Chapter 2

The Basics

Perhaps the best place to start is at the bottom of the barrel, and work up from there.

Suicide.

It isn’t an answer. Ever.

There were two reasons that kept that particular option at bay, for me, even in the darkest moments.

First: How could I possibly face my Savior — the One who sweat drops of blood, endured Gethsemane, suffered lashings, beatings, a crown of thorns, and faced the cross — how could I tell Him it was too hard?

Second: I didn’t really want to die and go to heaven, or anywhere else. I wanted total and complete oblivion. An impossibility, in my mind, so what was the point?

Sadly, I’ve known several people who have committed suicide. I don’t condemn any of them. My personal feeling is that anyone who attempts suicide isn’t in a sane state of mind.

I am saying it should never be on the table as a viable option. Someone is going to have to clean up the mess, no matter what: there’ll be a body, informing the relatives and friends and acquaintances — all the legalities. Suicide is selfish, even if you believe it is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and/or others. I don’t want to be selfish. I don’t want to give in to despair. If I give in to despair, then my abusers win. They were right all along; I wasn’t smart enough, good enough, tough enough, worthy enough to live. They’re wrong.

I do understand that for some people they desperately want the pain to stop, and suicide seems like an answer, except that it doesn’t end. So you succeed; now you have to face your Savior and tell Him why you chose to cut your life short, not because He doesn’t know, but because this is about you and what you believe. No matter where you go, you take your problems with you because they live inside your head.

For those that believe that there is only oblivion on the other side of death, here’s a question you need to answer first: Are you absolutely certain? Or are you taking it on faith? You have a 50/50 chance of being right. And if you’re wrong?

If you find the courage to stay here and fight it out, you have the opportunity to help not only yourself but someone else. There are people in my life who have struggled with thoughts of suicide. For some of them, it was many years before they met me. Because they chose life over death, they came into my life precisely when I needed them. I think of my friends and how unique each one is, and thank God for each and every one. They all love me, but they each bring their own uniqueness to our friendship and the thought of losing or never meeting even one brings a wave of sadness. So I thank God every day for all the remarkable people in my life who have struggled to make it through one more day and added a richness and warmth to my life that is absolutely priceless.

Life is sacred, and God will honor those who honor life. God put you on this earth for a purpose — a mission, if you will. If you’re still here, your mission isn’t over. He decides when it is over, no one else. He is perfect, so His timing is perfect, even if we don’t agree with it.

As I re-read this, I thought of the women and children who are kidnapped and forced into being sex slaves, strung out on drugs. Death would come as a friend. Why does God allow this? Why do men and women choose to follow these evil practices? God allowed Daniel to be thrown into the lions’ den and spared him. God did not spare the Christians thrown to the lions in Rome. Was Daniel more worthy?

God did not spare His Only Begotten Son from the cross. Am I suggesting that those who suffer are Saviors? No. I am saying that my knowledge is limited, and God sees the end from the beginning.

God is aware of each and every life. He loves His children, each and every one. Christ is able to succor all those who suffer. If you are not Christian, you’ll need to find your own answers because I couldn’t do it without Jesus Christ as my foundation. That isn’t to say I’ve always trusted Him. I didn’t, for most of my life. I’m learning.

Life is Not Easy.

Stop praying for things to be easy. They aren’t going to be easy. Life is hard. Life is not fair. Who came up with the idea that life was supposed to be fair? Unlearn it! The concept is useless. You don’t need useless trash in your life. Might as well start with discarding the idea of life being fair. The concept is flawed at best, and flat-out wrong at worst.

Does that mean I don’t pray to go home to God? I used to; now, I tell God I’m tired and don’t know how much more I can take. Then I wake up in the morning and accept that God has more for me to do, so I might as well shut up and buck up. Just for the record, sometimes I figure surviving one more day is enough.

While we are speaking of suicide, I confess that I have removed from my home my method of choice. I didn’t want the temptation. It was my responsibility, no one else’s. My life was such a mess, but it’s amazing how powerful it felt to rid my home of that irrevocable possibility.

Now, there are those, I know, who are gasping in horror at the very idea of suicide, and declaring me wicked for even contemplating the idea. To that I say, “Thank God I’m allowed to repent!” And what a blessing for them, that their life is such that suicide never crossed their mind.

