The Evil Inside

(Trigger warning: the following prose touches on suicide)

I am looking the demon in the eye

The one that lives inside my mind

The satanic child, which evil parents,

And evil parents before them, birthed.

The one who thinks it is ok

to behave in terms of me, me, me.

Though I tried to deny it,

Did not want to believe that me

and ‘they’

were one and the same:

There is a reason I cannot go inside small closets

Or airplane lavatories

Or basements

And why I freak out when a dress is too tight on my chest

or the sweater too itchy.

I know why I avoid certain stores at certain hours

And shop online a lot–

For fear of being suffocated, bound up, or caught unaware

In ancient burial clothes in a modern casket.

It is because the evil which was birthed inside of me is suffocating, and killing,

my God given self.

I’m being wrapped in a life-taking shroud

bit by bit

And I know it. Yet I still wanted to deny it.

So I blamed small spaces and past childhood abuses

for all my phobias and excessive needs

And I gave away my scratchy sweaters and too small dresses.

But that wasn’t enough,

To be fully delivered from evil.

I see that I must cut myself off from more than just

‘they’ and ‘them’.

“Be ye separate”

“Do not be unequally yoked”

“What does darkness have to do with light?”

means many things external: sure

For me it means I also must reach inside my heart and soul

My mind

My spirit

and sever a big part of me as well.

I need more than a boundary wall with gates that let the good in and keep the bad out.

I need more than just books on the shelf like ‘not being codependent anymore’

I need an internal exorcism

Of my very self.

 

Which is why I am looking the demon in the eye.

They say it all begins with identification

Admitting there is something bad, no: someone bad, that lives inside my heart.

She is the very same one who denied there was anything evil in there.

She tells me it’s all good, and warm, and empathy

And compassion.

Truth. Not lies.

Lies are the hallmark of evil

And we don’t do any of that deceptive stuff in here

(insisted the demon– from her bedroom in my heart)

She learned in therapy, alongside the righteous parts of me,

That I have rights and boundaries

Needs and feelings that are allowed to be expressed

(Except when it’s not really helpful. Except when doing so is outright mean).

And…Except when the seared child rises up and asserts her satanic birthright.

 

“Your parents are evil and so am I. You inherited me. And now I am your birthright too, to be passed on to others. You can’t live without me. You and I—we are ONE and the same! If I go, you go as well!” She is screaming.

But back when I couldn’t look the demon in the eye, couldn’t quite name what was still wrong,

This is what she said, instead

“I deserve. I deserve. I deserve.” (In a wounded baby voice)

Reminding me of all she’s been through in life.

A hard life. A cold life. Void of love.

Abused in every way.

 

I tried talking sweet to her.

As the therapists all suggested, I wanted to let her grow up, alongside my battered little girl.

But there is no fixing her. There is no pacifying her. She shifts shape and morphs and reacts no matter what I feed her. The trick is to starve her completely.

She deserves the lake of fire, now.

Because she is no innocent child. And my battered little girl, whom she tortured the worst, did eventually mature. She has grown up. She gets it. But even she is tricked now and then by the witch in my own womb.

The symbiotic barnacle on my soul is full of control and contempt

She has abused others, too, in every way. Beloved others. Others who I never would have harmed had she not dwelt inside of me, becoming more and more a part of me.

Father Yah it is time now, to reach in. With the sword of Truth, Your Word, and Your Spirit.

You have been coming to me in dreams and visions

Telling me it is time to surrender. Jesus’ cross looms overhead in these dreams

Urging me to trust it.

I almost gave in the other morning.

I stopped yielding because something told me it wasn’t time yet

That you were merely preparing me for some awakening soon to come.

Today I had the awakening.

I saw the demon inside;

Except I am not sure where the demon stops, and I begin

Because it’s been there so long that the demon is now just a part of me.

And I was horrified.

At first.

Saddened.

At first.

Depressed to the point of just wanting to die.

At first.

And then I got comfortable enough to look at her.

She’s ugly.

I want to cut her out like the deformed growth that she is.

Is this why they were talking about the popularity of Dr. Pimple popper on Christian radio yesterday? And I couldn’t stop listening, turning up the volume and sensing something in my spirit needed to hear it?

“A majority of us get a satisfaction from watching things come out of our bodies that don’t belong there.” The host said with a giggle, as his co-host said ‘eww’ for the hundredth time.

He added that others ‘are completely grossed out by it.’

Indeed. I love popping pimples.

And now I want to watch my own exorcism.

The giant zit has formed a white head, visible to all, and finally: visible to me.

It stares back in the mirror and begs to be pressed in on

Puss and blood will gush out in sweet release

when the witch finally dies

 

Ah, yes, and those recent dreams and visions You have given me

They give me hope

Jesus is calling me forward to the cross

even in this

So long as I move toward Him, so He can put the demon, put me, to death.

He is the doctor who will lance the cursed disease

And rise up in me a new spirit, a new creation

Revealing what He intended for me, to be, all along

He, and I, together, will be like Jael with her tent peg and hammer

Her hand steady enough

to get rid of evil, popped eardrum to popped eardrum, while it slept

on her own lap,

in her own tent,

her own husband colluding with an evil kingdom,

its wicked and powerful soldier-king assuming that she was cut of the same cloth as her husband, thereby trusting in her offer

only to be surprised at his own demise

by a mere woman

 

Ah, Jael, that most blessed of all women in the Old Testament

Who grew up in the midst of evil,

Married into evil

Watched evil get passed again and again

to the next generation

yet she rid her tent of evil just the same.

