I’m very careful about the stories I tell here. Primarily, because I know that sharing my stories will harm people I love dearly.
I stick to generalities. Don’t give names. Rarely even refer to specific people. NEVER give descriptions.
Even my vague posts of childhood trauma and abuse have been met with rage, bitterness, and severed relationships. I have lost virtually all ties to extended family since I first began telling my stories. Many family members have chosen to no longer see me or speak to me since I made the choice to set extremely strict boundaries, and refuse to allow myself to be abused any further…and even though I am VERY open to reconciliation and renewal of relationship with my parents, the expectations placed are me are simply not sustainable or even humane.
For years I have done this. Because I know the cost of telling my story: it means someone gets hurt. It means people I love will no longer speak to me. And for a long time that wasn’t a risk I was willing to take. For a long time I chose whatever middle ground I could manage. And I rode the ebb and flow of it.
And in my desperation for my family to love me, I have approached what audience I have tentatively, even hesitantly. Constantly withholding, editing, deleting. Constantly vigilant. Consistently careful. Lest I offend someone unwilling to even so much as speak with me, have coffee with me, answer a phone call. Talk.
But today…there will be specifics…because I am already living with the consequences of one who tells their whole story without ever having told it…
I was told every single day, for two decades that I was unlovable. I was told I was an animal, spat on, hit and slapped, gas lighted, told that I should end my own life, made to question my sanity and reality, and all that paled in comparison to my mother intentionally withholding affection and touch from me. She simply would not touch me and would regularly tell me she couldn’t bear to. She would laugh at me and pull away. Often it would be months without touch or contact. So much so, that I came to dream of my mother holding me.
It was the intention behind it that wounded me. The resolve. The consistency that held on for years and refused to even acknowledge itself.
This isn’t something I talk about…ever, because it’s extremely painful. And I also feel deep shame over it. Shame over being a grown adult who still longs for affection from her mother. It feels odd. Like a shape that longs to fit inside a mold it could never be meant for.
One sure way of getting affection as a child was always to do something perfectly. Whether a grade or project or competition…but I always seemed to mess up things. I just couldn’t get perfect grades or win against my peers. And it wasn’t so much the failing as the reminders of it. Remember when you got a 96% instead of 100%? Remember when you totally bombed at the science fair?
I have healed so much. Processed so many moments and memories. But still there is hurt inside me. Even still after 34 years.
Amazingly, God blessed me with incredible siblings that I adore and often held and snuggled and felt immensely protective over. We lived in our own world of dance parties and late-night-stories. And even though I am broken over the things they endured, I can see how God gave us each other and how his mercy was present even during the darkest days. The days I remember that they do not.
It has been heartbreaking. Truly there are no words for the ache of loss that I feel. I routinely find myself grieving these losses. Because for nearly three decades I did everything and anything I could for my family. And I have had to learn hard lessons…that I am capable of healing…that God never leaves…and that I am worthy of being loved simply because I was created in the image of God.
My mother was terrified of the police. For whatever the reason, she worked extremely hard to keep her abuse within the confines of the law. Within moments of 911 being dialed, she would change. No more rage or hitting. She’d be calm and collected, certain of herself and her place in the world. No doubt in her expressions. Capable of answering all the questions in all the right ways with all the right words.
She convinced me to lie to the police and social workers dozens of times.
She told me that my siblings would be taken away for me. But I would no longer be able to take care of them. But they would be raped and abused, locked in basements in sheds, deprived of food and water and sanitation. Anything… Anything… Was better than this… And this is why I lied over and over and over.
I didn’t know then what I knew now. That police are trained to deal with psychopaths and sociopaths. That police can tell when somebody is lying. That police can tell when someone is high or drunk. That police are trained to deal with the most difficult, unexpected circumstances. That the overwhelming majority of police hate to see kids abused and want to help.
Because even as a child I felt I needed to protect the officers who responded to the calls I placed begging for help.
I wish I had easy answers.
I wish I could tell you to read that book or this book, or go to that therapist or this therapist, or this recovery program or that…
I wish I could tell you, 10 easy steps to heal from your childhood…
But I can’t.
But this is what I do know… this is what I know absolutely, and without fail…
That God is near.
And he does not need you to be whole or perfect or healed in order for him to step in to your heart and begin a new and mighty work.
I can tell you that God is not afraid of your mental illnesses. In fact, I have learned that he is in the very, very midst of them.
God is not afraid of your anxiety or panic or depression or PTSD or bipolar disorder. The days you barely exist. The days you can’t get out of bed and ache everywhere. He is not afraid that he isn’t capable of healing you. He is not afraid of the darkness inside you. The pain. The doubting. The fear. The self harm.
It has been three years for me. Five years of intentional healing. Five years of boundaries and learning and grief. Five years of raw healing. Five years of learning to say “no more” and “I matter” and “God is here”.
I know what it is like to suffer and long for wholeness. I know what it is like to wish that the grief would be over.
I know what it is like to be going about your day and be suddenly triggered. To spiral into PTSD and wonder if you’ll ever be able to climb out and fake it through life, let alone heal and thrive.
I can tell you that healing absolutely starts with releasing. It starts with trusting that what God says in his word is true. It starts with knowing that you are worth the blood of Jesus Christ simply because of the fact that you are here and you were created in his image. Your value is immeasurable. You’re worth is incalculable. There are no numbers to describe your worth. Blood. The blood of God. THAT is your worth.
You start there…with the most basic and simple of theological beginnings, and you cling to it.
This is what I know. God never leaves. He never gives up. He is not afraid of your heart or trauma. He does not need you to learn how to be better in order to heal you or love you or see you. He is not deterred by your grief, lack, or want. He does not look at you and think, too hard.
If you cannot believe it for yourself, I understand. I’ve been there for most of my life, and I am grateful and blessed and humbled to be able to say, if God can heal me, he can heal you.
Our stories point to him.
Our stories are the testimonies of what he has accomplished in us.
We. We are walking evidence of God on this earth. Our healing. Our transformation. The Holy Spirit at work inside of us.
And our Father would not have it any other way…