Category Archives: Forgiveness

Younger Me Gets Wiser, Part 2

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Welcome to the promised continuation of Younger Me Gets Wiser, Part 1.

As I said at the end of Part 1, I want to talk to Catherine Belinda about the lying we were forced to do throughout our childhood because of Harry’s threats.

Everyone knows it’s a sin to lie. The Ninth Commandment is about lying,

You must not lie. ~ Exodus 20:16, TLB (The Living Bible).

The New King James Version puts it this way,

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. ~ Exodus 20:16, NKJV.

So when Harry started telling us we had to lie about what he was doing to us or he’d kill us, he put us between a rock and a hard place, so to speak. And he showed us he meant what he said by playing Russian roulette with one of his revolvers between our legs. At age two there was no way we could have known that the gun had blanks instead of real bullets in it, so we lied because we were terrified of that gun and we were horrified at Harry and his threats, so we became compulsive liars as a result. But we hated having to do it, and we hated Harry for forcing us into it.

I know God hates lying. He always, ALWAYS tells the truth,

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? ~ Numbers 23:19, NLT.

So in our minds, when we told lies, that meant God hated us. So Harry must have been telling the truth when he said that. It certainly made sense at the time.

But I have to tell you, Catherine Belinda, God does not hate you. He doesn’t hate you for lying, or for anything else for that matter. God doesn’t blame you for lying. He blames Harry, because Harry forced you to do it. You didn’t have a choice, and God knows that.

And the cool thing is, God, in His great mercy, engineered a situation when we were in the fifth grade, after Harry and my mother had separated, that made it so we were able to stop lying. And this situation is a perfect example of Romans 8:28,

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. ~ Romans 8:28, NLT.

What happened was this. I was walking home from school one day, and I was carrying a heavy load of books, because I had a lot of homework to do. As I was walking, I heard footsteps behind me, and then suddenly, someone grabbed me from behind, and as he gripped my arm, he hissed, “Ah, I’ve got you!” in a weird, creepy voice.

I gasped and jerked away, and as I pulled away, I half-turned so I could see what the person looked like and what they were wearing. It was an older man with light brown hair, and tan clothes, and he was wearing a vest. Then I ran away, and as I was escaping, I heard him laugh with this maniacal laugh.

With his sinister laugh ringing in my ears, I ran from him as fast as I could, given all the books I was carrying.

My mother had given me strict instructions on the route I was to take on my way to and from school but it was boring, so I hated using it. However, on the day the guy grabbed me, I wasn’t thinking about anything other than finding the fastest route to get away from him. That turned out to be the direction my mother didn’t want me go.

When I looked back I could see he wasn’t following me, so I slowed down and heaved a sigh of relief. By that time I had reached an intersection where there were stores and businesses on all four corners, and up and down both sides of the street. As I was standing there trying to figure out what I should do next, a friend from school approached me. Her name was Amy* (name changed to protect her privacy), and she asked me what I was doing. So I told her what had happened ~ that someone tried to kidnap me as I was about to walk home from school.

At first she didn’t believe me ~ I was making a pretty shocking claim after all ~ but as I continued to tell her what happened, and I described what the guy looked like, she began to accept my story. Then she suggested I go home with her so I could tell her mother what had happened. Looking back, I don’t remember why it was important to do this, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

So we went to Amy’s house. The problem with doing this is that getting there required going through an alley that my mother had specifically and expressly forbad me from using because she said it was dangerous. But I didn’t know any other way to get there, so we went through the forbidden alley, and nothing happened, so I decided my mother must have been wrong.

Then we arrived at Amy’s house, and I told her mother about the guy grabbing me, and she asked me if I had told the police about it. I hadn’t thought about doing that, so I told her, no, I hadn’t. Then I asked her what time it was, and she told me it was about five o’clock. That scared me because all of a sudden I realized I would be two hours late getting home, which meant my mother would be really mad at me. So I left and headed for home as fast as I could go.

When I arrived home it was about 5:15, and as expected my mother was steaming mad.

“Where have you been? Why are you so late,” she berated me, because there was absolutely no reason on earth why I should be getting home so late.

“Mom, a guy tried to kidnap me on the way home from school,” I told her.

“Are you kidding me? That’s the biggest lie you’ve come up with yet,” she scoffed at me.

“Mom, it’s not a lie! It really happened! I was leaving school and this guy grabbed me! I was able to pull away from him, but it really did happen. He tried to kidnap me,” I tried to convince her, but it felt like a losing battle, given the amount of lying I’d done over the years. But Harry was gone now, so the need for me to continue lying was no longer there. The problem was, I couldn’t seem to stop.

“Then I should call the police so they can try and catch him. What if he does this to someone else,” she said.

“Call the police? I hadn’t thought of that. You’re right. He should be arrested so he doesn’t hurt anyone else. Plus, I want him to be caught for what he did to me. It was really scary!” I answered.

“All right, I’ll call them. In the meantime, I want to know what happened,” she replied.

Relieved that maybe she was finally beginning to believe me, I began telling her what had happened. I told her about the guy grabbing me by the arm, and what he said to me, and how scared I was, and what he looked like. And I told her about his weird laugh as I escaped from his grasp and ran down the street. Then I told her about running into Amy, but I didn’t tell her about going through the alley or going to her house. I knew that would make her really mad.

“And that’s what happened, Mom,” I stopped, hoping that finally she would believe me.

Then a policeman arrived to take a report of my story. I described what had happened to me, starting with where I was when the guy grabbed me ~ across the street from my school, and what he looked like ~ light brown hair combed straight back with no part, and what he was wearing ~ tan clothes and a sweater vest with buttons down the front.

Then I told him about running into my friend Amy, only I left out the part about going through the alley, and going to her house, because I was afraid of my mother’s rage if she knew I had done those things. It didn’t occur to me that if I had just told the truth about everything it might have made my story about being grabbed more believable, but I was too frightened of my mother’s anger to be able to think about anything else.

Then the policeman REALLY scared me when he said he was going to Amy’s house to see if her story matched mine. Since I knew it wouldn’t because she would tell him that I had gone home with her, I knew I was in real trouble now. It was bad enough to be caught in one of my lies by people in my family, but to be caught by a policeman? The thought of that absolutely horrified me. Even thinking about it filled me with shame and self-hatred. It didn’t matter that the whole reason I lied in the first place was because Harry had forced me into it. To be caught in a lie by a policeman was so unspeakably awful that I couldn’t describe how bad it made me feel, plus I couldn’t tell him why I lied, because that would expose Harry ~ and those threats still loomed large in my mind, even though he was gone.

