Finding my voice

They took my journals. They took them and I never saw them again. And with them they took my voice.

This morning I didn’t want to get up again. I dreaded the day. I tossed and turned all night, waking on occasion from a bad dream and then cried myself back to sleep. But I got up and went to the gym. As the group was beginning their workout, I heard thunder. Oh how I love storms. I remember being deathly afraid of them. A little post traumatic stress from one of my brothers putting me in a closet during a bad storm when I was four and telling me I was going to die. And then there was the time a tornado came and I couldn’t get my mom off the couch to run to the neighbor’s basement. Just one of many traumas; however when the movie Twister came out, I fell in love with storms and tornadoes. I know, people say I’m not right, and yet I am finding that the chaos of a storm rightly and perfectly describes what is going on inside of me.

After workout, as I walked to my car, it got really dark, like 9pm dark and it was going on 9am. When I pulled into the apartment complex, the lightning and thunder and darkness grew as did the downfall of rain. Sitting here with the patio door open, listening to the crashes, sizzles and booms, the constant patter of rain, the sky looking an eerie green/yellow color, I come alive inside. Nature is speaking my langage as if saying “I will speak for you, I will be your voice.”

She talks about me having Complex Trauma. I know in part what that is and yet I feel as though I am on the outside looking in most of the time. Except lately, I am all too entrenched internally in the throws of it. We talk about the trauma I experienced when I was twelve. I once again question the memories and she validates they are real and yet in my inner being I know she is right… that it all makes sense and that they are all too real. I am just so afraid to face it and to speak my truth. I have tried time and again to let my truth, my story, only to be silenced by the abusive powers of those whom I was taught to respect and obey. But how long should that go on? I’m fifty and yet I am all too much twelve, still feeling the fear of being in trouble. I may have been in therapy for almost two years, but this is the first time I’m understanding what it really means to be finding my voice.

I started this blog to try and speak out, sharing my story with honesty and encouragement to those who walk a similar journey only to be met with the age old survivor fear of being not being believed, shut down and abandoned. I couldn’t even look at a chair in therapy to tell him how I feel. And for the first time in a long long time, my “No” was respected. She purposefully said she was respecting my “No”.  I didn’t realize it at the time because I was so triggered and so present in my twelve year old self, but later as I listened to our session later and I heard her words, a deeper sense of safety and confidence germinated in my core.

I keep feeling like I have no purpose or reason to exist, that I just do not matter to anyone in this world and yet I know God does not create without reason and purpose. I think this is where the Complex Trauma comes in… the actions and words of others or lack there of during trauma, because of trauma, causing trauma, have so engrained themselves in my mind and body that though I KNOW the truth, I react as if I don’t. She reminded me that I was a victim; and with those words I hear my abusers voice saying “you’re just playing the vicitm”. So I choose the voice that has always spoken truth to me and I begin to see that in being a victim; there was hate, I had no control, I had no voice and I just wanted to be loved and yet abuse of power, control and a child’s love was what was given.

I don’t want to call out the people by name who hurt and abused me. I don’t seek vengeance or retribution for these people at all. In my anger and grief I do tell God I want them to die and that is quickly followed with a plea for forgiveness and a plea that not until they know Jesus may their time here on earth end. I want to go back and change things.I do want a Do Over, but I know that is impossible. So I grieve alone because there is no one in my world who understands how I feel and many can’t bear the burden.  It’s in the four walled relationship with my therapist that I have started to speak with confidence of being safe, heard, known, seen and believed. And then I am to take it out into my world and practice what I learn in the safety of that office. I know to heal I must leave that shelter and enter the daily storm of life with the equipment I have been given. Beyond those four walls my voice is strangled once again and I am afraid to speak with depth and truth.

The storm is dying down. There is a song of distant rumbles of thunder and birds chirping as the pain and heaviness of grief return. For a little while this morning, nature spoke a bit of my inner world. Thanks for giving me making me feel alive for a little while and giving me courage this morning to use my voice along with yours as I write.

