Just wanted to share this with the world. I struggle a lot with being young and divorced, especially in the church. This blog hits home to a huge mistake we have made in our thoughts of divorce in the church especially.
I’ve longed for this day for many years. I’ve secretly prayed that it would come soon. I wished for it on my 13th birthday. All I could think of is the amount of relief I would gain from knowing the man who hurt me for years could never hurt me again. The pleasure I would have knowing that he was finally getting what he deserved. That God would take the revenge I so desperately wanted.
Today I found out my step dad (and uncle) passed away. I knew it was coming. I could tell while he was married to my mom that his health was failing. I knew that he wouldn’t last very much longer. I kept praying that God would take him while my mom was still with him so that he would no longer hurt me or my mom. The abuse became so severe that I attempted to end my life a few times, I began cutting to ease the pain, and I learned to starve myself to control something in my life. He would hit me, throw me down the stairs, tell me how fat, lazy, ugly, and stupid I was. He blamed everything everyone else did on me. If he ran away it was my fault. If the kitchen was dirty it was my fault. Ultimately he convincingly argued the divorce was my fault.
After the divorce I began to display signs of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) however no one knew exactly what PTSD was other than something that soldiers returning from war occasionally got. I was terrified of men, and would hide in the back room behind a desk whenever a male family member came over. I jumped at loud noises, when a teacher yelled in class, the hallway at school. And I had repeated nightmares. I would wake up petrified and still have to function in school. The nightmares lasted for years. I would duck every time I saw a truck with the same make and model that he drove. I had a panic attack every time I saw a truck or man with similar characteristics. I was so scared that he would find my family and kill us. It didn’t matter how many times we moved or how far away we lived, that fear still remained.
How are you suppose to react to the death of someone you’ve been wishing dead for half of your life?
My response confuses me. First off I’m in shock. I sent my mom a text asking if it was really true. I’m trying to explain the message from my step-sister (cousin) in any way that doesn’t end in his death. I honestly can’t believe that I have nothing to fear anymore when it comes to that time period in my life. He can’t hurt me anymore. He can’t kill me if he wanted to. Secondly, I am relieved. He can’t hurt me. That period of time in my life has entirely come to an end. No more questions from therapists wondering if he has access to other children that he can abuse. No more generations will be abused by him. The song that plays through my head is “Ding Dong the wicked witch (or in this case warlock) is dead!”. Thirdly, guilt is quick to rush in behind that relief. I feel guilty for how I talk about him. I still feel the need to protect him, especially now that he can no longer hurt me for the things I say. The worst part is the thoughts running through my head just this evening while I was with a friend. Thinking about all the things he stole from my childhood. How until this year I haven’t been able to be in the same room with a gun. How I can’t trust parents, especially fathers. How I immediately hate every step parent without getting to know them. I spent the evening hating him, and sharing that hatred with a friend. The guilt for wishing him dead and sharing his evil nature is overwhelming. I feel a large amount of guilt around the fact that my step-sister (cousin) was able to push the abuse out of her mind and still accept him as a dad and I am unable to let the events of my past go. I even suppose an irrational part of me things that it was my fault he died because I kept wishing he would just die. Finally, I am deeply saddened by this. Even though he caused so much pain in my life I loved him. He was my favorite uncle until he became my step dad. For me it’s true that you become somewhat attached to your abuser. Especially those who are also family.
Going through this brings me back to my current situation. Divorcing my abusive husband. I thought I was past the point of feeling guilty for the thoughts I have about escaping, finally being free of the constant abuse. I thought I knew for sure that I don’t want to go back to that situation. But with the passing of my step dad I’ve taken a step back and am feeling that familiar urge to reconcile things with my husband, go back and accept the abuse “I deserve” (or at least I think I do). Because I don’t want to find out that he killed himself over me as he has threatened before. I don’t want to find out years later he passed away without the ability to stand up to him and forgive him personally. I don’t want to feel this guilt, confusion, and conflict again. I know what I must do. I know that I can’t back down from this divorce. I have one last hearing before everything is official, I am legally free from him. However I know that I need to figure out how to break the silence and let him know my forgiveness before I am talking to another tombstone.
