Category Archives: Child abuse

Those Wretched Intrusions!

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I want to talk about something that every survivor of child abuse, and especially every survivor of childhood sexual abuse struggles with, and that is flashbacks. Anyone who has PTSD wrestles with flashbacks. Soldiers who’ve come back from battle often have PTSD, and one of the symptoms of PTSD is flashbacks.

My dictionary defines a flashback as: a sudden and disturbing vivid memory of an event in the past, typically as the result of psychological trauma. 

I have flashbacks on a daily basis. For me ~ and I think they’re different for each person because each person is a unique individual ~ they are distinctly sexual, and very distressing and disconcerting. Basically they consist of body parts having sex, and everytime they happen I feel like a wave of filth has just washed through my mind. When it happens I feel compelled to shake my head in an effort to jiggle it out of my head to make it go away. Doing that doesn’t work very well, but I can’t just do nothing. I also say to myself, “I cast that thought down in the Name of Jesus,” which I got from a passage in 2 Corinthians,

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds); casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ… 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, ASV (American Standard Version).

Over the years my main way of dealing with them has been to spend time reading my Bible, plus I listen to the Bible on tape while I sleep. I figure exposing myself to God’s Word in every possible way has to help because the Bible talks about the Word having a cleansing affect,

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. ~ Ephesians 5:25-26, NLT. 

The Bible also speaks of being successful if you keep God’s Word before you all the time,

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. ~ Joshua 1:8, NIV.

And aside from all that, I just love God’s Word. It’s been my favorite book in the whole world for many years.

However, I find it painfully interesting that since I started working on this post the flashbacks have gotten worse ~ more vivid, more frequent, and more intrusive ~ than they’ve ever been. It’s almost like the devil knows, or my mind knows, that in bringing the problem out into the open its days are numbered.

I hope that’s true!! I would dearly love to be free of this cursed plague!!

So I submit my mind to God, and to the purifying blood of Christ my Lord in the hope of freedom and eternal life!

Thank You Jesus for Your cleansing blood!! I love You so!!

The Continuing Saga of the Monster’s Death

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It’s been five or six days since Harry’s death, and I’ve had some time to cogitate on what that means for me. You wouldn’t think there’d be any meaning at all when someone dies who had pretty much no relationship with me, but he had a hugely destructive influence on my childhood, so regardless of whether there was any current relationship, it’s going to mean something to me when he dies. The problem is to figure out what that is.

The first conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m taking too much responsibility on myself for whether Harry accepted the gift of God’s grace. While Jesus commanded us to preach the Gospel to every creature, ultimately the responsibility for making the seeds of the Gospel bear fruit is God’s problem,

Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. ~ Mark 16:14-15, NKJV.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, NIV.

I love this passage from Isaiah. It says so many things to me. It tells me that God’s Word is alive, and that God will always make His Word bear fruit. It also says that God always keeps His promises ~ that He can always be depended upon to do what He says He’ll do, and He’ll always be faithful to keep His Word. In addition it says that God loves His Word ~ at least it says that to me. He loves it enough, and cares about it enough, that He will work to protect it and make sure it comes to fruition anytime it’s spoken.

So if I’m worried that I should be doing more to make sure that Harry makes it into Heaven, I’m worrying way too much. If nothing else, the decision was made the moment he died. Once he’s gone, there’s nothing more any human being can do to influence Harry’s decision, or God’s judgment about Harry’s destination. Plus a friend reminded me a couple of days ago that when someone ends up in Hell, they’re there because that’s where they want to be.

I guess I have a hard time believing anyone would actually want to be in Hell, because I know a little of what Hell is like, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, not even my worst enemy.

All that aside, I’m feeling bereft. I never had what most people would call a father. Certainly Harry wasn’t a father to me, and I never felt loved by my stepdad either. He tried, but I think maybe the damage done by the time he came around was so extensive that he couldn’t get beyond it to relate to me as he would to any “normal” person.

So, as I said, I feel bereft, regardless of the fact that Harry wasn’t in my life, and hadn’t been since he left when he and my mother got divorced when I was ten. It’s strange, because he was never a father to me, yet now that he’s gone, I miss him like he was, though what I’m missing may be the hope that he would become a father to me.

I’ve been hunting for a surrogate father my whole life, and everytime I thought I’d found one, something would happen and he’d go away. I finally gave up looking. I can sort of see why it’s not good to trust in an earthly substitute, but sometimes you need a pair of physical ears to talk to, and a pair of physical arms to give you a hug, and sometimes you need them to be male ears and arms ~ and I could never find that, not anywhere. It turned out to be impossible.

