We love glorifying pain, trauma, and abuse as God’s will. We love making God a violent, manipulative man just so we can make sense of the hurt in our lives. But…
That isn’t God.
That’s the effects of trauma and pain working against us in favor of itself and the ones who harmed us.
Want to heal?
To be clear: to heal, you must be ready/willing to accept that the pain is not the sum total of who you are, who you can become holds the greatest possibilities for your future and that you are not alone as you make the journey to wholeness.
I was not chosen/called/favored to be raped. I didn’t need to accept that to heal from it. Do you see how dumb that sounds? It’s nonsensical and antithetical to God’s heart to suggest that these experiences were sent as positives.
There are entirely too many sisters (and brothers) whose lives have been transformed by all the pain and trauma they’ve endured. They deserve a freeing, liberating word that is rooted in their humanity and the truth that God loves them and would never cause them harm.
We live in a world where evil is present. For reasons beyond our control, people lean into that evil and cause harm of various magnitudes. It is unconscionable and it is not right. And it is not God’s doing. God is just as upset and heartbroken over what I endured as I am.
Where is God in all of this?
In the darkest moments of our lives, God sits with us and journeys with us through them. God holds our hand as we cry, cuss, question, and scream. And God pushes through with us as we fight for our wholeness and healing.
God is not sending pain in our lives to produce something glorious. We’ve not been “called” to pain and trauma.
God calls us to community, to hope and to healing.
God reminds us that God’s intention was always for us to flourish and be well.
Healing brings us back to that.
The “Why?” question is real.
If God is God, then why did these things happen?
Why didn’t God stop them?
These are valid questions and those who ask them of God are right to do so. The danger is when folks try to answer for God.
You can ask why all day, but can I be honest with you? No answer will ever be sufficient.
There’s nothing that will justify the presence of pain + trauma in our lives.
Think about what you’ve gone through. What can you hear that’ll make you say “Okay. I get it now”?
I used to ask why.
Sometimes, when I get mad at my current conditions, I still ask why.
That’s a real place. But “why did this happen to me” is not my posture. “What do I need in order to heal and move on” is where I land these days. Because that empowers and shifts the focus.
Healing is a beautifully messy journey towards the people we are meant to be. We are called to be healed, whole and well. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise and you don’t have to accept anything other than that truth to be free.
My deepest prayer for all of us is that we truly come to know God’s heart for us. It is big, wide, deep and filled with a love that is beyond our comprehension. We need that love to heal and free us. We need that love to truly live.
I (and others) have been sexually en mentally abused (gaslighting) by my narcissistic ex-husband for over a decade. Here I share my thoughts and my healing process and hope to inspire and encourage others. I follow many writers, bloggers, survivors, and share occasionally things that I have read that have touched my heart or rang true.
One thing that really shocked me as an abuse survivor was learning that there are some people who don’t want you to get better. And I’m not talking about your original abuser(s). There are others, such as subtle narcissistic abusers, who will try to keep you in pain. Here’s why:
There’s the ex-enabler narcissistic abuser. They covered up your abuser’s crimes, but now derive attention and their sense of value by pretending to be a co-victim. If you recover, they feel it discredits their continued charade, or shames them somehow, so they lash out at you.
There’s the narcissistic fake advocate. This could be a pastor, counselor, mentor, or activist. They love playing savior. “Helping” you feeds their ego. They claim to want to comfort and protect you. Really, they want you to remain stagnant in your pain and continue to need them.
There’s the narcissistic fake friend. Basically, for them, being your friend is a kind of virtue signaling. They like the attention and respect building up a victim affords them. But if you progress beyond victim status, you’re of no use to them. They want you to stay injured.
Then there’s the enabler false accuser. They want to exacerbate your pain until you spiral into self-destructive or erratic behavior so they can say, “See? She’s irrational. We can’t trust the sanity of people who claim to be abused. We must protect the careers of powerful men.”
Moving twice. Just moved actually last week, during COVID, and whilst they decided to break open my street for waterworks. Was I stressed? What do you think?
The ex-husband going to jail.
Did I mention COVID? Then lockdown?
And then trying to homeschool, move and provide my family with a bit of stability after all of this.
And everything has started to hit me right now. Probably because we are now settling down. Maybe because the restrictions of the lockdown are slowly loosening and I’m not ready to leave my safe bubble yet.
So, it’s due time to do some self-care and hopefully it will look a bit like this.
