Category Archives: Long-term Affects of Child Abuse

Untried Yet Guilty, Not Guilty Yet Condemned.

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I have a VERY difficult time trusting men. I think I’ve long since established that, but, considering that I’m using it as the premise for the rest of this post, I feel like I should say it again.

Because of my background I seem to be predisposed to see every man as a child molester, regardless of who they are or what they do. If I see a father with his daughters in a restaurant or walking the street, I feel afraid for those children, even though I have no reason or evidence to suspect that anything bad is happening to those daughters at all. It’s especially true for girls, but boys incite fear in me as well, because the statistics say that boys are abused as well as girls, though the incidence is less. 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of childhood sexual abuse, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.

When I’m thinking logically I realize this is an unfair characterization, but I don’t seem to be able to change my way of seeing things.

This is just an observation, but it’s something I’ve been aware of for awhile, and something I would like to change. I could never think of being married to anyone, especially someone with children, because I’d constantly be afraid he was abusing his kids, and the marriage would quickly become intolerable, above all for whomever I’d be married to.

There may be a few, a very FEW, who have escaped this unjust condemnation from me: God (and of course Jesus and the Holy Spirit); my therapist, McT; my pastor, Pastor Jack; and maybe Dr. Phil are probably the only ones who’ve made that list and haven’t fallen off by blowing it.

I’m always waiting for the other shoe to fall any time I begin to trust someone of the opposite sex, and in the past, they’ve never failed to fall short. Certainly Harry was the archetype for all the other people who were added to, and then fallen off my list, but there have been many other people since then who’ve also looked like they might be trustworthy, and then proven to be otherwise.

And it’s almost worse when someone starts out looking trustworthy, and then proves to be otherwise, because of the pain I feel when I find out they aren’t. There’s all the betrayal and abandonment I feel, plus the self-condemnation because I should have known better. I mean, I should know better by know, right?? After all these years you’d think I’d get it!

Thankfully, God is always trustworthy and faithful, though it took me many years to realize that and believe it. But I now know and fully believe that He is ALWAYS good, and ALWAYS faithful, and ALWAYS trustworthy. I now know that He will NEVER lie, that He will ALWAYS tell the truth. I’m so grateful for those facts!

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.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~ John 14:6, NIV.

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23, NKJV.

The Vagaries of Sleep ~ or Lack Thereof

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I do a lot of sleeping during the day, when I’m sitting on my couch, watching TV. I have the hardest time sleeping at night when you’re supposed to be sleeping. It’s very frustrating.

The word sleep occurs in Scripture 73 times in 65 verses, depending on the translation. (The above quoted numbers are for the New King James Version. In the King James it’s 82 times in 72 verses; in the New Living Translation it’s 63 times in 62 verses, and in the ESV it’s 61 times in 54 verses.)

I’m going to list some of my favorite verses on sleep…


I will lie down and sleep peacefully, for You, LORD, make me safe and secure. ~ Psalm 4:8, NET.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. ~ Psalm 121:1-8, NIV.

Even though verse 4 is where sleep is mentioned, I love the whole Psalm. It talks about God’s love and care for Israel, and all His children, both in this life and on into eternity, and it fills me with great comfort knowing how much God loves me.

In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for He grants sleep to those he loves. ~ Psalm 127:2, NIV.

In other words, don’t worry about where your next meal is coming from. God is your source; He will be faithful to supply your every need (Philippians 4:19).

My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. ~ Proverbs 3:21-24, NIV.

I love those passages! They give me hope that I’ll be able to sleep well on a consistent basis once the issues that are keeping me awake are resolved.

And now to the aforementioned issues…

I have a terrible case of insomnia, and I’ve had it for many years. I also have sleep apnea, even though I don’t snore. I have to use a CPAP machine with a full face mask every night. Otherwise I spend the whole of the next day sleeping while I’m sitting on my couch watching TV.

