Thursday, March 27, 2008
Minimization helps us to survive events we feel we cannot escape and must somehow survive. But even after we have removed ourselves from the reach of an abuser this former survival tool doesn't die quickly--it morphs into something that can impede our maximum recovery and healing.
Telling myself that my abuse was minor compared to what some people have endured does not lead to healing. To heal I must look honestly at what happened, how I reacted, how I was injured, how I have responded to the wounds, and how those responses are helping or hurting me at this point in my life. Honest observation is needed--not the distortion and foggy feelings of minimization.
I am learning to accept that minimization still creeps in from time to time, as an old acquaintance who once helped me survive but now is annoying. I've learned to accept it as a normal by-product of abuse and then gently escort it out the door. Most of the time, I no longer judge myself when I catch myself minimizing. I simply remind myself that I no longer need it.
I much prefer to confront reality head on these days. Face-to-face with my past I can make decisions for my present that are life-affirming.
If you, like me, find yourself reducing the pain and the damage of abuse with your old friend M, be gentle with yourself. It's alright. It happens. But you can dismiss minimization at any time and take an honest look at your memories and at your current life. Ask God to help you. He is great at shining the light of truth on a matter. Together, you and God can take action that will speed healing!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
As a warrior in life,
I battled just to survive;
I hid behind my shield,
thrusting my sword when assaulted.
I lived on in a den of dragons;
I survived, wounded but breathing.
I never foresaw the day coming
when survival wouldn't be enough,
and wounds would demand healing;
I didn't know then that I'd leave the cave.
Outside the dragon's lair,
my shield became heavy,
and my sword tripped me up;
my heart longed for new prizes
and love invited me into an unknown dance.
Oh, to dance and twirl,
bow and leap
to the tune of freedom,
living and laughing in vibrant colors
instead of shaking in the dark cave.
Goodbye, Dragons. Farewell gloomy holes;
I'm embracing new life,
engaging in wonder and delight.
My survival worked then, but has finished its fight.
Play on drum,
measure out a new tune,
I will listen and sway
in a bright place of wholeness
I dared not even imagine while fighting wicked dragons.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Journaling our heartaches is powerful. It opens the door to change and healing. It is like putting germ killing hydrogen peroxide on our invisible wounds.
When you spend time journaling, try recording positive things as well. It is like eating a teaspoon of honey to chase away the taste of medicine.
I'm not advocating white-washing positives where you tell yourself lies. I don't think it leads to real healing to tell yourself that your abuser didn't really hurt you that bad, or that you feel "happy" even when you're really feeling depressed. There are people who think that forcing a positive attitude will make things better. I don't agree with that view. Your insides know the truth no matter what you tell yourself.
What I want to encourage you to do in your journal is to consciously acknowledge true positives. When I left my abusive spouse, I had tons of pain to wade through, which I dug into doing. But I found that it helped to also acknowledge the current blessings in my life. So at the end of each painful journaling session, I added a prayer thanking God for one blessing He had given me that day. At first this was a difficult exercise, but it became easier. And within weeks I was finding multiple things to be thankful for each day. It gave me energy to end on a positive note. It helped me to keep on trudging through the healing and did much to draw me closer to God.
Timothy, a fellow blogger, wrote some comments on journaling that he has given me permission to quote:
Let's get busy journaling the positives as well as doing the hard stuff!
A healing process requires waiting too. Emotional healing does not happen in a day. We may intellectually accept an important truth in one day--such as recognizing that a small child is powerless to protect herself or himself from incest, physical abuse, or verbal abuse. But the heart may take years to finally believe in this truth enough to stop the cycle of shame and blame.
I remember one evening years ago when I sat alone in my living room late at night, praying for healing. That night for the first time, I allowed myself to grieve that I did not have a "daddy" growing up. I had a father, but not a daddy. I had a man that I feared for good reason, a man that I tried very hard to please. But I had no childhood memory of feeling like "daddy's little girl" or "daddy's princess."
God reached out to be in a very concrete way that night. His presence was so powerful that I literally felt his arms around me, comforting me. His wonderful gift helped me through that night...but the healing for that issue had just begun. I had to wait and walk in trust for six more years before my soul was healed enough for me to believe, without any more reservations, that God is and was my daddy and that He found me pleasing. I'm glad that I did not know ahead of time that it would take six years.
