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Family Secrets: Blessing or Curse?
by Author Carmen Love
03/10/13
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Boldly telling your story is the only way to break free of the vicious cycle of Abuse. Nothing hidden can be healed. God wants us to share our testimony with others for their healing. Covering secrets is like an untreated emotional cancer. It will continue to spread until it kills you and everyone around you. God commands, that we be as bold as a lion and as harmless a a dove.

 








Lena's Story~

Lena Marie Carlson is now twenty-two years old, and only one voice amongst thousands who cried daily. Not for praise and attention, but to be heard, to be taken seriously, constant pleas for validation of her own self- worth. I had to ask this vibrant young woman with so much potential to hold her head up many times as she spoke her concerns, her truths, and her heartaches. Her voice was soft and sweet, nearly angelic, and I found myself completely mesmerized by her smile, so bright, so alluring, it lit up the entire room.

She had the face of an innocent child but her eyes conveyed sadness and told tales of horrific events. Her big brown eyes with sweeping long lashes gazed around the room several times as if she was silently asking for permission to speak. She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. She tried again, pausing in between statements.

"Oh really, what am I worth Carmen?" She asked, in a breathless tone. "What am I worth? I’m so tired of being afraid." She argued softly, I’m just plain tired.

The flush of her pale cheeks were like the flush of sunset on snow. Lena had been weighed down by a host of deplorable secrets and seemed depressed. She had a look of uncertainty as she continued scanning the room to ensure her safety.

"I have to get this out! Its killing me inside! Eating away at my soul like leaches!" Seconds later, she turned away and gazed around the room again, as if her mind refused to register the significance of her words. For the very first time Lena was confronting her deepest darkest fear, and apparently, her heart was not prepared for the consequences. "I feel so guilty all the time, like I’m hurting the ones I love by telling you all of this, like I’m betraying them. Yes I can admit there was hurt, and yes there was pain, lots of pain, but I’ve been able to keep it a secret this long. I mean, why am I telling it now?" She questioned. "It just doesn’t make sense. It’s like something inside of me is shouting for me to tell it all, and yet another force is bridling that rage?" she retorted. Threatening me to keep my mouth shut, making me feel guilty! I mean is it wrong to reveal family secrets? She asked.

She hesitated for a brief moment, waiting for me to respond, but I kept quiet, believing that at some point this young intelligent wonder would come to her own conclusions. So I trusted my instincts to remain silent, well, at least for the moment. Mom said that some things shouldn’t come out in the open, especially if others would be hurt by it. She said. "But weren’t you hurt Lena? I asked. Haven’t you been the host of many secrets far too long? Did she ever ask you how these secrets made you feel? How long do you plan to carry this heavy burden?" I asked.

Lena clasped her hands over her eyes, slumped in her chair, and dabbed away the huge teardrops escaping down her rose colored cheeks. Tall, slender, African American woman with shoulder length brown hair, yet poised almost in a fetal position, taken completely hostage by her own fears.

Lena’s mind was riddled with painful emotions she found difficult to tame, but only for a moment. She composed herself and sat upright, squared her shoulders back, gave me perfect eye contact, cleared her throat, and began to tell her story boldly and courageously as if another force of energy, inexplicable to the both of us, had suddenly captured the entire room like a soft sheet lightning expanded from the heavens, kindling her strength.

Lena began to tell her story, and minutes later her body shook as if she was convulsing. I was nervous because I did not fully understand the nature of this sudden attack and any existing medical conditions she may have had I was not privy to at that time.

I stood up and rushed over to her, crouching beside her, and then gently wrapped my arms around her trembling shoulders and squeezed, and then I felt her body relax under my strong embrace. "Are you alright?" I asked. She chattered through her sentences reassuring me that she was fine, and I had the suspicion that this was not the first time shed experienced a panic attack. I did everything I could to make her feel comfortable.

I found her story so compelling, and desperately in my own right, wanted others to understand the seemingly insurmountable obstacles this courageous young soul had endured for so long, much too long, and how bullying family members threatened, called her names, called her a liar, and did everything they possibly could do to damage her reputation and destroy her credibility as an aspiring dancer, singer, and writer. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for that to happen. I couldn’t control it! I have been waking up every night tossing, turning and screaming as if he is right there in the room with me, as if it’s happening all over again.