Happy Birthday Blob

You remember the movie “The Blob” don’t you?!  It was made in the late 1950’s. I saw it on TV with him when I was a kid. It’s about a growing corrosive alien amoeba that crashes from outer space in a meteorite and enlarges as it engulfs and dissolves citizens in a small community in Pennsylvania. (Oh how ironic!) At the end of the movie “the Blob” is air lifted to the Arctic where it is separated from society, but doesn’t die and the question remained as to when and if it would return.

As a kid, when no one was around, he would make a silly scary face and call it “The Blob”. Then when others were around and I asked him to make that face for others, he would act like I was crazy and say he didn’t know what I was talking about. For the longest time I didn’t know whether to feel like this was something “special” between us or if it was just another way he used to manipulate and control me. I’ve come to realize that the Blob was a real monster in our home that engulfed the little people. He dissolved their boundaries, their emotions, their words, their dreams, their minds, their innocence, their self worth, their identity and their ability to feel safe in this world. I wasn’t afraid of the movie or his funny “Blob” face, but I have always deathly feared the Blob in our house.

Eight months ago I turned fifty and unfortunately, it wasn’t the joyous occasion I had anticipated and hoped for. I always tell people when they say they don’t like their birthday or they don’t want to celebrate it that this is a celebration of the day God graced the earth with your presence! My mom always made my birthday special. Though I didn’t feel seen or heard growing up, on Christmas in July, I felt celebrated. I haven’t felt that since she died twelve years ago. So naturally this being a “BIG” birthday, I had expectations. And I was disappointed. More than that, I felt forsaken. The Blob I have so desperately fought to please and be enough for blatantly ignored the day and didn’t contact me at all to wish me a Happy Birthday. So the day I tell others to celebrate no matter how they feel because that’s the day God was showing off His new masterpiece, ended up being the day I felt like an insignificant mess of nothing. Ten days after my birthday, I decided I couldn’t do this anymore and made a plan to kill myself. If he of all people can’t even acknowledge my existence then what am I even here for? I shared the plan with my therapist and she helped me to work through the issues. And obviously I didn’t execute my plan because you are reading this blog.

 Today is Blob’s birthday.

A couple of weeks ago, I brought him a birthday card. I was going to honor and celebrate the day he came into existence even if he didn’t acknowledge me on my special day. When I got it home I immediately signed it, addressed it and put a stamp on it… like a good little girl. Then I put it on the table near the front door, waiting until it was closer to the date to send it. Long story short, we have been working on “Blobby” issues in counseling. I told my therapist about the card and she asked some questions to help me clarify my motives of sending the card. After discussing with my therapist what would be less anxiety producing: sending the card or not; she suggested ripping it up and not sending it…. because honestly, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I don’t want to engage in the dysfunction of this relationship and yet, I don’t want to be thought of as a “bad child” if I do what I think is not only best, but safer for me. Either way, I am engulfed and dissolved.

Being ignored really did break my heart and something inside me changed. I just couldn’t believe the cruelty of it. He of all people is suppose to love me no matter what! As I ripped up his card, a panic flooded me, a fear that I will be seen as a “bad child” and that I will be “in trouble” and yet I’m fifty years old… see the problem?

You know, I NEVER want anyone to feel as bad as I have and yet, I can’t hang on to unhealthy one sided relationships and continue to experience my own growth and healing.  As I talked to Jesus and processed all of this throughout the days leading up to today, the panic soon gave way to anger as I remember the core of my pain. But here’s my continuing dilemma: How do you love someone so deeply AND hate them at the same time?

So I now struggle with sadness and guilt and yet some peace in doing what is right for me, not sending him the card and wondering:  Will he be upset? Will he feel hurt? Will his heart break? Will he cry? Will he question if he is a good person? Will he question if he matters? Will he want to kill himself? Will he feel like a big mess (Blob) of nothingness? Will he even care to hear from me at all?

Just like his words and actions, or lack thereof, have made me feel and think  for so long…

I have always been different than my family and today I have chosen to not be like him.  I will make a better, healthier, more loving choice. I will not completely and blatantly  ignore him. Because there is still deep love in my broken heart for him, from the safety of the my living room with written words in a blog that he will more than likely never ever read and yet he’ll still be acknowledged, I will simply say:

Happy Birthday Blob.