Can that really be me, as well?
Father, I pray it be so.

Perhaps God reached down to steady her hand

Perhaps He will do the same for me

Because this demon inside is too big for me to kill alone.

I cannot give up the ghost, without Your help. Without first surrendering

Admitting my own powerlessness against the generational curse

The lineage of evil

That was my birthright

 

I can’t return to the womb and go back to the breast, fixing my Oedipal complex myself

Because it is just as the proverb suggests:

The parents eat sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.

The cards were dealt. It was out of my control.

But this inner demon is no innocent child, no mere product of her upbringing. Like the manipulative cretin she is–now that I am on to her, and the mess she has made of my life, she whispers, ‘Have it over with. People with your ACE score are high risk for suicide.’

She is an ancient ghoul, Eden’s blight, bent on the destruction of anything beautiful that remains in me,

and in my family’s lineage.

Like teeth set so on edge that they tense the jaw and wrinkle an already-stressed face

Father Yah said, centuries ago, “NO MORE shall this proverb be a saying in Israel!”

The soul that sins, is the soul that dies.

The children will not be held accountable

For the sins of the father.

Generational curses only exist; so long as we let them.

So long as we oblige, collude with, or ignore, the evil inside our own bodily tent.

 

No more!

I will watch you be removed. I am not too squirmy for such things.

But no demon on earth, or hell below, is going to convince me that my own death is better than my God given lot in life. God is too good a Father for me to believe that lie.

 

Put the demon in me to death now,

please dear Jesus, put her to death.

I surrender all.

Father, deliver me from evil.

Deliver me – from…me.

 

 

“I love Jesus. I just have a problem with His followers.”

group of sheep at the field

Lest I be guilty of a bait and switch I need to say this before anyone reads any further…this is probably not the post you think it is going to be. Because I do not agree (anymore) with the title of my post. I have heard this sentiment (or some variation) many, MANY, times. I used to say it (or some variation of it) myself. Over a decade ago I stopped calling myself a Christian and said instead that I was a ‘believer’, to distance myself form Christians. When I first stumbled upon this famous quote by Ghandi– I loved it! I felt justified:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” (Mahatma Gandhi).

Again: please note: such sentiments grieve me now.

Back when I relished such statements–back when I regularly made them myself, I was not fully understanding who Christ was, or what He did, or His huge, grace-filled, heart for His church/Christians. Oh, I have understood that, in my head, since childhood. But save for one near-death experience in my youth that started a born again process in my heart; it has taken years to truly thaw my frozen heart. And all the while my heart was thawing, I kept looking to other humans, or my own works and personal operating system.

I am not saying I have it all figured out now. Nope. Just that I think I have come far enough in healing from sexual abuse that I am starting to root out the bitterness (toward the church–one of my abusers was a protestant minister) that had me agreeing with, and repeating, such sentiments.

I am also a student of scripture. And as strong as my feelings/emotions and damaged neurological development may be on a certain subject, when I keep seeing the truth written plainly, over and over in The Word, eventually I come around.

The Bible is clear that if you love Jesus Christ, you WILL love His church; because He loves His church. See this list of Bible verses about Jesus’ love for His bride–the church, for proof. (The list isn’t exhaustive.)

It isn’t about us–it is about Him. We aren’t gods in our own rights; God is God. Of course we aren’t like Christ. That’s the entire point. There was only one of Him. No one else’s death and resurrection could ever be powerful enough to save the ENTIRE world (if they but repent of their sins and turn to Him in belief). People who are looking around at the church (filled with human beings) for something which only Jesus can offer them (healing, restoration, salvation…) are missing the point of it all. They will be disappointed. Every. Single. Time.

At times I still fall back into the trap. Because it was humans who damaged me, I still want it to be humans who undo that damage. But I know now that such thinking leads to disappointment, addictions, resentment, unmet expectations, and a host of other ents and ions which make life, marriage, and close relationships, HARD.

When I attended a Christian event expecting the people there to meet my needs (without even fully realizing that’s what I was doing) I came away angry, and justified that my beef with God’s people was…justified. “Everyone there wants to just ‘fix’ me!”  I lamented to my husband.

Yup. Some sure do. It happens. I don’t know why. Maybe they are codependent (though I dislike labels and psychobabble!). Maybe they aren’t quite sanctified themselves. Maybe I have a note on my forehead that says ‘I am bitter at the church, and I have a right to be, and you can be the one to take that away from me if you play your cards right’.  Maybe they have the same thing wrong with them that I have with me and they are mirroring things they want to hear from others. Or, maybe, God is urging them to try and help me heal. Either way, I see now that at times I can benefit from such attempts, if I lean in and ask pointed questions…Other times I have the power to detach and not react to off-based attempts. If nothing else, it’s a reminder of how not to treat other people.

And so it happened again today. After church a woman in my small group interrupted me mid-sentence (she displays some ADHD tendencies–no biggie to me though, I have similar issues!), presumed my motive behind my explanations to a book I was recommending, took what I said about my son out of context, and then told me that she wanted to pray over me and heal me of my doubting, my reactiveness, and my need to apologize for myself.

