When I was five years old, I painted the Light. I painted the happy space I went to while being sexually abused by my father. When the abuse would start, two adorable cherubs would appear and take me by the hands. Off we would go into the Light! We would fly about and tumble, laugh and be filled with joy. It was a glorious, fun and safe place to be. The Light saved me.
So when I was given the chance to create my first ever painting in kindergarten, I naturally wanted to paint this beautiful, glowing space. I painted the Light! I covered every square inch of my flip chart paper with bright yellow paint. I was so happy to recreate this space and share it with my dad. But my joy was short-lived once I actually unrolled my painting at home and explained my bright yellow space to my father. His violent reaction became one more incident that further buried the memories of the abuse.
I tell my story here to help those of you who have also been sexually abused. I went beyond the counseling and cognitive therapies, and found other spiritual and experiential techniques that brought me to a place of peace and wholeness. These practices helped heal my mind, my body and my spirit. I offer my experiences here so that you may apply them to your own healing journey. My goal is to help you see the Light within you, to find the peace within you, as I have finally found in me. May Divine Love be with us on our journey.
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Read an Excerpt
I Painted THE Light
Using Spirituality to Heal from Childhood Sexual Abuse
By Jeanne Grimes
Balboa PressCopyright © 2013 Jeanne Grimes
All rights reserved.
"I Painted the Light" at the age of 5
I loved kindergarten! I loved playing with other children my age. I loved all the play stations where we could explore so many different toys and make-believe worlds. I enjoyed the teachers and their wonderful enthusiasm. I was free to learn and experience so many new things. It was the first time I had ever been read a book and the fairy tales were fun and fascinating. The stories had wonderful messages and colorful, imaginative pictures. I just loved kindergarten! My Appalachian culture at home was so dull and dreary compared to this bright engaging environment. I finally had something other than my sheltered existence at home.
I also learned about finger painting. I was allowed to use a huge piece of paper from a flip chart—all my own! What a privilege to have a page nearly as big as me to use all for myself! I couldn't wait until it was my turn to paint! I loved dipping my little fingers into the gushy paints. I loved smooshing the paint between my little palms and feeling it squish between my fingers as I clasped my hands together and squeezed. The slurpy sound and the slippery wetness were delightful sensations. Kindergarten was the beginning of my own personal expression of self.
On my day to paint, I donned my Dad's huge old denim workshirt as my painting smock. I dipped my hands into the yellow paint jar and began smearing the wonderful color on the page. I went back for more. And more. And more. I ignored the vibrant reds, the colorful greens, the rich blues and purples. All I wanted was the bright yellow. And on and on I dipped my hands into the yellow paint jar and covered the entire page. Not one corner of my huge paper canvas was left untouched by my little yellow hands.
My teacher asked if I wanted to use the other colors or add some accents to my page. "No," I told my teacher. I shook my head adamantly back and forth. I thought to myself, This is all I want. This wonderful, beautiful, luminous yellow! On and on I painted, covering every speck of white space with that radiant, shimmering yellow. And when I was done, I stood back with all the confidence of a self-assured five year old and I beamed at what I had created.
There it was! I had recreated my yellow space! I had painted the Light! My warm, safe light. I was so proud! Wait til I show this to Daddy! I said proudly to myself. I was oblivious to the curious looks of my teachers.
The paper hung on the draped line to dry. It must have taken much longer to dry than the other children's paintings because there was so much paint on that paper. Other kids had painted a crude rendoring of their house, or maybe their Mom and Dad and the family dog. Others had created a modern art design with swishes of blue and a blot of red or a hand print in green. But no one had entirely covered their whole canvas with paint. And certainly no one had used only one color. My painting was so different than the others and yet I didn't care. The excitement I felt was exhilarating! I was so thrilled about my yellow space! The anticipation of taking this beautiful creation home to my Dad was overwhelming.
At the end of the day, my wonderful canvas was released from the metal clips holding it up to dry, then rolled carefully into a tube-like shape. A trusty rubber band was placed around its belly and then the masterpiece was placed in my now clean little hands. Oh, wait til I show Daddy! the little voice in my head screamed. Wait til I show him this!