So the policeman left for Amy’s house, and returned about half an hour later. He talked to my mother for about fifteen minutes, while I sat curled up in a ball in a chair, waiting for the axe to fall.

Surprisingly, my mother wasn’t boiling over in anger. Maybe that would come after the policeman left. Instead of yelling at me she sat down next to me and waited for the policeman to talk to me.

“Amy’s story of what happened was different than yours. You knew it would be, didn’t you,” he asked me.

“Yes, sir,” I mumbled. “I’m sorry I lied,” I added softly.

“Why did you do it?” he asked gently.

“Because I was afraid Mom would be mad at me if she knew I’d gone through the alley, and gone to Amy’s house,” I responded.

“So did someone really try to kidnap you?” the officer asked.

“Yes!” I told him emphatically, “and he really looked the way I said he did, too! Everything about that part of my story is the truth!”

“Okay, then.” he said. “I hope you’ve learned a valuable lesson from this. Can you tell me what that lesson might be?”

“That lying is a bad thing to do,” I replied, “and I promise I’ll never tell another one!” I asserted vehemently.

“That’s great,” he responded. “I hope you’ll be able to keep that promise.” Then he said goodbye to my mother and left.

I was feeling a certain amount of dread, because I was afraid that my mother had been nice because he was there. Maybe he had been a mediating influence, and now that he was gone, the axe would fall, and she’d let loose on me with her rage because I’d lied and made her look bad in front of a police officer.

But none of that happened. She was unaccountably nice to me, and she didn’t get angry at me at all. I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall, but it never did. I wanted to ask her why, but I figured I should probably keep my mouth shut and just accept it rather than pressing my luck. Even so, I walked on eggshells the whole rest of the evening, just in case.

After I went to bed, I made a vow to God that I would never tell another lie. I slept very poorly that night, and I ended up in my mother’s bed, because I had nightmares all night long. I kept having this dream that someone was coming to get me, and I could hear chains clanking down the hall, dragged by kidnappers coming to chain me up. It was terrifying! In reality it was the dog’s collar clinking on the floor as she moved around in her sleep, but in my magnified imagination I didn’t know that. All I could think of was that kidnappers were coming to get me with their chains, and they were going to chain me up and torture me because I’d lied to a policeman.

As I look back on my childhood, and on this incident in particular, I can see God’s hand working quite clearly. At the time, if someone had suggested that God engineered that kidnapping attempt, I would have been shocked. I would have decided that God must be a mean ogre who does bad things to kids like me. But my thought process would have been the thinking of a child based on the fact that I couldn’t see the whole picture as God can. God can see the end from the beginning, as it says in the Book of Isaiah,

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.’ ~ Isaiah 46:9-10, NKJV.

I especially like the way the New Living Translation puts it,

Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. ~ Isaiah 46:9-10, NLT.

What that says is that God could see the end result if I continued to lie (I would continue down that negative path, and could end up in some very dire circumstances if I didn’t stop). But He could also see the end result if He arranged a situation that would help me to stop lying, because He knew that I hated doing it, but that I couldn’t stop on my own. As I said above, it’s a perfect example of Romans 8:28,

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. ~ Romans 8:28, NLT.

So, Catherine Belinda, even though it felt really scary and bad when that guy tried to kidnap you on the street, it was actually a good thing that God allowed to happen. God was protecting you and wouldn’t have allowed the guy to do anything more than what he did, because the purpose of it was to get you to stop lying, and grabbing you was scary enough. God wouldn’t have allowed anything worse. The important part was when you lied to the policeman. God knew the shock and embarrassment of that would be enough to traumatize you into stopping. I wish you didn’t have to go through that, because I know how hard it was for you, but it worked, didn’t it? We haven’t lied since then, have we.

That’s the thing about the sovereignty of God, Catherine Belinda. He can see everything that will happen to us over our entire life, while we can only see what’s going on for a day or two. We don’t have the same perspective that God does. Because He can see what will occur over our entire life span from the beginning, He knows what needs to happen at certain points that, to us, might seem really negative because we can’t see the whole picture, even though they’re actually necessary for our life to follow the positive path that God has ordained for it.

And for some people like you and me, Catherine Belinda, because of the abuse we endured when we were little, God had to make some fairly significant course corrections so that we would end up where He wanted us to be. That meant He had to perform a number of miracles to protect us and help us stay alive when we were little, and then once we had grown up, He had perform more miracles so we could be healed from the multiplicity caused by the abuse, and become integrated into one. And the healing process is still ongoing, thank God.

I love you, Catherine Belinda! You were who we all were before we became multiple. You are a survivor! Without you none of the rest of us would ever have existed, and none of us would have survived, because Harry or my mother would have succeeded in killing us. Without you there would be no one to integrate with. I’m so grateful to you, Catherine Belinda, and I’m grateful to God for you! You are brave and courageous and beautiful and wonderful!

Most of all, I’m grateful to God for everything He’s done in me and for me. I can never thank Him enough for all that He’s done in my life ~ for the cross and the resurrection first and foremost, because that saved my soul, and then for protecting and watching over me throughout my childhood, and then for so richly supplying my needs now. And what I’ve said here only barely covers everything He’s done, and is doing for me!

God is SOOO GOOD!!!

The Not-Angry God, or The God Who Is Love

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I learned something this week, something amazing. I learned that God isn’t angry at me, and He probably never was. Now, that might sound like a no-brainer to most of you, but it’s a new and important revelation to me. I’ve been a Christian for almost fifty years, so you’d think I would know that by now, but I didn’t. In fact, quite the opposite.

Let me explain.

As my readers may know, I come from a very difficult background. My father, Harry, was an angry and abusive man who told me that God hated me everytime he abused me. He also forced me to lie about what he was doing to me by playing Russian Roulette with his revolver between my legs from the time I was about two years old onward. My mother did nothing to protect me from Harry’s abuse, and she also tried to kill me a number of times during my infancy.

So I’ve spent the vast majority of my life being afraid, even terrified, of God, and believing He was angry at me. Harry had told me the lie that God hated me so often that it had become a truth that was ingrained in my nervous system, and I believed it with every fiber of my being. I’d never known anything different, so it was perfectly logical that I would believe that.