Yeah. I do all those things. Even though I wasn’t exactly doing them in that moment; the shoe still fit! I also like this woman a lot. She is strange and lovely and childlike and willing to say things that others who are too…. aware of themselves and how they are coming across… would never utter; all of which I adore in another. So I bowed my head and gave her my hands and made myself ready to receive her ministry over me.

By this time we had meandered outside on a busy sidewalk and it was there, in public, that I let her do her thing. She’s a prophet-type of personality who believes she hears from God regularly; I’d gathered that much in the short time I’ve known her. I’d been praying for her since I met her, as we had an immediate connection and my husband and I talked regularly about her, by name.

So when she assumed a prayerful position over me, but then paused and asked, ‘now what’s your name again?’ I felt a sting of rejection. The old insecurities rose up and threatened to take over. The old wounded me, most certainly, would have been lit to the moon; just by that alone. But I want to love Jesus’ church, for His sake if nothing else. And love isn’t ignorant, it doesn’t turn a blind eye; but it does understand. And I knew she was prone toward spaciness, that she had just met an entire group of new people, that my traumatized brain often forgets things as basic as why I just walked into a room. So I gently repeated my name (again).

In her prayer she told me I had been under-appreciated since birth. (Yup.) And that I had a good deal of anger inside of me, but that a good deal of it was…she paused… righteous. (Yup to the anger and good to know it isn’t all bad…). Then she said God wants to give me a new word to replace the word unappreciated….and after a short pause she excitedly said, “Surprising! That’s your word! Because you are surprising and you love surprises and God wants to give you surprises.”

Sure seems I have been given my ‘word for 2019.’ It’s a lot better than unappreciated, and a whole lot better than what I had felt was my word for 2018: abandonment.

She finished the prayer by telling me my heart had been healed and that I would no longer be plagued by reactiveness and self doubt. (or something like that). I just smiled and nodded. Being healed didn’t feel much different than prior. It still doesn’t.

Yet I can’t stop thinking about the word she gave me: surprising. Or the fact that if I believe that I had a real victory; it will become more real. If I doubt it; it won’t.

Right after the prayer I said something which she again presumed meant something else than what I’d said. Instead of asking me what I had meant by it, she said something that belied that she was insecure and doubting HERSELF.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

I laughed because, again, you can’t make this stuff up! It also proves that if I take the veracity of this message based upon its deliverer…I will shoot holes all over it; I will be like Gandhi, admiring Christ but shunning Christians, and I will not have the victory that God is trying to give me. The victory is somehow tied up in embracing and loving the flawed vessels through which it is coming.

I saw me; when I looked at her. Boy, did I ever see me.

So I dropped all proper etiquette and playfully cried out “Aha? What’s that? Are you doubting yourself? Did you even listen to what you just told ME about not apologizing for yourself, about not being reactive and about not doubting?” “Physician heal thyself!” I quoted, as I blew her an air kiss. By this point she was getting into her vehicle and I in mine. I saw her laughing and shrugging her shoulders.

It doesn’t always go like that. I’ve received healings and advice before. But I’ve never had the hutzpah to repeat it right back to the one fixing me. This is a new development. But looking back on it all, the greatest moment of intimacy between us as well as the greatest feeling I had of being healed, was when I cheekily quoted her the proverb Physician heal thyself

Well, after that, we went out for lunch. Whereupon God gave me a surprise when I ran into one of my abusers and his wife. They acted fake-happy to run into me. But I intentionally ignored them; as I am trying to maintain no contact. (And some of them make it difficult by showing up in public places at the same time as me; or by sending me cards, etc.) Noticing that I had turned on my heel and walked the other way, the wife gave me lip, claiming I was being uppity. I swung back around and told her that since her husband is a child abuser, he ought to be in jail– not going out for lunch– and so of course I am going to ignore you!

They left in a huff. Her mutterings sounding like something my mother might say, and has said to me a few times too.

I ate my food with shaking fingers. Then shook for a bit after we got home.

Ordinarily a day like this would have wrecked me for weeks. Luckily ‘I’ve been healed now‘, by Jesus, of course. He just happened to work through a woman who seems to be just as fragile and broken as I am.

The End.

 

Abandonment

alone branches bridge brightIt seems like a lot of people I know, from my therapist to half my facebook friends have already, or are going to, participate in the ‘word of the year’ trend. I’m still not entirely sure what that even is, but I think I gather the basics–you pick a word, then be intentional about it and/or notice how often you see it in the following year. Or something like that. One friend had ‘joy’ as 2018’s word and she put up a lovely post about all the ways she discovered joy in the year 2018.

I was happy for her. But it also made me sad. I had some joyful times this past year. But I am still grieving my reality too. And part of that reality is emotional turbulence that makes me nauseous (literally).

I didn’t intentionally choose the word abandonment as a word of the year or anything. I just kept noticing it everywhere. In self-help therapy books. In novels. In movies. In the lack of invitations I received (and plenty that I refused to send) this past year.

I especially saw it in the mirror.

I was abandoned as a child. It’s a ‘root’ thing. It is at the core of much of my remaining emotional turbulence.

It’s a tough reality. But 2018 was definitely the year in which I owned the word ‘abandonment’ to the full. I spent most of my years prior choosing words like happy! Peace! Faith! Love! (exclamation point included). I never, ever, would have intentionally chosen abandonment. Not in reality and certainly not as a word of the year.

