Category Archives: Child abuse

The Should’ve Beens That Weren’t

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The cross. I could rhapsodize on that one subject for the rest of eternity and still not have covered everything that could be said about it. The same holds true for the resurrection. Those two topics are a source of endless fascination for me, because Christ was willing to go through the agony and shame of the cross, regardless of the pain and suffering that it meant for Him, because He knew what was coming. And I’m thinking that Satan didn’t know what was coming, because of what it says in 1 Corinthians 2,

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:7-8, KJV.

I love this passage. For one thing it tells me that the devil is not omniscient. So while he is powerful, he’s not all-powerful, and he’s certainly not as powerful as God is. And this passage also says pretty specifically that it was Satan, through evil man, that crucified Jesus Christ, just in case there was any doubt.

Because of the cross there are all kinds of should’ve beens that didn’t happen. Like I should’ve gone to Hell, but I won’t, thank God. Like one of my nine suicide attempts should’ve worked, but they didn’t, praise God. Like one of my mother’s attempts to kill me should’ve succeeded, but didn’t, thank God. Like I could’ve been abandoned by God, but wasn’t, amazingly. Like I should’ve been the one who was crucified instead of Jesus Christ, but wasn’t, incredibly.

That last one, that I should’ve been the one who was crucified instead of Jesus Christ, gives me pause when I consider it. I don’t like to admit that I’m a sinful person. No one does. But I am. I’m full of pride. I play online games more than I should, and I’ve refused to stop playing them when I’ve sensed that my playing them isn’t pleasing to God. I don’t read my Bible nearly enough, nor do I spend enough time fellowshipping with God. I also watch far too much TV, to the exclusion of doing other things that need to be done, like cleaning my apartment, and washing the dishes.

It was my sin, and the sin of the rest of humanity that put Christ on that cross, and it was His love for me and everyone else that kept Him there. I find that kind of love incredibly difficult to understand. That someone would be willing to go through that kind of hellish agony for me, so I wouldn’t have to, is unfathomable to me, and there’s only one possible response I can make to such a gift. I could reject it, but I’d be a fool to do so. So I choose to receive it, and praise and thank God for it.

Hallelujah!!

Easier Said Than Done

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There have been a few times in my life where I was desperate for guidance from God, and when I asked for it, He gave me the answer right then. Let me explain.

The first ten years of my life are virtually blank. I remember essentially nothing from those years, and not much more from the years following. As a consequence I spent a lot of time trying to understand what had happened to me during those blank years, and I also had many well-meaning Christians telling me that I shouldn’t be doing that, that I should just put the past behind me,

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. ~ Isaiah 43:18, NIV.

But I also had a lot of therapists telling me that those empty years weren’t empty at all, but rather were years I had repressed because the events that had occurred during that time were so traumatic that I couldn’t handle the emotional and/or physical impact of what had happened. And how many of you know that putting the past behind you is a whole lot easier said than done?

So who do I believe ~ all those well-meaning Christians, or the therapists who supposedly understand how memory works?

Something that happened back in the mid-1990’s, in the midst of being bombarded by input from both sides, helped me decide to follow God rather than either side, although ideas from the therapists ended up being closer to what God showed me.

What happened was this: I was receiving soaking prayer from a married couple on periodic Sunday afternoons, but everyone who knew I was doing this told me I shouldn’t be doing it because I should be putting the past behind me, as the above-quoted verse says.

Because I’d been hearing this so frequently from everyone around me for such a long time, I finally cried out to God on my way home from that afternoon’s prayer session, and asked Him if I was following the right course. Should I be trying to find out what had happened to me? I only wanted to follow what He wanted me to do!

As I was praying and asking my questions of God, this thought came into my mind: The most tightly-held-onto past is the past that’s been repressed.

I knew that had to be from God because there was no way I could have thought it up myself. And what I took from that incredibly logical thought was that in order for me to let go of my past and put it behind me, I had to remember it and accept that it was a part of who I am. Only then would I be able move past it and let it go.

The reason I say I had to not only remember, but also accept what I was remembering, is that the things I was remembering were so awful that I was having a hard time accepting that the people I was supposed to be able to trust were the same people who had betrayed that trust in such horrific ways. I had to accept that these terrible, evil things were a part of my story, and that the people I had depended on for my most basic needs had abused the trust I had placed in them. It was a hard pill to swallow, and it took me a long time to do it, at least partly because it also meant forgiving those who had hurt me.

I believe every person who has been the victim of child abuse and/or childhood sexual abuse must go through this process if they’ve repressed the memories of the abuse. No one wants to believe that the people they must depend on for their most basic needs would betray the trust that’s been placed in them in such appalling and egregious ways, but unfortunately it does happen. And when it does, the destruction to the life of the victim is far-reaching.

It’s been my personal experience that the only thing that can bring real and long-lasting healing is inviting God into the situation. Therapy can only take you so far on its own before it loses its ability to effect change unless God’s presence is sought in the healing process. Obviously that is my opinion, and opinions are not facts, but it’s an opinion based on hard personal experience.

Even if you never forgot or repressed the memories of the abuse you were subjected to, you still must go through this process, because, as I did, you will probably feel a need to deny that those who were supposed to love and care for you did the exact opposite, and abused you. You will probably also feel the need to blame yourself, as I did. Well, let me tell you, categorically, it was not your fault. It was not my fault either. It took me a very long time to be able to believe that, but now I really do know beyond a shadow of a doubt. It was not my fault. It was entirely my father’s fault. It was also my mother’s fault because she didn’t protect me from my father. But above all else, it was not my fault.

It was not my fault, and it was not your fault either. Know that of a surety.