As I was talking with McT about this today, he got me thinking about the few times I saw Harry after the divorce. I can probably count them on one hand. There were two before my stepdad adopted my sister and me so we’d have his last name. Then there was a gap of twenty years or more, until I was about thirty-three. I hadn’t had any memories yet, and my Aunt Priscilla, Harry’s sister, suggested I visit him in West Virginia where he lived with his second wife. I hadn’t seen him in at least twenty years, and the first thing he did after I got there was take me out and buy me five pairs of underwear.

At the time I wasn’t sure how I felt about that gift, but it didn’t feel as truly weird, perverted, and inappropriate as it has since come to feel. When I told McT about it today, immediately his face got all scrunched up, and he said that it was a really inappropriate gift for a father to give his daughter.

I stayed with Harry and Elizabeth for a week, and all I remember about that time, aside from the underwear gift, was that Harry and Elizabeth argued a lot, and it was all about me. All these years I thought it was because she was jealous of me, but as McT and I were talking about it today, it came to me that they were arguing because she was telling him that his underwear gift was bizarre and wrong, and he was arguing back because he couldn’t understand what she was saying. To him, giving your daughter underwear was a perfectly natural thing to do.

EEeeewwwww!!!!

I know someone whose father gave her a red bra for her sixteenth birthday, which I always thought was really wrong. It’s strange how I couldn’t see that Harry’s gift of underwear to me was just as strange until I saw McT’s reaction. I guess I was too close to it to be able to see how weird it was, but now I get it really well!

Like I said above, EEeeeeewwwwww!!! Now it gives me the creeps! Back then it made me feel a little strange, but I had no idea why, because I’d had no memory of being abused by anyone, much less by Harry. In fact, I had no memory at all of the first ten years of my life. Those years were a huge blank for me. Since then God has been filling in the void with substance, though sometimes I’ve found myself wishing those years had stayed empty, because not knowing at times feels better than knowing.

And interestingly, it was after I got home from that visit that I had my first abuse memories, and they were perfectly awful ~ and I was in a therapy appointment with McT when they came out.

The only other meeting with Harry that I remember was a short one. I don’t remember when it happened, except that it was about thirty years ago ~ in the nineties, I think. The only thing I remember about it was that it ended in a fist-bump. Fist-bumps have only been popular in the last two or three years, and when he gave me one thirty years ago, I perceived it as him rejecting me and pushing me away. It felt incredibly off-putting. Now, I think, it’s supposed to be sign that someone is cool. Maybe that’s how he meant it, I don’t know, but that’s not how I took it. So maybe I misread his signal to me in that instance. Maybe I need to ask for his forgiveness.

So now I’m left with what to do with all I’ve discovered, and the first thing I know I must do is forgive. Always forgive. Forgiving has become foundational to who I am, and it’s not hard to forgive Harry, or anyone else who’s hurt me. The only one I have a problem forgiving is myself, though that’s getting easier as well, thank God.

This has been a really long post, I know, but this is a difficult topic, so I hope everyone will read the whole thing all the way through. Mostly, I want to give glory to God for helping me to think everything through with the proper insight, and for helping me to see Harry through the eyes of Jesus ~ as God sees him.

I know Jesus loves Harry as much as He loves me, or anyone else, so I have no right to hold unforgiveness or hatred against him, so I choose to bless him, and I wish peace and healing towards him.

I hope and pray he accepted God’s gift of salvation before he died! Glory to God for the cross!!

The Monster Is Dead

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I just got a phone call from my cousin. It seems that Harry, my biological father, died yesterday. He was 93 years old. I haven’t seen or heard from him in about forty years. Basically he wanted nothing to do with me, and had made me persona non grata to him. It felt like I had ceased to exist for him.

As far as I’m concerned it was his loss.

This news is a bit of a shock to me, and I find myself a bit unsure of what to do with it right off. I’m fairly certain that he wasn’t saved, though I prayed for him on multiple occasions, that God would send laborers across his path to minister the Word to him. I believe God answered those prayers, but as long as I knew anything about him, he was an atheist. I can only hope that any seeds that were planted bore fruit before he breathed his last. I have to trust that God did exactly that, because He’s the One who makes His Word bear fruit,

The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with My word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, NLT.

As I said, I don’t know what to do with this information just yet. While he was alive, I had the hope that I’d be able to reconcile with him, that I’d be able to tell him that I’d forgiven him for everything that he did to me. (For those of you who don’t know what that means, my post, Am I Afraid of Anger, or Do I Get Angry at the Fear?, will explain it to you.)

