Rachel A. Lehman RN
Do you ever wonder why you are still alive? Do you ever feel like it would have just been easier if you would have died by the hands of your abuser?
I've had those thoughts. It took me years for me not to have those thoughts! Yes, they came less and less often the longer I was away, but those thoughts stayed there for longer than I would have liked.
At the time, I couldn't understand why God would save me from the hands of my abusive husband, but yet then 'cause' me to suffer by me not being able to support myself, 'get over' what happened to me, or move on.
What I realized from feeling that way and going through the recovery process like I went through is this:
1. Today, I can relate to (and typically help) lots of people. There are many that have those same thoughts and may even try to kill themselves. I want my story to help them.
2. I realized God was FOR me. Even though it seemed He was sometimes against me in the recovery process, He wasn't. He was always there, loving on me and helping to give me courage to stand back up and keep going. He wasn't 'doing this to me' as I had previously thought. He was actually helping me to get out of the cycle of abuse and never go back to that lifestyle. Such an amazing God and Father who cares about us enough to teach us how to live differently...to live in Freedom and to actually show us how to enjoy our life instead of always thinking death is right around the corner.
3. I met so many great people during that time in my life. Many of whom I never would have met if something bad wouldn't have happened. Lifelong friendships!!
4. I learned that I could do it on my own. I could succeed. I learned that I wasn't ugly, stupid or crazy. I learned that I was smart, beautiful and worth fighting for. I didn't learn these things from another man in my life, but because God was working on my insides and helping me to see how He sees me. My worth comes from Him, not others around me. Ideally, it also comes from me. I learned that how I see me, greatly impacts who I allow into my life and who I allow to be in my tribe. The less I thought of myself, the more I would cling to others when really I should have been doing things on my own.
5. I realized I didn't 'need' a man to make me anything. What I needed was a self-esteem and confidence. I gained a lot of that during those difficult times and even learned to search after attaining these things.
6. I gained so much inner strength at that time in my life. Sometimes it's the struggle that helps us the most.
I'll leave you with the story of the butterfly...
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.
The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.
Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were Life's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Remember nature needs no help, just no interference. There are processes of life, things we all go through. The struggles are a part of our journey and are preparing us for what awaits. They are preparing us to fly.
As I was laying in bed over 10 years ago, I had a couple visions of what I believe God wanted me to see about His life and His death through His son Jesus Christ. These visions, along with the reality of what was happening to me at that exact moment in my life, changed me forever. What could have been seen as happenstance, was now ingrained in my mind as ‘meant to be.’
I was in bed trying to go to sleep when I had a vision of me in the garden of Gethsemane. I was Jesus in the vision, but it was me I was seeing. For those who don’t know the story, Jesus cried tears of blood in the garden because He knew that what He was about to go through would be awful. He knew it was desperately difficult to proceed, but He also knew the Father’s heart and His calling in this life on Earth. I knew something awful was about to happen to me as well. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I believed God was in it because it seemed that all roads had led me to this place. I wasn’t sure of a lot of things at that time in my life, but I felt sure that I was meant to be right in that place at that time.
My nerves were a wreck because I knew something was coming. I prayed to God that if this was indeed Him, that He would quiet my soul and allow me to sleep. That’s the last thing I remember before being awakened to my ex-husband’s anger and unwanted sexual advances. I fought against him, he overpowered me. This was not the first time that my ex-husband had awakened me in the night to pull the covers off me, hold me down, ridicule and demean me, laugh at me and taunt me, but it was the first time that I remember him holding me down for sex and tying me up to hurt me physically and sexually. I was once awakened by him under the covers between my legs with a flashlight. I had learned to hide behind the mask of normalcy. I had learned at a young age how to pretend things were fine, while pushing the not fine things into a box for no one to look at, not even me. These things didn’t make sense to my mind. My entire life had been a learned behavior of allowing many men to take advantage of me. I didn’t really know any different. I had learned to rationalize the why.
For roughly the next 3 hours, I was held down, bruised, bit, suffocated, tied up with belts and sodomized. The next vision I had was when I was tied to our 4 poster bed with belts. I saw myself on a cross being crucified. I once again saw myself as Jesus, but this time I was hanging on a cross. I was being crucified. All the time this was happening, God kept speaking to me in my spirit. He kept telling me that I was going to live and not die. God kept reassuring me in my spirit as my physical body was being bruised, raped and sodomized. As long as I could keep my eyes on Jesus in my spirit, I could almost not feel what was being done to my body in the physical realm. I remember a moment that I had started to cry and God said it isn’t time to cry, the battle isn’t over. My spirit came alive and I started praying harder in the spirit at that time.
