Like all of you, I have an origin story. Every origin story is either a culmination of multiple events or sometimes one big event that has such significant physical or emotional impact that it can completely alter every moment from that one forward. I kept the painful parts of my story to myself. It was uncomfortable to talk about so it felt better for that part of the story to be for me alone. In looking at my life I have come to realize that even when we feel like an island to ourselves in middle of a crowd (because of the pain we carry), that we feel no other human understands, in truth we are an island surrounded by other islands. We, like the rest of the islands are carrying a burden. Although every story of sorrow or pain is different, there are MANY of them and there is solidarity in realizing that we are not alone in feeling pain.
My origin story was a culmination of several traumatic events. I’m not going to dive into details in this post, but my almost 13-year marriage to a very emotionally and physically abusive man was/is a big part of my story. Very quickly the love I had felt for him turned to sadness watching the man I had once loved turning into someone I didn’t know. All the dreams of the future I thought I shared with him came to a screeching halt in an instant. Part of me wanted to hold onto the hope that he was going through some kind of mental breakdown that was only temporary and once he got through whatever it was then the man I married would be back. It quickly became apparent that he was not going to “get better” and I knew I had to get away from him. That was easier said than done. Believe me when I say that there are details in the deep dark places of an abusive relationship that no one can fully comprehend who hasn’t experienced it themselves, and getting away isn’t always as simple as just leaving. That’s all I am going to say on that for now, but I feel like it is important to explain why I have decided to share this openly on such a public platform. This isn’t easy for me to share, and every fiber of my being wants to hide under a rock instead of putting myself out there for all to see me in my brokenness. So if you are feeling afraid to open up about your own struggles, and you know you need to for your own healing, then please know that you are not alone.
During a fairly recent prayer time, I had a bit of an epiphany:
For many years now I have felt that sharing my story with other women in an empathetic way was too emotionally draining for me. Although I still did it sometimes, I always felt the draw to tell them they were not alone, and to help point them in the right direction to find resources for healing and safety planning, but I found that in sharing they became bonded to me, they clung to me in their moments of pain when they had no one to turn to that they felt could understand them. I never felt qualified to help them. Being a single mother who is juggling homeschooling, double parenting duties, and carrying all the normal responsibilities of a household is difficult. Free time isn’t easy to come by so, although my heart would break for these precious women, it felt like I was being stretched too thin. I couldn’t be on call day and night to help talk them through their struggles, especially when I was still battling my own in such a big way. It began to feel like a burden, so this is where I made my mistake.
Instead of putting up healthy boundaries (those are important) to ensure my family was taken care of before the needs of others, I withdrew. God kept bringing people into my life who were broken and feeling alone, people I could relate to, people I could help. Instead, in my brokenness I decided to remain silent. While these women’s stories came up all around me. I sat quietly in my own thoughts feeling all the pain of the memories that their stories brought flooding back to my mind.
So often I have asked myself “why?” “Why did this happen to me?” “Why did I have to experience all these awful things?”
This is where my epiphany began. During my prayer time, I was thinking about the end of my life, and imagined lying there in my last moments still not having the answer to all those questions; still asking “why?” “What was the point?” Feeling like the experiences were all in vain; but then it occurred to me. When we go through a trauma of any kind, healing takes time, a lot of time and we need to be kind to ourselves in the process, but in reality, whether those things happened in vain is in our hands, not the abusers, not Gods, Ours.
When we reach the end and look back on our lives we will see a lifetime of moments when we either used our experience to bless someone and uplift them through their pain; or we will see only our trauma and a lifetime of people whose pain was a constant reminder of our own. The path I was on is a path that would only lead to a life lived in vain. A life full of sadness, loneliness, and resentment not only toward my abuser, but subconsciously toward others who were abused like me who don’t deserve my resentment.
Now I am seeing these moments in a different light. Every moment God brings a hurting soul into my life is an opportunity for me to let my light shine. A moment when He gives me a chance to make sure none of it was in vain. These broken souls are no longer a burden, although it does still bring back the memories. Whether I FEEL qualified or not, I am finding healing in the process and seeing healing in others that I have the honor of meeting. When these women open up to me it has become a blessed opportunity for growth and healing in us. I have found solace in that.
It has been said that “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” That is pretty amazing! God, the creator of all things, thinks I’m super woman! This is a glimpse at my origin story…. What is yours?
My healing story isn’t over, God is daily shaping me from a broken branch to His polished arrow, but it’s time for me to speak up and I encourage others to do the same. Speak out women of courage and stand with those who lack the strength to stand on their own:
Always remember that
You are strong!
You are beautiful!
YOU are worthy of Gods love!