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"Many times they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me" (Ps 129:2).
"I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir; because I'm not myself you see."
--Alice, Alice in Wonderland
Why do we raise our voices? Do we really believe it improves our chances of being heard in an atmosphere of opposition? I was raised in an environment where every intense emotion my parents felt was expressed every moment they felt them--which was a lot. As a result, at a young age, I did what all of God's creatures do in one form or another in the midst of turbulence. I created a refuge. And just as a bird carefully selects the items that will become its nest, I acquired combative behavioral patterns for protection.
By the time I reached adolescence, I'd developed a fierce don't-mess-with-me vibe. If you did mess with me, I ranted, I raved, I broke things. I chose words that cut to the quick. All in the name of preservation. I didn't know that one day I'd have three fragile eggs in my nest, and when they hatched, my babies would mimic the same "fight or flight" patterns as their mama.
If my words hit too close to home, don't despair. I have good news. You are not yourself today if you've lashed out at someone in an effort to self-protect. Just like Alice in Alice in Wonderland, you are not yourself.
You weren't created to rant and rave and break things and cut others to the quick with your words. None of us are. But know that adult survivors who've not addressed the effects of child abuse are likely to continue this behavior. Not because they are unlovable or undeserving of love, but because deep inside there's a traumatized child karate-chopping her way through adulthood.
Healing is a journey. You, my fierce survivor, were created in the image of a loving God (Genesis 1:27). Your ability to heal doesn't hang on curbing emotion or wrestling reckless behavior to the ground. Progress is rooted in the unconditional love you'll discover along the way. (Good days--and bad.) Of course, do what the therapist says if you have one, but don't leave Jesus in the waiting room with crappy magazines. It takes time to unclench a fist and trust God to fill an open and empty hand. Time is a gift, not a curse. Time is on your side because the time-keeper (God) is on your side. I believe this now. I do.
- Did you acquire destructive behaviors in an effort to create refuge in a turbulent childhood? Consider your attempts to self-protect as an adult?
Can you "connect the dots?"
- What are your coping mechanisms today? Ex. alcohol, shopping, drugs, sex, arguments. How do they affect you? Your loved ones?
- Do you have a tendency to rant and rave (fight), or do you quietly detach with no explanation or give the silent treatment? (flight)
- What does your life look like behind closed doors?
- Consider healthier reactions and responses. What might they be? Are you willing invite God's grace to offer fresh resolve in every effort?
Eternal God, I'm not myself today. I haven't been myself for a long while. Have mercy on me and my loved ones. Sometimes I trust You, other times I don't. I want to trust You. Forgive me for the destructive reactions I've had behind closed doors. Redeem my mistakes. Grant me the grace to let my guard down with You. Teach me to recognize Your great love for me so that I can truly love myself and others. Amen.
Published on Wednesday, October 24, 2018 @ 2:01 PM CDT