Wednesday, March 27, 2013

To My Family and Friends

(Note, this is not directed specifically to MY family, but to families in general of abuse survivors)

Dear Family and Friends,

I know that the past many years must be confusing for you. For me to tell you how wonderful my spouse has been, how much I love being married, all those family dinners and conversations when I never shared any of our struggles or difficulties, leading you to believe all was well and now to find out that I've left him.

I couldn't tell you what was going on then, most of the time I didn't even realize what the problem was, I always thought it was a fault in me and something I needed to work on. I thought these were issues that all married couples struggled with, that my life was normal. I now realize that it isn't. He was abusive. I know that in most people's minds, that means that he must have been hitting me, beating me, threatening me, but it doesn't start that way. See, it started with him diminishing my worth, criticizing, being extremely jealous, ignoring me, questioning me and other things like that. It got to the point where I believed that I just needed to be better for him, that I wasn't enough, that it was my fault for all our marital problems. I worked hard to repair my marriage, changing how I approached him, how I did things, how I acted, who I talked to, where I went, but nothing changed except to find out that I still wasn't enough, there was still much wrong with me. I made decisions based on his expectations and demands that separated me from you. I'm sorry for that.

How could you see this? I hid it from you. There wasn't anything you could do, because I knew better than to talk about our struggles with others, it was a private matter, I didn't want to embarrass him or make him look bad - society, especially Christian society teaches that we must always talk good about our spouse and I took that to heart.

Now that I'm out, I need some things from you. It's not difficult, but it is essential to my survival and well-being.

I need you to know that I don't blame you. I didn't end up in this abusive relationship because of my upbringing, my childhood or my relationship with you. I ended up in an abusive relationship because I was deceived, I was blinded to the abuse until it was too late. I thought love would overcome all obstacles. He broke my spirit long before he raised a hand to me. So when that finally happened, it didn't break my skin, didn't leave bruises, didn't hurt me more than my heart. I felt it shatter into a million pieces, but I still thought I deserved it because I had pushed him too far, that life was too difficult for him to handle in that moment and I was his last straw. So I stayed. And when I left, I returned because I believed he could change, that I was required to give him another chance. The children need their father, and what would I do on my own anyway?

I need to know you accept me, that you accept my story. I need to know that you are standing by my side, that you believe I was being abused, that you will help protect me during my moments of doubt and self-recrimination. You can't stand on both sides of the fence, I'm sorry to say that you can only stand by me or him, if you try to support us both, I'll feel abandoned by you and it gives him the opportunity to hurt me more.

I don't need to hear from you that I should have done more to save my marriage or that I should give him another chance. I read somewhere that sometimes giving someone a second chance is like giving them another bullet because they missed you the first time. He's had multiple chances, I can't give him another bullet, I may not survive this time.

I don't need you to help me run my life, I'm going to make mistakes, I'm going to have to learn new strategies. I'll accept your advice in love, but please don't force me to use it, or judge me if I don't. I'm on a journey, and I expect some potholes.

I need you to do your own research, to study abuse, abusers and victims. I need you to not be afraid to talk about it, to ask me questions if you want answers. If it will help you see what I've been through, I'll share it with you and if I'm not ready to talk about it yet, I'll tell you - just please don't take that to mean that I'll never share it with you or that I don't need you.

I need you to teach my nieces and nephews that abuse is never okay, teach them of the warning signs of an abusive relationship so they will escape what I have lived through.

I may need physical help, financial help. It's going to be a lot of work to get on my feet. I'm not asking for handouts, I'm not asking you to take care of me, but to help me take care of me. Healing is going to take a long time, it's a process and the more broken my heart, the longer it takes. It will take longer if I feel like I don't have you on my side.

There may be more I need from you. I'm sure there are going to be times when I need more than you can give, it's okay to suggest I talk to a counselor, to reach out for help. Sometimes I'll just need someone to be with or someone to talk to and I just need your ear or a hug. I know that our relationship has been damaged during the time I was stuck in the abuse, I want to make that better, I need you to help restore it if you can.

I love you and I want you in my life. I never wanted you out of it, despite all that happened, many of my choices were made based on my immediate circumstances and my emotional survival.

Thank you for listening. I hope this helps you to understand where I am right now, where I'm coming from and how you can help, because I know you are trying to already. I'm grateful for that.

In love,

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Learning to Dream

I used to have a waking dream whenever I closed my eyes. I would suddenly be on this vast expanse of white sand, stretching as far as the eye can see, feeling as small as one of the grains of sand I was staring at. It was a terrifying feeling... the feeling that I was all alone, insignificant, lost and unimportant. It would keep me awake for hours, scared to close my eyes again. It used to happen a lot, though nowadays it is extremely rare and it doesn't keep me awake anymore, though I still wonder at what it means.

