I grew up thinking it was normal that people mistreated me. Because my older brothers sexually abused me and my step dad abused my mom, I related intimacy and closeness to sex and pain. The only intimacy Iíd experienced was detrimental. So this mindset set me up to be hurt in relationships. The people closest to me were unable to love, approve, and give me the emotional security I needed. So I continued my life searching for something Iíd never gotten from people unable to give it.
Although I survived the abuse and chaos as a child, I had developed a high tolerance for pain and insanity. Chaos was normal. And allowing friends, family members, and men to abuse me continued. From verbal put downs, physical mistreatment and unwanted sexual encounters, I was reliving my childhood as an adult. But Iíd do anything for someone to love me. Even if it meant hurting myself in order to please them. Without healthy borders I was vulnerable to invasion. I allowed people to use me then leave- come back for more- then leave again. But I didnít question it. Because it was all I knew.
Growing up, I was taught not to trust myself. When I wanted my brothers to stop abusing me, they manipulated me into thinking I didnít. When I got pregnant and wanted to keep my child, my parents countered my wish with abortion. When I was full from eating, I was convinced that Iím still hungry. And when I wanted to take a nap, I was told I wasnít tired. So I gave up on reasoning and allowed others to make decisions for me. A pattern that usually left me feeling victimized.
Through recovery, Iím learning how to recognize when Iím being hurt. Being that pain has been familiar for so long, sometimes it takes me a while to realize Iím being hurt at all. As a child, I numbed my feelings in order to survive and exist. I learned that my feelings didnít count anyway so I stopped acknowledging them. Alcohol was part of my life by middle school and drugs by ninth grade. I exchanged sex for love and settled for people who criticized and lied to me as friends by the time high-school had ended. As an adult, Iím finally thawing out and returning to those repressed emotions from childhood. By allowing the ďice-cubesĒ to melt one by one and facing what I tried so hard to forget, feelings are being felt and Iím able to let go of them and slowly move forward.
Learning that itís okay to be angry that I was violated and that I can never change the past has helped. I may not have had a choice as a child. But as an adult I do. And itís my responsibility to release the victim mentality so that I donít settle for less than Godís best. Because I believed I deserved to be mistreated, I got mistreated. And because I never grew up with healthy boundaries, I was never able to apply any. But through recovery, mixed messages are replaced with healthy messages and chaos for peace. The healthy exchange was awkward at first. Iíd never known peace so it took time for it to settle comfortably. But as time goes on, I do whatever it takes to feel that peace. Because I finally accept and believe that I deserve that peace. But true healing began when I got on my knees.
Through prayer and Godís Word, He has given me the courage to believe that I deserve better. He has rescued me from a thick fog of deception. His promise to never leave me counters the lie that Iím all alone. (John 14:18 NCV) When He says that I am healed because of his wounds it proves that He is healing me. (1 Peter 2:24b NCV) When I feel that itís the end of the world and I canít go on, He tells me that I only need to remain calm and that Heíll fight for me. (Exodus 14:14 NCV) And when I feel that pain defies who I am and thereís nothing good in my future, He reiterates that I may be hurt sometimes, but I am not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:9b NCV) Compassionately, He tells me that He understands that Iíve been surrounded by troubles. But He promises that Iím not demoralized. And He knows that Iím not sure what to do. So He asks that I trust Him because He knows what to do and will never leave my side. ďSure, youíve been thrown down,Ē He says. But He assures me that I have not been broken. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 The Message) The reign of terror is over. (Psalm 10:15 The Message)
My responsibility is to believe, trust and obey. Recovery involving God and His Word has helped me to keep my dependence on Him. Accepting that Heís in control and that His timing is perfect brings freedom. Unhealthy people are slowly weeded out and the right people appear to help. And I learn to forgive others as my Father forgives, yet I donít allow people to continually abuse me. Instead, I create healthy boundaries. And I listen to what I need believing God as my guide. As long as I have Him... I have hope. And with hope comes healing. And with healing I find me.
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