This past year I have been owning it. It hasn’t made it much easier. Abandonment is rough. Yet I also believe it would be even rougher for me, at this stage of my life, if I was still pretending my word was something else.

Here’s to 2019 bringing me a better word!

 

Giving a good inheritance when you didn’t receive one.

baby sitting on man s shoulder

We have spent some time in the past few weeks helping our son who lost his job last month. All of which has me pondering an old and very painful subject: treating your children well when you were not treated well by your own parents.

I think it is a common theme for adults who were abused as children. The deep conflict and desire to do better for my own children was a continuing internal conflict as they grew–it really peaked when they were teenagers. As I parented them through those rebellious times I realized, for the first time, just how little may parents had cared about me. There were waves of anger then. And pain. And confusion. Along with pointed questions to which I wasn’t sure I knew the answers.  Can I trust myself to be a good parent to my children when I don’t even know what that looks like?

All I knew, and still know, is that I WANT to be able to give my children what I never had, myself. At this stage they are grown. But there are still thousands of things to consider. Millions of moments I can do good for them and to them. Like planning out their inheritance. And giving some of it to them now, if they need it.

Proverbs 13:22 (KJV) A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children: but the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

My parents received a real estate inheritance from their parents. However, I won’t be receiving anything from my parents. I was already written out of their estate years ago. The way that unfolded is so unbelievably strange that were I to write out any of the actual details, even if I were to fictionalize them, it would most assuredly give away my identity.

I was ok with that (not receiving any inheritance). While I adore money because you can’t travel far or buy new shoes without it; I don’t really care about it. Besides, all the money in the world wouldn’t have made up for the fact that had I received an inheritance from them I would have been bound to abusive people who think it their right to opine and control—and all the more so if they once gave you something which was (sort of) valuable. 

In terms of wisdom passed down: love, traditions, etc. there isn’t much to speak of there either.

My spouse also did not receive an inheritance. Although, on both sides, there was/is some wealth to go around. The strings and forever-type-of-attachments which went along with receiving the inheritance we might have received; were something to which we both said:

No. Thank. You.

As for us, we were careful to set up a plan for after our death which will treat our children as well as we can; with as few strings as possible. This involved a few moments where we went against professional advice.

So be it.

We will be dead. Who cares. Furthermore, if the kids blow through what we were able to accumulate through a few decades of business ownership–well, they will ‘have one heck of a story to tell’. Therefore a part of me just wanted to leave the whole thing to the courts and fate to decide.

But there’s that proverb I love. The one about the good man who leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.

What does a good woman look like? She is wise. Loving. Prudent. She takes good care of her affairs. She gives her children freedom, and choices. She does not bind them up with strings, expectations, and obligations. She allows them to fail. She doesn’t turn her back on them when they do.

A good father shows up when his children need help. When they lose a job or get in trouble with the law. Without too much judgment. And cleans their garage and buys them a snowblower and chips the ice from their driveway, and then takes them out for sushi that he doesn’t even like to eat.

My husband is a good father. Very good.

Paraphrasing an old saying about good boundaries: a good father (and/or mother) doesn’t carry their backpack for them when they can carry it themselves. But good parents DO help push the bigger boulders out of the way.

Oh, to have had some help with the boulders in my path…sigh…

Which takes some extra money. And time. And energy. And where do you get all those resources; especially when you yourself started life with a negative balance? When you are still recovering from pushing your own boulders all by yourself??? Worse than no inheritance, you received debt upon debt wrapped around your neck like the noose of a slave?

If I let myself ‘go there’ I’d be ticked for days. Feeling sorry for myself; and with a great deal of ‘right’ to go there, too. It would be just for me to do it. But I am too exhausted for it. I know that going there will deplete me of further reserves I don’t have. So I am choosing to see this part of my life as a miracle instead of a pout moment.

Because according to the proverb — the sinner’s wealth goes to those who are just. So maybe God saw to it that we cared about things like justice and truth and so He made sure that the negative numbers we received from our parents would be filled to overflowing in our lifetime.

Even though I am not sure I trust myself to do good to my children; apparently God does trust me to do just that. Because I now have enough holdings to give my children a real inheritance; that they can then pass on to theirs.

I just hope that it isn’t merely finances that get passed along. I hope that there is also plenty of faith and love and wisdom and tradition and that all little and big things we did for ours (that were never done for us) are both appreciated and imitated again and again…to start from less than nothing and to be able to give an inheritance, both now and later… A good one… With nothing attached but love…Well, when I view it that way — I am ready to push more boulders out of the way.

 

 

Receiving holiday cards from ‘no contact’ people.

photo of red mailbox mounted on wall

It started up again. During the season of ‘Christmas Cards’ my husband is tasked with sorting the mail in order to filter out the holiday cards from family members from whom I maintain ‘no contact.’ He looks them over to make sure there isn’t anything I absolutely need to see or know about. You know, just in case someone writes something like ‘I am sorry I assaulted you’ in the margin or something…. Then he gives me a choice on whether or not I want to see it/read it. Sometimes I do. Sometimes not. After I am given that choice, he seems to relish tossing the cards/letters in the trash can.

Witnessing his discarding of the cards actually helps me, tremendously, to get over the boundary breach that is created whenever such cards come into my world.