Adulting Is a Four Letter Word

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I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to grow up. While I’m sixty-six years old chronologically, I’ve never felt older than sixteen, which is how old I, Sarah, was when I was created at the time of the gang-rape when Catherine Belinda was three years old.

That was when Harry got four of his cronies together, and the five of them decided that they were going to take Catherine Belinda to a house owned by one of them, and together the five of them would take turns raping her.

An innocent three year old tiny little girl!!

Harry!! How could you have done this!! What were you thinking!!

I weep for that innocent little girl that was me! I wish I could take her into my arms and do for her what was never done for me! I want to protect her as no one ever protected me!

How could they have done it God!! How could they have committed such an atrocity against an innocent child!!

Logically I know the answer to that question, but given the damage that one event has caused in my life, it’s hard to think about it logically, and everytime I read those cries above I start weeping for the little girl that was me all over again.

Before that event when we were three, we were already multiple, and Catherine Belinda, the original core personality, was doing her best to run things in the midst trying to protect herself from the hell of Harry’s constant abuse.

I, Sarah, didn’t exist at that point.

But during the gang-rape Catherine Belinda decided she was fed up with Harry’s lies and betrayals. She decided that this event was the ultimate betrayal on his part, and she decided that she was done.

She was DONE!!

She had to tell someone. She didn’t know who yet, but she’d find someone. She had to find a way to escape. She couldn’t stand it any longer. And everyone else inside could feel the certainty of her purpose, and they knew she was resolved to make good on this decision.

But they also knew that Harry was serious in his threats. He’d been threatening for at least a year at that point that he would kill her if she ever told anyone what he was doing to her, and he showed her that he was serious by playing Russian Roulette with one of his revolvers between her legs. And he didn’t just do it once. He did it on a regular basis to make sure everyone believed him.

I can only imagine the terror everyone must have felt everytime he pointed that gun at them!

So everyone inside made an executive decision that Catherine Belinda couldn’t be allowed to make good on her promise to find someone to tell about Harry’s abuse, and specifically, the gang-rape that had just occurred. They all concluded that she had to be removed from the scene, and someone else had to be created to take over for her, so she was hidden away and put to sleep, and I was created.

God is the one who gave me the gift of multiplicity, and I’m so grateful for it, because that’s what helped me to survive throughout my childhood. God is also the one who created each new alter everytime there was a need for one, as there was on that day when Catherine Belinda rebelled and had to be taken out of the system. I fully understand why she did it, but she had to be stopped, or Harry would have killed us. He’d made that abundantly clear.

So God created me, Sarah Abigail Kuriakos, to take over for Catherine Belinda, and He named me Sarah Abigail Kuriakos. He chose those names because He wanted me to know that someone loved me, and specifically, how much He loved me.

He also had to create twelve or thirteen other new alters because trauma of the rapes was so great, but that is a story for another day.

When He created me, chronologically we were three years old, but I was sixteen. Don’t ask me to explain how that works, because I can’t. All I know is that I was sixteen in a three year old body. I think it had something to do with being able to handle more responsibility than any three year old could possibly manage.

There are certain things one expects of an adult, and in my case, a Christian adult. Things like reading my Bible on a regular basis, going to church every Sunday, controlling my temper, not being rude to other people, getting and keeping a job and supporting myself financially, keeping my home neat and clean, and taking proper care of my cat. These are examples of activities normal adults engage in as a part of daily life.

Actually, I’m pretty much making all that up, because I have no idea what normal adults do in their daily lives. For one thing I doubt if there’s any such thing as a “normal” adult in today’s society, and for another, since I’ve never been an adult, I have no idea what they do. The things I mentioned are things I’d like to be doing in my daily life were I living even a semblance of a normal life.

Now that I’ve figured out this thing, what do I do about it? First off, I need discipline. All the things I want to be doing require a certain amount of discipline, and discipline is what I lack most of all. A few of the things I mentioned above I manage to do quite well, for instance, not being rude to others.

Everything else? Not so much. So, as I started out saying at the beginning of this post, I need to grow up. I also need to figure out how to discipline myself, so that I’m doing what I want to be doing on a daily basis.

HELP ME, LORD!!

The Gadarene and Me

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I’ve always felt a great affinity for the Gadarene demoniac, whose story is told in Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-37. As the story goes, Jesus and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee and landed in the region of the Gadarenes  (some manuscripts say Gerasenes; still others read Gergesenes), because Jesus had told them to go to the other side of the lake, and land there.

When they disembarked their boat, they were immediately set upon by a demon-possessed man, known as the Gadarene demoniac, so called because he had many demons, and he had been unable to live in civilized society for a long time. Luke 8 describes it well,

As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town. ~ Luke 8:27, NLT.

The passage also says that people had tried many times to restrain the man with chains and shackles without success. Each time he’d simply broken the chains and torn off the shackles, and then was driven into the wilderness by the demons who possessed him, deserted and abandoned by everyone who knew him,

For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was guarded, bound by chains and shackles, he would snap the restraints and be driven by the demon into deserted places. ~ Luke 8:29, CSB.

Over the years I’ve mentioned several times to a number of people that I’ve felt like I could relate strongly to this poor soul, but each time my feelings were discounted. I was told that any feelings I might have for this man couldn’t be real because I’d never been possessed by a legion of demons as he was.

I hate it when someone treats me like that. By denying my feelings, they’re denying who I am as a person. No one likes being disrespected like that ~ because that’s exactly how I felt whenever someone told me that ~ completely disrespected. And it’s taken me all these years to understand that, and to figure out that those people were wrong.