Fortunately God had something different in mind for me than being afraid of Him, because not only does He not hate me, but He loves me. And He’s been actively showing me just how much He loves me for the past five years. It’s actually been a lot longer, but it’s only been in the last five years that I’ve experienced the most active healing. (Actually He started showing me how much He loves me two thousand years ago when Christ went to the Cross and died for my sins, but that’s part of my larger story, and not for this post.)

I should probably tell you how all this came about.

When I was about five, I made an ashtray for Harry for Christmas. You know, one of those ashtrays made out of clay that kids make in kindergarten? It looked more like a large bowl, but it was supposed to be an ashtray. Harry was a chain-smoker, so I thought an ashtray was something he would like and be able to use. I painted it yellow with green polka dots. I was so proud of that ashtray! I worked so hard on it, and I wanted so badly for Harry to like it!

Alas, such was not to be.

When he saw it, all he said was, “Oh, that’s nice.” Then later, when we were alone, he said, “That is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen,” and he smashed it into little pieces. Then he hit me and told me I was stupid for thinking he would like such an ugly thing.

I was thinking about that incident earlier this week, only this time when I thought about it, it was very different. This time, when I saw Harry smashing the ashtray in my mind’s eye, I saw Jesus enter the picture and pick up the broken pieces. Then He took the pieces and reassembled the ashtray. I could tell Jesus was pleased with my offering. If I’d made it for Him, He would have loved it. And once Jesus entered the picture, Harry became irrelevant and disappeared. Jesus had such a look of love on His face! I’d never seen anyone look at me like that before!

When Jesus came into the picture, everything changed. All the anger and hatred and pain directed at me from Harry was washed away by the love on Jesus’ face, and by the fact that He was pleased with my gift. I was able to forgive Harry because of the love Jesus showed me.

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. ~ 1 John 4:16, NLT.

I now know that the idea that God hated me truly was a lie. Even logically it makes no sense based on Scripture, as you can see from the verse quoted above. It’s impossible for God to hate anyone, because not only does He love, but He is love. I’m so grateful to God for straightening that out in my mind!

God is healing me more and more all the time, and I’m able to trust Him ~ and His love ~ more and more all the time. I feel excited every day because God is real in my life, and I wonder what new things I might learn about Him each day. Even when I’m depressed, I still feel excited ~ if you can imagine that mixture of emotions ~ because I know that God is active in my life regardless of how I feel. It makes me glad to be alive!

God is SOOO GOOD to me, and I love Him so!!

Of Litter Boxes and Love

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Every once in a while I’m confronted with just how much I hate cleaning out Charlotte’s litter box. I hate cleaning it, and I hate changing the litter as well. You can well imagine that this is, by definition, a real problem, because cats need to have a clean litter box if they’re indoor cats, which Charlotte is. Otherwise they start doing their business, if you know what I mean, everywhere but the litter box, and I’ll leave the results of that fiasco to your imagination.

My frustration with the litter box comes from the fact that Charlotte pees on my bed if she doesn’t like the condition of her litter box.

How, you might ask, do I know that’s what my cat is thinking when she pees on my bed? Well, I’ll tell you.

The only time she pees on my bed is when I’m not cleaning out out her litter box often enough, and one could interpret that to mean that I’m not keeping it clean enough to keep her satisfied, so she punishes me by peeing on my bed.

She’s also peed on my cross stitch, and that’s a worse sin, if possible than peeing on my bed. I’ve put in hundreds of hours on this cross stitch, and I expect to put in hundreds, if not thousands, of hours more, and the thought that Charlotte could ruin it in one fell swoop simply by peeing on it fills me with…

Well, I’m not sure what it fills me with, but you can be sure it’s not good. So I guess I have to pray for God’s help to forgive her. And then I have to figure out how to get the stain out.

There’s a saying: dogs have owners; cats have staff. It seems to hold true in my case, and she’s only five months old. I’ve long had the feeling that whatever cat I own ~ that she actually owns me. You know, I pay the rent, but Lily, or Rosie (the cat I had before Lily) and now Charlotte rules the roost. And it feels like it’s especially true with Charlotte, as young as she is, because she feels like a baby-tyrant. And just so you know, I’ve only ever had female cats, except for Dennis the Menace when I was a kid, but I wasn’t allowed to choose him. My parents did that, because I was only five at the time. Other than Dennis the Menace, I don’t like male pets. They have too much visible equipment for my taste.

If I look at it from a more practical and logical perspective, I know that cats have a heightened and acute sense of smell. So smells most of us can barely notice are probably bowling Charlotte over because they’re so strong. So while I can’t smell her litter box even when I’m right next to it, she can probably smell the litter box downstairs when she’s in the loft upstairs. All of which says I need to put aside my own frustration and work harder to keep it clean ~ which I’m doing because I love her.

In an interesting aside, I’ve never been able to smell marijuana, and have therefore never been able to get high on it, something I don’t regret at all. When I was in college, I would come into the lobby of the dorm where I was living on a Friday or Saturday night, and the friend at the front desk would ask me if I could smell the grass as I was coming to the lobby from my room, and I would tell her I couldn’t. Her response was always that she was surprised, because the smell was so overpowering, you could get high just walking through the building.

Not only can I not smell marijuana, but I can’t smell much of anything at all, because a kid in seventh grade band class punched me in the nose for telling the teacher that they’d left the room. I was incredibly naive back then, and I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to rat on other students, so when A.S. (name changed and disguised to protect their privacy) left the room as the teacher was taking roll, I made the mistake of telling the teacher about it when he called their name. Then when they came back, someone else told them about it, and they came up to me and punched me hard in the nose because I’d tattled on them. My nose bled so heavily that day that my dress was ruined, and they had to take me to the hospital to have it X-rayed to make sure it wasn’t broken.

Fortunately my nose wasn’t broken, but my sense of smell was forever changed. About the only things I can smell now are certain flowers, in particular gardenias.

That was over 50 years ago, and I’ve forgiven A.S., but I still can’t smell much more than a few kinds of flowers. I’m okay with that, and if I’m stuck with a sense of smell that’s narrowed down to a few flowers and nothing more, then I’m grateful that I can smell flowers, because flowers are beautiful. Gardenias have a truly heavenly scent. I hope Heaven will smell like gardenias, though I imagine it will probably smell even more amazing and wonderful than that, even beyond my wildest imagination.