My morning kindergarten class was over and Peggy, an older neighbor girl, walked me home. My excitement was spilling over the top and I wanted to run the five blocks home, but Peggy would have none of that. We took our usual pace and it felt like an eternity. When I got home, Mom had lunch waiting for me and asked about the papers I had brought home. She looked at my painting and must have mumbled something about it, but I didn't care if she even looked at it. I really didn't care what she thought about it. This wasn't for her. It was for me and Daddy.
My Dad worked day-shift at a local factory and would get home about four o'clock every day. He would come in the side door of the house, climb the four steps from the landing to the kitchen, sit down in his chair at the kitchen table and take his work boots off. That day, I stood in the kitchen bursting with anticipation, eyes wide with excitement, my grand painting held tightly in a roll in my little hands. But I had to wait until the work boots came off before I could show him anything or talk to him about the events of the day. That's just the way it was done. I watched as the long shoe laces of the work boots were unthreaded from the hooks along the top of the boot. Then the laces were loosened from the eyes along the front of the boot, and finally the boot was pulled off. First one—thud! Then the other—thud!
By now, I'm jumping up and down, squealing with delight as I waited for him to finish. Now I finally got to show him what I made! I unrolled my painting. It was quite an effort for my little tiny hands to hold both the top and bottom of the paper, stretching as far as I could, nearly covering myself with that large canvas. "There, Daddy, see?" I exclaimed.
But after my gleaming yellow masterpiece was unveiled, he gruffly growled, "What the hell is that?"
I couldn't believe my ears! He doesn't know what this is? My little brain raced with confusion! I looked at my painting. I looked at him. What?! What do you mean, "What's that?" He should be absolutely thrilled with my creation. He doesn't even know what it is. I stared at him with puzzlement. I felt confused but still expected him to recognize, at any time, the beautiful, warm, peaceful place that we had experienced together many times. That glowing light that envelops me and takes me away when he comes to my bed and touches me.
"Well, what is it?" he yelled.
"Daddy!" I said. "This is where I go when you do those things to me!"
Bam! His large dirty hand immediately took a full swing and slapped my tiny face, knocking me down. I laid on the linoleum floor in disbelief as he screamed at me, "Don't you EVER talk about that again!"
Stunned, I stare at him with my mouth open. I can't believe what is happening. This is a good thing I've done. I've painted the Light! Why is he so angry? Why am I being punished? He continued to scream and lunged at me. I continue to cry. I'm confused and terrified as he rips up my painting and continues to hit me. What is going on?
My confusion and shock are overwhelming. I had expected high praise from him for painting that lovely place that I thought we both experienced when he came to my bed. Little did I know that I was the only one who experienced the Light during those times. So instead of my painting being admired, I was being beaten and my work of art was being torn to shreds. His loud and angry voice was terrifying me with threats of further harm if I ever spoke of this again.
I had painted my yellow God, my yellow safe place, the warmth of the deity, the safe surrounding of love and light, of peace and unity, of warmth and safety. I loved the sensation of floating amid the yellow light of joy, of unlimited joy, the safety of God, of Spirit, of oneness. A place of no pain, no cares, no anguish, no limits, no harshness, no frustration, no mental pain, no physical pain, no emotional pain.
This is where I belong! Among the Lights. Among Spirit. Amidst the Love. The unending, undivided, undimensional Love. A place where I could float effortlessly among the other spirits, the other Lights, and be one with God.
Here I would escape the confusion of the abuse. Why is this happening? Why don't you love me? Why don't you take care of me? Instead you hurt me! You feast on me! You take away my innocence! All for your own depravity. I'm so little. I'm so tiny. I'm so weak. Why? Why? Why? Why? I don't understand! I don't know why this is happening!
The evil look in his eye scares me so. His greed! His need to take from me! I don't understand what is happening to my little body—the harshness of this brutal attack, the fear, the torture, the pain, the confusion! The evil laugh he would laugh as he delighted in my body was so other-worldly. I would shudder when I heard this laugh. I knew it was to be a very bad time when he laughed like this. The sinister, evil sound was enough to send me into a feeling of shock. I knew from this guttural sound that his behavior would be brutal and would last a very long time. I would somehow distance myself from the situation and almost become a robot, obeying his commands with a detached expression. It was no use to fight anymore. I knew I could not win. I just gave in and checked out. I became a mere machine who was separate from my spirit, my soul. I would detach and let him have my body while I drifted away safely.