Bad things kept happening and it was all I could eventually do to keep my mind stayed on Jesus. I remember when the pillow was over my face and I couldn’t breathe. I was being suffocated. It really all came down to this moment for me. Was God really, real? Is what He said true? Was I going to live and not die? I couldn’t breathe for what seemed like forever. My chest hurt and my heart was questioning reality. I totally lost my faith during these moments in time. I said my last words to God because I now thought I might possibly die, despite God telling me beforehand that I wouldn’t. To me, I was staring death on this Earth in the face. If anyone reading this has been close to death, you know what I’m saying. It’s like we now see that our lives, our bodies, our future is completely in someone else’s hands. I didn’t say to God what Jesus said in His final moments though, although many years and much forgiveness later I could totally understand His heart towards people. At that moment, I simply asked that God that He protect my children and for Him to show everyone that I didn’t die from some ‘accident.’ I totally knew my ex-husband and knew that everything was a lie at that time. He lied to everyone, especially when someone tried to talk to him about how life was in our house. I later came to talk about our house as the ‘haunted house’ because so much of it seemed so sinister and evil.
I remember right after I prayed my last words to God, the pillow came off my face. Guess it wasn’t ‘my time’. My ex-husband read to me from the bible before it was all over for the night. It was somewhere in the Old Testament. The Lord told me to shut my ears and not listen. He said the enemy often knows the word better than we do and we become ensnared in lies.
This night is forever etched in my memory as the time my life changed. I was never the same after this night. I may not have understood much of it for years, and maybe I still have much to learn, but one thing is true, God changed me that night for the better. I’m sure many of you can ask, how is that possible? How is it possible to change for the better when so much hurt and pain is wrapped up in one night, one moment, one traumatic memory? I believe it’s because I allowed God to heal me. I continued to allow God to change me. I trusted God to heal me from the pain and He has done just that. I could have locked the memories up and chosen to not look at them ever again. I see believers do this a lot, especially with sexual hurts and pains from past relationships. It’s awkward to talk about them and it makes us feel vulnerable and dirty. Healing from sexual hurts and memories is often a choice we make or don’t make. God won’t force us to change. I don’t know why I continued to believe in His goodness after so much hurt and pain happened in my life. I kept thinking, He’s the only One who CAN help me. He’s the only One who would understand. I don’t know why a lot of things happened, but they did and I wanted God to fix me. I wanted to be ‘normal’ and I didn’t even know what I was asking for. My heart just wanted to be free.
Many weeks after that traumatic night, I remember thinking, OK God, I sacrificed for YOU, now I’m sure YOU will give back to me big time for laying down my life. I kept thinking that somehow God would give something to me. I don’t know if I thought I was winning an award or something, but it seemed life stayed pretty hard with many difficult decisions to make. There are moments in time that I believed God was telling me or leading me to do something. The decisions often didn’t seem rational. They made no sense. God led me to let the children go to live with my ex-husband. Yes, the one who almost suffocated me. I was also led to get rid of lots of material things at that time. I looked like I was out of control. So many people were talking about me and I just tried to keep moving forward with what God was saying. I was so lost, not feeling like I fit in at all in the town I was in. Everything in my life was being sifted and shifted. Nothing that was, remained the same. By the time it was all over, I ultimately lost or gave away pretty much everything that I had. My foundation was shattered. My ‘house’ (in spiritual terms) was destroyed. I found myself alone and afraid and wanting to die when it was all over. I felt like I had lost it all. I had come to the end of myself.
That’s where I believe that my mission and ministry ultimately began. God brought me out and took me away from that city and away from the people that I was familiar with. He led me to a place of refreshing. He led me to a place to be with Him. I had to learn Him all over again. I had to learn to not look back all the time but begin to look ahead. To be prophetic means we have to pour ourselves out and allow Him to pour Himself in. We have to know what it means to look and feel stupid and still stand for His truth. To speak in truth means we have to learn the truth. We have to learn truth over religiosity. We have to learn truth over what it means to be selfless. We have to see our own hearts and our own lives. I will never say that God was the cause of all that bad things that happened to me. I made many choices that reflected who I was at that time, but God keeps using it all for His goodness.