7 We speak about the mystery of God’s wisdom. It is a wisdom that has been hidden, which God had planned for our glory before the world began. 8 Not one of the rulers of this world has known it. If they had, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as Scripture says: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:7-9 (Isaiah 64:4), Names of God Bible.

I’ve wondered about God’s wisdom in giving me this particular cat, because I’ve had so many problems with her. But I’ve also wondered if I jumped the gun and got a cat too soon out of impatience, because I wanted a cat so badly. So maybe I got the wrong cat because I should have waited for God to send me the perfect cat ~ and maybe that’s why I’ve had so many problems with her. She certainly has tried my patience, that’s for sure.

So that’s the latest chapter in the continuing saga of Charlotte the Cat. She continues to be a mystery, because I don’t understand much of what she does, and she remains the cat with more energy than any cat I’ve ever seen or known. She is the busiest one cat I’ve ever seen. She allows me to be closer to her if I’m sitting on my couch, but she still runs away if I walk towards her. At least for the time being I’ve solved the problem with her peeing on my stuff by keeping her out of my bedroom entirely, and keeping her away from my cross stitch. My bedroom door is always closed, and my cross stitch goes with me wherever I go, or it stays in my bedroom behind closed doors.

God is good ALL the time, regardless of what’s happening, good or bad, in my life.

Having Flashbacks In the Dentist’s Chair

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I broke a tooth yesterday, so I had to go to the dentist today. I didn’t have a dentist before yesterday, because I’m terrified of going to see them. Everytime you go to the dentist, they have to numb your gums, and everytime they do that, I can not only feel, but hear the POP of the needle going into my gums. It’s the creepiest thing, and it just terrifies me.

Until today when I was sitting in the dentist’s chair, I thought hearing the pop of the needle going into my gums was the only problem I had with the dentist.

Turns out I was wrong, very wrong.

So I was sitting in the dentist’s chair, and she told me to close my eyes as she was working on my teeth. I did that, but then I started seeing all these flashbacks. You know, Harry doing bad things to me. Only this time, the flashbacks were specifically about oral sex ~ I’m sure because the dentist was messing around in my mouth, forcing it wide open as she was drilling, etc.

Hence, the next time the dentist told me to close my eyes ~ once I could get a word in ~ I said I couldn’t because it made me have flashbacks, so she stopped suggesting it, thankfully. And as long as I kept my eyes open the flashbacks were held down to a dull roar ~ because once they’d begun, I couldn’t make them stop. I almost started crying, they got so bad.

I’ve known for years that Harry forced me to have oral sex with him. The very first memory I had back in 1980 was of him forcing me to have oral sex in the shower when I was about two years old. Then years later, I found a report from my pediatrician saying I had a rash around my mouth when I was about four, and I was fairly certain what had caused the rash.

And when I say oral sex, that’s exactly what I mean. Harry was forcing me to put his penis in my mouth, and my mouth was too small for it, so it made me gag and choke, which made him mad, so he started hitting me, after which I got confused and terrified, so I lost control of my bowels and pooped on the shower floor. That made Harry REALLY mad, so he picked up my feces and threw it at me, and then he forced me to eat it.

How can people be so beastly towards other people, especially towards innocent children? What did I ever do to him to make him hate me so?

I forgive him! I purpose in my heart to forgive him!

This was horribly difficult to write. It was a new memory, and it came up in public, and in a strange place, with people that I didn’t know, so I had no one with whom I could process it. I had to keep it all inside until I got home.

So I took myself to McDonald’s and got a Mocha Frappé to reward myself for adulting so well! Yay me! And more importantly, yay God, because I couldn’t have done it without Him. Throughout the appointment I was repeating a verse from Isaiah to myself,

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. ~ Isaiah 26:3, NKJV.

And then I personalized it,

You will keep me in perfect peace because my mind is stayed on You, because I trust in You. ~ Isaiah 26:3, personalized.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this verse to get me through a difficult situation like today, and especially once I started having those flashbacks. Being able to draw on the Holy Spirit, and the Father, and my Sweet Jesus by meditating on Scripture, as I did today, made all the difference.

As Jesus told the Apostle Paul when Paul asked Him to remove the thorn in his flesh,

“My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9, Good News Translation.

I was weak today, and I’m glad I was, because God is faithful and trustworthy. He always keeps His promises. He always shows up if we will only put our trust in Him.

I’m so glad I did!

Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Holy Spirit! Praise God! God is so good!

No Average Joes

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God created each one of us in His own image and after His likeness, and I believe He made each person unique and individual, like no other human being ever created before or after. God broke the mold, as the saying goes, after He was finished creating each person. So no one is average, no matter how boring you think you are. If you think you have nothing special to offer, then you need to ask God, and He will show you. EVERYONE has gifts and talents, regardless of how you see yourself.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. ~ 1 Peter 4:10, NLT.

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 comes from the Greek word, poiēma from which we get the word poem. I understand that to mean that God made me uniquely in His image, a masterpiece of His choosing, unlike any other person that He ever created before or after me, and all the other people who He created are also masterpieces.

Just as an aside, I think that’s why murder is such a terrible crime. When you kill someone, you are murdering a unique person who was created in the image of God, so you’re destroying the very image of God by killing that person, and you’re acting like God when you take that individual’s life. Look what happened to Satan when he tried to act like God. He got tossed out of Heaven, and demoted from Lucifer, one of the archangels, to Satan, lord over Hell. Only God should be able to decide someone’s time of death. God is the author of life, so He should be the author of death.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. 15 You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book! ~ Psalm 139:13-16, TLB, The Living Bible.

When I was little, every time Harry abused me, he told me he had to do it because God hated me. He also told me that I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face. Those two statements were like a litany repeated over and over into my mind until they became part of the wiring of my nervous system. It took an act of God to break them down so I no longer believed them, terrible lies that they were.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Harry probably felt those things about himself so he projected them onto me. It took many years as an adult for me to be able to believe that God loved me, and many, many more before I could believe that I wasn’t ugly.. What did the trick was changing my name back in 1980.

I decided I wanted to change my name so I could rid myself of the legacy of child abuse. So I went to the Bible to find Bible names with good meanings. I knew I wanted my first name to be Sarah, because it meant Princess. Then I found Abigail, which means “a joy to the Father.”