Saying suicide is evil and closing the door to even a discussion about it does not make it go away. However, refusing to even acknowledge the possibility means that those who struggle with harboring the desire to escape this life permanently are placed in further jeopardy, because they find themselves locked away in a silent prison of their own doubts and sense of aloneness.

Find your reasons for not giving up or giving in. Make a promise with yourself that you will take one more step, no matter what, no matter how small that step is. If you must, sit down and rest for a moment. Don’t stay there. Catch your breath. Pick yourself up, and start moving. I don’t care if it’s a shuffle or a crawl. Move. If you’re moving, you’re less likely to be run over on the road of life. Do not give up on yourself or God, no matter how many other reasons you may have to do exactly that. Promise, and then start working toward moving away from that temptation.

It starts now.

Is it too late already?

Never. If you’re still on the planet, it is never too late to change. Remember, God put you here for a reason. So as long as you’re here, there’s the chance to turn toward God. Even if no one else comprehends what you’re going through, Jesus Christ understands perfectly. God is never far away; His hand is stretched out, waiting for us to turn to Him. We may turn away, but God is always whispering for us, reaching for us. He will never abandon us, no matter how often we turn our back on Him. All we need do is look to Him and live.

“God will never give you more than you are able to bear.” I really hate having that quoted at me. Later in the book, I’ll cover this more in depth, but I feel it needs to be put out there, front and center, from the start. Whenever I hear that quoted, my first thought is “Job?” I am grateful that I’ve never been covered in boils. What we think we are able to endure and what God knows we are able to endure are not even in the same ballpark, and probably not even in the same universe. My next thought is always, “John the Baptist.” Thanks, I think I’ll take a pass on beheading. And both men were loved of God. Something to think about.

Predators may have a more difficult time of starting over than victims, but turning to God still isn’t impossible for them. Saul hunted the Christians, and then he became one, became Paul. So it is possible.

Do not expect the Lord to make a personal appearance to turn your life around. That implies an arrogance that will keep you stuck forever.

Do I believe in deathbed repentance? No. Repentance requires doing something. Do I believe that priests are wrong for accepting deathbed confessions? No. God is the final judge.

Too often we point fingers as a way of comforting ourselves. ‘See, I’m not as bad as so-and-so.’ God isn’t going to stand me next to so-and-so on Judgment Day and say, “You’re right, you’re not as bad as so-and-so.” Fantasy. Fantasy will not change my life. On Judgment Day, I will stand alone before God. My life, the choices I made, the things I did, and the things I didn’t do, what I believe, what I hold dear, ME — all that I am will be laid open before me and the Lord. Personally, I don’t think God is going to decide whether or not I reside with Him. I will decide where I’m comfortable, and at that point, I won’t be able to lie.

Deciding it’s already too late is beyond arrogant and not my choice to make. My decision is to give up or to accept responsibility for myself.

God gave us a Savior because He knew what having free will meant. We would make mistakes, a lot of them, and we would need a Savior that not only could wash away our sins and understand our pain but would know where to hunt for us in the darkest, filthiest, lowest places. There is nowhere we can go that our Savior does not know where to find us, and He is ready and willing to hunt us down and bring us back.

Stop turning away from Him. Take His hand, and allow Him to walk you back to His light. His hand is stretched out still.

Susan B. Anthony said, “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” Sometimes the tyranny we must resist comes from abusers, and sometimes it comes from ourselves.

© 2010 The Project: The Tools I Wish I’d Known About Sooner / My Abuse Survivor’s Basic Toolkit by Judy

Responses

  1. I love the last paragraph. Reminder that sometimes I am the one hurting me. Beautiful chapter.

    • Thanks.

  2. I’m going to challenge you on “They aren’t going to be easy. Life is hard. Life is not fair. ”

    This statement reflects your identity as a survivor of a dysfunctional childhood. I am not judging but speaking from my own experience. I have the same beliefs about life being hard. Life has always been a struggle. Yes, I grew up in a very dysfunctional and abusive home.

    I am in my forties. I know dozens, if not hundreds of people my age for whom life has been quite easy. These are people I work with now, in a large organization, as well as friends I have stayed in touch with since high school.

