I couldn’t even set up Christmas lights outside the house correctly. It didn’t matter how hard I tried, I continuously put the lights either to close together, not close enough, too high, too low, and always not fast enough even though my fingers were frozen. Of course, the knotted-up strains were always my fault for how lazy I was taking down the lights the year prior. Although tempting, walking away with a “you just do it then” clearly wasn’t an option. Instead, year after year I was heavily critiqued during what should have been a fun evening with the kids.
Celebrating birthdays is one thing I struggle a lot with. This all changed yesterday.
This is one of the first blogs I ever published, and today we're revisiting it because the message still rings true in my life. The devil still tries to divert my attention- but every day I strive to listen to the word of the Lord.
Last Wednesday was a horrible day. A situation was developing that sent my subconscious back to a memory from 13 years ago. Those of us with memory issues due to our trauma understand when I say often times I forget about things that happened yesterday; yet when this specific trigger set in, I could remember every single word of my abuser’s rant. I vividly remember the room, sounds, distance between where we stood. I remember how painful his words churned my stomach to the point of me leaning over the toilet to throw up. I looked down at my body to make sure it wasn’t shaking uncontrollably as it did that day.
“I deserve to be punished” was never a spoken thought. It was just inherent knowledge, like, “I am a human being.” Not the kind of thing you think about it, because it’s just so self-evident.
This cruel-seeming set of circumstances in the hospital confirmed this “truth” that was already integrated into my entire being.
I knew I deserved the bruises, the yelling, the constant correction, being treated like a child. Day after day, week after week, year after year. With every bad thing that happened, I knew I deserved to be punished.
As a teenager I had sinned terribly, and the guilt I carried cried out for punishment. I needed to be punished. Being abandoned in the hospital while I harbored this terrible secret of abuse—it must be one more punishment.
I knew. So, at some level it all made sense.
When the abuse increased threefold after our daughter’s cancer diagnosis, from awful to horrific, I hated it and feared it. But still.
I deserved it.
Through all the countless bruises, the rages, the fear, the endless punishments.
I deserved it.
The examples are all different but my reaction is almost always the same. When God says it is time to start the next painful step of my recovery, my human mind doesn’t believe I am able. Hundreds of times over the past half dozen years I have emphatically told God: I can’t do what you are asking me to do.
One afternoon my daughter was running out of diapers so I called my abuser. It had been days since he had stopped by but maybe he’d bring his daughter some diapers? Boldly, I took a chance at calling him knowing full well his way of handling his daughters’ health situation was to drink and ignore us.
I can still feel the sting as I relive the obscenity-filled NO that came across through my cell phone. No, I am not driving over there (5 miles away) with diapers. His tone was so degrading. He ended with a stern “figure this out yourself” as he hung up the phone.
As I sit in church Sunday after Sunday mornings, I often leave discouraged and jealous. Surrounded by a thousand perfectly dressed, smiling, loudly singing, and actively listening to the sermon people causes me to feel unworthy. Unloved. Not good enough for God.
Over and over I ponder the same confusing thought: If God truly loved me, He surely wouldn’t have let the abuse get so bad, right? If He really loved me, then the horrors of the night my abuser held me in a chokehold with my feet dangling inches off the ground wouldn’t have happened, right? If God truly loved me, I wouldn’t be feeling so alone and isolated.
Last week I left work at noon; barely able to get to the car without the waterfall of tears starting. The tears overtook me quickly. Looking back, I probably had less than two minutes from being into anxiety mode to full melt down mode.
The tears flowed and my body quivered as I drove myself home. I had been three years since my body gave into my PTSD so strongly. Curling up in the fetal position in my chair, it didn’t take me long to figure out what was happening. My coping skills weren’t working and my PTSD was once again controlling my reactions to my world.
Hi, I'm Sue
Welcome to my blog! I served twenty-one honorable years on active duty, living a double life of capability and accomplishment in the service while enduring brutality and abusiveness in my twenty-one year oppressive marriage. Today I'm happily married and have three children who are my inspiration and motivation.
My goal is to help combat the lies of abusers with the truth of God. I hope you find my words to be healing and helpful through your own life experiences.
Being separated from my abusive husband didn't make me a domestic violence survivor. It surely didn't release me from the grip of his brainwashing control and the innate power he had on me.
Read the full raw story in my new book, Rock Bottom and Faithless.