Real or not real?

Maybe if I write it or type it, put it in black and white it will sink in? Maybe it will feel more real? Maybe it will feel less scary? Maybe my mind and heart can wrap around it, let it in, know it, feel it, accept it? Maybe if I can’t say the word that keeps creeping up my throat making the hair on the back of my neck stand on edge, seeing it typed on a page will make it real?

Here it goes. I’m about to type the word and already there is tightness in my chest, my stomach churning, hands shaking, fight or flight setting in, throat closing and eyes tearing… rape.

It was during one of the initial sessions she first used the word. I remember wanting to run out of the room, inside denying it, thinking “how dare she!”. I had such a hard time saying the words; grown up words, embarrassing words, private words… vagina, penis, clitoris, fingered, aroused, wet, orgasm, cum, penetrate, masturbate, blow job, oral sex, and… rape.

I was eventually able to use my words, even the scary big people words, to describe what happened to me as a child. Intimate, detailed, step by step, play by play of the horror that was partially buried for all these years. And in the safe place of that office and on that couch with that safe person, I purged it. I purged the disgust, the sickness, the depravity, the anguish, the fear… the infection that has kept me in bondage for most of my life. Those memories seem like a lifetime ago now and have become like a small blip that sometimes makes its way to my radar when triggered by a trauma connected sound, smell, touch or sight. I have been grief stricken and heartbroken; experiencing all the stages of grief my therapist said she believed. Just when I thought I was almost through this; the questioning of my memories, the fear of not being believed, the wishing for life to be different and denying the reality of my past and present; the depression phase of grief exiting and tapping on my door was finally some acceptance and freedom… I got the wind knocked out of me.

I felt like a child sitting on that couch and eventually during the past eighty-six sessions I started to feel like the fifty year old woman that I am. That was until two weeks ago. That was until I experienced a new flashback, one that drove me to my knees. Crumpled on my living room floor, bowed before God, sobbing and begging for this to not be true, to not be real. For 6 days I held this all in, shoving it deep until my next appointment. In the beginning I was always afraid of not being believed. Why wouldn’t I fear that when I wasn’t believed as a child? I had gained safety on that couch and with my therapist and yet here again I find myself afraid of not being believed. Is it my fault? Did it really happen? Could I have stopped it? Am I making this up? Are these memories real? Traumatized and brainwashed with methods different than Peeta Mellark yet asking the same as he… “Real or not real?”.

She didn’t use that word during our session last week though I imagine she may have been in almost as much shock as I was. She didn’t mention it again when we met for an hour this week, but I know… I know that is what it was. I can’t say it. I can barely think of it. And next week I will be on that couch for our usual meeting time and length, and I dread the thought of that word possibly being uttered. I know for awhile now I will once again be transported back in time, feeling small, feeling like a twelve year old. I felt it during our short session on Monday. The sense of peace I told her I had is wearing off as the numbness and shock dissipate and I find myself on the verge of rage and anguish. I’m already back there just at the mere hint of this invasion to my brain and body. I shake my head in disbelief even as my gut churns, my body shakes and I can’t catch my breath. I just can’t.. No, it’s impossible! And yet it speaks of the nature of my home, my experiences, the reality I want to deny. Real or not real?

You know what IS real? The racing heartbeat, the shaky hands, the shallow and rapid breathing, the physical sensations, the wanting to jump out of my skin, to get up and run from the room, any room, to anywhere but wherever I am in attempt to outrun the thoughts and feelings, the blank numb stare I get when I think about the memories or the flashbacks come or the uncontrollable tears they sometimes bring if I let just enough feeling in; just like I experienced in her office the last two sessions. Those things are visible, observable, witnessed, and can be submitted as evidence. They are visible facts so how could I not be believed? Body memories are just as, if not more important and valid than recovered memories. So why do I question… Real or not real?