She paused then took a deep breath and continued, patting away the perspiration from her forehead with her shirt. I wake up, my heart races, I’m drenched in sweat, I feel like I can’t- can’t- you know, breathe. How could my own mother say it's wrong for me to tell others my personal experiences? How could my sister who was right there witnessing these horrible things call me a liar? I trusted her, looked up to her, and admired her.

"How could my brother call me vicious names and make a mockery of my shame, my pain? She shot out questions one by one, questions I certainly did not have the answers to. And what next?  I asked. What do you mean? How do you recover from all of this?  I questioned. I know this may sound a bit weird to you Carmen, but I sleep with my Bible right beside my pillow and I play gospel music softly all night long.”

"Well, does that help? I asked. Oh my goodness it helps a lot. But what you have to understand Carmen is that I haven’t had panic attacks in many years. I mean, they just started when I agreed to share my story with the world. I have been keeping secrets in fear of my mother turning her back on me, which wouldn’t be the first time, and well, my brother coming after me again.”

She paused for a second, and this time I didn’t interrupt. I saw the sudden fire in her eyes, the intensity in her face, and the command in her voice. Something grew coldly determined inside of her to finish her story. And who was I to interrupt her? I was merely just a friend, an audience if you will; someone who was smiling from a distance, my eyes secretly coaching her that she was safe to tell her story. After she had calmed herself, I sat back comfortably in my chair and crossed my legs. Taking tiny sips of my coffee, I adjusted my glasses, and with a quick flick of the switch, I turned on the recorder and prompted with my hand for her to begin.

~~~~Lena's Home~~~~

I grew up extremely poor but it wasn’t so bad. My father had left the family when I was an infant leaving us to fend for ourselves, and then suddenly, unannounced, he returned years later when I was eight. Mom welcomed him back in with open arms. I think she was just plain tired and looking for a bit of relief. All single mothers get that way at some point. Over the years, Dad had developed a Morphine addiction after a horrible car accident and had three unsuccessful back surgeries. He lost many jobs.

 Mom worked two jobs to make ends meet so she was rarely at home, and when she did come home, she was so worn out she could barely keep her eyes open. She curled up in her favorite rocking chair by the fireplace, wrap her multicolored shawl around her shoulders and doze off. At times, I use to make her bed, run her bath, and feed her soup and crackers. I’d support her head, cradled with my hand, and force her mouth open long enough to get a few sips in, here and there. She was much too tired to eat. I had one sister and two older brothers. I was the youngest. My brother, we called him Smokey. He was big, tall, and husky like a grizzly bear, and everyone was afraid of him, even my mom. He gave himself the name Grizzly. Smoky was much too subtle for his taste, and I’ll never forget the time he sported a T-shirt bearing the words boldly across the front as if he was invincible and dared anyone to question that authority.

He was a bully, a big bully. His eyes and callous demeanor threatened the world not to even look his way. Whenever he would threaten or hurt others, family members covered it up. They were terrified of his rage and no one wanted to get hurt, so they covered for him. In secret, they whispered, sent letters, and talked behind closed doors about his violent nature, but no one ever stood up to him. We were simply nurtured to keep our mouths closed.

Family members did everything they could to appease him, you know, keep him quiet in fear he would attack them, like he had done before. She hesitated, and then continued, as if her mind was clouded with visions of the past waiting to escape all at once. I remember the beatings, what he did to my face, how he kicked me. I remember being spit on, mocked, and taunted. And then I became a target from bullies at school.

My own father opened my door during the night and molested me, and then an uncle. Girls in high school talked about my clothes, said I stunk, and threw rocks at me. I was a loner. I had no friends. I was invisible at home and at school. As I walked home from school one day, a group of girls attacked me for no reason at all. It was about three, or four, or five. I can't even remember, but there were many of them. They pushed me, pulled my hair, called me names, and ripped my favorite blue and white striped blouse my mother made for my thirteenth birthday and broke my glasses. When I arrived home, my eyes were black and cut from the shattered lenses, my lips were swollen, and my hair was covered, mixed with dirt and blood. I tried to tell my teacher, but she wouldn’t listen. My mother kept quiet. No one cared. No one reached out to even listen.”