Yesterday, while looking over the latest card-about-to-be-discarded, my husband commented, “You know, I forgot to tell you but a few weeks ago I read this article about churches that are incorporating electronic tithing. They recommended printing out paper slips for the pews that say ‘I give electronically’ so that when the collection plates are passed, the people who give electronically can still put something into it. The studies show that offering those slips really boosts the number of people who give electronically in a congregation.”

I wrinkled my forehead. One of the things I love best about him is that he often has these very deep insights into things. Occasionally they are so deep (even for me) that they make no immediate sense.

Seeing my confusion he explained: “Your family must think that if they still send us a card, it proves something. Like people who give electronically to churches but still want to throw something in the plate to either participate or to prove to the people next to them that they do actually give…so voila, they have a slip for that which says: ‘we give electronically’. The truth is those people had already given an offering. And they knew it, and God knew it. Why do they need to use a slip of paper to prove it? Seems like a main reason to grab one of those slips would be prideful — doing it just to show other people that, yes, they actually gave something. I think your family is doing this card sending stuff to us just so that they can say, ‘Well, we still send them cards. They are the ones with the problem against us.'”

Indeed. Their continued holiday cards are a lot like a ‘we gave already’ slip into a church offering plate. My estranged family already gave me what they had to offer. It damaged me tremendously. I told them how damaged I was from it. But their response when I passed their own offering plate right back to them was not a deep digging into the pockets of their past. They offered up no new resources, financial or emotional or relational, which could have helped me heal quicker.

All they offered, and all that they are still offering, are empty pieces of holiday papers. Because they already gave; and it sure seems that they aren’t going to give any more than that.

 

 

 

If you love someone set them free. But if you want someone to be tied to you forever: beat them up.

grayscale photo of rope on log

I am reading a book about trauma bonds. It was recommended to me by Lexicon Lover- a blogger/ commentor I admire.  ❤️

I am mid way through the book. It is so helpful. Hard. But helpful. Like most truth.

I can already better understand why the battered wife cannot leave her husband. Why the molested child a friend adopted feels so bad (for telling on her abusive grandpa) that she picks the skin on her arm until it is raw. And I also see more clearly why I had such a difficult time being honest about my own abuse and then separating myself, physically and emotionally, from my abusive family of origin.

The book theorizes that trauma bonds people in ways that peaceful circumstances cannot.

Indeed.

I have also realized things about love, and it’s flip side (extreme selfishness-dangerous levels of narcissism).

First: love.

Love is a verb. And one action it does is it releases. The old adage is cheesy but true (if you love something, set it free…if it comes back to you it was meant to be). True love does not WANT anyone being dependent on them, it hopes for a healthy relationship as two equals who choose it— therefore it detests bondage situations.

Love wants to see others live in independence and autonomy. True love gives selflessly for the sake of the other so that that goal of mutual independence can be reached. Mentors, good ones, know that they are successful when their mentees no longer need them. The mentee may choose friendship at that point but the mentor, if he is a good one, doesn’t expect it going into it. Same with parents.

Abuse is the opposite. It is so selfish that it wants the other to be broken and dependent and tied up to the other—forever if possible. There is no release, no setting free. There is intentional bondage-making.

To me that is evil. And I believe evil knows that if you want to create a near-unbreakable bond you don’t treat someone with a combination of genuine care, affection, and freedom, letting them figure things out on their own. There is no setting free with evil. Never.

That would mean that person had no binding ties to anything, unless they chose to give themselves to God or others. (In spiritually abusive homes, believing in God is not a free will choice.)

Evil knows that if you want to create a tie that binds two people together greater than any other tie on earth, trauma needs to be involved.

So evil, and those given over to it, buys the neglected girl a bicycle and then sexually assaults her a few months later. Six months after that the evil one tells her how special she is to him and praises the bond they’ve always had. A day later the evil one mocks her pre-teen breast size.

That is how you create a type of bondage that lasts near-forever. That is how you hide your ugly deeds and create a slave to cater to your wishes for years, lifetimes if you get your way. You mess with their mind. You beat them up. You bring them to the lowest low of self hatred and then kiss their forehead and tell them they are still your special little princess. Because that’s all it takes to tie them up to you. A mixture of abuse and what seems like love but is just fake affection to hide and further the abusive bondage.

Evil forces a daughter to sit on its lap. And that night it beats her mom up in front of her.

Evil knows this works at trapping. It knows that is how it can make ties that bind, and blind. In such relationships there is no process of the child entering adulthood and being set free, not from homes like that. The child enters adulthood with every intention of breaking away from their family but finds she cannot do it. The pull is too great. She missed the highs and lows and returns for Christmas and another round of verbal battering and perverted uncles mixed with forehead kisses and photographs with linked arms because we just love our little princess so much!

To break such trauma bonds is arduous, exhausting, and, dare I say it: miraculous.

I am praying, that now that I see them for what they really are (incredibly powerful tools of bondage from the pit of hell) that  my own strong bonds with people who inflicted trauma on me, can finally be broken.

Inner Vows (and why I am renouncing them in my recovery).

close up of padlocks on railing against sky

Here are some examples of what an inner vow might look/sound like:

I will not let myself get hurt again.

I will not let someone catch me with my guard down again.

I will protect myself better next time.

I won’t find myself in that compromising position again.

You really can’t trust anybody!