Even when I do use my CPAP machine I don’t usually sleep that well, because I sleep in fits and starts, usually about three hours at a time, and once I wake up I usually can’t go back to sleep. Sometimes I can, but once again I wake up after about three hours. Every once in awhile I can sleep longer, but that doesn’t happen very often.

I know I have PTSD, and I’m fairly certain that’s a big part of what’s keeping me awake. In addition, there’s something about trying to fall asleep in silence that’s frightening to me, so I play Christian music or Scripture (the audio Bible) at a low volume to deal with the fear. Doing that helps a lot. I also know that I almost never remember my dreams, and the ones I do remember are really weird, and are usually nightmares.

I’m hypervigilant about practically everything. I jump at loud noises, and I cringe at being touched unless I know the person. I’m also terrified of going to the doctor. Fortunately I have a wonderful doctor who understands my issues and doesn’t make me do anything that will trigger a panic attack.

I don’t trust men at all. For the most part, men are the enemy, and men with beards are especially dangerous; the bushier the beard, the more treacherous the guy. There are a few men I feel like I can trust, McT (my therapist) being one of them.

Those are the issues I’m aware of. It sounds like there are a lot of them, I know, but I’m not worried about that. I’m trusting that God will deal with all of them at some point so I can start getting the sweet and peaceful sleep He promises me in His Word.

In the meantime I’m doing my level best to maintain God’s peace in my heart…

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You! ~ Isaiah 26:3, NLT.

Hope Deferred, or the Unfulfilled Could

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Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. ~ Proverbs 13:12, NLT.

I wanted to be a doctor since I was in the sixth grade. It was my lifelong dream, and I never considered any other occupation or career. My grandmother spent years fostering that desire by giving me books of medical illustrations (The Ciba Collection of Medical Illustrations by Frank H. Netter).

Because medicine was my dream, all throughout high school and college I took classes that furthered my goal, plus I spent time reading articles about medical subjects that piqued my interest. And once my grandmother had started buying me medical books, I decided to buy them for myself as well, only the ones I got for myself were on different subjects.

I bought books on biology, cell biology, and biochemistry, in addition to the medical books that my grandmother was giving me, plus I had the textbooks from my classes that I added to my burgeoning library as well.

I loved having all those science books. They made me feel smart because I understood the information contained in them, but I’ve come to realize that that’s a lousy reason to buy a book. I’ve spent thousands of dollars over the years buying books solely because they made me feel smart. The problem was, once I had them I never did anything with them. I didn’t read them, I never even opened them, except for initially, right after I got them home.

Right after I bought them I had to play with them (what I call inspecting a new purchase). I would open the book and check out the table of contents to see if any of my favorite topics were there, and if so, where they were located. Then I would leaf through the book to see if I could find any interesting illustrations or diagrams, and scrutinize them to see if I could understand them, and if I could recognize any of the words in them ~ and I usually could.

The only books that were different were the books of medical illustrations that my grandmother gave me. Once I had them I didn’t ignore them like I did all the other science books. I still have those wonderful books. Periodically I still open them and peruse them. They remind me of how amazing God is, of what a marvelous Creator He is, and of what an extraordinary thing He’s done in designing our bodies.

You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb. I thank You, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything You do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly You know me, Lord! You even formed every bone in my body when You created me in the secret place; carefully, skillfully You shaped me from nothing to something. ~ Psalm 139:13-15, The Passion Translation.

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.

Then, after years and years of buying books and taking classes, and hoping and desiring and preparing for a career in medicine, I started having memories of horrific abuse that happened when I was a child, before dreams of medical school ever began. Just the process of remembering was so disabling and debilitating that I couldn’t function. I tried to take the MCAT (the Medical College Admission Test) and did very poorly on it, but I decided to apply to one medical school anyway, even though my test scores were poor, but I wasn’t accepted.

So now what? It had never occurred to me that I might not be able to be a doctor. I always assumed that this was God wanted me to do with my life. How better to serve God than to be involved with healing people? I never really asked Him about it, I just assumed. (Bad idea, by the way. You should always, always talk to God before pursuing a career path.)