I’ve always felt the need to explain, defend, justify and prove myself in so many situations when I felt anyone question me or I wasn’t believed. Perhaps that’s because I have experienced not being believed by those who were suppose to protect me. My therapist may question me to gain more clarity and understanding, but with time she has proven herself trustworthy. When I question my memories she validates that this is normal. She has said she wants to shake the little girl (me, my little girl, little me) and make her see that this questioning the memories is a lie from the pit of hell. Questioning our memories is normal for everyone and yet it is something the enemy uses to further abuse the survivor. I often talk about this journey feeling like a war…God and Satan battling over me, within me. I feel all this angst and turmoil as I question again and again my reality and yet, there is a still small peace that keeps moving me forward not of my own volition. I am exhausted. I have been dissociating a lot since that Friday trying to flee what my mind sees and remembers, my body feels and from this war inside me. I feel in a fog and like walking on shifting sand. Really?…. rape? …again?… Real or not real?

This morning was not unlike the mornings I’ve had for quite awhile now; tear soaked pillow, awaking in a panic and dread of even opening my eyes. With coffee in hand after having my breakfast, I read my devotional and the corresponding scriptures. I lamented and searched in my heart as if frantically looking for a missing clue to a puzzle that would save the life of someone I loved; save MY life. I don’t remember what I read, all I know is that while I was getting dressed I felt the Lord impress upon my spirit that I can’t ask again for I know what recovered memories feel like. I had to hear and know the truth of what He has allowed me to see and has spoken to soul… the new memory… it was Real.

As the day went on I listened to the music that has ministered to me and with praise on my lips I was filled with worship and awe of this God blessed, God designed, warm 70 something degree February day… in Ohio no less. All day I had felt a joy, a peace and a deep deep sadness all at the same time that allowed the tears I had been shoving and avoiding this week to flow and provide some relief. Once home, I was focused on the things I wanted to accomplish before the standard Friday night dinner date with some girlfriends, but all too soon through my front door the dread set in, as did the fearing abandonment, fearing not being believed, fearing I will never be free from this… Real or not real?

Oh the lies the enemy tells us to keep us in bondage. Oh how Satan is loving this! And oh how I feel the chains tightening! But I will not say “uncle” to our enemy! I will not give in to his tactics. Soon I will feel the anger when I process this recent memory with my therapist. I will eventually feel the anger for the person who hurt me, but I will not hate them, just like I don’t hate the others! I REFUSE! It is only the enemy who will receive my hate and rage because though my past speaks of the environment in which I grew up, a home that did not know Jesus, that is no longer the current narrative in which I live and find my identity. I may question why I exist and what my purpose is, and yet I know Whose I am. I may hear the enemy’s lies and fear not being believed, and yet I know who knows and IS the Truth. I may still fear the “grown ups” in my life, and yet I am more fearful and in awe of God than ever before. I may fear being abandoned, and yet I know I never was nor will I ever be alone. I may grieve all that was taken, all that was lost, all that I will never get to experience, and yet I know God holds all my tears in jars and will one day wipe them away. I may feel hopeless and that my dreams are shattered in a million pieces, and yet I know that God’s plans for my life are better than I could ever imagine and that He dreams special dreams just for me. In my often spiritual amnesiac state I forget who God has and is re-creating me to be through His protective and transforming grace. I forget who God is! I forget the REAL that has covers me and that I have come to believe, to know, to follow, to love and to cling to over the past eighteen months. So what exactly is it that I am questioning? … Real or not real?

Oh Jesus please help me when I forget… forget who You are, forget that my heart is Your dwelling place, forget that You are fighting this war for me, forget that my every heartbeat and breath is a gift of grace that only You give. And even in, especially in, these raging storms, remind me to count it all joy for it is then that I know and feel You are closest. Show me Your presence and help me to not be afraid. Help me to stay honest, repentant and to have bold love. Cover my mind and my heart with Your protective grace to discern the real from the not real. Holy Spirit confirm the truth  within my soul. Help me to know and trust what was and is my reality. Jesus please give me Your strength for my part in this battle because I am so weak and so desperately need it… I so desperately need YOU! Continue what you have started in me. Please provide the same blessings to others with similar past and present realities. Father, help your once orphaned, abuse and neglected children find healing for their wounds, safe attachment in You our good Good Father, freedom from the chains and peace like we never experienced in the worlds from which we came from prior to being adopted as Your beloved child. Thank you that we can know You are REAL even when we question everything else… Real or not real?

