Gentle Recovery

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

Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

Posted by A Write to my Voice on May 14, 2009

“Love is not a feeling. It’s a behaviour.” Oprah Winfrey

‘I love you,’ my father said. Then he beat me and called me filthy names. ‘I love you,’ my father said. Then he locked me alone in the car for hours in the worst part of town. ‘I love you,’ my father said. Then he shoved his fist in my face and forced me to eat even when I kept throwing up. ‘I love you,’ my father said. Then he held me down on the bed…….

‘I love you,’ the rapist said. Then he punched me so hard, my spleen ruptured. ‘I love you,’ the rapist said. Then he held me down and did what he wanted. ‘I love you,’ the rapist said. Then he locked me in a cold dark room and wouldn’t let me go.

‘I love you,’ God said. Then He patiently waited until I was ready to trust Him. ‘I love you,’ God said. Then He broke the hold of the drug addiction. ‘I love you,’ God said. Then He calmed my anger and hatred. ‘I love you,’ God said. Then He healed my heart with His gentle touch. ‘I love you,’ God said. Then He freed me from the shame and fear.

Just because someone claims they love you, doesn’t mean they really do. I think the wires in my head got all mixed up when I was a kid. I thought what happened was normal, that everyone lived on edge, fighting to avoid getting beaten, living like someone in a war zone, in chaos, tension and confusion. I believed whatever happened was because something was wrong with me. I didn’t know what was being done was wrong. I didn’t know they had no right to do what they did. All I knew was it made me crazy. It made me want to punish myself in ways that nearly killed me. It pushed me over the edge, making me act impulsively, full of anger and not caring what happened.

But then I learned love doesn’t hurt. I learned it’s patient, kind and forgiving. I learned it’s not jealous or full of pride or resentful or rude or demanding of its own way.

I never knew. No one had told me or showed me the truth about love. I figured it out as I went, but I had figured it out all wrong. Then God touched me and He showed me. He brought safe people into my life, but I resisted them, pushing them away, still needing to hide, afraid of getting hurt, not trusting. It took so long. But then I got it.

When love is real, not only does it not hurt, but it’s like a balm that feels soothing on the inside and brings amazing healing and relief. I learned love doesn’t keep a list of wrongs, so I chose to forgive and move forward. I want to shine so others can feel the touch of love from me. I want my life to reflect the truth of what love really is and find healing and freedom in their lives.

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Posted in child abuse, drugs, faith, freedom, God, healing, love, rape, recovery, truth, women | 4 Comments »

Overcoming Hatred

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

“Hatred can be overcome only by love.” Mahatma Ghandi

For years I walked around with so much hate and anger in me. I hated what my parents did to me. I hated the way they shamed me, beat me, made me feel less than human. And I hated the system that claimed they could help me. They were like my parents,- shaming, punishing, bullying.

I was arrested for drug possession. My social worker convinced the judge to let me do the time on a locked pysch ward instead of prison. Being on that ward,- that place of misery pushed me further into myself and broke me even more. Their methods of forcing me to conform were brutal. The chemical and physical restrains took away any shred of dignity I may have had. My brain became dull from the medications, the fight in me subdued, but the hatred grew. Hatred for them, for me, and for everyone who had hurt me.

One time they strapped me to a bed by my arms and legs for some minor infraction. They kept me there for two days like a chained animal, allowing me up only to go to the washroom. At mealtimes, they wouldn’t untie my arms. A staff came in to feed me. Humiliated; I refused to eat. I hated them. I despised them. My anger grew. I wanted to hurt them, punish them in some way like they were doing to me.

Instead, I cut into my flesh, trying to rip myself apart, desperate to pull out the bad, the part of me everyone kept telling me was horrible and wrong. Scars formed on my body, but I didn’t care, because they were already in my heart and soul and mind.

Hatred and anger became a way of life. It drove me. It fueled the fight in me. I turned on myself with a vengeance. My arms were full of bruises and marks from biting myself and cutting my skin open. The blood oozing out was my salvation, the thing that released the building tension inside me. My blood, a proof of life, that I was still alive.

Blood? That’s what finally turned my life around. The blood. His blood. The blood He shed for me so I wouldn’t have to hurt myself anymore. Like me, He too was beaten, shamed, ridiculed. He never opened his mouth. He never fought back. That amazed me. How could He not? They laughed at Him, mocked Him, and He said nothing, nothing except, “Father, forgive them….”

Hearing that, my anger began to subside. Thoughts of revenge slowly became thoughts of forgiveness. It’s hard to forgive, to let go of the brutality of what some people did – but to not forgive is worse.

I want my life to reflect His love. He loved me when I couldn’t love myself. He loved me when I was wild, out of control and bent on self-destruction. I don’t fully get how He did that, but I am so grateful for the gentleness of His love that broke the chains that kept me stuck.

