When I was 16 years old, I was raped.
Like many young girls who have experienced this kind of violation of their body and soul, I completely shut down my emotions and my spirit. I hated myself and my body for many years. Anger dominated my life even though I tried to contain it.
I had lost my faith and ability to feel love.
Rape violated my very core as a woman. I did not want to die—I had too much to live for—but I thought about it. Fear is underneath many of us who have been a victim of rape and I wasn’t sure how to overcome it.
Along with the fear comes self-hatred, especially after rape. It is a hatred of one’s own body that houses the soul. This is why letting go or forgiving is so difficult, yet without forgiveness, we stay victims and are the ones who ultimately suffer. Higher consciousness calls us to transcend fear. But how do we do that?
In college, I met my husband who I fell in love with, but I still couldn’t love myself. I needed to forgive the past, but I didn’t know how to do that. I didn’t know how to reach deeper, unconditional love.
Eventually, we became pregnant with our first daughter, Lillian. She was and continues to be the light of our lives. She introduced me to yet another kind of love: motherly love. This kind of love is special. I adored her sweetness and innocence. She helped me grow in many ways. Yet, even being a new mom didn’t help me let go and live more fully. I was plagued by my past and unable to connect to my feelings.
In the early summer of 2013, seven years after our first baby was born, we were expecting our second baby—a little boy who we named Joseph Michael. Once again my heart swelled with motherly love and I was thrilled to be having a son, although I suffered physically with hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe pregnancy illness. I was determined to endure it so that I could hold my little boy.
However, life threw me another curve ball that would break me in two.
On November 12, 2013, six months into my pregnancy, my husband and I said goodbye to our son Joseph who was not born on earth, but back into heaven. This caused a pain so deep that it pierced through my closed-up heart, splitting it wide open. Unlike after the rape, I could not close my heart again to protect myself.
For the first time, I allowed myself to feel all my pain.
I cried out to God in anger and asked “why?“ I didn’t expect a response, but what happened next surprised me.
It was early the next morning and dawn had not yet arrived, as I continued to labor in the hospital. Suddenly, I saw a brilliant light in the darkened room. I felt a strange, warm presence that pulsed through my body and I was instantly calm and peaceful.
It felt like my whole body had a surge of heat through it. For a brief time, pure light surrounded me. Was I dreaming? No, I wasn’t. I was wide awake. I wondered how I could have such peace in the midst of a stillborn experience with my grieving heart.
Answers come in odd ways. The unusual warmth and brilliant light that I experienced showed me that there is something more than what I knew about this life on earth. Something greater and bigger than me was reaching out to open the eyes of my soul. It was a transforming moment as I realized that the heartbreak was actually an opening for spirit to enter.
We all experience tragedy and heartache in this world. The one thing I have learned is that suffering, challenges and upsets are actually golden opportunities for emotional healing and spiritual awakening. It is not a closed door, but an opening that is valuable for profound transformation.
Joseph’s death awakened me and gave me an opportunity to choose life for myself. Even though I will never mother him on earth, I had a choice to make—I could choose to hide in darkness or open my heart and let love find me, just as I am, as it did in the hospital that morning.
Even though Joseph was born in heaven, I was reborn on earth. He gave me an opportunity to live from my soul again, perhaps even for the first time.
Life’s tragedies are like a death, but there is also an opportunity to open to a higher consciousness.
No matter what the tragedy or challenge is, we can choose life. We can choose love. We can choose to see the challenge or tragedy as an opportunity to heal and be transformed.
More than ever this world needs to be on a path of transformation as we face tragedies that cause collective fear. We can remember that love is always there and always ready to heal us, waiting for us to open our hearts, even in the midst of tragedy.
As I continued to keep my heart open, more miracles came. I realized that love binds us together and asks that we love one another through all these experiences. Love asks that we forgive our past and those who have hurt us. Finally, love does not differentiate between race, culture, sex or age.
Love is unconditional and brings miracles.
On March 25, 2015, the exact due date that Joseph had one year prior, Layla Donna, my beautiful rainbow baby was born. She was alive and perfect—a miracle who would help me to experience the amazing grace that life can bring.
The rape and loss of my baby were the challenges that put me on the path to transformation. For others, the challenges may be different, but when we pray, meditate, connect with others and seek a higher consciousness, we open the door for love to enter.
So today, I choose to connect with spirit through letting go, forgiveness, taking deep breaths, moving and dancing, finding laughter and being thankful for my blessings, both big and small. I am thankful that love and fear cannot live in the same soul because love conquers all.
Author: Lindsay Gibson
Image: Author via Laura St. John Photography
Apprentice Editor: Czarina Morgan; Editor: Nicole Cameron