When you feel impatient waiting for healing, remember that it is a process and that God is an expert on your healing needs. He knows when to do what to nurture our souls. His timing may not be our preferred timing, but His timing is loving and righteous.
The disciples were waiting for something wonderful (the resurrected Christ), but anxiety kept them from remembering Jesus' promise to rise on the third day. They only knew that they felt unsafe and uncomfortable. Some days our healing process is the same. It is frightening to face horrible memories--it feels unsafe. And other days we feel totally stressed out wondering if we will ever feel comfortable doing x, or if we'll ever stop doing y.
When you are anxiously awaiting the next bit of healing, remember that our Good Shepherd has it under control. He will lead you to those still waters and green grasses (Psalm 23).
Friday, March 21, 2008
I've done enough sewing to know if you want to tear a piece of fabric, you don't pick the strongest place to try ripping. In fact you normally need a frayed edge or a snip from a pair of scissors in order to get anywhere. The way the temple veil was torn was not natural, it was supernatural.
The top of the veil would have been doubled over to form a casing and reinforced with some type of interfacing material in order to support the clasps of silver sockets and gold hooks (Exodus 26:31-33). In addition to that it was made of fine woven linen--not gauze. Only God could've torn the veil.
The veil was beautiful with woven cheribim and rich colors of blue, purple, and crimson (2Chronicles 3:14). It was holy. Only the top priest was allowed to pass through the curtain to the Most Holy Place of the temple. And he could only go into the Most Holy Place once a year on the Day of Atonement. Before that only Moses was allowed past the veil to talk with God.
So why did God tear the veil in two on Good Friday over two thousand years ago? And why should it matter today to those of us who have suffered abuse?
Right after Jesus Christ died on the cross, God removed the barrier to the innermost court in the Jewish temple. The ripped curtain testified to the Jews that His Son's death had accomplished its purpose. It was like a Vacancy sign on a hotel--an open invitation. The price for sin was paid and accepted that we might boldly approach God without fear.
When you feel helpless, remember that God is on your side. He is unlike your abuser. He is powerful, but He does not abuse His power.
The King of kings is available for personal counsel and aid. Your mighty God has a good plan for your life and He is more than strong enough to execute it. Seek His help. Tell Him about your powerlessness and let Him be your defender and leader. God is available.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
The benefits of journaling during the healing process are huge! Putting on paper the things that have been buried inside yourself, acknowledges reality and thaws denial's icy grip. Identifying beliefs in a journal, opens up new possibilities for choosing which beliefs we will cherish and which ones we are ready to dismiss. Journaling emotions helps release you from their silent but pervasive control.
So, how does one journal for maximum results? Try these guidelines whether you are brand new to journaling or whether you've been doing it for awhile:
1. Involve God in your journal efforts. Pray asking for wisdom, discernment, and healing.
2. Give yourself permission to write honestly. Don't censor yourself.
3. Forget writing rules. Your journal will not be graded.
4. Protect your journal as a private place. If you live with an abuser, hide it.
5. Share something specific from your journal with a friend or counselor--when you want to.
6. Experiment with different types of entries (fairy tale of your life, poem, letters, compare and contrast charts, etc.)
7. Reserve a set time of day to journal.
8. Commit to 10 minute a day minimum if you are reluctant to journal.
9. Use both sides of your brain. The right hemisphere will be engaged by any creative writing, writing with a crayon, or doodling. The left hemisphere will be engaged by analytical lists, charts, or pie diagrams.
10. Just do it. Journal daily for two weeks and see what happens.
If you've had success with different journaling techniques or exercises, please post a comment. I'd love to keep on learning about this marvelous healing tool.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
But that night in my dark bedroom when I began to thaw--fear flooded my mind.
What if I became pregnant? What if he gave me a venereal disease? What if anyone at school found out? What if my parents found out? It was overwhelming.
I cried out to God in prayer begging him to fix this. Could He undo it somehow? It seemed like a childish thing to ask--but I didn't see how I could keep going with this new assault to my being.
God heard me.
He didn't magically remove the rape, but He communicated to my heart that He was with me. He flooded my soul with awareness that He would never desert me or betray me.
I have spoken to other abuse victims who have received the same exact message.