You know what they say. If you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans. Well I guess God had a good, long laugh at my expense, because I spent years telling Him my plan to go to medical school and become a doctor, all without knowing about my past and the destructive effect it would have on my life and ability to do things like go to school and study hard subjects.

Because I was drowning in the disappointment of losing medical school I couldn’t see beyond the disappointment to let go of that so God could lead me to something else. Even more, it never occurred to me that what God had planned for me would be even better ~ lots better ~ than anything I had planned for myself, including medical school. Plus, in the process of going through the emotional archeology of my childhood ~ a necessary endeavor, to be sure ~ I came to understand that having to touch people’s bodies as a doctor really turned me off. In some respects it actually frightened me, notwithstanding all the reverence and awe I feel for God because of His amazing creation.

And once I realized I had to give up on medical school, I spent years, and I do mean years, trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I tried music for a couple of years, but I couldn’t stand the idea of all that practicing. Then I figured out I could draw, so I tried graphic art and 3-D animation, which was a lot of fun but not where I was supposed to be career-wise. I also thought I might go to graduate school and become a therapist, but that didn’t pan out either, again because of my background.

Fortunately, God isn’t moved by such obstacles, and He always had a plan for my life. The problem has been cluing me in to what that plan was.

It’s only been a few days since I’ve come to realize all this, so I’m still processing what it means. But I think one thing I have to do is release the whole medical school thing: my lifelong desire to go, the disappointment in losing that dream when I had nothing with which to replace it, and all the years of wandering around blindly since then trying to land on a productive life, all without success.

I’m 68 years old now, and it feels like it’s too late to begin a new career, but somehow I don’t think God works on the same timetable as humans do, thankfully. I think I need to trust that God, Who loves me beyond all imagining, and always has my best interests at heart, will have a plan for me that I will love and that I can do, even at my age. I need to trust that God’s plan for me will be a good plan, a fun plan, and a productive plan that will help me to serve Him and bring Him glory ~ my fondest desire, by the way ~ while at the same time providing for my needs.

Because at the end of the day, God is a GOOD God, and He only has good plans for me. I choose to believe that!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11, NIV.

Fibber McGee’s Closet

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There are times when my mind gets so cluttered that it feels like Fibber McGee’s closet.

Now, I realize that there are those of you amongst my readers who don’t know who Fibber McGee is. Fibber McGee was the main character of a radio show that was broadcast from 1935 to 1956. The show was called Fibber McGee and Molly, and Molly was Fibber’s wife. The reason I know about him is because my mother told me about him, and because of his untidy closet.

The closet came in because Fibber had a hall closet that was used as a running gag on the show, and it was stuffed so full of junk that everytime the door was opened everything came crashing out onto the floor with a huge, loud, racket.*

When my mind gets that jumbled and muddled, I can’t think straight. In fact, I have a hard time thinking crookedly, or even at all. I have a hard time focusing enough to read or watch TV, or even play my game.

And there’s the shock of the world. I play a computer game.

I know, horror of horrors. I’m committing a great sin. You may gasp now, and then maybe you can pray for me. I, like everyone else, can always use prayer.

So when I feel fragmented and cluttered, what I need to do most of all is talk to God, because God is my source of wisdom and healing and light and anything else I might need, especially when I can’t think straight.

And that’s what I do. I cry out to God. He’s my very present help in time of trouble,

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. ~ Psalm 46:1, NLT.

I have no other source to whom I can turn for help when I need it,

As a result of this many of His disciples abandoned Him, and no longer walked with Him. So Jesus said to the twelve [disciples], “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You [alone] have the words of eternal life [you are our only hope]. ~ John 6:66-68, AMP.

And eternal life is simple enough to acquire,

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3, NASB.

Imagine that! All you have to do to have eternal life is believe that God is, and that He’s a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, which is the essence of faith (Hebrews 11:6), and then with your faith, seek to know Him by reading His Word.