“Did he ever attack you? The one you call Smokey” I asked. Lena squirmed uncomfortably in her seat and started shaking, and the panic attack, once again, reared its ugly head.

I switched off the recorder to give her the privacy she deserved. She was much too distraught. I dashed across the room searching for a small paper bag she could breathe in and out of. I found one. After a while, she became very relaxed. Her long limbs folded with a motionless ease. After all, she was providing very sensitive information and I wanted her to continue. The world needed to hear her story. For several minutes, I talked her through the panic and then realized that this attack hadn’t lasted as long as the first one.

She appeared to have been able to calm herself and recover much more quickly this time. I scooted the table with the recorder on top closer to where she was seated and positioned my chair directly in front of her to make her feel safe. I held both her hands and began to pray for God to give her the courage to expose these generational curses, these deep dark secrets holding her bondage, and to tear down every stronghold that the enemy was using to bind her. After I finished praying, she asked, “Do you think I'm wrong for telling people what he did to me? Is it wrong Carmen?” She begged. Please tell me that God almighty would not strike me! I mean, it's the truth! The truth! I promise it is. Yes, he did attack me.”

“Who Lena? Don't be afraid to say his name. He’s not here and cannot hurt you anymore.”

“Smokey, she said. “Viciously”, she added. Do you think I’m wrong for telling people what he did to me? Is it wrong Carmen? She asked again. This time I answered back. Not because I felt pressured to, but because I felt an obligation to God, to myself, and to others who carry secrets that need to be exposed. Like a tornado, my inner emotions were powerful, twisting and turning, ready to touch down wherever the spirit leads it. My spirit was beckoning me to arrest these devilish assumptions once and for all, to tell the truth. And secretly, my mind wrestled with the truth. I sat for a moment and bantered back and forth with my own personal demons. They were pleading with me to hold my peace. My own harsh memories startled me, but something inside gave me the strength to resist the temptation of remaining quiet. Maybe it was the aura of the room, peaceful, quiet, and tranquil.

 Lavender candles flickered in the background which permeated a sweet gentle aroma, soothing to the nerves and choking away the spirit of fear hovering over the both of us. Finally, I spoke out about the source of my own pain, and how I was bullied by a family member, threatened, and made to feel as if I were nothing but a worthless piece of trash. Lena, no more secrets! No more! I said firmly. Now I understand your fear, your frustrations, and your pain. I do. However, the real lie in your whole story is covering it up! Nothing hidden can ever be healed. Light and dark cannot exist simultaneously. You are either living in darkness or soaring in freedom. You get to choose! No one has the right to forbid you to share your testimony or tell your story. It is a God given right. And the voices you hear in your head threatening you, forbidding you, making you feel guilty, whether real or perceived, is not coming from God. The enemy wants you to keep quiet so that he can maintain a stronghold on you and your family. Whether or not they admit their wrong doings, is between them and God and not your cross to carry. He wants you to tell the truth, and the only way to do this is to turn around and face this fire breathing dragon once and for all. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is moving forward in spite of the fear. Whenever God asks us to do something that is courageous, we should expect opposition. The enemy will attack us from all directions, but we are encouraged through His word to be still, not stupid though, but allow Him to fight our battles for us.

Soul wounds are oftentimes so very deep, we become enslaved by them. We cover them up hoping this monster never escapes out of its cage. However, it only grows bigger in time as we continue to nurture, feed it with our fears. Maybe you revealed a secret before, something that was so very painful you couldn't contain it anymore, and members of your family made you look like a villain, blamed you for bringing it out into the open. How dare you shame this family! They scream. We will disown you! We will never speak to you again! They rage. They somehow convince us, the wounded parts of us that is, with their ranting and raving, that what we are doing is wicked, evil, vile, and betraying. They argue that exposing the purple elephant sitting in the middle of the floor is a sin and a shame. The family secret. Just walk around it and pretend it's not there, and all will be well with your soul. It's a big lie. You just be a nice child and keep quiet. Shhhh, you must never tell a soul. The consequences? They punish you with the silent treatment and turn others against you, as many people as they possibly can who are willing to follow their lead which brings me to the conclusion of: Who is my loyalty to? What others think of me? Or who God says I am?

