Gentle Recovery

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

Archive for the ‘shame’ Category

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.

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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 »