Ceci’s Story: Healing Through Song
Ceci Bordayo is a singer-songwriter, worship director and nanny in Lansing, Michigan. She was sexually abused as a child and was eventually able to begin healing with the help of her faith, family and music. As an advocate for The Edja Foundation and a talented singer, she was invited to perform at a benefit for sexual abuse victims. She composed and recorded the song “House of Secrets” to tell her story.
Sharing her journey of healing with the world in the form of music has helped Ceci embrace her faith. She hopes it will remind others that God can restore what was broken and that He is waiting with open arms. She has since recorded another song, “Live for You,” after the tragic death of her niece. She hopes to release her first album in 2019.
The House of Secrets
At 2 lbs. 11 oz., I was born fighting for my life. My identical twin sister won first place in our first race, beating me by one whole minute. From the moment I entered the world, I fought long and hard to survive. A month-long stay in the hospital would be the first of many battles ahead of me.
My grandfather sexually abused me at the age of seven. I told my father what happened, but it was to no avail, as he was also an abuser. I was not only being abused; I was a witness to the horrific abuse of my siblings as well. I watched my father rape my twin sister, and my younger sister would be his next victim; she was only 11 years old. My father never sexually abused me. However, he was emotionally and physically abusive to me throughout my childhood.
My older brother was also a victim of my father’s brutal physical abuse. I remember like it was yesterday the time my father almost took my brother’s life by suffocating him. Thankfully, in that instance, my mother intervened. The abuse of my brother lasted for several years, but at the age of 15, he had enough and moved out.
My mother was so paralyzed by fear that she closed the door to our suffering. She was aware of what my father was doing, but her own unresolved childhood trauma kept her captive. She became numb and lost sight of her identity and self-worth. She was under the complete control of my father.
We lived in a house full of pain, lies and abuse, all while going to the house of God. Both of my parents served as leaders in the church. I found it hard to understand God’s love and purpose for my life. My image of all good and God was tainted. I would hear how good God was and how He had a purpose for each and every one of us. But I would question, “How can a God who is love, who is good, allow all this pain to happen in my family?”
Externally, we were a picture-perfect family, but internally, we were all trying to find ways to survive the trauma and abuse.
Finding Healing Through Music
God was in my life from a young age, but I was an angry kid who wouldn’t let anyone help me. To be very candid, there were times I thought about committing suicide to forget the pain. I tried once, and by the grace of God and with the intervention of a mentor, I did not harm myself. I wanted to be done with the pain of bitterness, anger and pride. It was completely eating me up.
And then, at the age of 15, I sat at youth camp and listened very intently to a preacher’s sermon. I remember him saying, “If you don’t forgive, you can’t be free.” I wanted to be free! I wanted to feel alive! I truly wanted to experience God’s goodness for myself. It would require me to start tearing down the walls I had built up along the way, shutting everyone out so they couldn’t hurt me. I wanted to be done with pain. By the end of that service, I asked God to help start the renovation of my mind and my heart. Right then and there, I let go and chose forgiveness.
I began journaling, which turned into songwriting, and songwriting gave me a voice to share my story through music. I didn’t realize it then, but as I was writing, I found my healing and my purpose. I believe one person’s story is someone else’s hope.
For so long, fake smiles had shrouded our family’s dark secrets, and speaking the truth out loud felt unfamiliar. But what God did in my life in the midst of my suffering shouldn’t be kept a secret.
When I began writing my first song, “House of Secrets,” it scared me. Even though my family and I had agreed to share our story of transformation, I began having doubts and asking, “Should we really reveal our dark past to everyone and expose our family’s secrets to the world?” At first, I thought this topic was too “heavy,” but as I started to write the song, a sense of vulnerability gripped my soul. I decided to invite my family to compose the lyrics with me, to tell the story from their perspective. We wrote the song to be transparent and authentic and decided collectively to be a voice for families who come from dysfunction.
When I sang the song live for the first time, they joined me on stage at the end of the performance with signs that read “#metoo.” We stepped up together as a family and showed that we are living proof that healing, forgiveness and changing the cycle of dysfunction are possible.
Turning a Mess into God’s Message
Dysfunction comes in many forms, and it exists in all families. We are not even close to being perfect, and we never will be perfect until we arrive in heaven. Our family is working on practical things like communicating, connecting and counseling. We are getting to know each other as siblings and as a mother and her children.
We are all in a good place. We are active in our local churches and individually pursuing our passions and our dreams. I attended Christ for the Nations in 2006 and am currently serving as the Worship Director of Maranatha Assembly of God church and preaching across the Midwest.
As for my father, we have a very limited communication and know very little about where he is at in life. He has not apologized or asked for forgiveness, but even if he doesn’t, my prayer for him is that he finds Jesus as his personal savior. In the end, we all need a savior.
The song “House of Secrets” has opened many doors for me personally and for my family. The greatest joy it has brought me is being able to help other families talk about their dysfunction and helping other individuals turn their mess into a message.
My hope in telling my story is to share with you that God will never leave you. He sees you. He is waiting with open arms for you, the prodigal, the broken, the hopeless, so He can pour grace into your life. He is a good God, and He loves you more than you know! The hope that turned my story around was Jesus. He can turn your story around, too. Regardless of whatever pain, experiences or dysfunctional background you come from, you can change the cycle! My family is living proof. I am living proof!
Here are three of Ceci’s favorite Bible verses; they remind her that God is always walking with her:
My Take on Ceci’s Story
Many survivors of sexual abuse find it extremely difficult to talk about their experiences with anyone. I find it truly inspirational that Ceci and her family worked together to write her song “House of Secrets.” Instead of letting trauma control her life, Ceci decided to walk with God and take the reins in controlling her own fate. Sharing her experiences is healing not only for her family, but for everyone who hears her story and song.
Time for Personal Reflection
You do not have to be a professional songwriter like Ceci to reap the benefits of writing. Journaling and other forms of writing can be helpful for all of us. In addition to reflecting on and writing about your experience, call out to the Lord for healing in daily prayer. Here is a prayer that you can modify for your specific situation:
If you have ever suffered at the hands of an abuser, here is a prayer you can modify to reflect your specific situation:
Dear heavenly Father, please heal my heart, body and soul from the lasting damage that physical, sexual and emotional abuse has caused. Please help me live my life without viewing all my experiences through the lens of the abuse. Wrap your loving arms around me and comfort me. I know You are the only one Who can heal my pain and let me move forward. Please restore my hope in the future and fill my heart with happiness to replace the joy that was taken from me at such a young age.
I know that the ideal outcome is that I will put this situation in Your loving hands and forgive the person who committed such vile acts against me at a time when I was young and trusting. I feel as if I am far, far away from that goal, and I pray that You will help me get there. I know I will never be truly free until I can forgive, and I need to lean on you to get there.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
. Fred Sievert, Grace Revealed: Finding God’s Strength in Any Crisis (Racine, WI: BroadStreet Publishing Group, LLC, 2018), 43.