Gentle Recovery

Hope and Inspiration for Overcoming the Damaging Effects of Child Abuse and Rape

Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

The Art of Breathing

Posted by A Write to my Voice on April 6, 2009

“Breathe DEEP!” The Snuggly Fabric Softener Bear

For years I walked around holding my breath. I was pertrified of being hurt so I learned to hold myself rigid, on guard, on edge… waiting.

I spent hours hiding – crouching in the dark, in a corner in the basement, under the balcony, in the closet – staying very still, quiet – not breathing…. I needed to hear, to be aware of every sound, to be ready. If I was ready, I could take it, I could handle whatever happened. I waited for hours like an animal being stalked by its prey. The waiting made me sick. My head hurt, I threw up. I bit my arms until they bled… to force myself to stay vigilant, to stay strong.

I grew up and continued to hold my breath. I lived on the edge. Reckless, wild. Life hurt. It hurt really bad.

A few years after God touched me, I went to see a Christian counselor. She looked at me and said, “you’re not breathing. You’re holding your breath. Breathe! Let go!” Her words made me afraid. To let go meant to trust that I would be safe. I went home after seeing her and threw up and cut my arms. I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t trust. Experience taught me the world was not safe. To let my guard down meant I might not survive.

Time passed. I continued to see that counselor. She kept telling me it’s ok now to breathe. In the quietness of my house, in the darkness, alone – I let go. I let myself breathe. I survived. I went back to see her and told her. She asked me to show her, right there in her office – to breathe with her. To trust. I did.

I know God led me to that counselor. He used her to bring me out of a place that I had gotten lost in. She taught me to trust. She helped me feel safe, something I had never known before…. Safety. Feeling safe… helped me to breathe again.

From the moment God touched me, I trusted Him. How could I not? He cut the chains that wrapped around me, choking the life from me. He freed me. He took away the drug addiction. He took away the needles, the dope …the highs that made me crazy and the lows that made me suicidal. They held me a prisoner for fourteen years, shooting up three and four times a day. He broke their hold over me so I trusted Him. He led me to others like that counselor. He wanted to help me learn to feel safe in the world. He wanted to help me learn to breathe again.

I was 12 when I started the drugs. By 14 I was shooting up. Life was dark. Ugly. The police, the courts, social workers sent me to jail, to hospitals, to rehab. Nothing worked. Only God. He did what nothing else could. He broke the hold of darkness and taught me to breathe, taught me to feel safe, helped me connect first to Him, then to myself, then to others.

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Posted in breathing, child abuse, Christianity, faith, fear, God, trauma, women | 2 Comments »

Taking A Stand

Posted by A Write to my Voice on April 1, 2009

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controvery.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Taking a stand and speaking out when we see or hear an injustice being done takes courage. It’s not easy to get involved, to have our voice – it’s so much easier to walk away; to kid ourselves into believing we didn’t see, we didn’t hear, we didn’t really know…….

Whether it’s standing up for the rights of a child to be free from harm, or a nation to be free from unjust rule, or a cause that we know we cannot look away from – taking a stand tells the world we will not be silent, we will not allow wrong to be be perpertrated – whatever the cost to ourselves.

I have struggled recently with family members who knew my sister and I were being abused. They said they didn’t know how bad it was, but they admitted they were terrified or our father and that many times they pulled our mother off us when she was beating us so badly. And finally they said, “we didn’t want to interfere in someone else’s family problems.” So they walked away and left. Left us to fend for ourselves against adults who bullied and terrorized us.

Then they said we should have asked for help. They blamed us. They said we didn’t reach out. It’s hard for me to understand their reasoning. We were children who had no voice. They said I was quiet, that I never talked, never spoke. I had no words. No voice. How could I have asked for help?

To protect myself, I tried to disappear, first in my head, then through drugs, throwing up and cutting myself. I willed myself to not be present. Once, while at the park, it started raining. I ran to the store to look for my sister. She wasn’t there. I ran back to the park. Everyone had left. Alone in the rain, thunder and lightening, I ran home. As soon as I got in the house, my mother attacked me – punching, kicking and slapping me. She put her hands around my throat and two of my aunts grabbed her and pulled her off. I slipped away and made it to the bathroom, locking the door. I dropped to the floor, soaking wet. Her screams filtered through the door. I closed my eyes and forced myself to pull away in my mind until I couldn’t hear her anymore.

I became lost. I never talked. Teachers told me I was the saddest child they had ever seen. But nobody did anything. Nobody helped.

When God wrapped His gentleness around me, poured out His love – I knew I needed to be a voice for those who had no voice. I couldn’t do what my relatives had done, look the other way and walk away from anyone experiencing any form of injustice or cruelty.

I went back to school. Got my degree. For all the drugs I did, the many times my head was bashed against the wall, for all the times I was called stupid, retarded, garbage, an idiot, I somehow managed to get on the Dean’s Honor List.

God empowered me. He gave me my life back, then my voice. I will never keep silent again. I will stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. I will not turn away. I will be a voice for the vulnerable, the weak and those unable to stand up for themselves. I want to make a difference, regardless of the cost to myself. With Him in my corner, I will not be silent anymore.

Posted in abuse, Christianity, courage, faith, free, God, injustice, rape, silent, speak, voice | 4 Comments »