Then all I was lacking was a last name, so I started flipping through Strong’s Concordance. I happened to open it to a page in the Greek section where the work “kuriakos” appeared at the very bottom of the last column on the left-hand page ~ the very last entry at the bottom of that column. I think God put it there so it would be easy for me to find. And it turned out that “kuriakos” meant “belonging to God”.

How cool is that! I had my whole name! Sarah Abigail Kuriakos. God’s Princess, a Joy to the Father, Belonging to God. I thought I had never heard such a beautiful name in all my life.

Then I decided I wanted to do it legally, because it felt like a legal name change would be the only way for it to feel real to me. So I went to court and changed my name legally from the name I was born with to Sarah Abigail Kuriakos.

Changing my name has made a tremendous difference in my life. Every time I hear the names, I hear their meanings. Hearing the meanings has been like feeding a new litany into my nervous system to break the wiring created by the old one and replacing it with this new, healing one. I could almost feel the healing process as it was happening over the years.

So that’s that! I’m beautiful! I may not look like Raquel Welch or Marilyn Monroe, but I wouldn’t want to. I have a hard enough time being me, much less trying to be someone else. Besides, God didn’t make me to be Marilyn Monroe or Raquel Welch. He made me to be me, and for the first time in my life, I’m fine with that.

I love knowing that because God thinks I’m beautiful, I can accept and believe it about myself, and feel beautiful because God thinks I am. It’s marvelously freeing, though it took me several more years before I could get to that point, even with that wonderful and amazing name.

Finally I realized that God Himself had given me that name. And if He gave me that beautiful name, He must think I’m beautiful. And if God thinks I’m beautiful, then I must be beautiful, because God NEVER makes a mistake.

Think about that. God NEVER makes a mistake, so I must beautiful.

Hallelujah!! Thank you Jesus!!

The Right to Say No

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The phrase, “free will” isn’t found anywhere in Scripture, but the concept can be found from beginning to end throughout. It’s contained in the power of choice that God gives us in just about everything.


“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19, NLT.

God gave man a choice to follow Him from the very beginning.

The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” ~ Genesis 2:15-17, NLT.

Inherent in God’s commandment to Adam was the choice to not eat of the tree, or to eat of it, and God made very clear what would happen if Adam ate the fruit. He would die.

Then God created Eve from Adam’s ribs, but Adam didn’t give Eve the identical instructions that God had given him. God told him that he couldn’t eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Adam told Eve that she couldn’t eat it or even touch it (at least that’s how she interpreted what he told her).

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” ~ Genesis 3:1-3, NLT.

My point in focusing on man’s ability to choose in the Bible is that we have to make choices all the time, probably hundreds or thousands of times every day, many of them choices we aren’t even aware of. But people who have survived rape and other kinds of abuse may be more aware than most.

Whenever someone is subjected to a violent sexual assault, their right to refuse that person’s advances is snatched away from them. And if that person is a child, and her attacker is someone she has to trust in order to survive because he provides her with food and shelter, then she’ll be forced to submit to his demands, no matter how horrific, just to keep her most basic needs met.

The betrayal inherent in that situation is unimaginable for anyone but the child experiencing it, and the only reason it’s not impossible for her to think about is because she’s forced to live it.

The betrayal mentioned above has a name, betrayal trauma, which term was introduced by Jennifer Freyd, Ph.D in 1994. Betrayal trauma is defined as a trauma perpetrated by someone with whom the victim is close to and reliant upon for support and survival. Jennifer Freyd called it betrayal trauma theory because she intended it to address situations where the victim forgets, or represses, the abuse, and the element of betrayal is the most important aspect of the abuse that precedes the repression.

The closer the attacker is to the victim (for example, father to daughter), the greater the likelihood that the trauma will be forgotten and repressed. It’s a matter of survival. The attacker is someone who provides his victim with food and shelter, and other basic needs, and if it were to come out that the perpetrator were committing these heinous acts against this victim, then the support provided by the perp would be threatened, or even removed altogether, which could put the victim in even more danger than if the molestation were allowed to continue.

I know this hard, painful reality firsthand because it happened to me throughout my childhood at the hands of my father, and I couldn’t say no to his advances. If I did I was severely beaten, and the rape was even worse than it would have been had I simply given in and submitted. He forced me to lie and say that nothing was going on. He threatened to kill me if I told anyone by playing Russian Roulette with his revolver between my legs, and I had no choice but to believe him, because I was too young to know that he probably had blanks in the gun.

I got started thinking about this in the first place because I watched two movies on TV. The first one was called, You Can’t Take My Daughter. It’s based on the true story of a woman, Analyn Megison, who was raped and then became pregnant as a result. She subsequently decided to keep the baby. Six years later her rapist found her and sued her for custody of the child. You wouldn’t think that would be possible, but when this movie was made, it actually was in many states, because, as Analyn was told many times, a rapist father is just as good as any other father.

Fortunately, she won her case, because her rapist, who was never convicted for what he did to her, eventually stopped pursuing it. In the movie, he raped her in the first place because they took the same taxi home from a bar, and when the taxi dropped her off, he suggested that he could come in for a nightcap, but she said she wasn’t interested. So later on, in the middle of the night, he came back and knocked on her door. When she opened it, he pushed past her and shoved her up against the wall, saying, “You shouldn’t have said no,” and then he violently raped her. Her body was covered from head to toe with scrapes, scratches, and bruises the next day.

The other movie was on the Investigation Discovery Network, and, while I don’t remember any details, it was the story of a single mother who went to a party on the rough side of town someplace in New Mexico, and never made it home that night. When they finally found her battered and bruised body several days later, the story came out that she ran into someone at the party who came on to her, and she turned him down, but that enraged him, because he was someone you just didn’t say no to. So he beat her up so badly that she was unrecognizable by the time he was through with her.

Every single person should have the right to say no. Violating someone’s most personal space, which is what happens in the case of rape, is the ultimate transgression, the ultimate sin against another person.

God gives us the right to refuse Him, even at the risk of our eternal destiny. and while human beings aren’t risking eternal punishment when they sin against another human being, sexual sin is among the worst of all possible sins, especially if it’s committed against a child.

I’ve forgiven my father for what he did to me, and my mother for not protecting me. I had to so I could find peace with God.

“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.