It’s not a matter of whether or not I’ve been possessed by one or a million demons that makes the difference. What makes it so I can relate to this guy is the fact that I understand how he FELT. Because whether or not I’ve been possessed by any demons at all, I’ve experienced the same feelings he did. I’ve felt abandoned and rejected, as he surely must have felt when he was driven from his home and forced out of his town, both by the demons that controlled him, and by the neighbors and friends who feared him.

When I was multiple there were times when a child alter would come out. If that happened when I was out in public, my behavior would get a little strange. It would look like I was talking to myself, or all of a sudden I would start talking like a small child, or I might have a panic attack and begin hitting myself. That kind of behavior in a public place is terribly off-putting to other people, and I had very few friends, because most people who knew me weren’t willing to put themselves in the position where they might be embarrassed by my weird behavior should I be triggered by an environmental cue into having a panic attack, or switching into another alter.

So while I’ve gotten used to being alone, and most of the time even enjoy it, there used to be times where I got lonely, because most people didn’t want to be around me. Now I really like being alone, at least partly because I never feel alone. I can always feel the presence of the Holy Spirit with me and in me, and I talk to God all the time ~ my version of prayer, I guess.

Once I realized that God had been with me throughout my childhood, saving my life and protecting me from the worst of the abuse, I understood that everything He’d said in His Word about never leaving me nor forsaking me was actually true.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5, ESV.

This promise is quoted from the Book of Joshua,

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. ~ Joshua 1:5, NIV.

I find that promise to be cause for great rejoicing, and very comforting. For the first time in my life I have someone who is willing to keep His promises, who will always tell me the truth and not lie to me, and who will always be with me wherever I go. Also, if the Bible is any indication, and if McT is telling the truth (McT is my therapist and I trust him), then God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit actually like spending time with me. McT says I’m a delight to be with.

I’m not quite sure what to do with that information. The most obvious thing would be to accept it as true, but I want to ask McT how he knows that. He said that he himself finds me delightful to be with, but he also said that God thinks I’m a delight to be with as well.

So how does he know that? ‘Tis a puzzler for me, and a delightful one at that, pun intended.

And on that note I’ll end, at least for now, but I’m sure this is a topic I’ll be revisiting often.

God ALWAYS Sees Me

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I’ve felt invisible my whole life. When I was a kid I had to be invisible, at least in the cult, because otherwise they would have abused me in their rituals. My attempts at invisibility were only rarely successful, but I had to try. In fact I created an alter named Invisible Jane who only came out during cult rituals, and her sole purpose was to keep us hidden so we wouldn’t get abused.

Also, paradoxically, while I needed to be invisible in the cult, I figured out that if I could make someone out in the world notice that I was being abused, I might be rescued and the abuse would stop. I had to be very careful how I went about doing this, however, because Harry had been threatening to kill us if we told anyone what he was doing to us since we were about two years old, so I had to talk without saying words.

The solution that came to me ~ I’m sure suggested to me by God ~ was to pick holes in my cuticles, sometimes to the point of infection, which I started doing at around age two. I have a copy of a photograph taken of me when I was four where I was picking my cuticles, and I was wearing a beautiful dress given to me by my grandmother.

Sarah Picking Her Cuticles at Age 4

Unfortunately my efforts came to naught, because no one ever noticed, which makes me feel very sad for the little girl that was me back then. You can read more about this in my post, O God, Let My Blood Cry Out On My Behalf!. It’s based on a Scripture from the Book of Job,

O earth, do not conceal my blood. Let it cry out on my behalf. ~ Job 16:18, NLT.

The reason I’m talking about it here is because, even though Invisible Jane was necessary during my childhood, she’s no longer needed because the abuse stopped many years ago, plus I was integrated back in 2003. But even today I experience situations where I’m treated as if I’m invisible, as if I don’t exist.

It happens most often in situations where I’m out shopping ~ for instance in Barnes & Noble, or a department store buying clothes. I will be standing, looking at some merchandise, clothes or books or whatever, and I’ll have a question that I’ll need to have answered. There will be other people who also have questions, and the sales clerk helps everyone, absolutely everyone but me. And then when I’m the only one left, she turns and walks away as if I don’t exist, when I’m standing right in front of her.

I want to yell at her, “WHAT AM I, CHOPPED LIVER!?”

But I don’t.

I can’t tell you how many times that’s happened to me, and how painful it is everytime it does. But lately I’ve been able to remind myself that I’m not invisible before God.

God ALWAYS sees me. He has seen me and been with me, protecting me and saving my life ever since the beginning. So, while it doesn’t feel good when people ignore me and fail to acknowledge my existence, I can take comfort in the fact that God always sees me, He never ignores or spurns me, and He always listens to me when I talk to Him. And He does this because I am important to Him because He loves me.

I find that incredibly comforting!

Thank you, Jesus!!

 

 

I’ve Made Peace With My Past

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I probably could have broken this into two posts, but it felt like it was important to keep in one piece. So here goes…

I’ve spent the majority of my life hating and regretting my life, and wishing I’d been born to different parents, in a different family, in a different life than the one God gave me. I was also angry, even enraged, at God for placing me in my family of origin, because I felt like He’d done it on purpose, especially considering that He knew what would happen to me in that family. The Bible says God knows the end from the beginning,

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” ~ Isaiah 46:9-10, NIV.

What that said to me was that God knew from the beginning of time that He would place me in a family where I would be abused within an inch of my life, where my mother would try to kill me during my infancy, and my father would play Russian Roulette with his revolver between my legs to threaten me if I told anyone what he was doing to me. Yet He still chose to put me in that family, knowing in advance the terror and horror I would experience throughout my childhood, and knowing as well that I would barely survive to adulthood.

I could not understand how God could do this to an innocent child! What had I ever done to deserve this?