God understands our needs. Jesus Christ was beaten and betrayed during His time on earth as fully God and fully human. He experienced abuse then--and He has experienced your abuse right when it was happening to you. He never abandons you. Immanuel (one of the Biblical references to Jesus that means "God with us") truly is with us. He knows by name the fearful, the oppressed, the brokenhearted, the violated, and the betrayed. He comforts us with His presence in the ugliest moments of our life.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for naming your son "God with us." Thank you for being with us in the most horrendous hours we have endured. Help us to fully receive your presence and your comfort so that we may comfort others as well.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Abuse tears apart self-esteem. The objective of the abuser is to dominate and control--smashing the victim's picture of themselves as a normal human being is a primary strategy. It is almost as if all abusers read the same handbook: How to Annihilate Self-Esteem.
Recovering a proper sense of self takes time and patience. But it can be done. God has never lost sight of who you really are. He has never stopped loving you. Your abuser may have convinced you that you are worthless, unattractive, unlovable, displeasing, incompetent, etc. But God can help you to see that you have great value (enough to die for), that you are wonderfully made, that you are deeply loved (beyond your ability to even comprehend), that you are delightful to the creator of the universe, and that you are able to do all things in Christ Jesus. God can expose the folly of every lie that the Enemy of our souls has planted in our minds through the assaults of abuse.
To see yourself honestly, try these steps that have worked and continue working for me:
- Admit to God how you really see yourself
- Ask God to help you understand how He sees you
- Post on a mirror all Bible verses that reveal how God thinks of you
- Acknowledge & forgive yourself when you behave out of lies about yourself
- Ask God to heal your self-image
- Celebrate victories in trying out new beliefs and more positive self-talk
- Consider seeking help with the process--a good counselor or close friend can be a help
- Journal about your thoughts and feelings on a daily basis
- Spend time with God in prayer daily
- Spend time reading from the Bible daily (specifically asking that the Holy Spirit help you to get to know God more and more. As you grow closer to God, you will accept and love yourself more).
Sunday, March 16, 2008
The human mind wants everything to be logical. And most people are comfortable with the idea that if your life is horrible, you must have done something bad to cause it...and if your life is great, you must have done something good.
If you are living in abuse or used to live under an abuser's oppression, I hope you've figured out that you were not the cause or the reason for the abuse. Whether you are gorgeous, ugly, kind, impatient, faithful, or flirty--it didn't bring on mistreatment. No matter what the abuser said. The experts say that abuse victims are found in every demographic: every financial status, both genders, every sexual orientation, every nation, every age, and every religion. Anyone can be abused.
The abuse happens because the abuser is unwilling to repent of his/her controlling and abusive behavior, period.
Have you been blaming yourself? Most victims do. Part of healing involves putting the blame where it rightfully belongs--on the person who abuses, taking what is not theirs to take and dishing out punishments that are undeserved.
"Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men;
Preserve me from violent men,
Who plan evil things in their hearts;
They continually gather for war.
They sharpen their tongues like a serpent;
The poison of asps is under their lips."
Psalm 140: 1-3
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Recovery from Abuse
by Tanya T. Warrington
Healing takes time,
but no more hours
than I have.
I can take as long
as I need.
Today is the perfect day
to treat my needs with respect
to listen to my inner voice
to nurture with self-care.
I cannot change the past,
but I have the power
needed to improve today;
God's strength is enough.
Old tapes may play
outdated lines of misery,
but I can push "Stop!"
and sing new tunes of love.
I can meet today's challenges,
I have enough time,
enough patience, strength, and words--
I chose to believe that I am enough.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Since healing is a process, it takes time--more time than we would like. Way more time than we would like. It takes so long, that some people are skeptical that complete healing is even possible.
There is little else in life that can cause so much damage in the heart and soul. The repair work needs are extensive. If an abused soul were a car then an honest mechanic would have to turn in a very daunting parts and labor list. Every system can be affected by the abuser's sinful assaults.
It is common for people who have been abused to suffer problems for decades. "Malfunctions" originating from the pain of abuse can affect their:
- beliefs about themselves
- relationships at home
- relationship with God
- relationships at work
- relationships with friends
- physical health
- emotional health
- sexual identity
- automatic self-protective behavior
Not at all!
We just need to go to the correct physician, God our Father. Only God's power can untangle the problems. He is a capable doctor, the most capable doctor, who can heal the damage one step at a time in His perfect timing. He can see the entire picture of our soul and He knows when to apply balm, when to leave a band aid in place, when to do surgery, and when to order rest.