When Words Fail

Laying on the couch this morning, my heated herbal pillow across my eyes and forehead, trying to get rid of the stuffy nose and aching sinuses I have had since 2:30am, I decided I better get up and go see some patients today. As I rolled over on my back, I looked around my living room at the pictures hung on my wall, reading the sayings on them, remembering the friend who bought some of them for me and the friends who helped me hang all of them on Christmas Eve. Thoughts flooded my mind and feelings arose in my heart and before I knew it, I was crying. Although I have what seems a constant stream of thoughts and feeling rolling round my head and heart, I realized there are times when they are so deep, so abundant, and so overwhelming that I cannot find the words to express myself, even in conversations with myself in my head, and so I cry. Sometimes in counseling my therapist will ask “Why the tears?”. Unlike when I first started seeing her, the skills of identifying and expressing my thoughts and feelings are improving, but sometimes I just have to tell her, “I don’t know”, because words fail me. Sometimes like…

When I feel shattered in a million pieces because of the brokenness of my childhood, my family, this world… I cry.

When I am grieved so deeply because of the things I have lost, I cannot get back, cannot change, cannot ever experience… I cry.

When I am so angry because of what the enemy has done to me, to my family, my friends, God’s creation… I cry.

When I am so frustrated that I cannot control what is not mine to control, when I see others living apart from Christ, when I don’t understand and do not see hope… I cry.

When I am afraid, fearing being abandoned again, do not feel safe, feel alone, wonder if I matter to anyone and question why I exist… I cry.

When I am so full of shame because of what was done to me, what I have done in response to that, how I have acted out in sinful ways, the depravity of my soul… I cry.

When memories flood my mind, emotions overtake my body, and I’m taken back to times happy, sad, and traumatic… I cry.

When I long for Jesus to hold me and heal me, to show me His presence, His power, His peace… I cry.

When I am doing things beyond my human capability, hard and painful, and I want to quit; the races I “wog”, the binges, temptations and self contempt I try to turn away from, the separation from family, facing what is gut wrenching and so SO devastating… I cry.

When I am in awe and touched deep inside by the beautiful creation of God, the endless beauty and power of the ocean, a song that touches the deep parts of my soul, a picture that makes time stand still, the words on a page that utter my deepest unspoken thoughts… I cry.

The facial expression, the sound of their voice, the feel of their hug, their heart touching mine… someone who shows me understanding and acceptance… I cry.

When I laugh so hard, a laugh deep from my heart, feeling the goodness to enjoy freedom as God’s child … I cry.

When I sing in praise and worship to my good good Father, my Savior King and Holy Spirit, when They reveal themselves to me, when I look at how I have never been alone and my life has been covered in Grace… I cry.

When I long to go home to see mom and Jesus, to feel their touch, see them face to face, to hear their voices, to be in their actual physical presence… I cry.

In the world where I grew up, crying was taught to be seen as a weakness. But the more I learn who I am in Christ, the more I am learning that so many lies were told to me by those who were suppose to teach me about how the world functions and how to survive in it. Lies about who I am, about who they are and about God. I was called a cry baby so many times that I started stuffing the emotions to stop the tears until one day I was numb. Looking back I think part of me thought that stopping the tears would bring me the strength I thought these people had… WRONG. It only made me feel weaker and that which I feared stronger than ever. I am humbled when I survey the story God is writing in my life and remember that He has been protecting from who and what I feared, slowly drowning out their voices and is correcting the lies with the Truth. I’m so grateful that He has provided opportunities for His healing grace to show me that in my weakness I am made strong through Christ. And that though my words may fail, my tears are really a strength that can speak beyond what my mouth could ever utter.

I’m starting to believe that crying is just one of the super powers God has given me.