What I couldn’t appreciate or comprehend at the time was that the being I knew as God was completely different from the God of the Bible, and the God of the Bible was who God really was. The one I knew as God was actually patterned after Harry, my biological father. That God was mean, impatient, egotistical, angry, abusive, a rager, selfish, violent, and He hated me. That God had told Harry many times to abuse me and rape me because He, God, hated me.

I didn’t know it then, but that God was actually the devil working through Harry, trying to obliterate me, because God, the real God, the God of the Bible, had a plan for my life, and the devil didn’t want God’s plan to come to pass.

The devil tried hard, to be sure. As I stated above, My mother tried to kill me a number of times during my infancy by drowning me in the bathtub, or suffocating me with a pillow, but was unsuccessful because one of my alters, Deadsally (I had to become multiple in order to survive), would come out each time and make me stop squirming so my mother would think she’d succeeded and stop trying.

Also, Harry started threatening to kill me when I was about two, as I related above, and in addition, I tried suicide nine times as an adult. Fortunately none of those attempts succeeded either.

I’m so glad that God is more powerful than anything the devil can do!

I spent a lot of years feeling angry at God for what I endured, because I didn’t understand that God, being God, and therefore sovereign, can do whatever He pleases, and even though His plan might look perfectly terrible to us, ultimately it’s a good plan. It’s all a question of His sovereignty over my life, and I have to be willing to let Him have control,

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? ~ Romans 9:20-21, ESV.

I have to trust that God knows more and better than I do, and I’m so grateful for God’s kindness and patience with me as I learn to trust Him. And I’m so grateful that He was willing to patiently wait for me to find out that He’s the exact opposite of everything the devil and Harry made me believe He was, and is.

I discovered that God was a good, kind and loving God over a period of years as I read the Bible from cover to cover several times, and then allowed people to pray for me, and then, finally, over the last four years, I took some online classes through Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). The courses I took were through RZIM’s Academy, and they were wonderful. They helped me to increase in boldness, and become less fearful when talking to other people about Jesus ~ something that had always been a huge problem for me. They also helped me to be more logical in my thinking.

The class that helped me the most, however, was the one called “Why Suffering?” This course was life-changing for me, because it helped me to see my childhood in a whole different light.

The class presented a new theory of theodicy that really helped me to see things from a new and different perspective. The term “theodicy” was coined by Gottfried Leibnitz back in 1710 to vindicate the existence of an all-good, all-powerful God given the presence of evil in the world.

In the “Why Suffering” course, one particular theory of theodicy was proposed, called the Non-Identity Theodicy Theory. This theory was originally put forth by a man named Vince Vitale, who did his PhD dissertation on it, and the “Why Suffering” course was kind of formulated around it. I’m glad it was, because learning about it set me free.

The basics of Vince Vitale’s theory are that when I think about myself in the world of suffering that we all live in, I’ve often wished myself to be in a world with much less suffering. And then I’ve thought, “Why didn’t God create me in that other world where there’s much less suffering instead of this suffering world that I’m actually in?” But wishing to be created as me in that other fantasy world with no suffering is actually a philosophical and biological impossibility.

I know this because I’ve wished for this very thing with my whole heart many times. Why couldn’t I have been born into a different and better family with parents who loved me and didn’t beat the crap out of me every time I turned around?

As a result of taking the “Why Suffering?” course, I’ve come to realize that my wish, wholehearted as it was, was an impossible one to grant.

Rats!

The reason was all too logical. If I was born into a different family with different parents, I wouldn’t be me, because I would have different DNA. Once I saw that, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to come from a different family, because, while it meant that I wouldn’t have suffered the hell of my childhood, it also meant that I wouldn’t have the close relationship with God that I do.

And my relationship with God has become the greatest and sweetest treasure of my life, one that I wouldn’t give up for anything, not even at the cost of gaining a better childhood with better parents.

I’m reminded of the passage in Mark’s Gospel,

‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for Me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age…along with persecutions ~ and in the age to come eternal life.’ ~ Mark 10:29-30, NIV.

Seventy Times Seven

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I’m writing mostly about forgiveness today, and the Scripture passage on which I’m basing what I have to say comes from Matthew 18,

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” ~ Matthew 18:21-22, NLT.

Following is a post from the old blog that Google shut down. It was originally written in November of 2011, but considering that I still struggle in this area, it seems appropriate to repost it here. In doing so, hopefully I’ll gain new insight, plus McT will read it, and we’ll be able to discuss it when I see him next.

November 26, 2011

I recently had a new abuse memory of something my father did to me when I was little, at what age I’m not sure ~ it probably happened more than once. It surfaced completely unbidden one Sunday morning recently. I was taking a shower as I was getting ready for church, and I was wondering why taking showers is still so difficult for me, even though I’ve remembered what he did to me in the shower when I was two. It just seems like it shouldn’t be so hard for me if I’ve already remembered everything I need to know.

As I was thinking about that I started seeing these pictures in my mind of my father making me take showers with other men besides himself, and making me do bad things with them. It was like I was a baby prostitute, at least partly because I could see money exchanging hands as well. As the pictures came surging into my consciousness and I began to understand the gravity of what he had done to me, I started to feel nauseated, and I began to cry.

I was in shock. My feelings were a confused jumble of sadness, betrayal, rage, and pain. I hated my father, and I felt incredible shame that he had used me in this way. I had always thought that the only time my father used me with other men was during the gang rape when I was three. This new memory showed me that I was tragically and horribly wrong. All I could think of was, how could he treat me like that?!? Children are a gift! A GIFT!! He treated me like trash, and so did his friends. I felt unimaginable grief for the little girl that I was, knowing that I’d been treated in such an unspeakably horrible way.