Jesus was crucified. It wasn’t fair. It didn’t feel good. What was done to Him was horrible, by ‘horrible’ people. But what came from what He sacrificed has helped us all. He chose to say ‘forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ How many of us can say those things about the people that have hurt us or tried to kill us? Those same people may still be taking from us. Can you say in prayer, ‘forgive them, for they know not what they do?’ Jesus is amazing. He chose to follow God despite what I’m sure his emotions were feeling.
I believe God showed me in my own way what it took to sacrifice and just how much it cost for Jesus to say yes. We somehow believe that God wants us to live the American dream, but we forget the price He paid. We forget that the cost of freedom was very high. We forget the sacrifice He made to bring us to Himself. He sacrificed Himself on the cross when He could have just saved Himself. Instead, He laid down His life for us to be able to live in Him, sin free. For God to only see His perfect Son in our place when we believe in Him. How amazing is that? Are we willing to lose it all for His sake?
Below are some nuggets of truth that I learned…
1. The enemy wants us to think that God is horrible because He allows these types of things to happen. We think, ‘how can a loving God send calamity?’ I see how much I changed after this night. He truly used it for my good and continues to use my story and healing to help others. That’s pretty amazing!
2. We tend to think that life is here forever. Well, it isn’t and death comes to us all in our own time. It obviously wasn’t my time that night or I wouldn’t be here today. Let’s stop putting off until tomorrow what we should be doing today.
3. We think that God will punish those that hurt us. Sometimes the lesson is how we forgive, not on who or how He will punish someone on our behalf. Jesus was crucified and prayed to God for Him to forgive those killing Him. That’s a huge step of faith when you are being killed by your persecutors. Let’s stop wishing Karma on people (not bible) and let’s start choosing to forgive those that persecute us. The bible says persecution WILL happen.
4. Gods word CAN and IS used against us. Are we in touch enough with Him to know when someone is using it for our good or our demise? Just because it’s from the bible doesn’t make it in the right context.
5. Traumatic events in our lives can be used to help us if we truly see His heart in our pain.
6. God has a purpose for our pain, but we must allow Him to move through that pain and allow Him to heal us. We can’t hide it and then think God can use us in those areas.
7. The enemy wants us to believe our life is over after something traumatic like this. That we can’t ever heal, we will always have scars and we will always be used or damaged goods. Well this isn’t true. God can and will heal those places of hurt and pain, and although looking back is sometimes so hard to do, looking back with Jesus is the only way to know it’s being done right.
8. When we follow His leading, it isn’t up to us how He blesses us or gives back to us. Oftentimes the blessings are in what is unseen rather than what is seen. The blessings are often eternal.
Healthy relationships are built around love. The love of God is indisputable. It created us and it finds us wherever we go. It never leaves us and it never wants to. When you find it, you won't want to ever let it go. This love won't lead you astray. It's stronger than any wave you could ever feel and bigger than any argument you could ever be in. It encapsulates you and holds you closer than any person ever could. It lifts you out of darkness and into the light. It feels perfect when you are surrounded by it. It's the love of God. It's Him in His completeness. It's by this love that He sent Jesus to us. To show us that love in the flesh. He then sent the Holy Spirit to be that love inside of us and to help us.
The problem is that we are still human. We still make mistakes. We still trust when we shouldn't. We may continue to not trust someone in areas that we should. We may still believe in things that we should just let go of. We mistrust. We sometimes lie. We sometimes feel what we shouldn't and think things that aren't very Godly. One thing I've learned is that life is a journey and a process. It isn't figured out in one day and God doesn't expect us to. He wants us to enjoy the journey with Him. I thank God that He is a forgiving and patient God. I thank God that he is patient with my humanness and my mistakes. I thank God that He doesn't condemn me or think I'm just too sick or too weak for Him to bless or heal. Forward is forward and I'm thankful I have a God that loves me in my forward, no matter how it looks to me.
I know in my journey with Jesus, I haven't always represented a very pretty picture of God's love. If I were to place myself into 1 Corinthians 13, I wouldn't always match very well. I still fall short of being a picture of love in some areas of my life. I am often not very patient. I will sometimes keep a record of wrongs that someone has done to me to prove some point that I think needs to be made. I am sometimes envious of what someone else has that I still don't. I don't always trust, persevere or have hope. Life is hard and the journey sometimes still breaks me in areas that I thought would never hurt again.