I figure if I forgive them, then that releases them into God’s hands to do with them as He wills, and the Bible says that revenge belongs to God, (Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19, and Hebrews 10:30), so I don’t need to get revenge because God will do a much better job of it than I ever could.

I can get behind that, and I can wait. There are times where patience is a good thing.

It feels like there is much more to be said here, but this is already way too long, so I’ll leave the rest for another post…

No Shame Allowed

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Every once in awhile something happens for which, unaccountably, I feel so much shame that I can’t talk about it with anyone. I was able to talk with McT and one friend about it, but it’s taken me several days to convince myself that I need to blog about it.

In a previous post (A Cross Stitch, New Kitties, and Two Smoking Needles), I talked about becoming the proud parent of two new kittens. Well, on Wednesday, the 28th, five days after bringing them home, Margaret died.

She died! What am I to do? She died!

I felt such devastation that I was overwhelmed and at a loss for words, for action, for anything and everything. All I could do was cry out to God, “My God! Why? What happened?”

About twenty minutes before it happened, she had allowed me to pick her up and pet her. This was surprising to me, as she hadn’t let me come close to her at all before that. Then all of a sudden she let me hold her and pet her. I cuddled her for about fifteen minutes, then she got down and disappeared, and I continued to watch TV. Then I got up and tried to find her.

I didn’t have to look very far, because she was on the floor around the corner from the couch where I was sitting, and when I looked at her I could see that she wasn’t breathing, plus her mouth was wide open. When I touched her she was cold and stiff.

Shock coursed through my body. What did I do wrong? I left fresh food and water out for her ~ for both of them ~ at all times, and I made sure that the litter box was clean. Plus I changed the water every day. Surely I couldn’t have done something wrong, but maybe I did.

Did I kill her? I was terrified that I had done something to cause her death, but I couldn’t think of anything that I might have done. I had decided earlier in the day that I was going to take her to the vet the next day, because she needed to be seen, and because she had been acting like she wasn’t feeling well. But then she died before I got the chance.

I emailed the woman from whom I had adopted them, and told her that Margaret had died. She replied that she didn’t think I was responsible, that Margaret must have had some kind of undiagnosed heart condition. She said she would pay for a necropsy to find out the cause of death, but after doing some online research, we both decided that was way too expensive. I felt like I could accept her idea of an undiagnosed heart problem, so we both let it go at that.

So now I’m left with the confusion and desolation I feel because of her death, and the hole in my heart that’s there, even though I only had her for five days. And as I said at the beginning, unaccountably, I feel a huge amount of shame. I don’t know why, but I do. Somehow, even if her demise wasn’t caused by me, it must have been my fault. There must have been some way in which I was responsible. It’s not logical, I know, but there it is.

I wonder if at least part of it doesn’t go back to Harry blaming me for stuff that I couldn’t have been responsible for when I was little, and for the cult rituals doing the same thing. There was one particular ritual that they did when I was about two where I had to answer questions, and if I got the wrong answer, a man was slowly lowered into a bonfire and burned alive.

The problem was, the questions were unanswerable. There were no right answers, though there was no way I could know that, especially at age two. So I had to answer these unanswerable questions, get the wrong answers because there weren’t any right ones, and listen to the screams of agony of the guy as he was lowered into the bonfire. And the whole thing was all my fault ~ or so they told me.

Talk about the essence of torture, both for the guy being burned alive, and for little two-year-old me!

But I’m no longer living in that reality. I’ve been set free from that life, thank God. And interestingly, I named the other kitten Charlotte, and she, thankfully, is alive and well, even though she still won’t let me near her. I discovered in the process of deciding on Charlotte’s name, that “Charlotte” means “freedom”. Maybe that’s why God motivated me to name her that, I don’t know. All I know is that before I brought them home, the name Charlotte was the only name I could think of.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:32, NLT.

And this is the truth that will set you free,

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. ~ Romans 10:9-10, NLT.

As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” ~ [Isaiah 28:16, Greek Version], Romans 10:11, NLT.

So, regardless of how I feel, I must go on what Scripture says. If God’s Word says I am FREE, then I AM FREE. That means NO SHAME ALLOWED!! I did not cause Margaret’s death, and I did not cause that man to be burned alive!!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. ~ Galatians 5:1, NIV.

Sinking the Anger Titanic

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In my last post (Taken Over By Aliens) I wrote about the way I tend to catastrophize everything when I get upset, amongst other things. It doesn’t take anything for me to get upset, it seems, and I’d really like it to change. It’s exhausting to get upset and angry all the time, especially when it’s over little things. If I only got angry over big things, then maybe it wouldn’t happen so often, but it happens ALL the TIME!! And I’m SOOO TIRED of it!!

I just want it to STOP!!

When I was talking to McT about it during my FaceTime session on Tuesday, I told him how distressed it makes me feel everytime I get upset, because I feel like I must be disappointing God. Instead of trusting Him with whatever the situation is, I get upset about it and fall apart. Thankfully I’m no longer hitting myself, but I don’t want to get upset about it either. I just want to keep my peace and trust that God has the situation in hand. But somehow I can’t seem to do that, no matter what I do.

It’s SOOO ANNOYING!!

Then McT presented me with an entirely new thought about this problem, one which I had never considered before, and it completely changed my perspective on it. He suggested that maybe my responses to these situations that make me fall apart are because of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

PTSD?? PTSD?? Oh my! I had never thought of that before!! If it’s PTSD that’s driving my responses, that makes me feel like I’m not doing it on purpose!

Let me explain what I just said…

When I was a kid and I did something like spilling my milk at the dinner table, I had to act remorseful ENOUGH, otherwise my mother accused me of spilling it on purpose. Remorseful ENOUGH meant doing something like cleaning up the spilled milky mess I had just made while apologizing and crying and hitting myself. I think this was probably the genesis of the self-abuse that happened in later years. I had to act abjectly apologetic. This involved a great deal of weeping and crying and expressions of sorrow.

I never could seem to convince them (my parents) that I didn’t do it on purpose. None of my explanations or expressions of remorse and sorrow over this heinous act of spilling my milk were ever adequate to persuade them or satisfy them that I wasn’t the evil child who was trying to make things difficult for my mother.

It makes me feel frenzied inside when I think back to these situations, panic-stricken that I could never make it right, no matter how hard I tried. I can see the little ones running around frantically inside, grasping at air and screaming in terror because my mother was sitting there stone-faced, because one of us had clumsily knocked over a glass of milk by accident. And if she was sitting there stone-faced, that meant we were gonna get hit.