I find that to be wonderfully exciting, and even on days when I’m feeling confused and muddled, I’m still sure of my salvation. I know I can always call on God. I’m always sure that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter that Jesus spoke of in John 14 will be there to guide me and remind me of all the things that Jesus said,

But the Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you. ~ John 14:26, WEB (WEB is the Webster Bible translated by Noah Webster in 1833).

I guess the upshot of what I’m getting at here is that no matter how badly I’m feeling, no matter how jumbled and confused I get, I’m never without hope. And trust me, I know what it’s like to be without hope, because Harry stole my hope when I was a child.

That’s why I was so suicidal for so many years. I tried suicide nine times because I had no hope. But God restored my hope as He healed me from my childhood, and I’m so glad He did!

*The Meaning and Origin of Fibber McGee’s Closet

 

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!!

My Brain Has Flown the Coup, and Then Come Back Again

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At the beginning of my last post, Ideas Flitting In and Out, I suggested some possible titles I was thinking about using for a blog post. The above was one of them. I kind of liked it so I thought I’d use it, considering I’m having trouble gathering enough thoughts to create a sentence, much less a whole blog post.

Lily, my cat, has decided that right now is the time for her to crawl into my lap and be affectionate. So that’s what she’s done, purring loudly, with her head nudging my right elbow, as I’m trying to type. Of course it’s almost impossible to concentrate, much less write down what I’m thinking about, with her doing all that, but it’s hard to turn her away because her motor and her beautiful blue eyes are so appealing.

Just thought I’d let you know what fun I’m having while I’m trying to write! Lily has always been a gift from God, and I love her dearly, but it gets interesting when she wants me to pet her right when I’m trying to write.

Back at it, Lily notwithstanding…

I’ve been feeling less depressed since that memory surfaced last Thursday while I was writing, and I’m very relieved about that. It’s extremely difficult for me to function when I get that depressed. It’s hard for me to blink and breathe when it gets that bad, so I can’t get anything done, not even reading my Bible. 

Fortunately, as I said, I am feeling a bit better, so I’m blinking and breathing easier and more often, thankfully. It’s kind of like a boil was lanced when that memory came up, to use an analogy. I do think I’ll need to explore the well from that memory with McT, because I’m not sure I’m done with it yet. Thankfully I’m supposed to have a phone appointment with him this afternoon.

So I had my appointment with McT, and it was, as always, a really good conversation. He is so easy to talk to! He just makes things easier. You know, things. Things that are hard to talk about. Things that hard to think about. Things that are hard to see, or hard to hear. I’m more and more able to trust him with the really hard stuff, the bits and pieces of my life that I’ve never been able to tell anyone.

The reason it feels like my brain has flown the coup is because, even though I’m feeling less depressed, most of the time my mind is blank, without thoughts ~ thoughtless, as it were, and I can’t figure out where they’ve all gone. I seem to be able to think enough to speak, so where are my thoughts when I want to write? It’s very frustrating and distressing.

I hate feeling like I have to wing it without knowing what’s going to come out when I say something. I have to trust myself, and that’s even harder than trusting God or McT. I have to trust that I won’t blurt out something stupid or obscene, or that I won’t say something that goes against what I believe or that dishonors God in some way.

I learned early on that I couldn’t trust my own reality, something that’s common amongst abuse survivors, because no one believed anything I told them. Plus Harry forced us to lie about what he was doing to us.

There’s a certain point at which someone who is forced to lie all the time begins to believe that the lies she’s telling are actually true. I think that happened to me, and was probably at least partly why I repressed the truth and remembered the lies. I couldn’t have survived otherwise.

But now that I’ve experienced so much healing at the Hand of God, I’m beginning to learn that I can trust myself and my reality. It’s been a hard lesson to learn, even harder than learning to trust God. I’ve always had the Bible to show me I can trust God, but I’ve never had anything on which to base any ability to trust myself, other than just… myself. Which didn’t make me feel confident at all. I mean, I wasn’t able to trust myself before, so why would I trust myself now? And no one else trusted me, so why would I trust myself?

