I wrote the following in the beginning – the beginning of my walk to wholeness. I would not publish it previously because it is so raw and I was so ashamed. Now that I have been under the care of the Wonderful Counselor for some time I am able to share it with you. I pray it will minister to you, and that you, too, will find the wonder of His love and counsel in your time of need.
There is a sign in my mind that says “DON’T GO THERE”. It stands between me and memories that have been too painful to resurrect. It serves as a reminder that the past is past and can’t do anyone any good to have it relived. I am afraid of the sign and everything it stands for. I am afraid of the past. I am afraid of the emotions that are stirred by the memories – strong emotions that I cannot control. Rage and shame and guilt and despair. I am so afraid.
Slowly, painfully, I face the sign. I know that healing is beyond the sign. I must take it down, I must face the demons of my past in order to be free and whole and complete. I must.
I realized today that I am broken. Not the good kind of broken, as in ‘broken in spirit’ but the bad kind of broken, as in dysfunctional.
The realization brought with it waves of grief and deep despair for the many, many years that have been lost. As I look back over my life (looking back – not often edifying!) I see very little joy and laughter and so many years of pain and struggle, and I am jealous of those who seem to have had loving families and spouses their entire lives.
I can see now that I have lived more than 40 years wearing a mask. I put it on in the morning and I never take it off. I don’t even allow it to come off in the privacy of my own room, because to do so will make me vulnerable to the enemy I sleep with, my hyper-critical, controlling, angry spouse. Correction: spouses, for you see, I managed to escape one only to marry another.
Sometimes my mask slips, but not often. When it does and I expose some part of my brokenness to others, I am immediately fearful, for I know they cannot be trusted. You see, everyone looking at us would never believe me. He can’t possibly be what I have said. Why, he’s so friendly and concerned about others. Surely I am mistaken.
If they only knew. The nights of torment as the man who vowed to love and protect me yelled and stormed about his rights and my responsibilities. The time my first husband raped me or when he forced me to have an abortion; and all of the other times he terrorized me and my children in order to get his way. Or when my second husband chased my car with his vehicle, almost forcing me and my son off of the road in order to force us to return home – home to where he could scream and yell and verbally assault us at his leisure – the place where he killed our souls. The scenes in restaurants and gas stations and retail establishments – literally any place we happened to be was a place for an explosion.
How does one live walking on egg-shells and dodging land mines? Not easily. Not willingly. Not successfully. Consequently, I am broken. I am unable to connect on a deep level with any person. I have had to hide for too long, and I have learned that transparency doesn’t bring wholeness, it brings more opportunity for attack. Attack not only from the enemies I lived with but from the very people with whom I become transparent.
What is it about being abused that makes the victim protect the abuser? I find myself defending and even making excuses for the ones that have caused so much pain and destruction in my life. Why? Even now I look back over this writing and realize I should change it or else the offenders will be exposed. Yet some secret part of me wants them exposed for what they are – destroyers.
I have sought ‘professional’ help on multiple occasions. They can find nothing wrong with me other than a mild depression, and are willing to prescribe drugs to help me feel better. Feel ‘better’? How about just feel? As if a drug is going to alter circumstances or change the personalities of the abusers.
There is no place I can be totally honest and be myself, except in prayer. There is no place I can expose the offenders, except in prayer.
I have decided there is no hope of me ever being whole. Here is the point where others like myself begin to consider suicide. Here, right here, they begin to think about the relief from the pain, the escape from the abuse, the only possible solution. I confess the thought crossed my mind, very briefly. I quickly discarded it because that is not what my Lord would want.
Are there any other options? Divorce? No, I am too tired to fight. I’ve been through divorce before and the lies and deceit, leaving me with nothing – escaping only with my life. Now I have had too many years of being beaten down to the point where there is no fight left in me. That was the abuser’s goal to begin with, I suppose. I just never saw it.
Escape? To where? Where can I run that I won’t be found? I would be hunted down like a criminal and forced to return. I almost said ‘against my will’, and then quickly realized I no longer have a will.
Despondent – that’s what some might diagnose as they read these words. I am not despondent any longer. I am not depressed any longer. I am not fearful any longer. I am simply broken, tired, and dead inside, waiting for my body to catch up. Waiting to die. Wanting to die. Begging the Lord to take me home. Death would be a release from this prison, this hell. It is the only freedom I can foresee.
Today, dear reader, I am free. I have found freedom or rather freedom has been delivered to me. I was given a vision of freedom and hope from another survivor. With that hope I mustered enough energy to grab hold of the horns of the altar and beseech the Lord for release – true freedom. I refused to let go of the altar until the Lord showed up.
My Wonderful Counselor has led me through dark alleys and thorny pathways — places I simply did not want to go. He took my hand and together we dismantled the ‘DON’T GO THERE’ sign. Together we addressed memories, one by one, walking doggedly through the emotions and emerging on the other side bearing forgiveness and life. The walk was not easy and is certainly not finished as each day brings another memory or lesson to be learned. There were times when it would have been easier to give up and slide back into my former zombie-like existence, but the hope and the vision of freedom kept me plowing forward. Sometimes my legs became lead weights and my back was bent and sore from carrying the load. It was then that my Savior lifted me and became the burden bearer for me, allowing me to rest in His marvelous peace. And when I was sufficiently refreshed He would set me back down on my feet and we would begin walking again – together, hand-in-hand, heading toward wholeness.
I cannot begin to express my gratitude to Lord Jesus. He has taken a life that was hopeless and turned it into a garden. That life, which was a result of the free-will decisions I made and decisions that others around me made, has become a fruitful vine and a place of unending peace and joy.
May you find Him today.