I experienced such lightness as I lifted out of my body. I would slowly drift up and float to the corner of my bedroom ceiling. I'd look down on the two of us lying on the bed. I'd then turn to the Light and drift off towards it. I could look back and see what was happening, but I did not feel what was happening. I was disconnected from by body and no longer felt the pain and fear. I had numerous out-of-body experiences long before I ever knew what they were.
My angels are waiting. Here they are! Again! "Oh, Hello! You're here!" I say to them. They're little angels, little cherubs, just like me! They're playmates, smiling and happy to see me. They're giggling and playful. They take my hands on either side and off I go with them to the Light. We play and rotate. I sing and dance and float with them, and with all the other angel Lights. We're weightless and free! I rotate and spin within my own orb of Light. It's like swimming in Light! We fly in any direction. We fly within the Joy! I'm safe here. I'm happy here! I'm free!
As I'm writing about this memory, I'm being strongly reminded by Spirit that this is who I really am. I am the Light. My purpose, my guides say, is to tell you that: You are the Light! You are not your body and your experiences don't define you. You are the Light!
Sometime later, I would awaken from a deep sleep feeling disoriented and groggy. Confusion filled my little head as I wondered what had happened and what was wrong. A feeling of being disconnected from the world—like I was walking among the world, only more like floating, looking at the objects around me with an objective air—in the world, but not of it. I felt spacey, light-headed, and distant. I wouldn't be fully back in my body at times. I wouldn't remember the abusive intrusion to my psyche or the ravage attack on my body. I would be dreamy, feeling insecure and in need of comfort. A warm hug from either my Mom or Dad would do, just someone to welcome me back to this world. Sometimes I would get it, but many times not. I would need to find my own comfort by sucking my thumb and wrapping myself in my blanket until I finally re-entered my body fully and felt "normal." Whatever that is! The feeling of separateness left me feeling a void, an emptiness inside.
And so when I was five, I painted the Light. I painted that happy place where I flew with the angels and the other Light beings. I painted the serenity the best that I could. I painted the Love and the Joy on a single piece of flip chart paper for my Dad to see. And now for the world to see. Everyone in the world needs to see who they really are—Lights! Bright, joyous Lights!
My spirit went away to a beautiful yellow Light that was safe and warm and peaceful during the abuse. And even as I write this, I don't really know where I went. There are several theories and guesses that sound plausible, but I don't really know the mystery of what I experienced. Did I rise beyond physical reality and go inside to the soul and rest in the glow of my inner light? Did I have guardian angels or spirit guides who whisked me off to some other level of existence to escape the horror of what was happening? Did I have an out-of-body experience where I escaped into another realm and saw the light that so many who have a Near Death Experience talk about? Or is all physical reality truly just a dream or illusion, and during these times of nightmarish events, did I really just awaken to the Truth of my being, to my inner Light, to escape the ugly dream?
Of course, I never talked about the painting or the Light again to anyone. The whole experience was repressed for the next 25 years. The memory of my painting surfaced while I was still involved in group therapy. I told my therapist and the group participants about this memory, but I just received a lot of raised eyebrows and blank expressions. No one had an idea or an explanation for my out-of-body experience. There were no suggestions that I may want to explore metaphysics and the importance of the Light in spiritual texts and teachings. It wasn't until many years later when I learned about Near Death Experiences, the inner Light and the importance of the Light within metaphysical realms that I began to put my personal childhood experiences into a spiritual context. Did my escape into the Light allow me to heal quicker than others who had been sexually abused? Did it allow my spirit to escape the deeper, more serious emotional damage that comes from sexual abuse that I had seen in my group therapy settings? Was I somehow special in that I was given an alternate reality or escorted to a safe haven during the abuse and the others were not? Or did we all have this Light experience at one time or another and I was lucky enough to remember it?