I find myself feeling kind of fragmented and jumbled up as I think about this. For one thing, I find myself feeling more grief at Harry’s death than I ever felt when my mom died. It’s not that I loved Harry more than I did Mom, not at all. If anything I loved him less because he made himself so incredibly unloveable. I always felt a great deal of ambivalence about both my parents, and about my stepdad as well. Even when all three of them were alive I felt like an orphan most of the time, and now that they’re all gone, at least biologically, I am one. Spiritually I’m not, because God said He would be a Father to the fatherless, and I can always feel His presence with me,

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. ~ Psalm 68:5, NIV.

I’m wondering if the reason I feel more sadness with Harry’s death than I did when Mom died is because I was able to resolve things with Mom much more than I was with Harry. Plus Mom always wanted me around, and Harry didn’t, so I spent many, many years desiring a relationship with him ~ a desire that I was never able to bring to fruition. Plus I’m fairly certain that my mother is in Heaven, where I don’t have that certainty at all with Harry.

Now that he’s gone, my prayer is that God will grant him mercy in His dealings with him at Judgment Day. If he must end up in Hell, then let him go to a level that’s not as bad as it might be, if such a thing is possible. But maybe, just maybe, he’ll end up in Heaven ~ just maybe!!

I can only hope, and I trust in God’s goodness and mercy.

You are My Everlasting God and Constant Hope

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I’ve been trying to get a post written for almost two weeks, without success. I just can’t seem to get focused enough to write coherently. It’s extremely frustrating. Hopefully by the end of this post, all that will change.

So I think I’ll just start writing. About anything and everything. But thus far it’s not going very well, mostly because I’m trying to do too many things at once. Things like watching TV and writing, or playing games and writing, or looking at my mail and writing. Obviously if I combine any of those activities with writing, I’m not going to produce anything but a blank page. So I have to turn off the TV, put down my iPad, and get rid of the mail ~ and focus on the WordPress app on my laptop! Which is what I’m doing now, and why these sentences are finally being written.

PHEW!!

What a relief!!

I’m actually writing something down! Of course now, when I’m actually making progress, is when Lily decides she should come and sit in my lap, and lick my hand.

Looks like she changed her mind. Another sigh of relief. I mean, I love her dearly, but there are times when it’s better for her to leave me alone, because I can’t get anything done if she’s perched in my lap, other than pet and stroke her ~ which I’m sure is exactly what she wants. She loves being the center of attention!

As this is turning out to be a stream-of-consciousness post, I’ll continue to write about whatever comes to mind, and what I’m thinking about at the moment is that Reinhard Bonnke died earlier this week, on December 7th. For those of you who don’t know, Reinhard Bonnke was an evangelist to Africa who regularly had over a million people attend his crusades. He was called “the Billy Graham of Africa” by some because of his record-setting crusades.

The reason I’m writing about Reinhard Bonnke is because his death hit a good friend of mine particularly hard when she heard about it on Monday. In fact she was so upset by the news of his death that she texted me about it at 5 a.m. Monday morning. This friend is a solid Christian, and she knows that Bonnke is with Jesus in Heaven. She was hard-hit with his death because she’s been following his ministry, Christ for All Nations, for quite awhile. When Reinhard Bonnke retired in 2017, he appointed Daniel Kolenda to take his place as head of CfaN, and Karen has been following him as well.

When a Christian dies, I find myself thinking more about the idea that they’ve gone to Heaven than about the fact of their physical death. My reasoning is that when a Christian dies and goes to Heaven they get to see Jesus face to face,

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12, NKJV.

I can’t think of anything more amazing, marvelous, or beautiful than being able to see Jesus face to face, and knowing Him as He knows me now. Can you imagine that, how wonderful that will be? It’s beyond my wildest and best dreams, and the thing I hope for more than anything else,

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. ~ Philippians 1:20-21, NLT.

Before he died Billy Graham used to say,

“Some day you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” ~ Billy Graham Quotes

I love that perspective, and that’s exactly how I feel. I used to be terrified of dying, but not anymore, because I’m fully assured of my place before my Father and my God. I know He loves me, and I know that will never, ever change, because I know He’s always been with me, keeping me safe, protecting me from the worst of the abuse, and saving my life when it was necessary.

I never thought I’d be able to say, and mean, that God loves me, and here I am saying it with great peace and joy! I’m amazed and gobsmacked at everything God has done in my heart to heal me.

And He’s not through with me yet!

I can’t wait to see what He’ll do next…

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 it 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.