Love. My love isn't God's love and I'm thankful I need Him. I NEED Him to keep His love inside of me. I need HIS love to refresh me and help me with myself. I NEED Him to help me with forgiveness and trust and truth. I NEED Him to help me grow and to keep moving forward when I want to quit. I NEED Him and I don't ever want to live without Him. To trust Him is to trust that I may not always like the things that happen in this life, but with Him, I can make it. I can overcome and I can achieve freedom in places that I never thought would feel free again. His love is my guide and my hope. His love is what keeps me moving forward. His love is what I love and I never want to be without that love again. Thank you Lord for YOUR love for me. Your patience, Your trust, Your truth and Your hope for me. I'm glad You are perfect and that I am Yours
Many people struggle with identity. Many struggle with the question "Who am I and what am I here for? What is my purpose in this life?"
I too struggled with this until I went through a process. I went through a horrible struggle with getting out of abuse and out of living an abusive lifestyle. I had no idea what I was involved in until it was almost too late for me. I almost died, but I didn't.
After this horrible event, things got so much worse for me. I struggled with me and life for years after this, not knowing who I was or what I was even here for. I wanted to die because it didn't seem like i was made for anything or anyone. But the thing was, this wasn't true at all. If it wasn't for God showing me my purpose, I don't think I would still be here.
The struggle is where we learn ourselves. The struggle is where we as people, don't want to be. We want to stay where it is warm and comfortable, although life often sucks in that place. Life is often mundane and lifeless, purposeless in that place. It isn't until we really grab ahold of God and ask Him our purpose that our lives begin to change, RADICALLY. I asked Him for my purpose before my then husband almost killed me. I couldn't make sense out of why this would have to happen in order for God to show me life. The reason is this: as long as i was comfortable living in abuse, whether it be this husband or another, i would always find my way back to abuse. I wouldn't ever know the difference. God wanted ME to learn the difference so i would never want that lifestyle again. It got so bad in my house at that time, that life was miserable. I made a choice to leave and I left not only that marriage, but that lifestyle forever. It got so bad that I needed God so much. I relied on Him for everything, so I would stop putting everything before God.
Identity comes when we stop putting everything before God and rely on Him to show us ourselves, no matter what that looks like. You too can find your purpose and your identity. Just stop what you are doing right now and ask Him, "God why am I here and what is my purpose? Who am I and what am I here to do?"
Change WILL come. It may not be how you expected it to be, but it will be good. Don't stop during the process and turn around like the Israelites wanted to do. They wanted to go back to being in slavery because they didn't trust what God was doing in freeing them. I do understand how they felt, but I know that God not only knows what He is doing, He knows exactly where you are going and IT IS WONDERFUL!
I often dream of my children and I wonder where they are and how they are doing. I don't have custody of them. I lost that right somewhere along the way. I miss them terribly some days that I can't even function. My heart cries out to my Father in heaven of how much I miss them and how I'm right here. I'm right here. I often wonder why can't they see me? Why can't they feel my heart and see or feel my love? I reach out to them in the physical and they often push me away. Some don't talk to me at all. They've been hurt in their life and it seems they learned to blame me; to punish me for mistakes I never made happen, never wanted to happen. They seem to feel disconnected from me and yet I still love them. I yearn for them in my sleep or when I'm awake. My plans aren't your plans I think, but I'm still here. Right here with you in my heart. I'm sure they think of my life and maybe get angry or upset or some probably don't think of me much at all. They were born from my womb and were raised around me but life happened. Things happened and they were ripped from my grasp and even from my heart. I think of them often and I miss them so much! My heart cries and cries for them and I LOVE them more than my words will ever describe.
As I was writing this and allowing myself to feel it again, I wondered "God is this how you feel? Do you cry and cry for your children? Do we, as Your children, have the wrong thoughts and ideas of Your love and Your thoughts of us? Have we believed the lie that You're to blame for our problems and issues in life?" All You want is our hearts and so many of us have forgotten You. You send people to us and we reject them. You cry out for us and we cant hear You over our own complaints of life. We beg for something to fill that void in our hearts, not knowing that void is meant to be filled by You alone.