During the past decade of my life I have been amazed at God's ability to heal me. I was once ruled by fear, now fear is an infrequent visitor that I have the power to dismiss. Formerly, I slaved as a perfectionist, now I know that I please God and no longer pour big effort into trying to be perfect. I used to dwell in denial, numb in my mind and heart. Now I would rather face pain or conflict than return to feeling like a walking "dead woman." God is at work in me.
His healing is effective and liberating. Ask for His healing, then watch to see the changes as wounds heal and new strength grows!
Monday, March 10, 2008
With Easter on a few weeks away, it is a great time to consider what Jesus’ last days on earth were like. How did Jesus respond to abuse?
When Pharisees and Sadducees tried to trick and trap him:
- He pointed out their hypocrisy and refused to play their game of manipulation (Matthew 22: 15–22).
- He taught what was right and did what was right, without fear (Luke 6: 1–11).
When money lenders and priests abused the people with usury in the temple:
- He drove out the robbers and overturned the tables. He taught them that they were corrupting the house that was intended as a place of prayer for all nations (Matthew 11: 15–17).
When the Pharisees demanded a sign (with evil motives in their hearts):
- Jesus refused to misuse his power.
- He pointed out their wickedness—directly and powerfully.
When townspeople tried to kill him:
- He walked away and continued his ministry work (Luke 4: 14–30).
When the Pharisees verbally attacked him by demanding to know by what authority he spoke:
- He refused to give them an answer that they could use to get rid of Him. Instead, He told two parables that let the Pharisees know that he did have authority and that He could see into their hearts (Matthew21: 23–46; Mark 11: 27–12:27).
When the Pharisee plotted to kill him earlier than fit God’s plan:
- Jesus withdrew from the region and continued doing God’s work of healing (Matthew 12: 15–16).
- He left the city for the night (Mark 11:18-19).
- Jesus’ bold teachings continued (John 7: 25– 27; John7: 45–47).
- Divinely slipped through their grasp because it was not time yet (John 7: 30–31)
- John 11:47–54)
When his friend, Judas, betrayed him:
- Jesus still called him “Friend” (Matthew 26:50)
- How unlike our human impulses to hurt back when someone hurts us. So often we objectify people who mistreat us. It is easier to think about someone as a “monster” or some cuss word than it is to remember their identity and worth as an individual created by God. Jesus did not try to feel better by belittling Judas. He did not deny reality. He acknowledged that he it was a friend who turned him in for arrest.
- When Judas was about to seal his betrayal with a kiss, Jesus questioned him. “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48)
- It reminds me of when God asked Adam and Eve “Where are you?” These two questions are not asked because the Lord doesn’t know the answer. They are asked to give the sinner a chance to examine himself…a chance to repent. Jesus still cared about Judas’ soul even while Judas was sinning.
When Jesus was brought to trial before the Sanhedrin, illegally and unjustly:
- He remained silent when people knowingly gave false witness (Matthew 26: 62–63, Mark 14: 60–61). He allowed them to perjure themselves. He did not argue with foolish men who had evil intentions.
- He answered in straightforward truth when he was asked a valid question. He confirmed that he was the awaited Christ. He stood unmoved by their manipulations.
When Jesus was mocked and abused and crucified by Roman soldiers and reviled by spectators:
- He endured knowing that for this one time in history one man’s death was going to result in the forgiveness of sins for all mankind. (Matthew 27: 27–50; Mark 15: 16–39; Luke 22: 63–65 & 23: 26–47; John 19: 16–24)
- He forgave everyone who had mistreated him.
- He promised salvation to the thief who repented during his death process.
- He provided comfort for His mother Mary.
- This behavior on the cross convinced a hardened Roman soldier, a centurion, praised God and said, “Surely, this is this was a righteous man.”
This is a lot of scripture to meditate on…but a worthwhile pursuit during Lent season. How did Jesus respond to abuse?
He was not afraid. He relied on His Father.
He continued to respect himself and others.
He took action when the abuse was against others.
He continued fulfilling His ministry.
He was honest and forthright.
He pointed out evil and hypocrisy, and then continued to teach about His Father’s kingdom.
He forgave His abusers.
He removed himself from the presence of abuse until the appointed day for his unique role in history.
He did turn the other check with self-respect intact, and resisted any urge to abuse back—no tit for tat behavior.