I've been afraid to dream my whole life. Dreams were dangerous because they so rarely came true. I could wish for, and want, and work for something only to have it repeatedly snatched from under my feet at the last minute - or to have it refused me before I could even explore the option. It was a lesson I learned young, some I never gave up on. My desire to sing, my dream to be good enough to be asked to perform in important places, for important audiences, I still dream that. I still dream of someday making a CD. Though I also wonder if that will ever become a reality for me. Is it a realistic dream? Am I good enough? Would anyone even be interested?

I had other dreams, dreams that, despite the childhood abuses, despite bad examples, I clung to for all I was worth. In fact, the only dream (besides singing) that I clung to as a child was to be a mother and a wife. I desperately wanted that! So badly that I sometimes compromised my values and myself in my search for it. I learned that fulfillment of a dream is not worth sacrificing yourself in order to achieve it. That is the lesson I learned along the way of seeing my dream of a family come to fruition.

I need to place my dreams in God's hands... yet I fear placing them in His hands because what if He, too, says "no". What if my dreams are not His plans? What if there is no great battle for me to fight? No great victory for me to win? What if I am insignificant?

Is it egotistical to desire to do something great in life? To accomplish a great work? To mean something? To have my life be meaningful to more than just my intimate circle of friends and family? Who am I to desire to be something great?

I have dreams. I'm beginning to recognize them, to dream them, to give them voice and to desire to work towards them.  They terrify me. I`m afraid of being hurt by them, of being rejected by God because of them. I`m afraid of overstepping my bounds, of asking for more than I deserve and yet... if I don't ask, I won't receive. If I don't step out in faith towards my dreams they will never be fulfilled. I must face the fear, I must beat it down like my sons beat down the Lego enemies on their Xbox game and walk past it to face the adventure, the journey to my future... whether my specific dreams are fulfilled or not. What is life without an adventure?

I may be scared of the dance, but it's time to weave some dreams into the music.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Is Pain Essential for Learning?

Maybe I'm alone in this thought... Maybe not... Maybe I'm wrong even, but I'd like to share my thoughts with you.... :)

Quite often, I see quotes that say we cannot learn to enjoy happiness without first suffering sorrow, we cannot enjoy peace without first suffering anxiety and fear, loss is required for gain and pain is essential for learning... and, even worse, many say that God wants it this way!!

I am in horror at the thought that my loving God, my Creator who delights in me might desire for me to suffer in order to learn a lesson in life... Now, sometimes, I chose the hard path, sometimes I make it difficult for myself and yes, God uses those circumstances to help me learn and to help me grow, but I don't believe they are necessary unless I make it so.

See, God always starts our lessons the easy way. He speaks to our hearts, He gave us the Bible with lessons from hundreds of people in history to teach us... we don't have to learn the hard way - others already have! It is only when we don`t listen to Him, when we aren't paying attention, that we veer off path into the hard way.

There are also times that we are pushed into the hard way that we slip there or are tricked there because, let`s face it, we live in a sinful world. Others have some say in the circumstances of our lives. When we look at victims of abuse and trauma, we know that they have been pushed into their difficulties, forced into their pain, tricked into suffering and they are not to blame! Perhaps God was speaking to their hearts to avoid that moment, to stay out of that relationship, to change their course but they weren't able to hear it. Perhaps Satan just leapt out and pushed them into the mire...

Sometimes, the pain and suffering is just a result of living in this sinful world. Sometimes it means nothing other than the plain fact that we live here... a reminder that Christ has promised to return and END THE SUFFERING. Other times it is a lesson... and always, ALWAYS, He can make it turn into a blessing, God can always use it for the good of mankind, for MY good, for YOUR good. That doesn't mean He sent the suffering. If we but ask, He provides the way of escape, He provides peace in the midst of the storm and always He carries us through it!

If God was the one who decided we couldn't learn anything unless it was from pain and suffering, then when we get to heaven, wouldn't it follow that we would have to continue learning in that  manner? Yet, the Bible is very clear that when He returns, He will end all pain and suffering, tears and sorrow will be no more, sin will never again exist.

Don't believe that God has sent horrible things into your life. Trust that He can and will turn them into a blessing, turn them into something for His glory and good, but HE WILL NOT cause your suffering. When Christ was on earth, people couldn't touch Him without receiving healing and life. He is the Prince of Peace, Mighty Counselor, Light of the World, Giver of Life... those are in direct contradiction with bringer of sorrow, harbinger of doom, father of disaster. The two titles cannot and do not belong to the same person. They never will.

I invite you to dance with Him. I promise that He will never lead you astray, He will never deliberately bring disaster into your life but will carry you through it, making sure His dance steps put Himself in the worst path and swinging you over the holes and pits. I don`t promise that life will be easy or that suffering will end, but I promise it will be easier when your hand is in His.