I now feel like I have a glimpse of what God's love for His children feels like. The ones that have turned their backs on Him. His love hurts for them. It longs. It believes in what's best, even when it seems so wrong. It doesn't give up hope. It never goes away. It rejoices when they rejoice. It laughs and cries with them even when they have no idea He is even there. His love feels what they feel. It holds on and doesn't let go. Ever. Even when they hate Him, He doesn't let go. He wants no one to leave Him.
My kids cry out to have a place in their heart filled. I'm waiting my turn. My kids are in God's hands. They are His more than they are mine. I wait for His love live to touch them and draw them home. His way is perfect and this means I continue to wait my turn. Father, have your way.
Upon asking God what to write today, this is what he placed on my heart. To write about a Sparrow. Is this you? Can you relate?
In the bible, a sparrow was an insignificant bird. If someone was poor, they might bring a sparrow to the temple in place of a goat or sheep. Apparently, no one got real excited about these birds. They kind of seemed annoying to some. They sold for a very cheap price and they were often found in noisy flocks and built untidy nests. 'Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.' (Matt. 10:29-31).
God not only acknowledges the sparrow in the bible, but says YOU are of more value than MANY sparrows. If God sees the insignificant sparrow and acknowledges it, how much MORE does HE see and acknowledge you? How much more will He take care of you?
If you can relate to this, I'm assuming that you feel insignificant and/or forgotten. I remember times I have felt the same. Regardless of our past, present or even our vision of the future, we all go through these times. Insignificant and forgotten. The bible is telling us that even though we feel that way, however, it really isn't true. Not with Him. Just because you may not have all thee answers today, or even feel His presence today, don't give up. Your breakthrough is probably right around the corner. Times seem darkest right before the dawn. Trust Him to lead you through even if can't feel His love today.
God loves you and wants you to know this. You aren't reading this by accident, but this message is designed for YOU. His love doesn't go away like an abusers does (if that was ever love to begin with). Trust Him to show you what true love means. True love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:7-8…7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8Love never fails....' Believe today.
Lord, touch the ones reading this with YOUR great love today, so that they feel You and know that You exist. Let them know that they aren't insignificant or forgotten. Touch them right now, in Jesus name.
Learn to accept the new normal...what does that even mean?
During my time of transition away from abuse and into the new life God had for me, I had no idea what was happening or even what I was supposed to do with the old stuff. The old thoughts, habits, way of life. I went from seeing all 4 of my children much of the time, to barely seeing them at all. I went from being married, to being single. I went from living in a 3 story house with money in the bank, to living in poverty. I went from a stable job, to having no job. I couldn't keep track of my thoughts. I couldn't keep track of my life. I couldn't beg the kids enough to come see me. I had nothing left to give anyone. I had a broken heart, a broken life and many broken relationships.
I kept hearing the still small voice of God leading me to accept the 'new normal' in my life. What new normal? Things seemed far from normal at that time. So confusing, so chaotic, so crazy. Life was upside down and inside out. I was about 40 years old and had just lost everything I new to be normal. What does it mean to accept the 'new normal'?
After getting through some of the turmoil of change and after leaving Indiana to head for Houston, TX, I started realizing what God had been saying. It is similar to a pregnancy. Nothing seems normal when you are pregnant. Your body changes rapidly, your hormones go haywire, you hurt, but yet know something great is about to happen. After you deliver, you spend your time focused on the new normal. Babies make it almost impossible to not focus on the new normal. They consume much of your time. People don't generally spend all their time looking back at what they had before the baby. They welcome the baby and spend their time focused on the their new normal. I couldn't get my mind or heart off of my children. I missed them so much that I wanted to die some days. Life was so hard without them. My identity was gone and I had to start over. I was 'pregnant' with new life and I didn't even know it. It seemed miserable and lonely but God knew there was life on the other side. I had to let go of all the old to start the new. Mark 2:22 "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins." God needed me to be new.
I didn't know what 'a new life' looked like and had no one but God to help me through. I want to encourage someone today. There is life without kids. There is life without a home. There is life after abuse, no matter what is lost. There is life in Jesus Christ, and that may sound like a cop out, but it's anything but that. I had no life without any of these things, until I allowed Jesus to fill those areas of loss. I can now say that Jesus is here to fill any gaps that someone has from loss. Jesus showed me myself and I learned to really like myself and appreciate me during this time alone with Him. Instead of running out to the bars or trying to find someone to keep me company, I learned to run after Him. I wanted to feel that love of His that I knew was there. Jerimiah 29:13 'If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.' 1 John 4:8 '...God is love.' I was desperate to know what real love was and God has now shown me. It's because of Him and His love for me that I now live.