Posted in anger, child abuse, christian, cutting, faith, God, hatred, healing, Jesus, mental health, rage, rape, recovery, self-injury, shame | 10 Comments »

Friends

Posted by A Write to my Voice on April 26, 2009

“If I don’t have friends, I ain’t got nothing.” Billi Holiday

I’m overwhelmed. Tonight my friend, Debbie called. Her voice in a panic. Begged me to come over and to hurry. I went. I wasn’t prepared for the surprise party she had thrown for me. Even my sister and her husband drove the eight hours to come. They all chipped in and bought me the mountain bike I wanted. It had all the bells and whistles.

I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I didn’t want the attention. I didn’t want the focus on me. I, who have spent a lifetime hiding, not wanting to be seen. Here were about thirty of my friends focusing on me. My first thought – I don’t deserve this.

Later that night, after everyone left, Debbie told me, ‘I would do anything for you. God brought me into your life because He wants to heal you completely.’

I met Debbie online. In a writers critique group. She read an excerpt of my book. I didn’t tell her my real name. She emailed me and said she lives twenty minutes away. She wanted to talk. I panicked. I gave her my number. She called. I told her my real name. She wanted to meet. I couldn’t. She knew too much. We emailed. We talked on the phone. She asked if I would ever meet her. Three months later, we finally met – In the park. Over the next few months she read more of my story. She wanted to know details. I couldn’t talk. I hesitated. My words faltered. I started a sentence, then stopped. She encouraged me. Then begged me to come over to her place. We sat opposite each other, I unable to have her look at me. The shame was too great. She respected my need and talked with her face turned away from me. Over the next few months, we got close. Really close. We talked everyday. I told her things I had never told anyone. Things that happened. Horrible things. She said it made her care about me even more. She said our friendship to her is like David and Jonathon in the Bible.

My daughter told me on the drive home from the party, “Mom, you have some great friends.” I do. I really do. I have been afraid of letting them get too close, afraid they would see the shame, afraid they would know my past and hate me. So I kept them at a distance.

My friends are awesome people. Each one of them. I still don’t know how God did it. Took me out of a lifestyle of hopelessness and misery and brought me into one of love, friendship and family. The Bible says God came to set the captives free. It’s true. He really did.

Posted in child abuse, faith, freedom, friends, God, shame | 9 Comments »

Telling the Truth

Posted by A Write to my Voice on April 15, 2009

“We know the truth, not only by the reason, but by the heart.” Blasie Pascal

For years, I refused to tell the truth of what happened, even to myself. For some reason, I was afraid to admit it, to believe it took place. My body knew though. The shame and fear lived inside me. It made me sick. It made me want to hurt myself, throw up, hide. And my body hurt in weird ways. I walked around feeling like puking all the time. My head itched from a rash that refused to go away and I had terrible migraines that forced me to spend even more time alone in darkness.

Truth – how could I not know or admit the awfulness of what took place? I minimized, I said it wasn’t so bad. I said the abusers were only doing the best they could, that they didn’t mean to do what they did. But I couldn’t look anyone in their eyes. I knew if they saw into mine, they would see how bad and awful I was. They would hate me and be disgusted, so I hid. The shame tormented me. For years I tried to dance around it. I pretended what happened didn’t really take place or it wasn’t that bad.

Then someone told me the rapist’s son killed himself. I learned of the brutality of what was done to him. It reminded me of what had been done to me, how I fought to get away from him with no one to help me. I survived. That boy didn’t. And something in me knew I needed to tell. No one protected that boy. No one helped him. My sister returned from overseas. She called me everyday telling me the abuse was horrific that we suffered as children.

It felt like God was giving my head a good shake. When I was a child being beaten and bullied, I lived in a make believe world. I told myself if I were good, very good, my parents would stop hurting me. I told myself if I helped them, they would love me. I tried really hard to be what they wanted, to give them whatever they needed. I became really good at reading them, focusing all my attention on being there for them. The problem, – in doing that, I cut myself off from me. I became lost and it took years to find my way back.

Every time they punched or slapped me, threw something at me that left my body in pain and with big black bruises, every verbal assault that told me how bad, stupid and wrong I was, every fist in my face forcing me to eat even while I threw up,-in my child’s mind, I believed they were good people. It was me. I was bad, wrong, undeserving. I defended them, stood up for them if anyone said bad things against them.

God waited until I could talk. He waited until I was strong enough. He waited until He knew I would tell. Last year, when that boy committed suicide and I knew no one had helped him, I promised God I would tell the truth. If telling what I went through can help someone so they don’t have to live years lost in darkness, – then I want to do that.

At first telling the truth hurt. I felt like I was falling apart. I retreated into the woods. I spent most of my time running through the forest, hiding in its safety. There God comforted me. He told me its ok now to tell the truth. It’s ok to admit what happened. I felt His presence. I heard the gentle whisper of His love. I came home after running and wrote. I struggling in writing. I didn’t want to say everything. God nudged me. I saw that boy in my mind taking his life. I wrote the truth.

Funny thing about speaking the truth. My body felt better. The migraines have gone. That rash on my head, isn’t there anymore. I feel lighter, better, freer. Someone once said, if we don’t scream, our bodies will. Someone else said, “and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Posted in abuse, child abuse, faith, God, shame, truth | 14 Comments »

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.