Now that the memory has surfaced, I have to work at forgiving Harry, as well as the men he forced on me. The idea makes me mad because I didn’t deserve what they did to me, but God loves my father just as much as He loves me, regardless of his behavior towards me.

In addition, forgiveness in the Bible isn’t a suggestion, it’s a commandment. God says that if we don’t forgive those who sin against us, He won’t forgive us when we ask Him for it. It says in Matthew 6,

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ Matthew 6:14-15, NLT. 

Aside from all that, on a purely personal and practical basis, holding unforgiveness against someone is bad for your health. Studies have shown that when you hold unforgiveness against another person, over time bitterness builds up and it can actually make you physically ill. I know this to be true from hard personal experience.

Additionally, forgiveness is solely for the benefit of the person doing the forgiving ~ in this case, me. It doesn’t in any way excuse the perpetrator, or say that what they did is now okay because you’re forgiving them.

With all of that said, I’ve come to realize that I still have areas of unforgiveness against my mom, mostly because she never protected me from Harry’s rage and abuse. During all the years when I was being beaten, raped, belittled, berated, denigrated, disparaged, and derogated, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, and told by my father everytime he did all this terrible crap to me, that he had to do it because God hated me, and that I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face, not once did my mother stand up for me, or try to stop my father, or in any way try to protect me.

I’ve told her about what he did to me, and her response has always been that she saw bruises, and that if she had known it was sexual abuse the divorce would have happened a lot sooner than it did. The problem with that is that children die all the time from being physically abused, so her saying that to me means nothing. Plus, she abused me as well. I’ve remembered a number of times when I was an infant where my mother tried to kill me. She would try to drown me in the bathtub or suffocate me with a pillow, so one of my alters, Deadsally, would come out and make me stop squirming so my mother would think she’d succeeded and stop trying. I’ve also had at least one memory of her abusing me sexually as well.

It’s always been easier for me to forgive my mother because I’m just about positive that she’s multiple. I’d be very surprised if she actually remembered any incidents of abuse if I confronted her with them. I realize that her negations could just as easily be her attempt to remain in denial, but I’m also fairly positive that she was abused when she was a child, even though she says she wasn’t.

Another reason I think Mom is multiple is because as far back as I can remember, she would forget where she put things like her keys just minutes after she’d laid them down. And then she’d say things like, “Gremlins hid my keys, where are my keys?” Or she’d accuse my sister or me of hiding them to trick her. She was constantly putting things down, and then minutes later she wouldn’t be able to find them or remember where they were.

So the upshot of it all is that I have more forgiving to do than I had originally thought. It’s not something that I dread doing, or that will be impossible to manage, or anything like that. The Bible says that with God all things are possible, and that’s certainly true in this case. I’ve already forgiven both Mom and Harry for so many other things. This is just more of the same, and I’ll be able to do it with God’s help.

Sometimes I wonder, though. Will it ever end? Will the time ever come when I have nothing left to remember and nothing left to forgive them for?

Am I Afraid of Anger, or Do I Get Angry at the Fear?

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I originally wrote this post back in April of 2013 for a blog that I kept on another blogging site. That blog was shut down by the website without my consent, and I was never able to get it back, so from time to time I’m going to repost some of the posts I wrote from that blog as they seem appropriate to what I’m dealing with now.

This post contains a letter that I wrote to my biological father to deal with some of the unexpressed anger and rage that I feel about what he did to me. My therapist suggested that I write it but not send it, so that’s what I’ve done. Here’s the post:

April 10, 2013 ~ I’ve come to realize that most of the anger I feel and/or express is misplaced and  misdirected, either at myself, or at the people in whatever TV program I’m watching at the time, especially if it’s something having to do with someone being raped or abused, or being treated unjustly or unfairly in anyway. I also get angry at certain news stories having to do with violence against children or women, or about registered sex offenders.

I’ve also found it interesting and a bit puzzling that I’ve never once felt, much less voiced, any anger towards my father for all the awful, horrible things he did to me. I have forgiven him, and I’ve never ever had any desire for revenge, but by the same token, I’ve also never felt any anger towards him. I don’t know if it’s because I’m terrified that he’ll come after me or because I’m afraid I’ll go ballistic if I start letting it out, or just what.

So maybe it’s time for me to do something about it. It’s not good to hold anger inside, especially for long periods of time, and while I’m getting better at not holding my anger inside, when I do let it out it’s almost always directed at the wrong person. So I’m thinking I should do something to express some of it towards my father, instead of towards me and all the other people who aren’t supposed to get it. My therapist says I should write him a letter, but I wouldn’t have to mail it to him. So that’s what I’ll do.

May 15, 2013 ~ I think it’s curious and probably significant that, after I start thinking about writing a letter to my father to tell him how angry I am at him, even if I know he’ll never see it, all of a sudden I avoid this blog like the plague. I wrote the first part of this post at the beginning of April and now it’s the middle of May.

Up until now I’ve always avoided dealing with any real feelings about Harry, and I think the reason is because I’ve been afraid, terrified, actually. Terrified that I wouldn’t be able to control my anger, petrified I’ll go ballistic and do something I’ll regret later ~ all because I’m panic-stricken at the idea of no longer hiding my true feelings about him. As I was sitting here thinking about what to write, I beat a retreat in the middle of this paragraph to play solitaire. Sometimes it helps me to think. Actually I think it’s an excuse for not having to think or write about what I’m supposed to be working on. Anyway, I started playing Solitaire and it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to (I was losing game after game) so I got more and more frustrated, and I ended up hitting myself a whole lot. Which is the point of all this in the first place: I get angry at myself instead of getting angry at the person ~ Harry ~ who’s the one I should be getting angry at.