Accepting the new normal meant I had to learn to let go of all those things in the past that I kept holding on to, even when I didn't or couldn't understand. It really was about giving up my desires in life and allowing God to take the lead. Once that happened, the new automatically started to come and I eventually realized that the 'new normal' was actually a great place to be. I still miss my children, but I know they are in God's hands. It's not me that will save them, but Him.
This year is quickly coming to an end and many are left with feelings of uneasiness and fear for what yet another year will bring. I remember the days when my life was in turmoil from not only the abuse I suffered, but from all the places of insecurity I had inside of myself at that time. I ultimately lost everything including access to see my children, my job, my car and I think I even almost lost my mind. I wanted to die, but there was something inside of me that just wouldn't quit. I am so thankful I decided to live.
Life was quite devastating for me then, but I quickly learned that although many dark places existed, there were also places where hope just wouldn't go away. In looking back, I can now say I wish I would have realized sooner it was a new starting place. A new normal. Once I was able to begin accepting my new normal, I was able to move forward with healing myself. I had to take my eyes off of my losses and off of everyone else I was trying to fix and really begin to see myself. I also had to see the positive and not just focus on the negative anymore. That is when life really began for me.
I now like me and I believe it's because of the healing I allowed myself to receive. I stopped pushing everyone away and allowed myself to be broken in the presence of counselors, group members and friends that were helpful to me, even when I felt stupid and crazy. I got online and began researching abuse. I learned what I was doing and allowed myself to change. I removed myself from the people and places that kept me in locked in pain and unforgiveness. I prayed a lot to a God I knew existed and got closer to Christ than I had ever been.
During these times, I learned that not everyone is for our good, so you do have to be careful, but not everyone is bad either. It was all a learning lesson and the advice I have is to keep getting up and moving forward with your life, even in your own mistakes or places of despair. Today, I am truly able to look past those old, dark moments of pain and enjoy my life as I am. I am proud of who I am and what I have been able to accomplish in the last few years. I firmly stand in my belief that the best is yet to come.
Below are a few quick tips on how to change your focus and potentially begin to heal.
1. Think of some goals you have for your life and write them down. Look at them everyday and begin to dream again. Let your dreams be filled with hope.
2. Find encouraging friends to hang around. Don't do the same old thing and expect a different result. Find people that encourage you and uplift you, instead of maybe the ones that drag you down and make you feel used or alone.
3. Rediscover what you like to do. One of the great things that I started doing in my alone time was thinking back to when I was a child and what I liked to do in that place of innocence. For some of us, looking back is hard, but use those moments to encourage yourself and look at how far you've come. I healed a lot as I looked back and began accepting things that I had been running from for years. As that happened, I saw that I loved acting in high school. I now act as a hobby and have rediscovered what I liked about it and how great it makes me feel.
4. Use your gifts and talents to help others. Use your story to encourage others. Use your gifts to have fun again. Helping others oftentimes makes us feel better about ourselves. Many are singing, acting, writing, doing ceramics, painting and even dancing to help themselves heal. Find what works for you. Everyone has something. Don't compare yourself to what others have, but find what makes your heart smile and do it.
5. Let yourself grieve. Don't pretend things are okay, because they probably aren't. Give yourself a break from maybe trying to be perfect and holding it all together. Life is a journey. Allow yourself to cry about things. Learning to let go of those old feelings really does help.
6. Lastly, find others that will listen. Some survivors have great supportive families that will listen and really have compassion. Others can't find that in people around them because their friends or family don't understand and can't figure out why you aren't 'over it.' Don't hold it in. Find a support group. Go online if you don't have one in your area. Letting your emotions out to people that understand and won't judge you really does help.
Healing takes time, love and patience with yourself, but I truly believe each of you reading this can accomplish all these things and more. Remember:
-the only person you can change is yourself and today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make it a good one.
There is no better time than now to begin.
This post is by Beck Ballantyne. It takes courage and strength to share what happened in her life. I'm so proud of her for being able to take a stand and let others know what she went through. She still has flash backs, but I believe is on her way to complete freedom from her chains.
A great way to move past your past, is by facing it. Coming to terms with what really happened in your life is so important for healing, even when that truth is extremely hard to bare. I applaud her for being so open and honest with what really happened.