IMSORRYIMSORRYIMSORRYIMSORRYIMSORRYIMSORRYIMSORRYIMSORRYIMSORRY!!!!

Damn, Mom!! You NEVER knocked over ANYTHING by accident??!! You were the PERFECT CHILD??

I DON’T THINK SO!!!

When I started writing out I’m sorry over and over and over again, it’s like a deep and gigantic well of tears was released, and I started to weep and sob huge gulping sobs. I think I had never really dealt with the spilt milk issue. I may have more to do. If so, God will be there with me to do it…

So the idea that PTSD could be what’s behind me getting upset all the time? Well, that generates a whole new line of thought for me. For one thing, instead of God’s judgment, which is what I’ve always felt when I’ve worried that He’s disappointed in me, all of a sudden I can feel His mercy. If it’s PTSD then I can feel His mercy and love. It’s like PTSD gives me a valid reason for why I do what I do, and I’ve never had that before.

And maybe PTSD explains why I’m angry in the first place.

Now that’s an interesting thought, and one which I’ll probably have to explore further in future posts…

I don’t want PTSD to become the catchall excuse for everything in my life, like, for example, why did you rob that store?

(I’m trying to think of an example that involves something that I would NEVER EVER do…)

Well, I robbed that store because my father hit me when I was little, so now I have PTSD. The PTSD made me rob the store.

NO!! NO!! NO!! I don’t think so!!

The PTSD that I have now as an adult is a result of the abuse inflicted on me by my parents when I was little. But now that I’m an adult, what I do with that is MY RESPONSIBILITY. I can’t blame any wrong behavior or sin that I might commit now on what they did to me as a child. I am responsible for my actions now, even if they are informed by what happened to me as a child.

Okay, so back to PTSD and my anger…

I get angry ALL the TIME, and over the littlest things, as I explained earlier. It happens a lot while I’m watching TV, and especially when I’m watching programs about true crime, and in particular while I’m watching programs about child abuse and domestic violence. I spend a lot of time yelling at the abusers in the TV programs, and telling them what jerks they are, and telling the police in these programs what they should be doing that they aren’t, and even telling everyone what they should be saying to each other. No one ever says what I think they should be saying!

It would be funny if it weren’t so indicative of what’s going on my heart. I’ve come to the realization that I’m probably yelling at Harry, and at my mother, and at everyone else in my life who didn’t protect me but should have when I was little. In other words, my anger at my parents is projected onto the people in the programs I’m watching on TV, because I don’t know the people on the TV from Adam’s housecat (if Adam had a housecat…).

I think the abuse is the iceberg that sank my Titanic anger, and as I work through my pain, I’m raising my Titanic back to the surface so it can be reassembled to sail again, hopefully this time without incident. And all the people who died when it sank are all my alters from when I was multiple who were so wounded and abused by my parents. Thankfully I was integrated back in 2003 by God, and through the efforts of a wonderful prayer team at the church I was attending at the time. So those alters have been healed and integrated into the whole that is me now.

But it’s time, I think, to deal with all that anger. I don’t know how that will come about, but God does, and McT is a really good shrink, probably the best I’ve ever had. He’s led by the Spirit, and he loves God and His Word.

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, NLT.

I’m grateful for the freedom that God has brought me as I’ve trusted Him more and more, and the Holy Spirit has certainly been instrumental in this. All three Persons of the Holy Trinity have, and I can’t express enough gratitude for everything they’ve done for me. Jesus went to the Cross for my salvation ~ I’d be dead if it hadn’t’ve been for that. The Holy Spirit has been guiding, and comforting, and teaching, and counseling me all these years since I got saved, because that’s His job.

And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. … These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ~ John 14:16-18, 25-27, NKJV.

I know that’s a pretty long passage of Scripture, but the Holy Spirit is a pretty vast subject, and I wanted to make sure I covered everything about Him, and what He’s done and is doing in my life, though I’m sure I could find more.

I’m so thankful and grateful and appreciative and blessed and (these are the only adjectives I could find in my thesaurus for my feelings towards God…), and… and… and…

Jesus plus nothing equals EVERYTHING!!

Taken Over By Aliens

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I’ve had a hankering for several days to just write, and when I feel like that I’ve found it’s best to obey the urge and start typing. The problem has been finding the time, but I’m here now…

So I’m going to write about whatever comes to mind, and I have some ideas.

There are times when I feel a great deal of anxiety, because it seems like nothing is going the way it’s supposed to, and everything is falling apart. During those times I’m much more prone to panic attacks, though I’m so pleased that I’m still self-abuse free ~ praise God for that. It’s just that, even though I’m no longer hitting myself, I feel like I’m disappointing God because I’m not trusting Him when I get upset. I should be turning to God when something bad happens instead of getting upset.

I tend to catastrophize everything, and I’ve done it my whole life. Instead of leaving the problem in God’s hands and trusting that He’ll take care of it, I automatically jump to catastrophic-worry mode. It always happens, as hard as I try to do it differently.

There are periods when I’m able to remain at peace, and rely on Scripture (Isaiah 26:3) when I get upset.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. ~ Isaiah 26:3, NKJV.

And I like to personalize it, because then I feel like I’m actually praying it directly to God about me,

Thank you, Father, that You will keep me in perfect peace because my mind is stayed on You, because I trust in You. ~ Isaiah 26:3, NKJV, Personalized.

You know, when I’ve ruminated on a verse of Scripture, repeating it to myself over and over, it has the desired effect. If the verse is Isaiah 26:3, I end up regaining the peace that I lost when I got upset in the first place, which is wonderful, because I hate losing my peace, and I can’t imagine it’s terribly pleasing to God either.

On top of everything else, I’m going to have to take my computer in to have it worked on. About six months ago I noticed a tiny screw had come out of the bottom of the computer, and I couldn’t put it back in no matter what I tried. So I took it to my computer guy, and he told me, of all things, that my battery is swelling.

My battery is swelling?? That really doesn’t sound good. In fact it sounds just plain weird. Kind of like my computer has been taken over by aliens (if I believed in that sort of thing).