So I’m going to step out in faith, and instead of being afraid of the anger, I’m going to get angry at the fear, and I’m going to start writing that letter. So here goes.

Harry:

First, I have to say that there are certain things about my childhood for which I’ve always been grateful: the piano lessons, and the love for classical music that you and Mom instilled in me, plus the keen intelligence, analytical mind, and desire for knowledge that have made me a voracious reader, and given me a life-long love of learning.

I have a lot of things to say to you. A LOT. You’re supposed to be my father, at least that’s the title they gave you on my birth certificate. I have to tell you, however, that I don’t buy it. You’ve never been a father to me. I’ve had a lot of memories of things you did to me when I was a child that no father should ever do to ANY child, much less his own daughter ~ that no human being should ever do to any other human being. Even animals shouldn’t be treated the way you treated me. So I have a hard time calling you my father.

You abused me. You abused me physically, verbally, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually. You made me hate you, and you made me hate myself. Everytime you abused me you told me you had to do it because God hated me. Everytime you abused me you told me I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face. I don’t know why you felt the need to say those awful, hateful things to me. It took me many, many years of healing before I could believe that God didn’t hate me, and many more years after that before I could believe that anyone, much less God, could love me. I’m still working on whether or not I’m ugly. I think I can finally say that I’m not ugly, but I’m not sure I can take it any farther than that yet.

I’ve finally decided that maybe you told me those things because you were projecting onto me how you felt about yourself. However, that’s no excuse for that kind of cruelty! Do you have any idea the kind of pain just those two statements spoken over and over into my life have caused me? Agony! Do you hear me? Agony! You caused me years and years of anguish and agony, plus nine suicide attempts just from those two statements, not to mention the torment from all the other horrific and terrible things you did to me.

You abused me within an inch of my life. The only reason I survived infancy is because God gave me the ability to become multiple.

You forced us to lie about what you were doing to us so you could keep on beating, raping, and otherwise assaulting the life out of us. You told us that if we ever told anyone what you were doing to us you would kill us, and then you played Russian Roulette with your revolver between our legs to make sure we believed you. There was no way we could have known back then that the gun was loaded with blanks. We were children, tiny children, so we had no choice but to believe you, and we had to become liars that no one could trust as a result. You stole our integrity,  our innocence, our childhood, and our hope when you did that, because you left us with no recourse and no ability to seek rescue.

Do you remember our habit of picking our cuticles? We started doing that at a very early age, as young as age two. Do you know why we did that? Because you told us we couldn’t tell anyone what you were doing to us, so we had to come up with a way to tell people without using words that we were in peril. So we picked holes in our cuticles, sometimes to the point of getting them infected. Tragically for us, our efforts were all for naught, because no one ever caught on or reached out to help.

You used rape as punishment for wrongdoing, and you kept changing the rules so we never knew what they were. It didn’t matter what we did or how we did it, it was never good enough, so no matter what, we were wrong and had to be punished, which meant you had yet another excuse to rape and/or hit us. I don’t know what we did to become the brunt of your rage; I doubt we did anything. We think you just needed a scapegoat, and we were small and weak enough that we couldn’t fight back.

And then there was the time when we were three when you decided that just raping us yourself wasn’t enough; you needed to spice it up by getting your friends involved. So you orchestrated a little gang-rape with four of your cronies. I don’t know what you were hoping to accomplish that day, but it certainly couldn’t have been anything good.

Do you have any idea of how traumatic that event was for us? That one incident was so devastating, so damaging to us that it, and you, caused the creation of 12, that’s right, twelve, new alters. It was so horrific that Catherine Belinda, the core personality, decided she’d had enough of your lies and betrayals. She determined that she couldn’t stand your abuse any longer, so despite the risk and menace inherent in your threats, she resolved to tell someone, anyone, what you were doing to us. But God and the rest of us, knew that you meant business when you said you’d kill us if we told. So God and the rest of us hid Catherine Belinda away and put her to sleep, and kept her that way for the next fifty years. In her place a new alter was created to run things. The new alter’s name was Sarah Abigail Kuriakos, but she answered to Catherine Belinda’s name so no one would notice or suspect anything was different.

You know, all we wanted was to be accepted and loved. That’s all any child wants. Was that too much to ask? We don’t think it was, but you couldn’t even give us that. A child is a gift from God, yet you treated us like trash. You acted like we were your personal property to kick around and beat up as you pleased. We were a small, innocent child! You were nothing more than a cowardly bully, picking on your own daughter, someone who was too small and defenseless to stand up for ourselves. If you’re going to pick on someone, pick on someone your own size!

I think the thing that hurts me more than anything else about all the horrors you visited on me/us throughout the years of my childhood is that you made it nigh unto impossible for me to have a relationship with a man, or with God. I’m terrified of men and I’m terrified of sex. As a consequence I’ve never been able to consider even going out on a date, much less anything more serious, because I might have to let him touch me, and ultimately I might have to marry him and have sex with him.

Fortunately, as far as a relationship with God is concerned, God had other plans, and it’s only by His grace and mercy that I’m alive to tell this story, or that I know anything about Him at all. I owe my life to God and to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and it’s only because of His healing power that I’m able to trust Him or believe in Him. I will never be able to express enough gratitude to God for all He has done for me in setting me free from all that you did to me. One thing you should know however, is that the God of Love who healed me won’t allow me to hate you anymore.