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 »

The Impact of Kindness

Posted by A Write to my Voice on March 20, 2009

“Forget injuries. Never forget kindness.” Chinese Proverb

An act of kindness never goes without it having some impact on the recipient. During those years I lived on the street, there were a number of people who reached out to me and whose thoughtful actions, I have never forgotten.

One such person was a bank manager. I walked into a Royal Bank, completely stoned and asked to speak to the manager. He came out of his office dressed in a three piece suit, looking so professional. I, on the other hand, wore tattered faded jeans and a short sleeve tee, extremely thin, dark track marks from the needles running along the inside of my arms, the pupils in my eyes wide, like green smarties. Regardless of what he saw when he looked at me, this man treated me with respect. Ushering me into his office, he asked how he could help me. Feeling a bit sheepish, I asked for a $100 loan.

I can still see him, – standing up, reaching into his pocket, pulling out his wallet and handing me the money. I promised to pay him back and I did. When I got my cheque, I went back to see him and paid him the $100.
That became a monthly ritual for the two of us. Mid-month, I went to see him, asked for a loan and just as he did that first time, he always handed me the money, no questions asked. At the beginning of every month, I went to pay him back until I ended up in the hospital. I never saw him again after that.

I don’t know why he did what he did, but I have never forgotten his act of kindness, his generosity or his acceptance. He impacted me and helped to shape who I am today.

God’s angels. I want to be like that bank manager. He taught me a valuable lesson. In my world, at that time, I had experienced no kindness, only brutality. It was not the $100 he gave me, but the lesson, – that every human being has worth. I have never forgotten him nor his act of kindness.

I want to be like that bank manger to whoever is put along my path. I want to convey what he had shown me; – each person has worth. We are all made in God’s image. I have learned that just simply by looking at someone’s outward appearance, we don’t know what has happened or is happening in their lives. To walk in gentleness, to move in love and be His vessel to bring about peace and healing is my deepest longing.

Posted in faith, God, healing, kindness, respect | 6 Comments »

In the Eye of Deception

Posted by A Write to my Voice on March 14, 2009

Soon to be Pubished: Book – In the Eye of Deception


No one knows what goes on behind closed doors. Raised in a middle-class family, from the outside everything looked good, but inside our home, I lived in fear and terror from the volatile rages of my father, and from the constant criticisms and name calling of my mother. As a young girl, I learned to hide and to feel ashamed of who I was. I came to believe I had no right to exist. Turning to self-destructive coping behaviours; a fourteen year drug addiction, an eating disorder and self-mutilation, I sought to punish myself for just being alive. In my late teens, I was pulled into a cult where I was confined for six months and raped.

This is a story of coming to faith in God but continuing to live less than a victorious Christian. It is a story about becoming whole through facing the pain of child abuse, confinement and rape and learning to trust God to provide freedom from the crippling effects of shame and fear.

This book is one of hope and faith. The message is clear, – no darkness is so black, no valley so deep, God cannot redeem it for His glory.

Posted in abuse, addictions, christian, courage, faith, God, healing, recovery | Leave a Comment »

I Keep My Ideals

Posted by A Write to my Voice on March 14, 2009

“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank

For too many years I lived with anger, hating those who hurt me and wanting revenge. The rage burned inside me. I took it out on myself, numbing out with anything destructive I could think of. I believed I had no right to exist, no right to life. One amazing day, God touched me. He broke the chains. He poured out His love. I stopped hating. I couldn’t anymore. His love was too great. I learned to forgive. It wasn’t easy. A part of me still wanted to punish those who hurt me so bad. And then I began to realize, at some point in their lives, they too were hurt. Someone did to them what they had done to me. Maybe it was done in different ways, but they were victims too. I want to strive to be part of the solution of healing.
There are days I am consumed by what happened. It makes me want to hide, to disappear and I have to remind myself, what happened does not define who I am. And just maybe what they did to me, doesn’t define who they really are too.

Posted in addictions, christian, eating disorder, faith, God, healing, recovery | 2 Comments »

The Secret of Redemption

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

“In remembrance is the secret of redemption.” Jewish Saying

It’s so hard to reflect back to the pain of what happened, but there is also healing in looking at those things that shaped us and made us who we are today. In writing my story, “In the Eye of Deception,” there were times I felt like it was happening all over again. The memory clips screamed at me, the sounds, the intense feelings, and even the shame and fear hit me so hard that I thought I would become consumed in them. Yet, as I wrote, God took the healing to a whole new level. He led some wonderful people into my life who I was able to share the pain with, and who could handle my inability to talk during those times the memories overwhelmed me. They offered support and friendship on such a deep level that I still marvel how awesome God is in giving us what we need. My faith is my anchor. It is my strength to move forward. It gives me the courage to look head on what happened and not turn away. It is my hope and prayer that I can use all that I lived through to touch someone else on their journey to healing and recovery. There is something else in remembrance – deep gratitude. My heart swells with thankfulness to a God who reached through the layers of pain and drew me out of deep darkness into His marvelous light.

Posted in courage, darkness, faith, God, healing, recovery, remembrance, strength | 6 Comments »