Thank you for this opportunity in giving me a voice. I have been quiet for 37 total years of my life, and now I can speak.
Recently I was just diagnosed with POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER. Hands up all those who would attribute this to being in a war zone, for example?? I know I did. I inherited this diagnosis from my own brothers.
My traumas began with my abusive brothers. I grew up in a strictly religious environment, attended church regularly on a Sunday, our family had strong gender based roles in the house. My brothers would sit on the couch for example, while I was made to do the dishes.
At nine years of age I was introduced to my first Trauma. My older brother taught me to perform oral sex on him on a daily basis for six weeks. On my informing my parents of this matter, it was immediately stopped.
To this day, I have very clear images in my head of my brother that nothing can erase.
I soon learnt that as a female in a religious household, I had no voice. My experience was minimized, I had started to be called a ‘’liar’’ by both my brothers on a daily basis from the age of 9. They changed the details of the abuse and told me it happened when I was 13. Etc.
Coming from this environment I married my husband/abuser at the old age of 20. I had just turned 20 by three months.
Being in a church environment, we were encouraged to marry at a young age.
There followed 15 years of tight abusive control. I was constantly accused of cheating (although innocent for many years) I was told I was ugly every single day of my marriage, I had no money to spend, although he would buy big ticket items for himself. I had to buy the jam he liked only. Clothes had to be approved by him, etc. I was physically punched seven times, and he cut my credit card every time I tried to leave. I was sent to my parents house to sleep for a night, when I had ‘’disgraced’’ him. The horror of this is that my parents never saw anything wrong with me being sent back to them in disgrace, even as a married mother. He cheated on me countless times, although he would never admit he was on dating sites. I was constantly sick with uti’s and infections. My health has improved dramatically post separation. Ón leaving he screamed he was ‘’going to kill me.’’
I endured stalking, surveillance, blackmail, requests on going for sex, until the restraining order came into place. My reputation was crushed by my ex-husband by all who knew me in the church, etc. When it was put into place I was the one blamed for it being there naturally.
He ‘’had to leave his job’’ when I was having our second daughter, because he cheated on me in hospital. He ‘’got to close to someone at work.’’
When I was bleeding after our third child, and required life-saving surgery, he ‘’went home because he was tired.’’ He wasn’t looking after our other two, my mum had them. I have never forgiven him for going home before knowing if I were dead or alive that night.
The psychologist has said that my brother broke my wing, I was put into a cage by my other brother for life, and the key was turned, and on my marriage he bequeathed that key to my husband, with adurations no doubt to keep the reckless, lying whore under strict and complete control.
Then came the diagnosis for me of a tumor that would grow from my left breast, and wrap around my vital organs, killing me slowly if left untreated. A rare desmoid tumor.
I sat there in the Hospital waiting for surgery, desperately unhappy with my abuser by my side. He was only there because he HAD to be there, not because he wanted to be. A switch flicked in my brain and I knew I was going to leave him when I could.
Twenty four hours after I was given the all clear, my dad was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor in 2015 and given twelve weeks to live. He lasted eight.
In my grief at my husband’s infidelity, lack of compassion and emotional incapacity, I had turned to a friend for two years. I left his messages on my phone for my husband to find. I knew that he would think it was ok for him to cheat, but NOT me.
With the help of Eastern Domestic Violence Center I escaped my ghastly marriage and despite strong opposition from my brothers managed to remain free of my marriage. I successfully Sole Divorced him through the courts, as he would not sign the papers.
He believed it was okay for his wife and children to be out of the mortgaged property while he stayed in it.
On my first shop post leaving him, I stood at the jam shelf staring, as I did not know what sort of jam I liked to eat. Such was the tight control I had been living in.
I reentered the church (different location) after having been ‘’expelled’’ in disgrace by the hand of my own brother. I attended another church. As I was constantly hit on by the married men in the church due to my perceived disgrace at being a single divorced mother, I left the church in disgust. I experienced actual sexual assault on a Sunday morning by a ‘’so called’’ respectable man who thought it was ok to flick my bra at church in full view of everyone.
I am now single, FREE and financially secure in my own rental property. I will be receiving treatment for PTSD for a long time. But NOW, NOW I AM FREE. I still believe in God and Christ, just not church. Beck
Rachel Everhart RN