I can admit that sharing family secrets can be very painful and most of the time it is not done with malicious intent or stemming from a vengeful place, it is the human heart begging to be free from the torment, the fear, and the generational curses which hold us captive against our will and the will of God for our lives.

Curses, if not dealt with, pass down to our children and theirs. The cycle then continues to repeat itself until someone does something different.

After hearing what I said. Lena sat perfectly still, almost rigid. She somehow summoned the strength to continue her story. It was no longer a struggle. There were no more panic attacks, stuttering through words, or trembling. She took a deep breath and leaned forward, and then reached down and dug deeply into a huge brown leather bag sitting on the floor next to her. She pulled voluminous stacks of emails and letters her sister and brother had written to her and handed them to me. You see, my brother threatens to kill if you cross him. Here are his letters. I have been estranged from my family many years because of the violence. Lena paused, and after a moment's reflection she continued. I don't want to be like them. I dont want to live fearful. I don't want to be angry and mean. I separated myself from family members who did not support me, but instead, chose to praise, coax, and support a family member who used his fist to batter, bruise, and torment others. They've supported him all throughout his bully career. They tell people that I am a liar, that these terrible things never happened, and that I was seeking attention and playing the victim. She paused and then dug deeper into the sack and pulled out another letter.

"This is the letter my brother had written me after I graduated with honors from college. Instead of him congratulating me, he cursed me as if his words had been written in Satan's ink. I was emotionally ripped apart because I succeeded. Instead of supporting me, they became embittered and angry because of my accomplishments. And the one thing that humiliated me the most is when my mother, sister, and brother stood up for him. The bully. My eyes scrolled up and down each of the pages, and I was taken aback when I read the letters. They were vile and vulgar, and I couldn't imagine a brother talking to his sister this way, and a sister who she thought loved her support his behavior. It was unbelievable. My hands shook in horror as I continued reading. To hold them in my hands felt like something taboo, so I shoved them underneath my seat, away from our view, and continued listening to Lena. They try hard to convince the world that these family secrets were all made up and never really existed, merely a fable if you will. They call me vulgar names, and say that I am troubled, deranged, warped minded. Don't listen to her she is a liar! Defaming our character! They shout.

So the abuse saga continues, and while they pretend that these vicious acts never took place, I have chosen to free myself once and for all and tell the truth. I was devastated by the betrayal of my sister and brother more than I was the vulgar, inhumane words, the bully had jotted down on paper. I wondered how my own sister could lie. I never knew she had it in her. How and why she could support someone who had threatened her? Abused her? How could my own brother, whom I trusted would never hurt me, give information to family members so that they could hurt me all over again? They are all so afraid of him. A fear I understood too well for much too long. But now, I have exposed the deep wounds of my soul to the world, and no longer do I feel enslaved to these painful emotions. I feel freer now than I have ever felt in my life. My loyalty is to God.

We ended our session with a final prayer and she walked upright with her shoulders squared back, chest out, and head held high like a lady of honor, ready to face the world with a boldness and courage I had never seen before, her face masked with freedom.

 

*If God is telling you to tell your story, do not fear the backlash that comes with it, because believe me it will come. Just remember that whenever you do something for the lord the enemy will come after you with full force. Your real enemy is not the jealousies of others, but Satan. So expect opposition, anger outbursts, and envious comments. etc. Continue to praise God and allow Him to get the glory and remember that, No weapon formed against you will prosper. God loves you and so do I. Tell the truth and set your soul free.

This story is dedicated to my friend Lori Ann Spears. I see you in my dreams. Rest in Heaven Lori. I love you. Author Carmen C. Love ©January 22, 2013


 



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