Jesus, thank You for Your healing and transforming grace that has covered me my whole life. Thank You that my once stony hardened heart is being turned to a heart flesh. Thank You for showing that there is strength in crying when You wept. God, I am so thankful for my weakness because it gives me the opportunity to see my desperate need for You and Your strength. This journey is so joyful and yet so painful that I can’t always say what I’m thinking and feeling, I can only respond with unintelligible utterances deep within my spirit expressed in tears. I am humbled that it is with groanings such as these that the Holy Spirit lovingly prays for me. Thank You God that You are ever present, ever listening and ever responding even when, especially when, my words fail.

Transforming Grace

I’m not one of those people who have an absolute favorite season. Each one holds a sense of awe that I expectantly await as that season approaches. Each one holds a beauty all its own. For me it’s:

The smell of the rain in the Spring, the promise of new growth as it washes away everything dirty and dark. The days getting longer, everything shedding its outer layer to welcome the warming of the air. The trees budding with new life which will soon provide shade from the hot summer sun. The unbalance of the atmosphere, storm clouds brewing in the distance as flashes of lightening streak across the sky.

Summer months with longer and hotter days, cooler evenings in front of a camp fire with family or friends. Waking with the light of dawn as early as 5am. The taste of an ice cold beer after playing hard, running, hiking, swimming and biking in the sweltering heat. My Irish skin burning and freckling then tanning and freckling some more. The humidity of late July, celebration of the anniversary when God graced the earth with my existence.

Leaves changing colors as Fall days begin to shorten. The smell of books and pencils, wishing I could go back to school in my love of learning. Hoodies and shorts, tailgate parties and football games. The beautiful changing color of leaves as they die and fall to the earth. The smell and crunching under my feet sound of those leaves and everything pumpkin spice.

The peaceful quietness of snow falling anew in the Winter. The white pureness of everything around me as I feel the crunch of the snow beneath my boots. The way my dog, Bailey, loves to play and push her nose through the snow like a plow and then have a pile of snow on top of her nose when she stops. Sitting by the fire and watching the snow fall, wishing the world could just stop and we all get a snow day. Advent and Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The start of a New Year that always holds new promises.

I still can’t choose a specific season in and of itself. I think for me it’s the way our world around us slowly and progressively transforms, continually changing and yet we go about our days barely noticing. We’re so caught up in our own world to notice the world around us. Finding awe in the created instead of the Creator. It’s about what fills our holes, numbs our emotions, meets our desires, captures our minds and makes us and life “good enough”. We ignore the truth about us and the Truth before us. Truth that God is the Creator, the Controller, the Comforter, the Counselor and the Consistent Good Good Father. We go through life hanging on to the past, the pain, the projecting, and the self preservation to hardly notice change has occurred. And do we even stop to ponder the why and how of it? It’s all because of God’s transforming grace. Hard and painful the metamorphosis of a butterfly coming to life with beauty upon its new wings.

So too was my life in 2016…

Jesus, thank You for Your transforming grace that covers the whole earth and little old me since our beginning. May the life giving wings born through the grief and pain of last year continue to carry me in the changing seasons and take me to where your grace will lead in 2017.

Brave through Grace

Baby girl in a big people’s world, zippered up jammies with holes in the toes

Father, sister angry and abusive; brothers and mother neglecting, no one knows

Little girl coloring, dreaming of ponies; socks and jeans and pink shirts

Kind and gentle, obedient, wanting affection, acceptance, afraid of this love that hurts

Bath time for cleansing, splashing, making bubbles, playing and fun

Water rising, lying in the tub, unwanted touch, never can it be undone

Evil smirks, innocence lost, shame so deep, shatter in pieces this tiny soul

She wonders does she matter, is she loved, can anyone ever fill the holes

Lungs burning, can’t breathe, can’t scream, choked

Grabbing, pulling, flailing, terrified, the carpet soaked

Lines crossed, pain so sharp, wet cloth in mouth to stifle the screams of fear

Hold it in, be quiet, stay still, don’t dare say a word, don’t shed a tear

Awaken from sleep, panicked, questioning, held by big brother, his love is felt

Betrayed by one, defended by another, nothing will stop the ravages of dad’s belt