That’s right. Jesus loves you just as much as He loves me or anyone else, without reservation or condemnation, and because He’s healed me, He’s helped me to forgive you for everything you did to me. And yes, I have forgiven you. I don’t want revenge, I don’t desire any kind of evil to come to you, and I wish only good for you. This teeny weeny paragraph stating my forgiveness may sound a little simplistic and trite, like nothing more than a bunch of platitudes after my great long letter expressing a lot of pent up rage and vitriol. In truth I was only expressing my heart and my truth as I saw it. But my forgiveness is real and heartfelt, and the ball is now in your court. It’s your choice as to whether you will accept or reject it, because with my forgiveness, I’m also offering reconciliation with you and the possibility of a relationship. I don’t know if that’s something you desire, but my offer is there if you choose to accept it.

That’s all for now. I wish peace with God and health for your body and soul. I know that you now suffer from emphysema and are on 24-hour oxygen, and I wish healing for you from that as well.

Blessings and Peace,

Sarah

Well, thankfully it’s finished. As an addendum, I want to add a little bit of history to bring the story of the multiplicity aspect up to date.

As I said in the middle of the letter, at age 27, in October of 1980, I changed my name from Catherine Belinda Pfaff to Sarah Abigail Kuriakos. At the time I was only just beginning to have memories of being abused and I had no idea I was multiple. I thought I was changing my name to cut myself off from a heritage of abuse, and I thought I was choosing a new name. So I chose three names that were Bible names or words with really good meanings, and that meant things I had never meant to anyone before: Sarah means, “Princess,” and Sarah, of course, was Abraham’s wife and the mother of Isaac. Abigail means, “a father’s joy, or a joy to the Father,” and Abigail was one of David’s wives, and a virtuous woman in the Bible. And Kuriakos means, “belonging to God” and is used twice in the New Testament.

In reality, I was already Sarah Abigail Kuriakos, but I was consciously unaware of it. Everyone inside decided that the name of the body, which had been Catherine Belinda up until then, should be changed to match my name so there would be more congruence between inside and outside. It made sense. Catherine Belinda was hidden away and asleep, and had been for a long time, and would remain that way indefinitely, so it didn’t make any sense to keep using her name. It made much more sense to use my name because I was running things, so we found a lawyer amongst the people at my church, and we went to court and change it to my name. And strangely enough, the change wasn’t at all hard to adapt to. It was like that should have been my name all along. I’d had this weird feeling for awhile that Catherine Belinda was a name that belonged to someone else ~ which turned out to be true, interestingly enough, in a strange sort of way. Plus all my friends said that Sarah Abigail fit me much better than Catherine Belinda did. Funny thing! Maybe that was because Sarah Abigail was actually my name and Catherine Belinda wasn’t.

And being Sarah Abigail Kuriakos has made a huge difference in my life, and brought me closer to God. Everytime I hear the names I hear their meanings, and God has used that to heal me a tiny bit everyday. Plus I’m no longer multiple. In October of 2001 I decided I wanted to seek integration, so I went to the pastor of the church I was going to at the time, and asked him if they could help me with that. I knew that the process of integration takes many years, often in excess of ten, if it’s done in therapy, and I wanted God to do the healing, not some shrink. So my pastor and some people in the church who knew of my background set up a team of prayer warriors, and they prayed for me once a month over a period of 18 months, and by the end of that time I was fully integrated. It was a wonderful thing. Instead of being many I was one ~ for the first time in my entire life! There was no longer any chaos or confusion inside. Blessed peace! Wow!! Praise God!! And the really cool thing was that the process was complete right around my fiftieth birthday. And just before the final integration was done, God woke up Catherine Belinda and brought her out of hiding so that she could be integrated into the whole along with everyone else. Amazingly, God had been watching over her the whole time, and had been causing her to grow while she was asleep, so when she came back it wasn’t a huge shock to her system. I was seeing a really good Christian therapist at the time, and she was fully supportive of the prayer group’s work. I remember the day when Catherine Belinda woke up. It was March (?) of 1999 and the day of the First-Brush-Stroke Ceremony at the Bowers Museum for Raúl Anguiano’s first mural, and I had been invited, amazingly enough. I was working at Pearl Arts and Crafts Store in Huntington Beach, and Raúl had come into the store for his art supplies for the ceremony and for the mural completion to follow, and I had decided that I was going to be there when he came in, come what may. So when he came in, I was there and I helped him get what he needed. He was such a nice guy! So he invited me to the ceremony, and he allowed me to come and watch him paint the mural afterward, over a period of weeks. Wow! And then he gave me a gift of one of his small lithographs, personally signed by him to me!

Well anyway, the day of the ceremony, I had this strange feeling all day long that someone new was using the body, that it wasn’t really me. My eyes felt hypersensitive to light, like I’d been in a very dark place for a long time, and my eyes needed to have time to adjust to the light. Fortunately I had a therapy session that afternoon before I had to be at the ceremony at the Bowers, so I spent my session talking about the weird sensations I’d been having all day, and what they might mean. We finally came to the conclusion that Catherine Belinda was waking up so she, along with everyone else could go to the ceremony at the Bowers. It seemed like God had planned it that way, so who was I to argue>

And then there was the whole situation with Klepto, who was a little four-year-old girl who stole things because that was the only way she knew of to get what she wanted. Of course stealing is, and always has been, absolutely antithetical to everything I am, so when she came out and started stealing stuff from work (I was still working at Pearl at the time), I got very upset. The first thing we did was talk to her and tell her she couldn’t do this. She had to take everything back, and put it back where she got it without getting caught, because I didn’t want to lose my job. Then, on the advice of my therapist, we changed her name to Elizabeth, because Klepto as a name was like a self-fulfilling prophecy. She came out one more time in a toy store where she tried to shoplift a game. Fortunately I came out and stopped her before she could leave the store with it, but it was rather embarrassing. And then she was integrated into the whole, and was no longer a problem, thank God!