When I first heard about breaking inner vows in therapy, I was confused. I also questioned if such a thing made any real difference. I mean even scripture says to guard your own heart, right??? I thought that’s what I was doing when telling myself to be on better guard next time…

Then I randomly came across the subject of vows and pledges on a Jewish blog. Once a year on Yom Kippur (Jewish New Year), ceremonies include renouncing all the vows and pledges which were made the prior year, including both intentional, and unintentional ones. Indeed, not making hasty vows, not swearing by God or anything in heaven or on earth, letting your yes be a yes and your no be a no — is clearly affirmed by Jesus Christ Himself! Without getting into a huge theology discussion here (feel free to do your own study–it’s a fascinating subject!), there is very real power in words. Particularly if we phrase them as promises, declarations, and/or oaths.

Therefore I began to see what my therapist was getting at. I noticed just how many intentional, and also unintentional, inner vows I had made over my lifetime. I was shocked. And I still ‘go there’ quickly as a defensive response.

In short: I couldn’t control what had happened to me in childhood and I still have very little real control over other’s actions toward me. In an effort to regain a sense of control I made oaths to protect myself. In so doing I also cursed and bound up my ability to receive and give love in relationship with others. Like putting a lock on my heart and tossing the key. The curse needed to be reversed by the one who made it (me), if I was to experience a fullness of heart and come out from the ‘numbing’ effects of abuse and anxiety disorder. I think I’ve been doing that, now. Plus I’m learning, and trying to put into practice, passively accepting hard things — without numbing out again, or, to use scriptural terms: hardening my heart in response.

I thought, myself, all of the above examples of inner vows, and more too numerous to write down. I even said many of these aloud in conversations with others. The issue being that even the quiet unspoken pledges I had made held very real power in my mind and heart. They shaped my relational behaviors. I know better now. But actually living life without making such statements and declarations is an ongoing process. Which is why I was so intrigued by the Jewish practice of erasing all the intentional and unintentional vows each new year!

Part of renouncing is sitting down and doing just that–admitting and renouncing the oath you once made to yourself. The other part is not relying on a simple statement you repeat once a year but actually working out a vow-free life; in real life–for me that means making myself vulnerable (easing into it–starting slow and letting trust build naturally), finding friends and loved ones who have already proven themselves to be ‘safe’ with a small amount and opening up more and more. It also means recognizing those who are not safe spaces and guarding my self around them. Then choosing better use of my time without feeling guilty about doing just that and without needing to make an actual vow (because I am fully trusting myself, and God, in that process).

It is a practice and a process to give and receive trust. To know who is trustworthy and to not feel guilty about ‘moving around’ those who have proven they are not.

Inner vows were binding me in so many ways. I’d give trust away too easily to all the wrong people and places (Social Media is generally not a safe place to share the depths of one’s heart, for instance) and then knee-jerk hole up all over again with a fresh litany of pledges and oaths to avoid this or stay away from that in the future.

Anyone else pondered this subject of making declarations and inner vows?

Please feel free to share any other examples of inner vows and ways to break them.

 

It’s Tough Being Switzerland, (even though I #believe survivors)

 

alpine beautiful bloom blossom

I have mixed emotions about the #metoo and #believesurvivors movements. I empathize with and support other survivors through prayers and well wishes but I really just want to ‘be like Switzerland’ (neutral) in regard to the whole worldwide movement thing.

As an assault survivor I do not want my name, or my trauma, to be made into public fodder.

I know that many other survivors also don’t want to go public with their stories using their ‘real’ names (fearing for our lives is a reality for some of us). Add a bunch of public attention…and victims who wished to remain anonymous are often nosed out by reporters.

From the start I feared this would end up being all about the ‘left’ versus the ‘right.’ Religious versus heathen.

It pretty much has now. And that’s painful to watch.

On the one hand, I appreciate the awareness and the support of so many survivors coming together. I know how desperately victims and survivors need to hear three simple words: “I believe you.” Those three words can be the difference between recovery and an even darker hole.

Others see the pain the family members of accused perpetrators are going through and get angry at the people coming forward with past claims of abuse.

I suggest feeling empathy and sadness instead. Because the reality of sexual abuse is that there are MANY victims, never just one. Perpetrators’ children and spouses suffer greatly as well, even if they were never perpetrated upon themselves. Spouses and children of victims suffer too. This is a testament to the horror which is sexual abuse.

Now that this topic has been pushed into the public conversation, many feel they can give their own opinion…whether or not they have lived through it themselves, or whether or not they actually know the people paraded about in the news.

I live in Middle America, where it is more red than blue. My Facebook feed is full of memes about alleged perpetrators being innocent and alleged victims being liars. There is even a ‘joke’ going around that George Strait sexually assaulted Emmylou Hayes…and other memes urging me to ‘support Kavanaugh’s family’. One minister I follow referred to Kavanaugh’s accusers as ‘harlots’. That was very painful to read.

So today when a Facebook ‘friend’ shared a photo of Dr. Ford’s lawyer walking behind Hilary Clinton with a ‘does this surprise anyone’ headline…I thought to myself:

Nope. It doesn’t surprise me. I saw this coming. I suspected the me too movement would become a toxic political ‘football’ and that the ones hurt the most by that thing flying around would be survivors (who may be triggered by public vitriol).

Plus, I went through a big ‘end times’ phase before I got sick with PTSD. During my studies I learned things like thesis + antithesis = synthesis. I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it’s probably already too late for that. So: I sense the Hegelian Dialect is at play here.

