Dirty {guest post}

Alia Joy writes so powerfully, and digs deep – each blog post is pure pleasure to read. I love her words and her story – both are full of raw beauty. This is her God and Suffering story and it is a privilege to host it:

***Trigger warning: this post has explicit references to sexual abuse. Some may find it painful to read.***

I choke back the pounding of my heart. Tears pricking through my lids cause my eyes to burn. And I sob, each gasp of breath heaving my body violently. I do not do this. Lose control in front of others. I can’t see through the blur as I wad the Kleenex tighter and try to catch the flow escaping my eyes and nose and pull away black streaked tissue, my mascara trailing black scars across my cheeks.


I am dirty. I have always been, as long as I can remember. I am broken. If you only knew, I whisper. I can tell my secrets to this stranger. I don’t have to face the drawing of her brows, knitting together her face in worry and concern. She has the diplomas on the wall. Swirling calligraphy and official looking emblems that assure me she is a professional. This chair has seen its share of tears and stories of dark places you don’t talk about in grocery lines or dinner parties.


I don’t have to worry that truth shared here will leave me feeling empty and torn and unable to package myself back together and go on. Because after I stop crying, I will throw away my tears with the dirty tissue, I will go home, wash my face, and start over.


She tells me I was a child, a baby really. I was victimized. But I don’t feel victimized because I let it happen. One scream, one sentence uttered into my parents ear would have stopped it all. But I did nothing.

I didn’t tell. When I was little. When the door closed behind me and he guided me gently across the room. When the curtains were pulled tight to the light and I felt a gentle tug at my pants. When I felt my underwear being pulled down and his finger pushing inside me. When he opened his fly and pulled out his penis. I trusted him. We played together. I looked up to him. He was like a brother. And I didn’t understand but I knew there was something wrong. I felt the burn as he jabbed his finger in further and I pulled away. And then it was over, until the next time. He never manipulated me not to tell with threats against my safety or my complicity in letting him do these things. He never even told me not to tell. It was like he believed that I wanted it as much as he did. And for that I grew to hate myself.


When we moved and it all stopped, I understood I was different.


I lay on the floor of the apartment we were staying looking through the window onto the red light district. Amsterdam’s streets festooned with glass doors and in each a prostitute. It looked like a boutique of Barbies in their shiny plastic and cardboard boxes lining the toy aisle. I watched a woman with heavy sagging breasts peeking through sheer lace and lingerie that pulled snug across her hips. She pantomimed against the glass, tossing her head back as her hand caressed down her belly and between her legs, luring the passing man into her door.


And I understood it. At 5, I already knew what happened when the men went in and closed the door drawing the thick curtains closed. My mother came by and pulled me back from my view. Drawing the curtains closed, I knew I was doing something bad. I remember mumbling something about how many colored cars were on the street and how I was watching them. I walked with heavy steps into the other room to play with my doll, the burden of shame would be mine for the rest of my life.


And I’ve carried this burden as my body developed, my 5th grade form in need of a bra. I carried it when I saw my first blood and knew my body was betraying me in womanhood. I carried it when I had my first real kiss and felt his tongue slip into my mouth and felt both nauseous and exhilarated. I carried it when I let boys touch me, but only in some places and only on my terms.


I would never be that foolish again, allowing someone to blindly lead me.


I refused sex with the ferocity of the best love waits campaigners but I didn’t understand that kind of love at all. My refusal and disgust had nothing to do with purity or holiness because I was already dirty. The only thing I could do was keep it from happening again. I carried it as my skirts got shorter and the neckline of my tops got lower, the top of my breasts pushed up as an offering. I carried it as I tapped into the power of making boys turn and look and then men.


And I understood there were two ways to become invisible. One was distraction. Who could see this broken little girl behind the pouty lips and cleavage? I was vamped up and sexual to the point of being nothing more than a stereotype. I wasn’t the used girl. I was the one in control. I was the one who called all the shots and used up others before they could tire of me.


The other was camouflage. There is no better way to hide in our society. No better way to become a faceless stereotype than to be an overweight woman. I had found the perfect insulation from sexuality and femininity. In marriage and faith, I had renounced the overt sexuality and provocative spirit of my youth and had embraced modesty while the pounds increased steadily year after year. I am the funny one. The smart one. The anything but sexual one. My shame cloaks my body and bulges at the back of my bra and over my waist and as my belly pushed out, full birthed shame.


My feet step lightly on the platform, as if placing my toes softly will negate the heaviness I feel, the heaviness I see in the mirror day after day. The number flickers like a slot machine and lands on 260. Shame.
But grace. I am finding it. I am learning the hard work of belief and trust and healing. I am shedding shame not with pounds lost but with prayers lifted. With days on my face in tears and gut clawing honesty of telling a true story.


I am finding my way to beauty. I talk about the hidden things in a real voice, not a whisper. I close my eyes and dream. I finger the clothes in my closet looking for a way to show the beauty I am finding in myself as God calls me deeper into healing and relationship. I lay back and let my husband love me, deep and true, stroking my hair back from my eyes, looking deep and telling me I’m beautiful. I’m beautiful.



