Here is the moving and vulnerable story from Jackie Rizo on childhood violation, loneliness, shame, and forgiveness. She told it at Tenx9’s October theme “Fear.”

“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.” 

― Yann MartelLife of Pi

As the summer night began, she gracefully entered the home as a young, teenage girl.  Her long curls bounced back and forth as her and her friends danced the night away with Dr Dre, Meatloaf, & Ace of Base.  It was a party of firsts for her.  Her first time to be at a party with no supervision.  A party where the boys shot guns & where many drank alcohol.

It was the party that changed her course of life.

She was your average, Small Town Girl, well-known in her community for her role in sports.  Her family was poor, probably the only ‘somewhat’ homeless family in the town.  But it didn’t stop her from trying to rise above it, instead she hid her home life from the world.  No one needed to know that she lived in a house with no utilities, no food, and an absent father.

As the night grew late, she was escorted into a room by her boyfriend.  He was clearly drunk and she was clearly naive.  As quickly as the door shut, his arms restricted her with each heartbeat.  She was forced to give him something that was never his to begin with.

And from downstairs, she could hear the Eagles sing “Desperado” while her tears puddled the bed sheets.

She left the house much differently than she had arrived.  Out the front door, there was a new road awaiting her.  It was dark, lonely, and expressed itself just as she had felt.

And that is when she took her first steps….steps that led her down the road of despair.

Small town living is rather beautiful.  A place kind of like “Cheers”.  You know, “where everyone knows your name & their always glad that you came.”

But, that quickly changes when a girl looses her virginity at the age of 14.

No, it is at that moment that it becomes a brutal place to live.

Rumors spread quickly about her.  Feeling helpless, she said nothing.  For it was far too late for her defense.

The years passed and her void became a black hole, sucking her into a life spinning out of control.

She was the type of girl that masked her hurts with drugs, alcohol, and a handful of partners.  One that tried hard to do right, but kept filling the void with instant gratification that only left her soul famished.

Shame laid heavily on her head.  Her eyes felt comfort in the floor.  Her best friend, well, we all know her by the name of “Loneliness”.

She was the type of girl that taunted trouble & that trouble loved to chase.  And if I’m honest, there were times that I, too, would bask in her careless spirit.  From spotlight parties to the country back roads, we’d dance & drink the cares away.

But, in reality…..I absolutely hated her and all that she represented.  She found her defense in her false reality.  Her lies were told out of self-preservation.  She would cover the truth for fear of being exposed, alone, and unloved.    Hope, well, you wouldn’t see hope shine on her path.

She spent her entire life in hiding.  A place where only loneliness knew of her childhood, her abuse, & her poor choices.  She would throw the memories in her prison cell, lock the door, and pretend to forget.

But we all know, no one can run from their past.

(pause)

I can no longer run.

From my bathroom mirror, I see her eyes stare back at me yearning to be free.  She silently cries and I tell her to stop.  Her tears are not wanted here.

This is MY here.  I created my “now”.

It is a place where I single-handedly laid each & every thick, cement brick, in order to mask the screams of a 14 year old girl crying out for her innocence to return.

A place to hide past & present mistakes.

A place for this wife to throw her shame.

I pushed the old me in that cell & tried to keep her locked up for over 13 years.  But she is an escape artist.  Her bruising is permanent and smells of filth.  She is a carrier of shame, regret, and bad experiences.  I threw her in there because I didn’t want to look at her.  I didn’t think she deserved to exist.

It’s funny how the truth will set you free regardless if you ask it to or not.

This past year has been a long one for my marriage.

My husband knows her, my past.  He has fought for me to bring her in the light, to expose every hidden corner within my soul for healing to be found.  But to do so, would mean that I would have to tell him the present truth…. I am still her.

If exposed, I just knew he would see my lies, my loneliness, my void, & my shame.  He’d know that I still hide & that my heart desired to look for something outside of marriage.

For 13 years of marriage, fear was winning.  If he knew, I was convinced he’d leave me.  He’d stop loving me.

So one by one, I laid false bricks around my inner world & waged an unnecessary war to protect it.

But to my surprise, he fought back harder, uncovering me until there was nothing left to uncover.

I spent years in fear of losing the one person who loves me with such tenderness.  The one willing and desiring to love all of me.

I’ve heard it said, “Love conquers fear.”

Not in a fairy tale kind of way.  But in a way that gives a hurting husband strength to reach out in forgiveness to his broken wife.

(pause)

After all this time, I finally realize that there was never just one road awaiting me that night back in 1993 or any night thereafter.

For many years, I blinded myself from this simple fact.

I continually chose to find comfort in my own despair.

Missing a road where hope is found.

Where honesty reigns.

And where forgiveness wears no chains.

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