When I was about 5 or 6, I would get on the church bus that came to my apartments on Sunday morning and took me to a children’s ministry where I met a puppet named Lamb Chops and Jesus too! It was like I had always known him, but He knew me first. I remember a ‘KNOWING” that I had someone greater with me than the distorted life I went back to after church.
Much of my life felt like a kitten hanging for its life on a living room curtain. There was so much chaos emotionally, physically and mentally.
I was born to an unwed teenage mother with her own set of broken emotional issues, and a father who I remember as distant, moody and bad-tempered. One of my earliest memories was of my father sexually abusing me along with other family members and friends of the family, both male and female. From the age of 5 or 6, I was aware of my sexuality.
I come from a family culture that preferred denial over the truth. I learned not to speak about the abuse and felt responsible for protecting my mother who was in denial. Even with me pleading for her to put me to bed and not my father, and begging her to leave him, she didn’t want to hear it. I would make her angry, and so to not upset her, I quietly dealt with the abuse. I loved my mom and didn’t want to see her upset. She would accuse me of wanting our family broken up like other families. My father was high when he wasn’t at work, and I came to know the world of illegal drug use as an everyday thing. I knew how to roll a joint by the age of 12 as he would take me with him sometimes to purchase. My father also introduced me to pornography. As a teen, I would sneak and look at his porn magazines and videos, feeling a rush, a high and was overwhelmed with what I thought was considered beauty. Rated R movies were on while I was still awake and I often heard sex on the television. I would see those sex phone line commercials and call the numbers and listen to sex. I was very sexually aware, and looking back I realize I was a sex addict by age 12. Masturbation was natural to me, along with guilt, shame, self-hatred, and confusion.
The abuse from my father stopped by age 12, and I remember the day I felt a power I had not known before. Also, it was the day that I used manipulation as a way of relating to boys and men, starting with my father. I challenged him with the threat of possibly telling the secret to someone else if he didn’t let me have my way. That was the day he never looked at me in my face nor tried to pull parental rank over me again. Looking back I believe God gave me this power for protection since my mother wouldn’t. My brokenness from abuse took this power into another realm, out of Gods will. I would ask my father for money, and he would give it to me. That felt good! I had power in a place that I had always had shame, fear, and now resentment.
By high school, I was sexually active with any boy that paid attention to me. At 16 I began having sex with a friend’s uncle who was a grown man. This man was familiar to me; he was heavy into the illicit drug scene and strip clubs. He took me with him to buy cocaine and then to a hotel where he had sex with me and offered me money before he left me there the next morning. I thought wow, he gave me money and he thinks I’m pretty. I felt strong, powerful and beautiful, and I had money.
I continued to be promiscuous to numb the pain, drank at parties, smoked weed and put on an air of being proud of this behavior. But, I was hurting, depressed, confused and eager to get away from my home life.
I left for college and soon came back home broke, broken and empty. I moved on trying to fill my love tank with attention from men by working at a restaurant that a woman wearing less was best for their business. I manipulated men to get better tips. But this wasn’t enough either, I moved further into the sex trade, and I started stripping at strip clubs where I felt at home. I liked the money, the attention and the control I thought I had with my body. The club manager made me feel special, and he looked after me. The “house mom” who managed the dressing room would encourage me with hugs, pep talks, makeup, goodies and more. She made me feel like family, but of course, she was getting tipped. She took care of us, and we took care of her. Honestly, everyone was out for themselves; it was a lie! It seemed like a family. There were fights and arguments; then everyone got along again. There were no boundaries with sexuality, just like a distorted, dysfunctional family of sexual abuse.
By this time I was still so empty, and I put myself in dangerous situations looking for fulfillment. I never became subject to full on prostitution as many strippers do, but I did have sex with men with the intent to get money from them. My high was emotional which is equivalent to a drug addict, but I was a sex addict. I needed the rush the adrenaline all the time.
It was God’ grace that led me away from stripping. I heard his voice many times during this season, but my mind was clouded with lies of the enemy that the world could offer me what I wanted and not God. I was addicted to making fast money, and a regular job was difficult. I went in and out of typical 8-5 jobs but, God was gracious, and I landed a sales job for a company in Dallas that I liked, and which I was good. I wasn’t stripping anymore, but I had the same sexual behaviors and brokenness. I was out of the environment, but I was not better. I needed restoring, healing and I needed to give my life totally over to Christ again.
I married and became pregnant with my first son and had a high-risk pregnancy that almost took my son’s life. It was then that I told God that I am His and I will totally give all my life to Him, serve Him, obey Him and teach my son about Him if he would just save him. And he did! He gave me a miracle. I have been chasing Gods heart since then. God allowed me a 2nd son and hard trials and eventually the death of my husband in a motorcycle accident to begin mending me. After the funeral was over, I had a ‘KNOWING’ and PEACE. As time went on and I started therapy for grief and God started on my past abuse issues.
God took me through faith-based programs that allowed me to see who I still was emotionally and the addictive sexual behavior that began to rear its head again. As I was lonely and widowed and I started longing to strip again, longing for the attention, the money, the rush. God caught me in a net with one of the programs I went through for two years for women who have been in the sex trade industry. I longed for newness, and God brought it to me. I was enrolled at Dallas Baptist University and was making new friendships. God’s Grace was helping me make strides in the area of my sex addiction, and brokenness from sexual abuse.
There was a season or two of anger and grief over what happened to the little girl I was supposed to have been. I started seeing how messed up I had been in 3D, and it hit me hard, and God was there. He brought me His people to come alongside me and help me along to the next step.
Emotionally I became sober, and I became very aware of what I watched, listened to, my thoughts and the longings I naturally had as a woman to be loved by a man. The impulse of lust or to conquer by seduction due to fear, I took to the cross. I still get tempted every now and again and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Some things are still a work in progress, but I’m not beat by it because I choose to live in the light and set pride aside. I know I need Jesus and that His blood was for me, as I remember He came to me as a little girl on the church bus. I’m now in a place where I see the old, broken me as God does, with compassion and love. I have forgiven myself and others who have hurt me. Part of healing is sharing and encouraging others with what God has done in my life. He has weaved his cord of grace and mercy throughout my entire life.
The enemy rides in upon trauma with the intent to crush the already weak and burned out. God has mercy on the weak and the bruised, the hopeless the barely alive spiritually, the dying soul that is in His pure Grace. Isaiah 42:3 a bruised reed he will not break, a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.
Even as we act out sinful in our bruised state, he offers forgiveness and promises of restoration because He knows the heart, the core of the bruising leading to the hopelessness and acting out. He doesn’t condemn. Blessed are we to have such a God as this in Heaven that can sympathize with grace, mercy, and care.
My name is Felicia, and I am Restored.