    Not having abusive or addicted parents, these people with ‘easy’ lives have experienced life events unfolding smoothly. Their supportive parents either paid, or helped them pay for college and assisted with their transitions into adulthood. These parents loved them unconditionally and praised them.

    These young adults finished college and many went on to graduate school. Others began careers. They all were able to make choices based on what would make them happiest or most fulfilled. The challenges which they faced were not about negative hateful self talking loops playing endlessly in their mind, having to create boundaries with mentally ill family members, struggling with thoughts of suicide or worthlessness.

    Instead their struggles centered around career decisions, finding the right mate, and deciding when to have children. Some of them encountered marriage problems and divorces. Some encountered unwanted childlessness or tragic miscarriages. But they went through these experiences with their self esteem whole and untarnished.

    Anyway, that’s my take on it.

    We view our lives as hard because we have to struggle to overcome the infinite half life of childhood abuse, neglect, and or trauma.

    Those who did not experience abuse, neglect and or trauma have lives that run smoothly.

    Ixchel

    • Ixchel, you bring up a good point. It seems like their lives run smoothly, but we don’t see inside. There have been people I’ve met who seem to have a charmed life. I wouldn’t want to trade with them. They’re faced with different struggles. Someone I know had the supportive family, great self-esteem, and everything going right, but her repeated miscarriages devastated her. She questioned what was wrong with her. Her healthy self-esteem did not spare her from depression. I watched her have to learn to dig deep. Another friend grew up in a very healthy family environment. As a teenager, she developed cancer and lost a leg. Her indomitable spirit did not spare her from finding herself involved with and then married to a narcissist. It took her a while to admit the problem, and then take action. It took her a while to reclaim herself confidence.

      There have a been a lot of people throughout my life who looked like everything was going their way, and then we would become acquainted, and yes, some of them went through life barely noticing the bumps, while some crashed horribly because they didn’t know how to handle the bumps when they came along. Those who barely noticed the bumps were useless when they were faced with dealing with someone who’d seen the bottom of the barrel. They’d give the advice to “just get over it!” Because I’ve been through what I have, I know you don’t “just get over it.” Because I’ve been through what I have, I understand the importance of reaching out to others, I understand the importance of empathy, I understand nothing is what it seems to be.

      I’m not grateful for what happened to me. I am grateful for who I’ve become in spite of it.

      Now, how I learned the brutal lesson that I couldn’t decide someone else’s life was so much easier than mine. I was in my 20s, and beginning to accept the horrible truth of my past. I never talked about what had happened. I knew someone who intimated they shared my history. I knew this person, well. They’d done everything right. They were stalwart. They had married a wonderful man and had several children. They were involved in their religion and lived what they believed. I knew this person was favored. Her father treated her like she was special, and her mother was always bragging about her. I wanted to be like her. She’d done everything right. She was bright, outgoing, a go-getter. I knew she couldn’t possibly understand what I’d been through. I knew my abuse was so much worse than she could imagine. Where I knew her parents loved her, even if her mom was a bit jealous of her, she’d done everything right, I knew my parents didn’t love me. My mother hated me, and my father put up with me. Who was she? My sister. Imagine my horror when I realized how much worse her life had been when compared to mine. It was then I realized I could never say someone else’s life was easier than mine. Maybe it was, but the life I had to live was mine. I could lose myself in wanting to be someone else, or I could embrace myself and live my life. As this blog attests, it isn’t easy. I struggle, but I’m learning to live within my life.

      Thanks so much for your comment. I needed to step back and take a second look.

  3. You are right that having an ‘easy life’ is a relative concept.

    Many factors which contribute to having a ‘hard’ or ‘harder’ life include but are not limited to poverty, misfortune, childhood abuse/neglect, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, abusive spouses, etc.

    Of course all of us living in developed nations with access to running water, flush toilets, electricity, enough food to eat, economic opportunities and access to medical care have not only easy lives but luxurious ones compared to the millions who live on less then $2/day in underdeveloped regions of the world.