The last two weeks I haven’t posted. I haven’t cleaned. And self-care has been a difficult struggle. My “silent stalker” has been haunting me at night, when I wake, and while I attempt to get out of bed. My room is a mess, my memory is shot, and I have lost the ability to express myself through words. So who is this silent stalker? PTSD. or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
For whatever reason my mind has been severely compromised by this invading stalker the last few weeks. I’m an adult who sleeps with blankets, stuffed animals, and with the light on because of the severe nightmares I experience. I wake up crying or frozen in fear more times than not. For this reason my body tries every strategy to stay awake for as long as possible so that it cannot be invaded by the thoughts and memories of the past. The feeling is overwhelming:
You’re trapped, strapped down, eyes forced open to stare at the movie screen replaying scenes from a horror film that was the last two years of your life. With every scene you witness your body experiences the emotions, sensations, thoughts, and feelings that it did the first time you witnessed it. When you wake up you are frozen with fear, literally. You can’t move. You stare at the wall only to see the same scene that played all night long. Your mind convinces you “if you move you’re dead” because that’s what happened in the movie that was your reality. Even though you don’t see anyone in the room, you know that as soon as you move someone’s going to beat you. You reach for your phone to somehow bring yourself to reality but stare at it as if it’s some foreign object you don’t know how to use. You finally bring yourself to focus enough to turn it on and find the person that always helps you out with these nights but your mind and your fingers aren’t connected. Your mind dictates the words to text “Rough (stop) Night (stop) Terrified (stop) Help (stop)” like someone who’s still learning English. But your fingers can’t figure out how to move, your mind can’t remember how to spell. And you don’t remember who this friend is that you want to text. You just know that you need to text them. You are completely trapped, held prisoner against your will by your mind.
I’ve spent countless days in this prison. I’ve been told that reliving the trauma is your minds way of healing itself. Like an infected cut–the trauma that caused the cut hurt, but in order to heal the cut has to be cleaned daily. You have to continue to open the wound and clean it or you will lose that part of your body permanently.
Along with the difficult time sleeping I have been jumping through the roof (or so it feels). In order to overcome the trauma I’ve received from men and get back to being me (someone who has more guy friends than girl friends) I have been hanging out with a few guys. One of them is more of a touchy person than the other and enjoys moving hair out of my face, poking my sides, and giving hugs. All normal friendship gestures. However I’ve noticed every time his hand reaches for my face I flinch, duck and cover, attempt to block his hand, and brace myself for the impact of the blow I expect to receive from him. All of this happens in a split second before I can stop myself. The same thing happens when me moves too quickly. It’s my automatic reaction that my body had to learn while living with my abuser. That reaction saved me from a lot more pain and injury. However it has no purpose anymore.
I hit my breaking point Sunday. After almost a full week of complete isolation (not leaving my bed). I pushed myself to go to church. But afterward I fell into the same thought patterns that always plague me after a week of little sleep, nightmares, and other reactions to trauma out of my control. I felt so far from God, abandoned by Him and everyone else in my life. My last ditch effort to help my mood and get out of the depression was to listen to music, sit in the sun, and spend time with God. Once again it changed my life. I spent the rest of the evening confident in the fact that God hasn’t abandon me. He like the Footprints in the Sand poem says was carrying me through the difficult week because without Him I wouldn’t have made it through.
My goal is to write at least once a week on a theme or topic that has really grabbed my attention for the week. Whether it’s a recent experience I have had or whether it’s something that keeps reoccurring in my life. Last week it was an awesome realization that I am the treasured princess of my Heavenly King and that I deserve to be treated like a princess, not like a peasant. This week however, I have had a reoccurring topic continually find its way into my life and mind. The semicolon moments in life.
A semicolon in grammar is used to designate the place in a sentence where the author could have ended the sentence but chose not to. The semicolons in life are the moments where our life could have ended but didn’t. It’s been brought to my attention once again as I begin to work with yet another therapist how many semicolon moments I have had these 21 years. And more specifically how many semicolon moments I have consciously chosen.
I sat down with this new therapist who began asking me the standard questions I dread about my history. I’m not proud of the things I have done to my body, and rarely have I met someone who comes close to matching my story when it comes to number of suicide attempts, and other self abusive behaviors. I have a long history of suicide attempts and self-harm.