Monday, March 11, 2013

God's Will

I do a lot of thinking when I'm driving and I remember one day back in late 2009, November or December, when I was contemplating my life in comparison with the life of Christ. See, I was realizing that I was in an abusive marriage and, given my history of abusive relationships from childhood onward, I was thinking that perhaps my role in life, my lot, God's will for my  life was for me to suffer abuse until His return. That He needed me to be abused in order to show others that abuse is not a reason to turn from Him. As I was thinking these thoughts, as my thoughts started to turn into a decision that it was okay to stay in an abusive marriage because just maybe that was where I belonged, my God spoke to me. It was not an audible voice as we often think it is, but it was a turning of my thoughts.

God reminded me that Christ did not allow Himself to suffer abuse until His last days, until the day when it was time for His Sacrifice to be completed. God asked me what my sacrifice would accomplish, who it would save. I realized that I am not a saviour. If Christ was protected and walked away from every abuse, every attempt to harm Him physically, refused every verbal assault by refusing to engage or stay in that space, then who was I to decide I belonged in such an environment? My sacrifice may be required when it is time to stand up for Christ... Each of His disciples were murdered when they refused to deny Him, when they refused to stop speaking to others of His power and love, but living in an abusive relationship does not honour Christ. Rather, it brings Him dishonour. How conceited must I be to put myself and my suffering on an equal standing with Christ's? How big a misconception is it to think that abuse, of any kind, is on an equal footing with Christ's unimaginable choosing to sacrifice His life to save mine, yours?

I have been passionate about decrying the common belief that everything that happens to us is God's will for our lives. I strongly and firmly believe that the only will God has for our lives is for good. We live in a sinful world, and sinful, evil, horrible things happen here, but God's will is to take those awful things and twist them, turn them into something that can be used for good, for blessings. It is not His will to see any of His children hurt, suffering and definitely not abused.

It was in that moment, in those few short minutes when God revealed to me the flaw in my argument and His great desire for me to be free of abuse, that He told me to leave. I was getting ready to stick it out, to stay despite everything and God said NO. That was not my lot in life. It was not His plan for my life, He wants me free from oppression and free from abuse.

I wasn't ready to go. I didn't know how to make plans to go, it seemed impossible for me, an stay-at-home mom with no income to leave with my boys. I didn't pack a bag, I didn't collect important paperwork or documentation, I didn't do anything that would have enabled me to leave at a moment`s notice, I thought I still had time... and I was probably still living in a bit of denial. When the last straw fell, when the moment arrived, I did what I could. Some days I look back and wish that I had waited a day or two after the moment, that I had left when he was at work, or just slipped the kids into the van when he wasn't paying attention, but I cannot go back to change the past. What I can do is help others to make better preparations and decisions.

If you are in a similar place, if you are feeling like you are getting what you deserve, that God has planned this for your life, please know it is a lie from Satan. The only one who desires to see us hurt is our enemy, not our Lover. Seek truth, seek Him and you will find freedom. Please, reach out for help. Contact me, I can listen, cry and pray with you. If you need more, I can direct you to resources and help you find what you need.

May you see God's blessings today and dance with Him in His dance of Love, Peace and Freedom.


I am coming alive in my heart. It is a scary thing to do, because along with the coming alive, I am realizing that I want to love again, I want to be loved.... My dream of a family has not been killed, it is alive and well, and if I am to dream again, I must be honest with myself and with others that my dream of being part of a family, a husband, continues.

I'm scared to love again. My track record has not been a great one with dating. Even when I think I have chosen well, I mess up. I thought my husband was a gentle person, I chose him because he was gentle, the least likely to hurt anyone, let alone me or my children. I was wrong. What happens if I'm wrong again? What if I miss the signs, what if I let my heart speak instead of my head?

I guess that is why I am adamant about education this time. I am insisting on making sure I learn the warning signs, that I have friends to keep me accountable because I choose to no longer live in abuse. I choose to live healthy and free... that means that I must choose better, and if I make a mistake, I pray I will recognize it and move out of it before it's too late, before it's dangerous. The challenge then is not to avoid abuse, but to recognize reality from abuse. To recognize normal human behaviour and mistakes in others that will happen. I cannot and will not expect perfection.

There's a fine line to walk. I must pray for discernment if I am to dance in love again.

Friday, March 1, 2013

God Speaks

My trip to Spokane was wonderful. The Gala went smoothly, my talk and singing was blessed and was well received. I have seen God's hand at work in an amazing, glorifying way, blessing the work we are doing, blessing the plans we have made. It was exhilarating to see His Hand at work. My BFF and I had a delightful time together, despite the flu hitting the whole household while we were there... only one child escaped the virus, for which I am grateful since it was my child! LOL

My fears were unrealized, my dreams were fulfilled in a way that they can continue. It was a blessed, God-calling, God-blessing moment in time for me. He made it clear that His calling is not of my power, it is of His power and He cleared the way, cleared the path and made it all possible. His work is being done, not mine. I am glad to be a part of it.