"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
If I didn't believe these words I would be lost.
I became a "Christian" when I was 4 years old. For some reason junior church was cancelled that particular Sunday and I was allowed to stay up in the main sanctuary for regular church. Well that day just happened to be a fire and brimstone day. Our beloved pastor spoke about hell. And it was terrifying! I went home, locked myself in the bathroom and prayed about a gazillion times that I would not go to hell and that Jesus would save my soul. Over time I came to the realization and belief that Christ died for my sins and that if I believed in Him I would have everlasting life. (John 3:16). I was still mostly afraid of hell though.
When I was 8, my grandmother came to live with my parents, brother and myself. She stayed with us until she died when I was 13. It turned out she was the shield I didn't realize I needed.
My parents married when they were very young - 18, as a matter of fact. I was born when they were 20. They both came from damaging environments in their childhood. My mom had issues with anger. My dad had a sexual addiction. The combination of those two lives was, as you might guess, a road that led to great heart ache.
I didn't really know those issues existed until my grandmother passed away. She died when I was 13.
Just before she died my mom started getting louder. I remember the first time she was just yelling at us - it was completely out of the blue and not something I had ever experienced before. I remember looking at my grandmother and thinking, "What is happening?" I knew something was changing.
A few months after my grandmother passed away I remember getting up one night because I wasn't able to sleep. It was thunderstorming. I went downstairs to the living room and was just awake watching the storm when my dad came out of his bedroom. He sat down on the couch beside me and started talking to me. I remember thinking, "Wow, my dad's talking to me!" My dad and I didn't talk to each other - ever. I didn't know it then, but he was so tuned out because of his sexual addiction that he didn't have time for any real relationships. That night he molested me. I remember feeling guilty as I went back to my room, thinking that I had made him cheat on my mom. It wasn't long after that that he molested me again, but this time it was more involved and I knew I had done nothing wrong there. I knew he was wrong.
I didn't tell anyone except my 10 year old brother. My dad never did anything quite like that again, but I believe there was a pattern of behavior that he continued as I grew up in the house - subtle things that no one else might pick up on or might seem just a little odd, but I knew it was a form of the sexual abuse continuing.
At the same time my mother started becoming louder and more volatile. She was losing control. Her husband was out to lunch. She thought she saw some behaviors in me that she didn't think were acceptable and she had no healthy parenting in her background at all.
We would have "fights", I would say on average, a couple times a week. Sometimes more; sometimes less. I would have an "attitude" or do something outside of what she thought I ought to do and there was hell to pay for that. She would call me so many names in a span of just a few minutes that I was unable to count them anymore. She would compare me to and tell me how I was like so many people she hated and how I was going to end up turning into the trash they were. She started hitting me in the face and then telling me how I was experiencing nothing like what she experienced. I was spanked up until I went to college with whatever she could find near her and if I didn't react she'd find something that might hurt worse.
She was also involved in every aspect of my life. She was a part of every dating relationship, giving me guidance that was very unhealthy and destructive. She worked in the school I attended, in a very small community so she knew all my friends, teachers and how I was doing and what I was doing all the time.
I felt so alone during those teenage years. I remember looking into my vanity one day and thinking of how I would end it all - even planning the day and method, but I never did it because I was too afraid of dying. I felt that way a lot.
I felt so alone because no one would have ever guessed that was my life - that anything like that was happening in our household. My family put on a very good fassod. My dad was a deacon in the church. He was very involved and considered the stable one in his family. People looked up to my dad and admired him. He was very respected in the community with a stable and good job. My mom was one of the secretaries in our school, leading vocalist in the church choir and a very happy person. No one would have ever guessed what was truly happening in our house. The only problem we had was my brother who always seemed to get in trouble. Everyone considered him to just be difficult, but no one knew why. And no one asked.
I started looking for stability in the boys I dated - giving them more of myself than I ever should have - trusting in them to be my stability and source of comfort and defense. As you might have guessed that never turned out well.
I grew up in and followed the fassod my parents started - pretending everything was okay until I went to college and after hearing a campus safety seminar I started sharing my story. It has been 15 years since all this started coming to the surface. I've seen several different counselors. My parents have divorced. My brother is still a mess. It is still just so sad to me.
My dad has gotten counseling, admitting what he did was because of a sexual addiction, coming to terms with the possibilities for why that existed and repenting to the Lord and apologizing to me. I have a relationship with my dad, but with limits. He will never be alone with my children and I don't think I'll ever feel truly safe around my dad even though I probably am physically safe.
My mom has apologized, but with justifications quickly coming thereafter. I don't think she believes what she did should really be bothering me at all and sees me as attacking her and her parenting. I don't know if that will ever change.
I feel like I have done a lot of hard work dealing with my dad - with lots of ups and downs in that relationship - definitely with more downs than ups. I feel like I've come to a peace about that a great deal compared to how I used to feel.
My mom is a different story. I still want to go to her for approval for everything. I depend on what she has to say, following her even when I don't agree. I feel very guilty talking about her in relation to my story, even though I don't believe I should. My attachment there is unhealthy and I am working, just now, on taking steps to change that.
And what about God?
We'll that's where the verse I mentioned at the very beginning of this story fits in. I honestly don't know where God was in all of that. I have prayed for Him to show me - to tell me if He was there, if He was protecting me, if He even loved me through that time. I think, in hindsight, I just didn't believe He really had time for that situation because it just never got better and I felt so alone.
Just recently I felt like He allowed those verses to come into my life again. To tell me that His promises are true and holy and even if I don't understand, His promises stand.
I have turned my back on Him more times than I care to admit. A rollercoaster would be a very good way to describe my relationship with Him - some times trusting Him with all that I am and other times sure He didn't exist and if He did, He simply hated me. I just didn't know what to make of Him at all for any length of time.
I struggle a great deal with depression and anxiety. I am afraid that I am capable of the same things my parents did. I am afraid of dying and of something happening to my children and husband. I like a lot of control and feel like I really struggle with interpersonal relationships. I feel like I don't know how to deal with them. I hate that.
But, He is holy. And He will work this all out. I will be healed from this. I know I won't be completely healed on this side of heaven, but I know He's working with me in this slow, refining process and that one day I will be completely healed and know joy that I could never possibly imagine.