Out of the darkness…A Heraldry.

This is a story of a grown man who first finds memories of his past in the middle of his life, that are filled with hurts and habits that he didn’t understand.  He is repulsed by the thought of parts of his life lost to something that he had no control of as a boy. Intellectually and emotionally he knows he needs to find self-forgiveness, validation, reconciliation and purpose to the incomprehensible hurts he experienced as an 11 year-old boy.

The long lasting effects of the hurts of his childhood ran so deep he could not understand how they impacted his life, his behavior, his self-worth, relationships and a childhood he feels was missed. He spent most of his life wondering which way to go. Through the memories in the darkness he begins to realize his life was filled with the years of self-deprecation. He realized he was numb to emotions living a double life in his head. To protect himself from dealing with the truth of this childhood betrayal he would separate his thoughts from reality.

Living in the darkness was normal. Denial, compulsiveness, addictions and the obsessions of pleasing everyone, served a distraction to accepting the truth. These behaviors became who he was and used as a personal defense protecting his mind, body and spirit from any more hurt.

This man was on a quest to find acceptance from anyone who seemed to care or love him, even if their love was self-serving. He would give and give unconditionally putting his own needs last never acknowledging any of his feelings. He would blow up in anger from the rejection when he felt others were not accepting of him. He would cope by hiding, retracting, running away, arguing or even being mean.

He recognized at age 50 years old, that these behaviors were related to a little boy who was violently and unjustifiably betrayed. A betrayal that he would learn Father God used to create his heart, his compassion to understand others hurts and provides hope for others in recovery.

He would eventually find understanding through faith.  Finding God’s purpose in this betrayal, setting him on a journey to share his story of hope, recovery and to inspire others’ healing. Through a process of healing at Living Waters, he would learn how to receive forgiveness, and press his pain, shame and guilt into the cross. He would journey with the most amazing brothers and sisters who moment by moment would push him to the cross and lead him to Jesus. He fell in love with Jesus Christ in a relationship for eternity. He is finding his true self, committing every part of it to Jesus, for the purpose of the glory of God. The first time in his life he understood completely the grace of God.

He was a sweet little 11-year-old boy, so young and innocent. He was the boy who everyone loved, who had a great chubby heart and an enormous smile. He loved others unconditionally and was surrounded by a circle of children he loved to call his friends. He enjoyed making others laugh while always seeking their acceptance. Mature for his age, adults singled him out as a leader who could be trusted to be responsible, honest and loyal. He loved to share of himself.

It is hard to imagine this little boy was repeatedly hurt so violently by 4 young men. This life changing betrayal was the plan of these men in the darkness of the hot summer night. It took weeks of grooming this little boy for a night that would change his heart forever. A betrayal of his body, his mind and his spirit, left this tender heart lost in a world that lacked understanding and acceptance of his broken reality.  Threaten, never to tell he would live in years of silence and pain.

The physical, sexual and emotional betrayal was wrong. It was not a game of boys coming of age, not a game of post office, spin the bottle or truth or dare.  It was not even a part of the process of a boy becoming a man.  It is an undeniable, unjustifiable, illegal crime of robbing the innocence of a young boy’s heart. There is no way that little boy wanted or even had a clue what was going on while he was held down in a canvas tent in the dark of the hot summer night. No way.

Instead he was a child left with emotional hurts, habits and hang-ups that would affect him for the rest of his life.

So this is why I tell my story: This 11 year old boy was me.

  • Childhood trauma is real and it can affect anyone even men like me.
  • I can share my story now without worry or threat of being hurt again.
  • I have been asked to share my story at national conferences, with the intention to lead and give hope to others like me.
  • I share because I want to live in a world that is intolerant of childhood physical and emotional abuse.
  • I found my way out of the darkness and have been blessed by the Grace of God and the unconditional love of my family, my best friend, my brothers and sisters at Eastbrook Church, Living Waters and those I share my life.

A comment from the writer ….

A Heraldry is an old literary device meaning a story with in a story.  If you wish, click the links in the text highlighted in red and read stories leading to the foundation of my Hearldry.

Published by John Chianelli, Writer

I am second. I will share my experiences, as a child of God, husband to Daniel, father, best friend, brother, son, leader, professor, writer and photographer. My intention for this blog is to be random, with no plan, no list, no direction and no expectations. Very different from how I lived my past life. My journey has been blessed by the mercy and grace of God and unwavering love. I hope you enjoy reading and sharing my experiences of hurts, laughter, discovery, friendships, Christ, and my family. Temenos is a safe circle where you can be yourself with peace of mind. Temenos originates from a Greek word which refers to a universal instinct to create a protected, safe space in which to heal, restore and regenerate yourself. My temenos circle is a place to be still and seek Jesus. It becomes my place to pray, reflect in the word of our Lord to shrink, grow in him, and heal my soul. What is your temenos circle? By: John Chianelli ©John Chianelli and Temenos Circle. 2016-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided the full and clear credit is given to John Chianelli and Temenos Circle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

14 thoughts on “Out of the darkness…A Heraldry.

  1. John, your blog moved me from tears to joy! Beautifully written. So glad that you have shared your childhood tragedy. You are truly blessed by the grace of God. Your blog is a stepping stone for many who suffer in silence, in shame and fear.


  2. I admire you John. So many people have been impacted by similair experiences. Your ability to lead with compassion and honesty will certainly encourage others to face their pasts, embrace a welcoming God and start to heal and live a real life. You are an inspiration!!


  3. John, I am so sorry to hear that this happened to you as a child. You have always been my funny, loving, caring cousin. I’m so glad you found a way to deal with your pain after living with this for so many years.
    Love, Linda


    1. That’s so sweet. I love you a lot cousin. Lots of good memories of our fun growing up. I have been invited to speak out nationally this year on the topic of childhood abuse in California and Rochester MN so I thought I better start telling my story in Wisconsin. God finds purpose in our hurts sometimes for the food of others …. My call is to teach.


  4. John, I was so saddened when I read this. I feel so bad you have lived with this pain for so long. I remember staying by your house with Lisa when my mom had head surgery, you were always so wonderful to both of us. I love you and just wanted to let you know my thoughts and prayers are with you.


    1. Thank you. I have great memories of playing together as children. I special part of my heart was our summers, your Mom and Dad, camping. Thank you for your love and reaching out. I am speaking out nationally on childhood sexual abuse. I have been invited to speak at a national conference in LA and at the Mayo Center. God has his purpose for our lives and how to use our hurts for good things. I love you.


  5. Dear John,
    I was scrolling through Facebook and ran across you. I decided to click on your profile, interested to see what life has brought you. I remember you so fondly from elementary school days and on, and am so sorry to know this happened to you. I am thankful you have found the source of Forgiveness and Grace. I loved your writing about your father. He sounds like a good one, who left you with some treasured life lessons. That’s beautiful! I live in China, since a year ago now, and will be here with my husband for at least another year and a half on my teaching contract (elementary -3rd Grade). Life has taken me far from Kenosha, but I get back every year. My best to you, and His sweet blessings on your family!


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