    I write from the perspective of working in a large organization, and recognizing after many years of employment here, that the disadvantages and struggles which I face due to my childhood abuse simply do not exist for my coworkers, and which they cannot relate to:

    1) I am on medication for PTSD. The medication causes me to be spacey, which makes me forget things. In my job, it is imperative that I keep track of thousands of details. I live in fear that I forget to turn in a receipt or a form on time.

    2) I have physical injuries due to childhood abuse. I tell people at work that these injuries are due to a ‘childhood car accident.’ When these injuries are flaring up, it is nearly impossible for me to complete the desk work which I need to complete and so I fall behind.

    3) I have spent, in the past six years, thousands of dollars on therapists and psychiatrists for my PTSD ,and on chiropractic and physical therapy for my childhood related injury. My coworkers were able to invest the same amount of money, or use it to take a vacation or renovate their homes.

    4) Due to the nature of my abuse (I was raised alone by a bi polar parent who was also probably borderline)- I was not socialized at all between the ages of birth to four, when I finally started nursery school. My formative years were spent hiding behind furniture to avoid being struck by my parent who was generally in a rage. This type of early childhood environment makes me very fearful of new situations and people. The amount of time I spend processing my paranoia at work and trying to understand the intercommunication/ nuances between co workers is excessive. Then, I obsess because I’m afraid that I haven’t understood what was expected of me. I currently have a boss who wants to me ‘take more initiative’ and I don’t really know what that means. I am afraid to jump forward in many situations because it means interaction with certain coworkers who ‘trigger’ me because they are bossy or manipulative and don’t communicate clearly. What I am trying to say here is that I am basically socially crippled in a sense, and constantly misread social signals. Eventually I get terrified and want to hide in my office. I am good at what I do, and very organized, but we have a new senior officer and he is expecting everyone to jump forward and start doing a new dance for productivity and I just want to be left alone and not be asked to do anything new because I am so comfortable doing my familiar tasks and doing new things scares me.

    I write that my life is harder than others because I simply don’t see others (in my life) struggling with all the day to day emotional management stuff which is my life. Unfortunately, unlike you, I am not ‘grateful for who I’ve become in spite of” (my childhood abuse.) Who I have become is a very complicated and at times fragile person who requires a lot of care and who must hide who she is at work, because having PTSD is simply not socially acceptable. If I could tell my coworkers, look, I’m like this because I was abused continually as a child, that’s why I don’t take initiative and I hold back, and everyone would reassure me and say, “Oh, that’s ok, we will not hold that against you, we’ll try to understand. Let us know how we should be educated to help you beter as a member of the team”- well, then I’d probably feel a whole lot better about my life.

    But I”m not bitter. I forgave my abusive parent before she died and harbor no bitterness towards her now. I understand that it wasn’t her fault because she was truly and deeply mentally ill. That understanding and compassion took about twenty years to develop. I enjoy my family and my life. I have three wonderful children, all nearly grown, and by parenting them in the exact opposite way in which I was parented, I’ve done a spectacular job. I like writing and painting, and gardening. We have enough money and everyone, thank God, is healthy.

    Ixchel

    • You really have been handed an awful lot on your plate. I’m so sorry. I’m so glad you were blessed with children and were strong enough to parent them differently.

    • #3: yes! I hate that I have to spend thousands on dentists to repair the damage caused by PTSD, specialized dental care, chiropractors, therapists, on and on. I could have been investing in my future, or saving towards my kids’ college funds, but instead, I’m just trying to heal from their damage and I wish I could send them the bill.

      • Even if they paid the bills, it wouldn’t be enough to make up for all the damage you work so hard to repair. May you be blessed beyond measure.

  4. Thank you~ 🙂

  5. This is the most amazing blog. So organized with so good content. This is no less than brilliant. Is it possible to reblog your posts? Or maybe you would like to copy some of them yourself as a guest blogger with us (crossing my fingers hopefully)

    forfreepsychology@gmail.com, if you are interested in sharing

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, it is incredible brave of you.

    Lots of love
    Nina

    • Thanks, Nina. Sent an email.

  6. Truth. Every word, true. Jesus is always ready, waiting, able, willing. We are the ones who have excuses! Patti

    • Yes, and blessedly, He encourages us to change, make different choices, and He’s exceedingly patient.


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