He knows it. He knows the blessing it is to me. The only woman I’ve ever been completely comfortable with is my mother.

Words, dialogue, witty repartee are safe for me. I can indulge and engage in them wholeheartedly. My brain is safe. My words are my spirit on display. And yet, my body has never been quite my own. There is a disconnect which baffles me in it’s irrationality and complete pervasiveness.

Most days are good. Most of the time I can take these Issues and compartmentalize. A hug is not a personal trespass, a compliment is not a manipulation to cause me to lower my defenses. I know this. And yet I don’t. It takes months to allow even dear friends into that two foot barrier. A barrier which both protects and isolates me.

This is what life often is for me, an adult survivor of sexual abuse. Six years which I will never get over, get past, forget. This is something which has permeated every fiber, every molecule of my soul. A sub-routine playing quietly until I am weak, tired, overwhelmed or enticed then bursting out of the darkness to play havoc once again.

I know who I am. I know my limitations. I am familiar with this fear.

Do you know where G-d has shown the most grace to me? I am no longer defined by “angry”. I am no longer consumed by bitterness. I am no longer a mindless slave to memory or premonition.

I am free if not yet completely transformed. Within me lies a broken woman who will not “rise up and walk” until I stand before my G-d. I am trying to be at peace with this truth.

We live our lives in process. We travel from crisis to coping to triumph to solitude and back around again. Your pain will be your pain. It is the weight G-d knows you are capable of bearing and He offers us all the strength we need. We grow not from avoiding the pain we have experienced living in a broken and fallen world but from embracing a G-d who can turn ashes into beauty and mourning into the oil of joy. A miracle He performs while we are yet broken, damaged and fragile.

I am confident He is good enough for me. He carries me every day.

But if, perhaps, we should meet, don’t be surprised if I don’t even shake your hand. In heaven there will be great rejoicing and my freedom will be surpassed only by my gratitude. Then we will all, with open hearts and eager hands embrace one another in the love G-d intended to be shown from one redeemed child to another.

Until then? I walk carefully around the tender places and hope for yet one more day of healing. One more day of restoration. One more day without freezing.