Abuse upon abuse, holes in her soul widening, aching as she silently cries

Afraid, alone, defeated, hopeless, inside her mind she silently shouts all her Why’s

Five, seven, eleven, thirteen, sixteen, molesting, raping, violations of her soul

How long must this go on, who will stop it, can she, will she ever be whole

Forty-five years of silently suffering, afraid to tell, controlled and abused

Desparately grasping for love, her body for sex, giving herself away to be used

Now a woman of fifty on her therapist’s couch, she’s questioning still

Do I matter, am I loved, how could all of this be God’s will?

Shame, mistrust, defeated, rejected, grief, unbelief, all consuming rage

Fear of abandonment, deep sorrow of what’s been stolen, effects of their sin’s wage

Memory upon memory, a door opened to the past flooding her brain

Body sensations, nightmares, flashbacks, she feels she’s going insane

Afraid to sleep, crying out in the night to the One she knows is true Love

Can anyone hear me, does anyone see, is anyone listening above

His vessel understanding, validating, teaching, leading, always pointing to the cross

Walking through this traumatic memory, affirming, lovingly assuring all is not lost

False reality shattered, no more protection, devestated, questioning why she exists

If she didn’t wake tomorrow, disappeared, would she even be missed

Not alone in the storm the vessel reminds, never has been, will never be

Ever pointing to the Son, bearing our shame, He died on a tree

Wave upon wave of emotion, uncontrollable anguish, reality is beginning to be faced

Tears streaming, truth embraced, self contempt gone, anger no longer displaced

At the dinner table sitting in silence, alone, husbandless, barren, an unbearable ache so deep

Shunned by her family, friends busy with life, where’s her meaning and purpose she weeps

Grieving, her soul aching for lost dreams, for what could have been

No reasons to understand, she’s racking her mind to comprehend

Vessel encourages to seek, trust, and pray, for she’s held in the palm of His loving hands

Tells her she’s courageous, beautiful, strong, loveable and in the middle His great big perfect plan

Accepting all realities, past and present, still not sure why she’s here

Now hoping for healing, believing, feeling Jesus is ever so near

Heard, seen, believed, known, adored, protected, Love made a way

Grace upon grace for brave little girl and the woman she is today

5yo-me

Sleeping in Silence

When you experience a trauma sometimes the mind’s way of protecting you is to tuck the memory of it away. But even if you don’t remember what happen, the body does. The body will respond to things that trigger its remembering of the trauma. So it is with me when I was raped at 11 yo. I remembered certain things about the trauma (fragments), and there was a huge chunk that I couldn’t recall, but my body knew and it reacted to things associated with the memory. My body and my mind manipulated me into avoiding those things because they made me feel like they were dangerous which really they weren’t, but I didn’t realize that, until recently.

To deal with with what I avoid related to this trauma and recall the repressed memories, my therapist and I embarked on a new to my therapist and definitely new to me type of therapy called Prolonged Exposure. This is a type of therapy they do with soldiers who have been in combat and experience PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). For 8 of 10 weeks now, we have engaged in me telling my trauma from beginning to end (Imaginal Exposure), first starting out with what I did remembered, and gradually the memories are returning to complete the full story of what happened… well a majority of it anyway. Along with this part of the therapy, I also engage in something called In-Vivo Exposures where I expose myself with the things I avoid due to and related to the trauma. Which brings me to the title of this blog entry… Sleeping in Silence.

For most of my life I have slept with a fan on. And I have not slept in complete darkness. At the end of what was done to me, I was left in the darkness and silence to deal with the aftermath of the onslaught  horror. So over time my mind associated the trauma to silence and darkness and thus I avoided it. So for a week in the In-Vivo, I exposed myself to these things 3 times. I recorded how dangerous they feel pre, post and peak the exposure, but with these two, silence and darkness, the hope was that there would be no post and I would just fall asleep. But let me tell you how scary it was to do these things!! Some nights I felt like a child crying and fighting to not go to bed… which I was doing anyway because of nightmares. I was also avoiding going to bed at a descent hour and getting enough sleep. So last week she added that In-Vivo as well! (Ugh!! Does she realize she triple whammied me?!)