Jesus was not a doormat.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Did Jesus want abusers to have free reign over victims? Did he want his followers to be doormats?
For years, I refused to look at the first question. Jesus is supposed to be good, loving, and kind so why would he want wrongdoers to beat up his followers? Was God okay with domestic violence? It was a puzzle I didn't want to dig into. God was my only security in a chaotic and violent life--I didn't want to mess that up by digging around in confusing verses.
I assumed that Jesus was asking us to be passive. Not that the term "doormat" felt comfortable, but I felt that I was being a "good" Christian when I endured suffering at the hands of my abusers. Many other victims have the same view. Even non-Christian victims that I have talked with responded to the notion that it was somehow honorable to patiently endure abuse.
In its own way, being a martyr is gratifying.
Can you relate?
In Monday's post, we will look at how Jesus behaved when others abused him. How did sinless Jesus deal with the blows of evildoers?
Friday, March 7, 2008
by Tanya T. Warrington
heavily upon me,
taking away worth,
itself to me,
Be gone, Shame,
I'm tired of your weight--
you belong to the abuser.
I'm ready to soar!
your days of plunder
are ended this day--
I claim truth and worth.
Good riddance, Shame,
My Savior has cut
your grappling old hold--
I am God's free child!
Shall your name mar,
mark or malign me--
I delight my Lord.
It doesn't matter whether you are a poet or not. All you need is a beating heart, a writing implement, and a willingness to risk putting words on the page. You can let the words that are shoved away in dark corners of your being bubble up and receive acknowledgment and acceptance. No one else need ever see your private thoughts and feelings. If you want, you can tear up your poems or burn them or bury them.
Or you can share them with other people who are sharing the same painful journey you are traveling. If you ever want to post a comment or a poem on this site: just click on comments and then write your comment and send it. I purposely set this site up so that you do not need to be a blogger to comment and you do not need to reveal your identity. Feel free to click anonymous if you want or to create a pen name for yourself. If you are in a place where revealing your identity helps heal the shame then you can choose to sign your comments. Do what is best for you.
Periodically, I will post a poem that has emerged from my healing process.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
My perspective as a mom who wanted pants to last as long as possible was quite different.
A few years ago, a friend showed off her distressed wood furniture. It had the strength of a new piece of furniture (which it was), but the appearance of an antique (because of purposeful marking and marring).
Today, I explored the internet to learn how do-it-yourself people can create the distressed look. With wood, you can put nuts, screws, and bolts in a bag and then beat the wood. With jeans you can put a block of wood under the fabric and then rub the denim with a nail file or a cheese grater. Yikes! I guess you do what it takes to get the look of age you want.
But what about when you have a distressed soul that feels old and helpless from the flailing of others' sins banging into you without mercy? What if your distressed, abused heart looks horrifyingly ugly to you? What if you are longing for restoration, rather than another round of abuse?
There are people who take old furniture and make it look like new by devoting hours of loving attention to nicked wood.
There are artists who take seemingly useless jeans and create art pieces.
And there is One who can take beat up souls and refurbish them. He can tenderly repair the bruised heart, the torn soul, the soiled mind, the beaten spirit.
I know He can, because He's refurbished me!
"I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again, just as you promised." Psalm 119:107 (NLT)
- Abuse recovery (13)
- Action for Domestic Violence Issues (6)
- Anger (4)
- Author Interview (4)
- Boundaries (15)
- Coping (16)
- Damage from Abuse (24)
- Devotional (5)
- Domestic Violence (44)
- Domestic Violence Awareness Month (8)
- Doormat Thinking (17)
- Emotional Abuse (16)
- Emotional Healing (43)
- Forgiveness (6)
- God's Healing (39)
- God's presence (28)
- Good Friday (1)
- Healing Abuse (27)
- Healing Process (57)
- Healing tools (32)
- Helping Children (16)
- Hyper-vigilance (3)
- Immanuel (1)
- Incest (7)
- Journaling (5)
- New Life (30)
- Perpetrators (10)
- Physical Abuse (10)
- Poetry (22)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (6)
- Powerless (8)
- Rape (6)
- Recovery (43)
- Response to abuse (38)
- Restoration (16)
- Satanic Ritual Abuse (2)
- Self-care (26)
- Self-Esteem (11)
- Sexual abuse (12)
- Shame (19)
- Trust (9)
- Verbal Abuse (9)
- Warning Signs (17)
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