However, as I’ve gotten stronger and more and more healed, I’ve grown more and more confident. And I’ve learned that my voice is worthy of being heard, and that I no longer have to remain silent. I can trust that what I have to say is just as meaningful and useful as anyone else’s message, because I have God on my side, and He will always come first.

It’s taken me over a week to write this post. I started on June 9th, and I’m almost ready to publish it today, nine days later. It’s evolved through a number of topics ~ as I thought it would ~ and in the process I feel like my brain has flown back into the coup.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. ~ James 1:17, KJV.

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.

Trust is a big thing for me. It has to be earned, and I’ve tried hard to earn the right to trust myself. I’ve tried hard to earn the right for God to trust me, if you can do that. I hope you can, because I desire that God would trust me above all else.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6, NKJV.

 

Ideas Flitting In and Out

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I’ve tried to think of a good title for this post, and I finally came up with the above offering. I thought of My Brain Has Flown the Coup or possibly, I Have No Idea. Or Is It Ideas? Or maybe, Depression Is a Mack Truck and I’ve Been Mowed Down.

That last should tell you something about my state of mind, and it’s also the main reason why I haven’t posted in almost a month (my last published post was on May 14th ~ Of Life and Death, and Life Again). The main reason I’m so depressed seems to be because of the death of Ravi Zacharias, but I don’t really understand why that would be so. I know where he is, and I know that I will get to meet him in person one day, as well as, and even more importantly and marvelously, the fact that I’ll be able to meet Jesus and greet Him face to face ~ always my fondest and deepest desire.

But for some reason I just can’t seem to shake this deep funk of a depression that I’ve fallen into, and it started when I heard the news that Ravi Zacharias was dying, and then that he had died.

It feels like I’ve fallen ~ or been pushed or thrown ~ to the bottom of a deep, deep, waterless well, from which there is no exit. And if I cry out for help the only answer I get is the echoes of my own shrieks and cries. The darkness is so thick that I can’t see my hand in front of my face, but if I feel for the walls, my fingers touch slimy stones up as high as I can reach. I feel like I’m about four years old, and I’m terrified. Someone has thrown me down here somehow, and abandoned me here, and I don’t know why.

What did I do wrong?? 

What did I do wrong??

What I’ve just described has all the earmarks of a memory, and I wish, oh how I WISH, I didn’t have to be alone while it’s coming up!! I know God is with me. He’s always with me, but it would be so much easier if there were a physical, trustworthy person here. I haven’t seen McT in person ~ in his office ~ since the quarantine began in March. I’ve had phone appointments with him, and I’ve so appreciated his willingness to do that, but there are times when you just need a physical presence. He does read these blog posts, however, so I know he’ll find out what’s going on soon enough.

In light of what just surfaced, and from what I’ve come to understand about Ravi’s position in my life, if I can word it that way, vis à vis him being one of only two or three positive male role models that I’ve ever had in my life, maybe this depression has been about feeling abandoned when he died. While I know that Ravi didn’t abandon me, I think his death triggered this memory, and the abandonment contained therein.

I don’t understand how people can be so cruel! What could a four year old child possibly have done that would have warranted being treated like that?!?!

I forgive them. I forgive them. I forgive them. I forgive them! I FORGIVE THEM!!!

I forgive them, and I ask God to forgive them. I pray that God forgives them.

Now I just feel inexpressibly sad. Sad for the little girl that was me, who had to live through such hell. I used to hate her, but now I love her soooSOOO MUCH!! She was so incredibly brave and courageous! I’m crying now at how valiant and lionhearted she was throughout the years of her existence. If it hadn’t been for her the rest of us would never have made it. That was Catherine Belinda for you! I celebrate you, Catherine Belinda, and I thank God that He created you!! I thank God that He created you first!!

God is good. God is good ALL the time, and I love Him so!!

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 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 2:8-10, NLT.

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!!

No More Secrets

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I’ve always had an extremely difficult time talking about being raped, especially if I’m talking about it with a guy. There’s something about saying the words that makes it too real, and makes me terrified it will happen again. So I never talk about it with anyone, not even with God, though technically I don’t need to talk about it with Him, because He already knows about it, and He knows my needs before I ask,

When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! ~ Matthew 6:7-8, NLT.