The problem with taking my computer in is that I’d be without it for however long it takes them to replace the battery, and during that time I’d have to use my iPad for everything, including blogging here. And I REALLY don’t like writing on my iPad. I mean I seriously HATE it. It’s a total pain. It takes longer because you have to change keyboards everytime you want to use a number, or you have to capitalize a word, or add punctuation. It’s just a royal pain. So you have to change keyboards, and then you have to change back to the original keyboard. BLECK on the whole process!

And besides all that, my iPad ~ the iPad on which I’m supposed to type this blog ~ isn’t working all that well either. I broke it a couple of months back, because even though I’m no longer hitting myself, I’m still having a big problem managing my rage and anger. I’m not hitting myself, but I’m taking it out on other things ~ like my iPad.

Poor thing! What did it ever do to me? It didn’t do what I wanted it to. But that’s dumb. It’s an inanimate object, and when it does something, it’s only responding to something I tell it to do. It’s a computer, and computers are only as smart as the people using them.

Of course, I don’t know what that says about me…

Actually, I don’t think it says anything about my intelligence. What it does say is that, as I’ve already determined, I need to learn how to control my anger, which is something I’ve known for a very long time. I just haven’t made a concerted effort over the long term to do anything about it. I also think I’ll make it the subject of a future post.

Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity. ~ Ephesians 4:26-27, CSB.

I Need to Fire the Judge.

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Every once In a while, I mess up really, really bad, and last Saturday (July 11) was one of those times. And when I do I’m incredibly grateful for God’s mercy, and for King David’s ability to encapsulate my feelings in the Psalms. Psalm 51 is a particularly good example,

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. ~ Psalm 51:1-4, NLT.

King David wrote Psalm 51 after he was confronted by Nathan the prophet concerning his sin with Bathsheba and his conspiracy to have her husband murdered on the field of battle (see 2 Samuel, Chapters Eleven and Twelve).

And then I asked God to forgive me, because I so desperately needed His forgiveness.

So what actually happened? What did I do that made me feel such guilt and shame? As it turns out I was playing a new game on my iPad, and while the game itself was relatively harmless, at various points during the game it would offer timed challenges where you could earn extra coins if you could complete a level within a certain amount of time, for example, twenty seconds.

Now, I’ve never done very well with arcade-style games, or timed games of any kind, and I don’t play them as a general rule. They put way too much stress on me and have always been sure-fire triggers for panic attacks and self-abuse. When I downloaded this game there was no indication that it was an arcade game, or that there were any timing issues at all, so I thought I was safe.

Then I started playing it and discovered differently, but the timing challenges didn’t happen very often, and they were doable within the allotted time, so I didn’t worry about them.

Until…

Until I reached the upper levels. Once there I ran into a timed challenge that I could not beat no matter what I tried, at which point I absolutely fell apart. It drove me into a panic attack, and I started hitting myself ~ something I haven’t done in many months. In fact, it’s been almost exactly one year, because I wrote a post about God healing me of the self-abuse on July 16, 2019 (Go To Forgiveness, Go Right To Forgiveness. Don’t Pass Through Guilt, Don’t Go To Condemnation.), and interestingly enough He healed me of it in the context of playing a computer game.

So I had a panic attack and started hitting myself. Looking back, I feel a lot of shame about that, because I feel like I should have known better. I should have known better!! The problem is, when I get into situations like that, I can’t see the panic attack and subsequent self-abuse coming. I’m just blithely playing along, trying to complete the time challenge ~ and failing.

I guess that should have been my clue, that I kept failing at it, because I hadn’t failed at any of the other challenges, and I failed at this one every single time I tried. I should have stopped after two or three successive failed attempts, but somehow I just couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see that necessity, so I kept on trying until it was too late and I had reached the point of no return. It was at that point that my face was sweating and I was calling myself bad names, and after that was when I started hitting myself.

Once the self-abuse started, I kind woke up and realized what was happening, and all the rage at myself drained out of me. But I still couldn’t forgive myself. Not yet. Because, like I said earlier, I should have known. I should have KNOWN!!

I’ve always had the hardest time forgiving myself. I can forgive anyone, ANYONE, but not myself. Well, and my sister…

But even she’s easier to forgive than I am. But I’ve come to realize that in making that determination about myself, I’m really saying that I know more about me than God does ~ and that’s simply not true. And I’ve already come to understand that I would make a rotten God (or god; I Would Make a Terrible God).

McT and I talked about this situation during my phone-appointment last Tuesday, and we decided that what’s really going on is that I have a mean internal judge ~ probably all three parents internalized ~ both biological parents and my stepdad ~ who won’t let me accept that I’m human and therefore imperfect, and liable to make mistakes. When I was a kid being abused in the cult, if I made a mistake someone died, and it’s quite difficult to break that connection in my mind.

So McT and I decided that I need to fire the judge. What I really need to do is ask God to break the connection in my mind between the mistakes I was forced to make in the cult and the people who died as a result of those mistakes ~ because the mistakes were unavoidable. I had no control over them. They were forced on me by the people conducting the rituals.

My parents fostered that perfectionism at home as well. I can remember times when I would spill a glass of milk at the dinner table, and my mother would accuse me of doing it on purpose if I didn’t act abjectly remorseful.

Then there was the time after I left college when I decided to enroll in a local secretarial school. I completed the program there with the highest score anyone had ever gotten at that school ~ 99.2% overall ~ and when I told my stepdad about it, all he could say was, “Why didn’t you get 100%?” I was crushed after he said that. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right, like no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough.

Now, I certainly don’t want to dwell on the past, but these particular events were times that, in essence, branded me. They left scars that only God can heal ~ and I believe He will do just that, just as He’s healed me of all the other things people have done to me. I believe He can and will break the connections between what happened to me in the cult and the consequences of those things, so I’m no longer trapped into doing things I don’t want to do ~ like hitting myself, because God didn’t want me to be abused in a satanic cult in the first place!

You are not to sacrifice any of your children in the fire to Molech. Do not profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. ~ Leviticus 18:21, CSB.

“The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes,” says the LORD. “They have set up their abominable idols right in the Temple that bears my name, defiling it. They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” ~ Jeremiah 7:30-31, NLT.

It’s comforting to me to know that God didn’t want me to be abused in the cult, that it never crossed His mind! Knowing that has really helped me in my healing process, especially with regard to some of the lies Harry told me ~ for example, that he had to abuse me because God hated me. It’s so easy to forgive him for telling me that, because I know he was seriously deceived himself when he said it.

I thank God for His healing power in my life, and for His goodness to me!!