Beginning at age 11, I wanted to end my life. I didn’t want to graduate high school, attend college, get married, have kids, all I wanted to do was die. My first attempt was that year. I can remember I had just gotten yelled at and reminded again about how worthless and horrible I was. I had only endured a few months of physical, mental, and emotional abuse from my step dad, but I didn’t want to go through any more of it. I wanted out. I tried running away but I had no where to go. My mentor from church, who told me to call when things got to this point, didn’t answer her phone. When my mom and step dad left the house I knew what I had to do. My step dad kept a loaded gun in the top drawer of his night stand. I knew that if I grabbed the gun, held it to my head and pulled the trigger I wouldn’t have to endure any more of the abuse. Crying, I left my room, and headed for the gun. I got half way up the stairs before I was crying hysterically. I had to stop, sit down, I was shaking and crying too much, I couldn’t continue. I was terrified. I didn’t want to die, I just didn’t want to live. Sitting on the stairs crying, shaking, I began to cry out to God. I told God that if He was real, He was going to have to stop me from going upstairs, grabbing the gun, and ending my life. An overwhelming feeling of exhaustion came over me, I physically didn’t feel like I could take another step. I laid down on the stairs until I had enough strength to get myself back down to my room. I cried myself to sleep knowing without a doubt that God had just saved my life. My life could have ended but God had a different plan.
The next year I began cutting. Statistics say that most people who cut continuously for 7 years will have died due to one wrong cut. With arms full of self-inflicted scars I know there has to be someone watching out for me.
The summer before my senior year of high school one of my friends committed suicide. He decided that there was nothing left in life worth living for. He made a decision to place the period on the sentence that was his life. I would give anything to have him back. I would have done anything to save his life. I know that every event in life is a lesson, an opportunity to learn and grow. I know that I shouldn’t regret anything. I have very few regrets in life. This is one of them. I regret not reaching out to him, not spending time with him that summer. I regret not being there. Losing him made me realize the impact my suicide would have on everyone my life has touched.
Unfortunately, that realization tends to leave my mind when I become greatly depressed. I had a few more attempts after that summer. I never received the help I needed while I was in high school. I kept most of the attempts a secret. My family admits now that they knew I was depressed, cutting, and attempting suicide but they refused to help. They did everything they could to hide that from the world, my mom even lied to a police officer that had been called to the house after my friend found out.
Getting help has always been extremely difficult for me (as it is for most I’m sure). Each time I have received treatment for an attempt I have been placed on a hold. I have never gone voluntarily and struggle with admitting to the problem and feelings I have been having. This is definitely not the best way to receive help, but I am grateful for each hospitalization. Because of the treatment a new semicolon has taken the place of what should have been a period.
You might be reading this wishing that your life would end, you’re sick and tired of what you’re going through. You don’t think life will ever get better. You’re feeling all alone, like no one cares.
I was amazing at getting rid of everyone in my life before I attempted so that no one would miss me when I was gone. I’m here to tell you people will miss you. It doesn’t matter whether you chose to remove yourself from their lives. You were once in their lives, that hole you create when you remove yourself from their life will become cemented forever.
No matter how bad your situation is it will get better without having to end your life. I promise you this. We all walk through tough times. Some people have it a lot easier then you do. I have been through almost every difficult situation. I have lost a parent, best friends, family members; I have gone through physical, mental, emotional, sexual abuse; I have endured parental divorce; I have been backstabbed by close friends, mentors, pastors, people I trusted; my family has turned their back on me; rape, domestic violence, stalking, death threats, abortion; I have been homeless, completely broke. Life can be cruel. Life can be fulfilling, happy, and wonderful. I have finally gotten to the other side. I am able to genuinely smile, laugh, and be happy. I didn’t believe happiness existed for years. It may take years which I know you don’t want to wait that long but I promise life after depression, suicide attempts, and self-harm is worth the wait.
My last attempt I called my therapist to leave her a goodbye voicemail. She gave me the best advice I had ever received. She ultimately saved my life. She urged me to call the suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255 and talk to them before I wrote the period. I was angry, I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was convinced it was a waste of my time as well as theirs. I called with the intent to carry out my plan after I hung up the phone. I knew no matter what they said they couldn’t change my mind. I was determined. Because I called, I am sitting here tonight. I know there is a reason I’m alive. I know that I have a purpose, a destiny.
Life is full of semicolons. Some of them are self-inflicted, others are events out of our control. No matter how many semicolons we have in life let’s allow God to decide where to place the period.
I’m sure you all will get to know more about me as I post more blogs. But for the sake of space (and my time) I’ll share the very brief introduction to my life so that you’ll be able to understand this post more.