Even though I don’t need to talk about it with God because He already knows about it, I feel like I should talk about it with Him. It’s a matter of trust rather than foreknowledge.

The real reason I don’t like talking about being raped with God isn’t because I know that He already knows about it. It’s because I have a hard time trusting Him with it. He allowed me to be raped the first time, and not just once, but multiple times, by the one person you’re supposed to be able to trust in all the world ~ your own father. So if He allowed it once then how do I know He won’t allow it again? You know, God’s sovereignty and all that.

But then there’s the whole thing about Harry’s free will, and here’s where I get confused. God is sovereign, but He can’t go against a person’s free will, otherwise He wouldn’t be just. So He couldn’t go against Harry’s free will. But what about my free will? Harry chose to rape me and beat me within an inch of my life, and I had no choice. I guess from a human standpoint, the one who wins is the one who’s the strongest, and that definitely wasn’t me. It was Harry. He was bigger than me, and stronger, so he was always able to overpower me. It definitely wasn’t fair, but it’s the way things were, and I was stuck with the consequences.

So where does my free will come in? My will comes into play once I reach adulthood and the abuse stops. At that point I can choose what I want to do with what’s been done to me as a child. I figure there are a number of different paths victims of child abuse and child sexual abuse can take. You can become bitter and seek revenge on your abuser ~ never a good idea as far as I’m concerned. It’s been proven that holding on to bitterness and unforgiveness will make you sick. Plus, the Bible says that God won’t forgive you if you don’t forgive others,

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 don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t ever want to be in the position where God is refusing to forgive me because I haven’t forgiven someone for something they did to me, when all I have to do is forgive that person.

Now you might say to me, But you don’t know what they did to me! It’s true, I don’t, but I’ve had to forgive people for some pretty egregious and horrific things that were done to me. Just read Am I Afraid of Anger, or Do I Get Angry at the Fear? and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I wasn’t able to forgive anyone on my own. I could only do it with God’s help, but that’s the point. I had God’s help, and with His help it was entirely possible. Without His assistance I could never have gotten it done. Not ever. But with God all things are possible (see Matthew 19:26 and Mark 10:27).

I’ve had a great deal of time to think this through, and I spent years being enraged at God in the process, because I couldn’t understand why He would allow me to be abused so horrifically. It just didn’t seem fair to me. Why was Harry’s free will acknowledged and allowed to run roughshod over me ~ another human being with a will supposedly just as free as Harry’s ~ while my will was ignored and tromped on at Harry’s expense and for his pleasure.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that my view of the situation is extremely limited, and I need to trust God, Who can see the whole picture. I need to trust that He can see the whole picture, and that He has everything well in hand,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV.

It’s taken me a long, long time to come to the point where I can release it into God’s capable hands ~ and recognize that He is able to take care of it, and that He does know what He’s doing ~ and He knew what He was doing all along, even when He allowed the abuse to happen in the first place, though I still have a hard time with that idea. But if I realize that He created me with the strength to handle it, with His help, then I can ~ sort of ~ see that He knew what He was doing from the beginning.

Once I can allow myself to trust God, and I mean really trust Him down to my deepest core, and with my innermost secrets ~ which He already knew about anyway ~ then it will be easier to allow myself to trust other people. At least I think this is true. I know I’m getting better at trusting McT, and at talking about hard stuff with him, and maybe that’s an extension of trusting God more.

I hope so!

No more secrets is my goal, since God knows them all anyway.

Resolution? What’s a Resolution?

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I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I never have. I don’t do it because I know I won’t keep them, and I don’t want the sense of failure that I know I’ll feel once I’ve fallen short of the resolutions I didn’t keep.