So, God gave me the most amazing and wonderful birthday gift for my fiftieth birthday, and I’ve been eternally grateful ever since. I can’t thank Him enough. Certainly I’ve had my struggles since then. There was the whole seven-year period where I was angry at God because I couldn’t understand how He could allow me to be abused. It turned out that what I really didn’t understand was about God’s sovereignty, and that I didn’t have the right to challenge it, which was what I had been doing. And then I realized that all I really wanted to know was where God was when I was being abused. And ultimately God showed me. He showed me that He had been right there with me, protecting me by making me multiple, saving my life by creating new alters as they were needed. Each time there was an abuse incident that was severe enough to require a new alter, God put His finger on my personality in the exact spot where He wanted the split to occur. It was God who created Sarah Abigail Kuriakos, and chose her name ~ which gives the meaning of the names even more significance when I think of it in that light. Wow…

Well, I guess I’d better finish this and post it. It’s turned out to be VERY long, a lot longer than I expected, though all of it was important and needed to be said.

Until next time then…

Go To Forgiveness, Go Right To Forgiveness. Don’t Pass Through Guilt, Don’t Go To Condemnation.

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God’s been working some changes in me over the last few weeks, and I’m so excited that I have to tell everyone about it.

I don’t play computer games. Well, not very much anyway.

Well, two games.

Fine, three games.

Okay, okay, four! Gimme a break!

It really is only four: two online games, one called June’s Journey, and one called Ravenhill: Hidden Mystery. I also play a crossword game, and a game that’s a combination between mahjong and solitaire, called Mahjong Solitaire Epic. The two online games are hidden object games. I play the crossword game to, hopefully, increase my vocabulary, and I like Mahjong Solitaire Epic because it requires strategy and makes me think as I’m playing, plus the graphics are beautiful.

My point in talking about my computer games is that, until about three weeks ago, everytime I played one of the games I experienced a great deal of frustration everytime I made a mistake, with subsequent panic/rage attacks and consequent self-abuse.

I used to get so angry at myself when that happened! I had to forgive myself for the self-abuse, and forgiving myself has always been like pulling teeth for me, plus whenever I get upset enough to hit myself, I always feel like I need to ask God to forgive me.

Playing these games has always been a struggle for me, because I’ve always had the feeling that I’m not supposed to be playing them, yet if I stop playing, then I’m afraid I’ll get bored.

So about a month-and-a-half ago, in a drastic move, I deleted all my games. I got tired of feeling like I was disappointing God by playing the games, plus I knew I was spending way too much time playing, so I decided to get rid of all of them.

Then after about four days, I realized I’d made a mistake, especially with one particular game, June’s Journey. And of course, June’s Journey is the one I like the most.

When I deleted it I was at Level 299, going on Level 300, and I was in the middle of upgrading the pirate ship, with only the country mansion left to renovate (I’d already finished upgrading the lighthouse and the chapel). I’d been playing for about a year-and-a-half, and was far advanced. I then realized my mistake and tried unsuccessfully to re-download it at the same level as before, but when my efforts were ineffective I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to play June’s Journey, I’d have to start over.

So that’s what I determined to do, but I realized I’d been spending far too much time playing when I could have been doing other things much more conducive to serving God. Things like reading my Bible more consistently and going to church on a regular basis.

Then God showed me that it’s okay for me to play the games as long as I do it in moderation. I decided I could do that. That I could manage.

All of this transpired a little over three weeks ago. Then I re-downloaded June’s Journey. All of a sudden, all the frustration that had driven me to hit myself was gone, simply gone. It was like there had been a sharp arrow embedded in my mind that got dinged whenever I made a mistake, causing agony and self-abuse everytime, and God had supernaturally removed the arrow and healed the wound it had made. So now, since the arrow is gone, so is the consequent frustration, and the subsequent self-abuse.

And along with everything else, forgiving myself is now easy.

I can’t tell you what peace and joy this change has brought me! It feels like God has done a miracle in me. In fact, I think He did, because one day I was hitting myself, and the next I wasn’t, and in addition, it was suddenly easy to forgive myself. I don’t know why I would doubt that, or find it strange, because He’s been doing miracles in me for years as He’s healing me.

GLORY TO GOD! HALLELUJAH TO JESUS! THANK YOU, HOLY SPIRIT!

I thank God for His inexpressible and unfathomable gifts to me! He is so good to me!

In Which I Purchase a Beautiful Painting

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I bought a painting. Yup, a beautiful painting by an artist who lives in Massachusetts, whose name is Jeffrey Hayes. It’s an oil painting, 17 x 24 inches, and it’s entitled “Makers of Yesterday’s Future”.

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The reason I write about it here is because of what the Lord showed me about the painting.

The artist, Jeffrey Hayes, was generous and kind enough to allow me to make payments on it, but unaccountably, late in the process, I began to have second thoughts about buying it. I’m not sure why that is, but I did.

Then, yesterday morning, as I was bringing it upstairs from my car, God revealed to me that this painting is a metaphor for my life, and in particular, the process I’m going through as He heals me from my childhood. Now, for those of you who don’t understand when I say that God showed me something, I’m not saying anything super-spiritual, even though it may sound that way. What I’m saying is nothing more than that God planted an idea in my mind.

That idea, however, made a huge difference in how I viewed the painting. Now, instead of having regret about purchasing it, I’m very glad, and I’m excited about hanging it and being able to look at it everyday, because looking at it all the time will be a constant reminder of God’s love for me, and HIs continuing work in my life as He heals me.

The process, and the painting, reminds me of the verse in Ephesians that says,

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ~ Ephesians 2:10, NLT.

The word masterpiece in this verse is “poiēma” in the Greek. The English word poem comes from it, and other translations render this word as workmanship.

Praise God!