During this whole process, actually starting back in August 2015 when I first saw my counselor, God has been slowly working on my mind and heart. I had such a hard time trusting Him and didn’t believe I was lovable, worthy of protection or that I mattered. Piece by piece He has been restoring me and transforming me into the person He has created me to be. My will has fought His will I think almost every step of the way. Doing these exposures was no different. I continued to wrestle with God, and as always, being the loving, faithful and gracious Father He is, He revealed to me some life changing, well at least for me, truths. First was that I needed to trust God. My upbringing and experiences broke my trust in God. And to fight His will made me feel all the more unworthy of His love and grace. Then I read something that totally changed my perspective.

“Genuine trust involves allowing another to matter and have an impact in our lives. For that reason, many who hate and do battle with God trust Him more deeply than those whose complacent faith permits an abstract and motionless stance before Him. Those who trust God most are those whose faith permits them to risk wrestling with Him over the deepest questions of life. Good hearts are captured in the divine wrestling match; fearful, doubting hearts stay clear of the mat. The commitment to wrestle will be honored by a God who will not only break but bless.” The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender

I longed in my heart to trust God, but because I had been betrayed too many times by the adults in my life, my view of God became skewed. Yet in my heart I believed He was trustworthy. This was a huge war between my head and heart for many many years and in the midst of this particular storm I needed to trust Him if I was ever going to heal.

I told my counselor that it seemed to me that when one has been through a trauma like I have that one would want to sleep in silence to be able to hear if someone broke in and was coming to hurt them. But she said no and in fact it made sense to her… I had been sleeping with a fan on to drown out my own thoughts and not deal with them. That was so right!! During this exposure, I learned that sleeping with the fan on not only kept me from hearing and dealing with my own thoughts, but it also drowned out the voice of God. And in sleeping with the light on, I avoided crying out to God, trusting Him and depending on Him like a child that calls for their parent when they are afraid of the dark.

Then one night in the dark and silence I remembered a scripture, well part of it, then my counselor told me the actual verse: “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. I realized that when I sleep in silence, I am able to hear God much clearer and deeper and sleeping in the dark brings me to a level of trust and dependence on Him that I had not experienced or embraced before. Now when I have nightmares or am afraid on the middle of the night, I don’t get up and avoid sleep. I am able to hear God’s whisper lull me back to sleep, telling me a story of how much I am loved, protected and matter to Him. He sings me a song of how wide and long and high and deep His love is for me. For over a week now I still have continued to wrestle with God about going to bed. But just like any loving parent, He reassures me that He is near…always near. In the complete silence and darkness of the night, now I fall asleep peacefully.

This morning as I write this, I realize that though this has been an issue related to my trauma, it is truly a metaphor for our walk with God. We avoid the silence and dark places in us trying to do and be all in life. We control what we do, when we do it, how we do it… Heck, we even try to control others in our lives in the same way! Too many people don’t trust God and avoid sitting in the silences and darkness of their life to let Him reign in their life. I started counseling to deal with FOO issues… that’s Family of Origin issues, and in this process I’ve slowly been surrendering my pride, my need to control, my fear of man and my horizontal vision of this life for a vertical vision of God as King and Ruler of my soul. He has consistently shown me He is my faithful loving trustworthy Dad and that is what started to transform me. I’m still wrestling with what was done to me on that Christmas Eve so long ago, and so many other things I’ve yet to tell, but there is a difference now. I’m starting to see that in the midst of that yuck, God just might have a bigger plan for me than I had ever expected. I don’t understand it all, but I know as He slowly reveals His plan for my life, I am in awe of the story He is writing and the tapestry He is weaving through my yuck. There is such great power in the silence and darkness whether it is literal or metaphoric. It is here I am finding out just how true scripture is… that there is nothing that can separate me from God’s love. Not even when I wrestle with Him in the silences and darkness.

“Sometimes you must go into the darkness to show the light.” Furious Love