What does it all mean? I don't know yet. But I am so glad to know with all my heart that another reality or realm of existence does truly exist. I know because I've been there. And I'm not afraid to go back to the Light that I painted that day.
I am a coal miner's daughter. I was born in the Appalachian Mountains south of Pittsburgh, PA on April 12, 1954. My parents, John Wesley Grimes and Marion June McNutt, grew up in the coal mining community around Uniontown, PA. They married on June 3, 1947 and rented my mother's childhood home in Uniontown for seven years. My parents wanted to build a home of their own and the usual custom for the area was to build it in stages as money allowed. So they bought a piece of land, dug a hole and built the basement. They put the flooring down for the first floor, but instead of building the rest of the house, they put roofing material on the floor and we lived in the basement, which my mother always referred to as the "foundation." Their plan was that when enough money was saved, the rest of the house would be built. I don't remember the foundation, I was too small, but I have seen pictures of me in it. The basement was separated into rooms using curtains as room dividers. We lived there for about 2 years.
The coal mining industry was in decline and eventually the coal mine closed and my father lost his job. He, along with many other men from the area, had to look for jobs elsewhere, even outside of Pennsylvania. He found a job in Cleveland, OH and worked there for awhile. He stayed in Cleveland during the week and traveled back to Uniontown on the weekends. He then found another job in Canton, OH, about 60 miles south of Cleveland. My parents sold the foundation home and moved to Canton. We rented an upstairs apartment on Louisiana Ave very close to the Stark County fairgrounds. It was a nice neighborhood with two-story homes crowded together on narrow lots. It had a big front porch that the first floor tenants used. Our garage was located in the back and was accessed by an alley that ran behind the homes. We played in the small backyard and in the alley behind the house. My folks really missed their family and nearly every weekend we would drive back to Uniontown on Friday after Dad got off work. We would stay with either set of grandparents or other aunts and uncles for the weekend and then return back home on Sunday evening. My brother, Mark, was born while we lived in that apartment.
I remember playing in the alley out back. I thought it was so cool to be able to run in a street! Well, it wasn't actually a street, it was a large path with two gravel ruts in it. But to me, it was a street, and it seemed to go on forever (a whole block, at least!) and I could run! After being cramped up in a small apartment, it felt good to have the freedom to run. We also had an outside staircase that we climbed to get to our apartment. In the winters, it seemed very cold with the wind whipping around us on the open stairs. The landing at the top was high. It always felt scary on that landing, looking down at the ground, waiting for Mom or Dad to unlock the door.
Excerpted from I Painted THE Light by Jeanne Grimes. Copyright © 2013 by Jeanne Grimes. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Part I: Introduction....................
Part II: My Life....................
Growing Up.................... 13
The Façade is Cracking.................... 31
The Nightmares.................... 37
Part III: The Sacred Heart....................
The Sacred Heart.................... 55
Healing the Mind.................... 63
Healing the Body.................... 83
Healing the Spirit.................... 115
Part IV: The Unity Principles....................
Principles of the Unity Church.................... 129
First Unity Principle.................... 135
Second Unity Principle.................... 139
Third Unity Principle.................... 145
Fourth Unity Principle.................... 159
Fifth Unity Principle.................... 169
Summary of Unity Principles.................... 175
Part V: Forgiveness....................
Three Levels of Forgiveness.................... 187
First Level of Forgiveness.................... 189
The Second Level of Forgiveness.................... 197
The Third Level of Forgiveness.................... 203
Part VI: Summary....................
Part VII: Afterword....................
Afterword: My Father's Death.................... 223
About the Author.................... 237
Appendix Music List.................... 239
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The author describes a horrible situation with clarity, grace, dignity, honesty, and passion. As layers of childhood sexual abuse by her father and life with a dysfunctional family are presented, the reader is gently led through the difficult, complex healing process without sacrificing the reality of her experiences. The powerful passages on forgiveness clearly demonstrate how far the author has come since she chose to face the challenges necessary for healing. She personifies Mahatma Gandhi’s statement: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Nothing in my life experiences have included sexual abuse. I read this book because a friend bravely talked about her childhood sexual abuse experiences and how her life has been affected. This book can be a resource for everyone regardless of their life experiences.