What I do instead is commit in my heart to work each and every day to grow in the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God. This means I cultivate a discipline of daily reading and study in God’s Word, as well as doing my best to remain in fellowship with Him by praying constantly, which I think of as simply talking to God. I don’t always get the reading done, but it’s constantly on my mind, and I use Scripture all the time in different contexts. So even if I’m not actively reading and studying my daily chapters, I’m still wrestling with interpretation and meaning as I’m talking about it with others, or posting verses on Twitter or Facebook.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV.

And probably more important to me than anything, I pray for God to continue healing me more deeply and fully from my childhood.

I don’t want to sound like I’m holier-than-thou by talking about the way I worship God, because I most assuredly do not see myself in that way. I’m well aware of my sinfulness and need for a savior. But this blog is about my progress as God heals me from my past, and it’s also about my life with God as I learn about Him and grow to know Him more and more deeply. And as such, if I don’t talk about myself and my life, and what I’m doing to grow and heal, then it might be a little weird, seems to me.

I could be wrong about that. I’m wrong about a lot of things, but I don’t think so.

But that’s neither here not there, because, as I’ve stated, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. And thus far, I’m doing well. Exceedingly well, in fact. This year I’ve had some pretty significant victories, the most exciting of which is that I’m no longer hitting myself. Yup, the self-abuse has stopped. For good.

You can’t imagine how amazing and marvelous and exciting and wonderful that is to me! I struggled with this problem on a daily basis for about forty-five years, and I had no control over it. The least little frustration or the silliest mistake would cause me to fly off the handle and hit myself or scratch myself badly enough to draw blood. There were times where I gave myself a black eye, and the scratches on my face or arms looked like I’d been attacked by a wild animal.

It was incredibly embarrassing, because it was only infrequently that I didn’t have some kind of injury on my face or body, and they were almost always visible. If I was able to go a whole week with no self-abuse I would begin to hope it had gone away, and I constantly prayed to God to take it from me. I also constantly repented for doing it in the first place. Basically I felt like I was living in Hell all the time, and I couldn’t tell anyone about it, because it was just too humiliating.

Then about six months ago, at the end of June, it stopped. I don’t remember what was going on around that time, and no one prayed for me about the self-abuse, but I had continued to beg God for freedom from it. I was playing my online games, mainly June’s Journey and a couple of others, something I talked about in a previous post (Go To Forgiveness, Go Right To Forgiveness. Don’t Pass Through Guilt, Don’t Go To Condemnation.), and one day I realized that the frustration of making mistakes as I played no longer bothered me. I was able to tell myself that the mistakes didn’t matter, that it was just a game, and so what if I made a mistake.

So what, indeed! I finally realized that, given what happened to me throughout my childhood, anything that occurs now is so insignificant by comparison as to be irrelevant. Seeing my life from that perspective makes it so much easier to understand in terms of the overarching theme of God’s loving involvement and protection, while placing the day-to-day events where they belong ~ in the larger tapestry of my whole life, with no single occurrence assuming greater importance in God’s overall scheme of things.

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.

I love this verse! The word “masterpiece” in the Greek is ποίημα or poiēma. Most other translations use the word workmanship, while the NIV uses handiwork. We get our English word poetry from it.

So my life is God’s masterpiece, a beautiful tapestry of His design, while individual day-to-day events are threads woven in, but they don’t influence the overall outcome, unless it’s to enhance the beauty even more. And it’s all in God’s hands and according to His design.

So this was my big victory for 2019, and I’m grateful every day for it. To be free of something that had tormented me for about two-thirds of my life is a truly huge weight lifted from my shoulders. It was a bondage that made me feel like Sisyphus forever having to push his boulder to the top of the mountain, only to watch it roll to the bottom, where he’d have to start all over again.

I can’t thank God enough for releasing me from that oppression!

I’m eagerly looking forward to another resolution-less year of knowing God more profoundly, loving His Word more deeply, and receiving more healing at His hands. Plus I’m hoping to lose some weight, because I got this cool machine called a StreetStrider, which is an elliptical that can be used both indoors and outdoors. I’m also considering looking for a job, maybe maybe just maybe, though that’s pretty scary.

Just means more healing is needed…

Ever onward with God!!