Ways to Self-Care:
1. Read more. I have bought 10 books this past year and have only read two.
2. Take more walks/bike rides with the dogs and son.
3. Ignoring news that is designed scare to scare me (us).
4. Finally focus on that hobby that brings me joy. (it’s a secret what,shhht)
5. Spending more silent time with God. Just quietness.
5. Taking a Facebook sabbatical as it’s been giving me some stress lately. I’m not deleting it, I will be back as I find it really helpful. But lately it’s been making me feel bad and insufficient. So I need a break. Yet , you can still find me on Twitter 😀
Anything that you would add to this Self-care plan? Lemme know!
Sidenote in reference to Facebook:
Unbelievers may use my story to point out hypocrisy and sin in the church, and they are right in doing so (my husband being a proclaimed Christian), but the very existence of my faith is proof that God is real, for, without Him, I’d have lost my faith a long time ago. And so, by calling out abuse, I proclaim Jesus Christ.
Tell me, have you cried today? Did you wake up having trouble breathing last night? Did you and your partner/housemate/child have a fight? Did you put your kids in front of a movie just to be able to take a bath and wash your hair? Yeah? So did I.
Times are uncertain. The news we hear every day at 11:00 in the morning is rarely reassuring. Even when we’re being told each day that all is stabilizing. Between health measures, social distancing and fear of the virus, your breathing is quickening.
Belgium is on a break, but you feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut for weeks without being able to get out of it. You’re dizzy, out of breath, you feel nauseous, but you have to pretend that all is well and that you are enjoying it. Posting positive pictures to Instagram with hashtags#TogetherAtHome #MyPandemicSurvivalPlan
So that your brain will finally believe it and give you a break, but also to make your family feel somewhat good or better.
You’re the focal point of your household. The pillar. The one that keeps the roof from falling on your head. The lifeline at the end of each other’s line. The moral support on your keyboard at all hours of the day.
You’re made resilient. Everybody knows that. But then, the incessant “mommmmmy” in your ears, the “what are we eating”, the “what are we doing”, the “how are you”, the “did you take time for yourself today”, the “you should go for a walk” irritate you to no end.
You don’t feel like taking a walk to breathe. You want to go to the spa. By yourself. For a week! You slightly envy your friends in a solitary quarantine. You find it hard to sympathize when others tell you they’re bored… Honestly, you’d just send everyone away.
But you won’t. Because you love them. Because you know it’s just a bad time and you know it’s gonna be okay. You roll up your sleeves, tie your hair up and put a smile on your face so your kids will remember this as their best family vacation ever.
You’ve always been a strong woman. You’re going to be Wonder Woman when this is all over.
I’d like to tell you that your eyes won’t be wet today. You won’t clench your teeth, you won’t smother a scream in your pillow, you’re gonna be okay and that you will be able to wash your hair.
The truth is, I don’t know. What I do know is that Wonder Woman always wins at the end of a movie. It won’t be any different for us.
In this post, I am sharing with you my positives for us during this self-isolation. We are all in this together to flatten the curve we need #StayAtHome.
The pandemic crisis we are currently experiencing, I really didn’t see it coming (probably like all of you)! It came from behind, sneakily and suddenly! It has shaken up my life, my daily routine, without me even having had time to prepare for it.
At the time, it was almost unreal. It started with parents not being allowed to collect their children inside of the schools, but wait for them outside. Very unusual for our school and I knew then (and also after reading about what was happening in Italy) that the schools would soon be closing. And they did two days later. March 14th, 2020 was the last day.
At the very beginning of this isolation, my first reflex was to continue my little routine as before. I didn’t immediately cancel the coffee and play dates I had planned for the following days with my friends. In fact, some of my acquaintances were still posting photos on Facebook of the gatherings they were doing with their loved ones during the weekend. I know, it wasn’t the best idea…
Then, I listened to the news and the press briefings of the Belgian government and I understood how my own actions or behaviors had a real and important impact on the spread of the virus. Respecting public health recommendations and social distancing, even with our close entourage, is essential if we want to save lives. So I canceled everything: playdates, lunch dates, and even our church (a great big part of my social life) had to cancel bible studies and Sunday services. Then began my real confinement.