What is the synthesis we are being pushed toward?

Hang on, I’ll get there. First of all, I believe the escalation of sexual abuse, particularly in the Christian church, is an act of pure evil. It is by design. It is one of the ways the enemy is seeking to destroy Christians before his time is up. And it’s working. Because not only is this evil damaging victims of abuse. Ministers and church goers are being swayed by their emotions (through well-placed memes and photos) and taking up the mighty sword of ‘the pen’ in hasty response. (Things we post on Facebook and blogs are ALL self-published materials–by us, even shared memes from others become our property and responsiblity when we share them). Engaging in public battles we can’t possibly know the real facts about, is not normally seen as Christ like behavior. But yet it is applauded tine and again by Christians. As in most things; there is a proverb for that.

Therefore, I am afraid that we are collectively being ‘synthesized’ (thesis+antithesis=synthesis) to accept chaos and lies as normal.

Liar. From the one side.

Liar. (and: harlot) Shouted from the other side.

What to believe? Who to believe?

Everyone’s trust becomes ruined. Which is why I have a hunch this is a battle that Satan himself encouraged just for the love of chaos and the churning out of more lies.

John 8:44 When he (Satan) lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Oh, I’m not some kind of saint here. A part of me really wants to get personal and use my own sword in the debate, since I have also been called ‘crazy’ for claims I have made about my own past abuse.

But I don’t know Kavanaugh or his accusers, I don’t trust any media outlets right now, and so I cannot opine one way or another. A ‘that is really awful’ and ‘I am going to trust God to sort it out’ response seems the only wise Christian response, to me. So I hope to remain like Switzerland, even though its getting tougher all the time. As long as I have Jesus as my rock though, I don’t need a view of the Matterhorn.

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.

Matthew 7:14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

 

 

Songs, Psalms, George Jones & Sister Sinead (O’Connor)

The buried truth was so strong and it needed air so badly that it was music which snuck behind all my defenses and fed it.

silver colored microphone
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Each morning I (try to) read the daily Oswald Chambers devotion, which is a classic Christian devotion book and is also found online (utmost.org). This year my husband and I both decided to (try to) read through the Bible in a year, by using the reading plan found at the bottom of the utmost.org daily devotion. Having it online and laid out so concisely makes it easier to (try to) stay devoted.

In accordance to that plan, I’ve been reading through The Book of Psalms since July 11th. And today, again, September 3rd, there were more: Psalm 140-142. I knew that psalms had to do with singing/songs/worship. But I hadn’t known how long it would take to read through The Book of Psalms on a reading plan, or how doing so might affect me. I am starting to understand how big of a role music plays in our relationship with God, and in healing the brokenness of that relationship.

If you have been following along, here, you will see that I reference songs often. I think reading Psalms each morning has had a lot to do with this focus.

My husband is a Country Music fan. The old school stuff. Not necessarily the newer artists (although he finds some he likes there too). George Jones. Johnny Cash. Kris Kristofferson. When we first met I was leery of his taste in music. My peer group at the time liked  80’s rock music. Skid Row. White Snake. Def Leppard.

Still stuck in an abusive home at the time; I didn’t know how to have my own likes and dislikes. I liked what my friends liked, thinking that would make them like me. After quickly falling in love, I switched loyalties and started to like the style of music my husband (boyfriend at the time) liked.

Things changed as I aged. I started deciding on things for myself. Like music. Hairstyles. Clothing choices. And how I wanted to worship God.

Then I got sick from PTSD and things changed further. Crawling back out of that hole was nearly impossible. Being told by therapists that I was choosing to feel anxious ticked me off further. Who would CHOOSE this? When I am flared, in fight or flight, I do not feel like I have those (choices). It feels like everything is just happening on its own and like my life is completely out of my own control.

“You are choosing to feel shame.”

“You are choosing to get angry.”

“You are choosing not to trust your husband.”

These were things I heard in therapy. I wanted to scream back, “Well where was my choice when I was molested by so many family members?”

But I also wanted to be able to go to the grocery store by myself again; without sitting in the car beforehand in a panic.

And so I listened to my therapists and started changing the way I was thinking. What choice did I have at that point? Not many.

In time I saw the truth in what they were saying. I started to listen, and put it into action. My mind was filled with a back and forth between my therapists voice: You are choosing to feel shame. You are choosing to get angry. That was compounded by the melancholy twain of George Jones lamenting, “I’m living and dying with the choices I made.” (My husband loves the George Jones song, choices, and so that song has played on repeat in my head during my recovery.)

OK. I get it. I make my own choices. But that’s scary, as I was never allowed that as a child; when most people learn how to do that for themselves in the safety of a loving environment. And I’m still mad about what happened to me.

Then things started to click. And change.

I ‘got’ why I had been drawn to certain songs in my years of outright denial of past abuse.

Certain songs had spoken to my inner angst.

The song Amen by Kid Rock was one that I used to listen to over and over; volume on high. That was years before I ‘owned’ that I was a victim of clergy sexual abuse myself. The lines ‘wolves in sheep clothes pastors’ and ‘I’m scared to send my children to church‘ sent oxygen to the fire, which needed to rage, inside of me.

After I’d reverted to being a teenager, listening to music for hours on end, at way too loud of a volume, I tried to be an adult again. And I kept trying to put that fire out and do the expected things with my life.

