(This post comes from a reader named Roger.)
Surviving sexual abuse left me confused about intimacy. I want it and need it, but it brings up so many negative things about physical touching and being pressured to surrender my body in ways I didn't understand and seems so closely related to what should normally happen when two people love each other.
What happens if I meet someone else with the same issues? What happens if I meet someone with normal feelings about this who becomes hurt and confused by my reactions?
This has been a painful struggle for my wife and me. She tends to interpret my reactions as negative toward her. That colors the rest of our interactions, making honest communication difficult at best, grossly misunderstood at worst. We both end up feeling rejected by the other.
It takes patience, understanding, and a desire to fight through the fears of rejection to learn how to approach each other lovingly. Those aren't traits my parents gave me. They are traits that I'm desperately trying to develop and, with God’s help, I may master someday.
My wife finds it difficult to understand that I love her and yet at times can appear inept at showing it. Lies and fears are chains forged long ago that take time and effort to replace with honesty, truth, and trust.
Why can’t I just get over it? Maybe because it's not a broken bone that needs healing; it's a broken soul. That healing may take some time. A wounded soul or a broken spirit can't be placed in a cast for six weeks and be good as new. It's complicated by the deep infection of a fallen nature, which only God can deal with.
As the serenity prayer goes, "God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference."