Sometimes I ignore things because I feel like if I don’t acknowledge them then I can pretend that they never happened or don’t exist. If I pretend that for long enough, then I will hopefully begin to believe it and maybe it will become true – those things that happened, that elephant that appears in every room I walk into – maybe it will all melt away and I can keep up this facade I’ve been wearing that my life is great, perfect, good, awesome…fine.
Sometimes we ignore our hurts because we don’t yet have the tools to process them in healthy ways. Ignoring them is a form of coping – just not a very good one. You can’t go around the mountain to reach your destination – you MUST climb it. Climbing the mountain is difficult, treacherous, painful, and can take a very long time – we may slip and fall back a few steps (or a few miles) but if we keep pushing, keep striving, keep hiking, keep wiping our tears and putting one foot in front of the other, we WILL reach the top. The views we find there will heal us.
Climbing the mountain is the only way to freedom; the only way to healing.
And so I climb.
I’ve been climbing for awhile now – years, really. I’m not at the top yet, but I am making my way. Part of my journey up the mountain has been the discovery of my voice. I never thought I had one, or could use it, or was allowed to speak up. But I am. You are too. And here’s the hard honest truth:
“You own everything that has happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
When I’m at work and doing trivial office-type things that take little to no brain power I like to put in head phones and listen to Christian podcasts. I find a lot of Joyce Meyer’s things to be inspiring, thought provoking, and uplifting. I have been encouraged and inspired by how open she is about being sexually abused by her father. So, with that in mind, I want to talk about freedom.
Let me preface this by saying that my parents are amazing, strong, encouraging, loving, inspiring individuals who have done nothing but loved me and supported me in all the ways that they are able to do so. I am endlessly blessed by them and I count it both a blessing and privilege to have them as my role models and support system. I am so proud and glad to be able to say that I have a healthy relationship with my parents.
Other family members? Not the case. Not at all.
I have been abused. It has taken me so long to come to terms with it and it still makes me a little queasy to type it out and see it on my computer screen. I still can’t say it out loud. Let me be clear about one thing in particular – and I say this to try to empower YOU:
EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL MANIPULATION IS A FORM OF ABUSE. IT IS REAL AND VALID.
When a person is told often enough that she is worthless, it becomes hard to disagree. Growing up, I lost count of how many times family members made me feel utterly worthless – the words thrown around, the emotional manipulation, the witnessing of arguments, yelling, screaming, slamming doors, etc. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I was told to go kill myself or that everyone wished I was dead or that I was fat/stupid/worthless/selfish/bad/needy/the list goes on and on. I was threatened and I felt so trapped, lost, confused, hurt, etc. I didn’t know where to go or who to turn too. School became my “safe place” until I got to high school. Let me tell you something: high school girls are mean.
I truly began to believe that I would be better off dead. I was taught not to make a scene, to just ignore everything that was being slung in my face, to just brush it off as an over reaction. There were a few times in high school that I remember taking 4 or 5 benedryl pills – not with the intent to kill myself, but because I wanted to escape from everything that was happening. I wanted to sleep it all away. I was so consumed with depression, an eating disorder that was reeking havoc on my mind and soul, and extreme anxiety – I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating right (always either too much or not enough, my weight was like a yo-yo), etc. Life became one big performance. I felt like I had to protect everyone from what was really going on with me because I was internalizing everything that had been reinforced to me, about me, over and over and over again.
But now I know.
I know freedom. Those things from my past still haunt me, sure. I occasionally have nightmares where I re-experience a situation from my past and wake up either screaming or crying or both. I will dissociate every now and then if, out of the blue, something triggers a past memory. But in general, I am healing because I have learned one thing in particular:
Our experiential truth is NOT the same as what we know to be Scriptural Truth.
The truth about who we are, our value, our worth, the impact of our lives, etc should NOT be found in the world surrounding us. We should not allow ourselves and our self-worth to be at the mercy of the moods of the ones around us. We should NOT give others the power to dictate who we are and what our intrinsic value is on this earth. The real truth about who and what we are should be found in the SCRIPTURES.
Freedom begins to come when we acknowledge out pain, face our mountain, and turn to scripture for healing and truth.
I still hurt. That never fully goes away – it’s part of the human experience and it comes along with living in a fallen, broken, sinful world.
But we always have a choice:
1. we can let our circumstances dictate our joy and happiness (which is what I did for the first 20 years of my life.
2. we can intentionally choose to be positive. We can refuse to sink despite whatever circumstances we may be in – we can choose to turn to the Word and let scripture and God’s TRUTH define who and what we are and our place in this world.
It’s a hard, hard climb to the top. I feel like I’ve been climbing FOREVER and I know that I still have a long ways to go. Speaking my own truth is one way that I am embracing my past, learning from it, and moving forward towards healing.
I have been abused. To be honest, most of us probably have in some way, shape, or form. It might have shaped a part our lives, but it doesn’t have to define us or keep us from making the climb to freedom. GOD’S truth is the only truth that matters. Once we are able to embrace that He loves us no matter what, He forgives us no matter what, He sent His son to die for us on the cross so that we could be wiped clean from sin and shame…we are finally starting to make our climb to the top.
I am using my voice. I am climbing my mountain. I am choosing God’s truth over the truth of the world. I am healing.
“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
― Steve Maraboli
“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.”
To those who have hurt me if you’re reading this: I am sorry you are hurting. I am sorry you have been hurt so badly in the past – I am deeply sorry if I was a part of that pain. I know that you never meant to harm me like you did…we are all just doing the best we can to protect ourselves as we make our way through this crazy, messed up world. I have been and will continue to be praying for you. Know that you are forgiven.
“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”