But the buried truth was so strong and it needed air so badly that it was music which snuck behind all my defenses and fed it.

Now I don’t feel as much connection to the song Amen by Kid Rock. Because he uses God’s name in vain. At the time, it felt good to let myself vicariously blast out anger by using God’s name in vain too. It doesn’t anymore. It’s the opposite for me these days.

Other songs still mean a lot to me though. Even they, are now fading as I recover further.

Kris Kristofferson put out an album a few years back that I ended up outright stealing from my husbands stack of beloved cd’s.  I would spend hours listening to it and I especially loved the song Sister Sinead. The song is in reference to the infamous moment when Sinead O’Connor ripped up the picture of the pope (on live TV).

“…She told them her truth just as hard as she could..her message profoundly was misunderstood…and humans responded all over the world, condemning that bald-headed, brave little girl.”

“Maybe she’s crazy and maybe she ain’t. But so was Picasso and so were the saints.”

I related to that song on such a deep level. Hearing Sinead O’Connor share recently about her own childhood abuse breaks my heart and I pray that she is finding healing for her own past traumas. It is also sobering to know that when people are given a public platform, before they have healed from their own past, it often doesn’t end well.

After I opened up about being a victim of sexual abuse (and that one abuser was a minister), I understood why I had always connected with the Sister Sinead song. The song honors the rage that victims feel over their own child abuse. She stood on a very public stage and spoke out against the sexual abuse of children in a church setting. Long before the big movements have made such things a bit easier. Except her public venting of that rage just seemed to make everything worse for her. And she still doesn’t seem to have coped with her own past very successfully.

In contrast, I am thankful that God allowed me to rage, through music and to private mentors and people who showed great patience with me, so that any public outbursts which tempted me didn’t lead to even further destruction of…me. I pray it may be that way for others. That we may avoid the public stages which beckon us to shout, and instead find quieter but still effective ways to deal with our rage, on our journey toward forgiveness and healing.

For me: music helped. Even before I realized it was helping!

Just like you can flip the Bible open and will likely land on a psalm (song)…if you flipped open my life, you would see that music and words and lyrics, of many stripes and styles, is also right there in the middle of my journey… of making choices; and choosing truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feasting in the Presence of Enemies

The 23rdPsalm has been a lifeline for me in my recovery from PTSD and anxiety disorder.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Inevitably the things which make me anxious or fearful are the very things I want to change, as if I were God and knew exactly what needed to go in my life.

I wish my family relationships were healthy; I wish this pain in my neck would go away; I wish I didn’t feel so much fear simply going into the grocery store.

Wishes are basically wants. Saying aloud: the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want prompted me to replace the thoughts above with acceptance, trust, and hope.

I accept that many of my family relationships are not able to be healthy. I have told the truth about past inter-family abuses and those responsible have not responded with truths of their own. That is not my fault, nor something I can control. I accept that I still have trauma effects, some body pain and various symptoms of elevated stress. This is how it is right now. I don’t like it. Yet, I do want to be in this present circumstance because it is what my Lord Jesus has led me to, in this moment. I shall not want it to be any different than it presently is, for I am not God and do not know all the reasons why I am where I am right now.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

Yes, even in this present circumstance of lingering physical and emotional pain and discomfort; I have been led to green pastures, led to refreshing waters. They are there before me; and they do soothe me.

In the past few years of ongoing recovery I have recited the entire psalm often, to center myself back in Christ. It has been so helpful, for me. Yet, I confess that this was so comforting that sometimes it became more palliative than truly heartfelt. So I have recited the psalm without fully realizing what I was declaring. Particularly this portion:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

Last week it finally hit me; hard.

A long wooden table spread with so many good things. Surrounded by loved ones. Laughter. Gaiety. Openly living. Freely sharing what is in my heart. Not hiding the truth. Not being ashamed of my past; nor my present failures. Because Jesus blood has washed me clean and there I sit white robed at a public place of honor. God’s table.

God’s table.

That He prepared just for me.

That table was not hidden away in an upper room or lit by candles in a darkened cave. It was out in the open; where anyone could view it. The giftings God had poured out for me were in full access to the very people whom the enemy had used to try and destroy them all.

All of which made it ok to live life in the wide open again. To feel joy. To laugh. And to trust.

These days, I’m rarely scared to go to the grocery store. I’ve returned to doing daily living things without even thinking about the fears which once overwhelmed me. But, in other ways, I still want to hide. That revelation about feasting before my enemies changed things. Inside things. Dark crevices of the heart things. It made me want to start sharing my writing again. It made it ok to live life again. To answer the doorbell every time instead of ignoring it sometimes because I have a bit of a headache. To feel joy. To laugh.

To know that all of this is by God’s design is staggering to me. For He is the one who sets the table and overflows it; right there in the presence of our enemies. Openly. In public. Like an original ‘internet’; thousands of years before electricity. It is His pleasure–to put the feast He prepares for us on public display.

Were it by my design, I would have just set the table up right there in the cave, and carefully selected the guest list, and kept near everyone who I didn’t fully trust away from even viewing any of it, let alone being within grabbing distance.

Thankfully; although my pride and fearful need to be in total control sometimes still acts like it— I’m not God.

For more on the subject of feasting before enemies, David Wilkerson has a great essay.