Alia JoyAlia Joy is a cynical idealist, homeschool mama to three little ‘uns, wife to Josh, book wormy, coffee dependent, grace saved, writer of random musings and broken stories, collector of words, attempter of all things crafty, lover of mustard yellow, turquoise, Africa, and missions. She lives in Central Oregon and loves to visit big cities because there are no decent Indian,Moroccan, or Vietnamese restaurants close by. Maker-upper of words. Disliker of awkward introductions and writing in the third person. She blogs at narrowpathstohigherplaces.com and tweets @AliaJoyH.


Over to you:

  • Have you ever experienced that paralysing power of shame?
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    53 Responses to Dirty {guest post}

    1. Jedidja 6th March, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

      It’s terrible! It is inhuman. I would hold my arms around you and hug you. I do it Digital 🙂 By faith in Jesus, you are so pure and so bright white. Your story will help others … ( me)

      • Alia Joy 9th March, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

        Thank you Jedidja. In reading the comments and the emails I have gotten since this post, I agree, it is inhuman and heartbreaking. I only know that Jesus weeps with us. Feels our pain and wraps us up as we walk with him. It is my biggest hope that my story and others will shine light on the shame and pain that chokes out so many beautiful women.

    2. Jen Ross 6th March, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

      Beautiful, powerful words…as always, I’m speechless.

      • Alia Joy 9th March, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

        Thanks Jen, for everything.

    3. Nikki 6th March, 2013 at 4:27 am #

      Alia–I have no words, but wanted you to know I felt yours. and I still want to hug you proper one day and look into those eyes of yours and tell you in person “I see what God sees in you, beloved. and it’s beautiful”
      because you are.
      and how you bless another by sharing your raw story. Thank you. To God be the glory…

      • ~Karrilee~ 6th March, 2013 at 4:53 am #

        (Yes – what Nikki said… all of it!)

        Just today I was praying with someone and we talked of how the enemy so craftily attempts to wrap us up tight in clothes of Shame. But those are not our garments… praise God… not anymore! He has given us NEW… clean slate, washed and redeemed garments of Glory. So proud of your fierceness my friend!

        From a similar past… to the same glorious future!
        Love you bunches, sweet friend!

        • Alia Joy 9th March, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

          Thank you for sharing that, Karrilee. Walking in new garments seem hard to fit in at first but I am learning. He makes things new.

      • Alia Joy 9th March, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

        Yes, to God be the glory. He makes broken things beautiful. I know this is true.

    4. HopefulLeigh 6th March, 2013 at 3:53 am #

      I love your heart, Alia. You are beautiful, inside and out. Thank you for sharing this part of your story with us.

      • Alia Joy 9th March, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

        Thanks for reading, Leigh. I appreciate your encouragement.

    5. Ashley @ Draw Near 6th March, 2013 at 3:50 am #

      Alia, I am so deeply sorry for this well of pain you have lived. I hardly have words, but wanted to affirm how brave and beautiful you are. Thank you for sharing your story that proclaims the One who shines through the cracks, as Kelli said. The way you speak of the tender, healing, transforming love of our God inspires and moves the hurting. Thank you for using your voice to be an agent of healing. You are beautiful, my friend.

      • Alia Joy 9th March, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

        Thank you Ashley. For your friendship and your inspiration and voice in this writing world.

    6. Tonya Salomons 6th March, 2013 at 2:55 am #

      Alia? Friend? Bravery that has undone me today and I am humbled by your faith and honoured to read these words. I know this shame, abuse from the hands of my father, and a babysitter who sexually abused me when I was 11 – I’ve never spoken those words out loud – and it traps inside my throat and I can’t seem to bring it out – because I didn’t stop it – I did nothing to stop it… and I can’t say any more because it hurts- but thank you friend -thank you for revealing that Grace can cover… I love you friend.

      • Alia Joy 9th March, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

        Tonya, thank you for your bravery as well. To always fight to tell the truth and to believe with all your heart that grace does cover. It does, friend. Love you and your trust in me with your story. You have been such an encouragement to me on my blog and in my life. Grace can cover, yes.

    7. Michele-Lyn 6th March, 2013 at 2:23 am #

      Brave. So very brave. I keep thinking about the promise, we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. So many will come for healing because of your courage. My heart is heavy at the thought of what you’ve had to suffer and I also praise God for His redemption. I’m honored to know you.

      • Alia Joy 6th March, 2013 at 2:44 am #

        Thank you Michele-Lyn. I hope so. Honored to know you as well, friend.

    8. kelli 6th March, 2013 at 1:57 am #

      oh, dear Alia. you have walked quite a road.
      and now the Light shines through all those cracks, friend, and we are all standing together in the Sun. brave and bare. exposed and beautiful.
      and believing it, maybe, for once.

      bless you for this, your heart. love to you.

      • Alia Joy 6th March, 2013 at 2:39 am #

        Thank you Kelli. Brave and bare and beautiful. I love that.

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