I am nearing the end of the divorce process after two years of every type of abuse from this man. We separated 6 months ago tomorrow! I wasn’t allowed to speak to any guy younger than 50 and so I struggle with male interaction from the isolation and abuse. I haven’t hung out with, dated, or entertained the thoughts of such actions until a couple weeks ago. Now that you have all the relevant background information I’ll continue on with the main reason for the post.
Last week while wasting time pretending to be shopping in the frozen food section of Wal-Mart I encountered a nice looking young man texting on his phone while staring at the freezers. I figured he must be on the phone with his girlfriend, fiancé, or wife and paid no attention to him. A minute goes by with our backs to each other staring at the freezers before he says, “Hi, how are you today?”. I was caught off guard, and scanned the isle to see who he was talking to. When I realized I was the only one standing in the isle and he must be talking to me because he didn’t even have his phone in his hands I panicked. I have had limited interaction with college aged individuals, and have had no interaction with the college aged male. I responded to his question trying to figure out how he knew me. I moved to town 6 months ago, and although I go to church in town I don’t connect with the male population. We made small talk as best as I could, but it’s been years since I’ve been allowed to do any of that so I became that person who lets the conversation die to a one sided conversation. He asked if I would like to go out with him sometime and I hesitated before I agreed that hanging out wouldn’t be the end of the world. I felt on top of the world that night. I had been listening to the lies that Satan has whispered in my ear for years. “You’re not pretty” “No one will ever go out with you” “You’re going to be alone the rest of your life” “You’ll have to become someone you’re not” “You have too much baggage” “You’ll have to sleep with him to get to him stick around” the list of lies goes on. A few of those lies had just been disproven even with my shy, awkward, hesitation. I know, now, that even on those days when I don’t look my best I can get a random stranger to ask me out in the middle of the frozen food section of Wal-Mart.
We set a date for last weekend. He wanted to go to a local sports bar and play some pool (definitely not my kind of date but I decided to give it a try). He texted me an hour before we were suppose to meet and said that he needed to move it back because he was meeting his uncle for dinner (I’m all for spending time with family, but a bigger heads up would have been nice). He never told me what time to meet him. I texted him twice before he responded over an hour later that he was there waiting. I’m a big stickler for good communication. If you can’t communicate what time to meet for a date then how are you going to be able to communicate for more important issues later in life? You’re not. To make matters worse his uncle was there for a good half hour after I showed up. Who brings his uncle on a date? I tried hard to grin and bear it until his uncle left. He offers to buy me a drink, which is nice but I don’t drink most beers. And I don’t drink around men I’m not comfortable with. Until I’ve known you for a few months at least I can’t trust you enough for my judgment to be slightly skewed. There are too many dogs in this world and not enough gentlemen. While we played pool we continued the small talk conversation we had started in Wal-Mart. He began innocently but lead into inappropriate conversations. He asked about my nonexistent arrest record, the amount of men I have slept with, and what I’m like in bed. Each time he brought up a question on sex I’m sure my face betrayed the amount of shock I felt. I kept telling him I was a good girl, very old fashioned, but he didn’t understand what I meant by that. I said everything I could think of without stating it’s inappropriate to talk about anything sexual on the first date, second date, or any other date until you’re at least engaged. He leaned in to kiss me goodnight, and I simply stared at him making a fool of himself. When he acted hurt and offended by the fact that I didn’t let him kiss me I told him I don’t kiss on the first date, told him good night and drove away.
I count this first date to be a huge success despite how awful he was. This was the first time in dating history for me that I’ve been able to set such clear, defined boundaries on the first date. I overcame or was able to work through a lot of the PTSD triggers I encountered with him. I felt enough freedom from my ex to agree to go on this date. The biggest success of all was being able to realize I am worth so much more than that. I deserve a man who is going to treat me like a princess in public and behind closed doors. I deserve a man who loves and fears God to the point where he will respect me. I am important and need to be treated as such. I know now that I desire a guy who will give me attention, treasure me, love me for who I am baggage and all. I want a man who loves God more than he could ever love me. I know if I’m truly #2 behind my wonderful Father then I will be treated like a princess. He will understand my true worth and will respect that. Above all else I want a man who is more in love with God than I am, whose values and standards are set above my own. I want a man who can lead the household to follow God. I want a man who treats his mother like a queen. That’s who I desire. That’s who I deserve. And eventually, that’s who I will marry. I am done settling for second best. I will not waste my time pursuing men who don’t know what I am worth.