It’s pretty rare that I have so much time to spend continuously inside the house. The members of my household consist of my 26-year-old daughter, my 6-year-old son, myself, our two Dachshunds, cat, hamster, fish, and turtles. 🙂
At home with the “kids”
My daughter still needs to go to work and so I understand that she wants to relax during the weekend, but when she just sits in the coach, gaming or on her phone while I’m trying to make diner, entertain her little brother and do the washing up, it frustrates me and I can get a bit sharp-tongued.
But she does go out and play soccer with her little brother, she drives me to the grocery store, gives me a big hug every evening. So, overall, it’s been great having her home so much instead of just seeing her briefly during the week and then comes the weekend and she’s off to her boyfriend in Ghent. Looking forward to having a “girls night” this weekend. Chips, wine, and a chick flick.
My six-year-old is such a happy easy-going child, but he is a child nonetheless. After about every 30 minutes he will as me “what can I eat?” hopeful that I would say, “Hey why don’t you go get yourself some ice cream or candy” and is ever so disappointed when I say to get some fruit or something healthy instead,
When I’m having fellowship or women’s bible study via ZOOM, he creeps up behind me, poking me in the neck with his tiny little finger “can I play on the Switchmommy, please, can I?” even though I laid out another activity for him. I usually give in and say yes (and then feeling guilty about the excessive screen time)
And he is very stubborn, we are currently in a trust battle.
Me: “If you promise to do something, I expect you to do it then.”
Mister 6: “No, I don’t want to”
Me: “Then you are breaking my trust, I respect that you have the right to choose some things, but this is something YOU promised to do, and now you will not“
Mister 6: “I just don’t want to! Now I’m tired of your words and your brain”….
He then walks out of the room…
😳 He is also learning about consequences —->no screen time until the end of time.
The fun side
But on the more fun side, I’m super proud of his creativity and imagination in inventing new games for himself. In fact, we take the opportunity to get out board games we haven’t played in a very long time or I had the local radio on and it was playing classics from the ’80s and so I was sharing with my son where I was in life and what was happening in the world when a particular song came out. We even looked up the video of the 80’s song “The land of confusion” by Genesis. Sad to realize that most of the world leaders in the video are deceased and it reminds me again how we are only here for a short time.
Another positive element that this confinement brings to my life is the possibility of cleaning up. My Lord, how happy I am to have ENDURING time to regain control of my house. I have so often wished that time would stop for a month so that I could clean my house! I feel so bad to be happy about it in the current context but I really needed to start cleaning, packing and sorting things out as we are to move again mid-May. Lord willing.
Big love for technology
ZOOM, why have I never heard about this application before. As a Canadian across the pond from home I regularly Facetime with my mom and sister, and the quality is never great, not even good. But I have been introduced to ZOOM via church. We do our weekly online women’s bible study and Saturday’s we have a prayer group and on most days there is fellowship tome. Meaning that anybody with the need to just not feel alone can join in and we have some chit chat.
I have gotten to know people that I have never spoken to before. I have had deep conversations with friends. It’s just pretty surprising how this damned virus is bringing people together.
Time to reflect
Finally, the thing I appreciate most about this period of isolation is the time I have to think. To reflect on my life, on faith… on my spiritual journey that I have been on for a few years now. I take the opportunity to take stock of my past choices in order to make the best possible decisions for my post-pandemic life. With the help of my family, therapist and close friends, I am learning to think about myself and my well-being instead of all the negative stuff that has been going through my mind due to what happened. Instead of investing my time in those who don’t appreciate it.
I realize as I get older that my time is precious, so I try to choose carefully who I want to spend it with and in what context I want to spend it. It is not always easy to think about myself because I have always wanted to please others, sometimes even at the expense of my own feelings.
Today, I give myself the right to express myself and to protect myself from things that could hurt me or take away my energy unnecessarily. It’s a long process, sometimes easier said than done, but I work on it every day and this episode of confinement gives me the opportunity to congratulate myself for the progress I’ve made and to set new goals to reach in order to be in perfect harmony with who I am, as I am in God!
So let’s all #StayAtHome
I do realize the COVID-19 sets off a financial contagion in the global economy with stock markets in free-fall and the OECD predicting a global recession, but this is needed. Our government (and most worldwide governments) publicly funded health care doesn’t have the capacity to handle even a relatively small surge in acute patients.
So #StayInside, let’s not spread this virus around and try to see the positive. That’s all we can do for now.
How about you? What does this time off bring to your life? What are your positives and most importantly, how can I pray for you?
If you found your way to my post “Homeschool Kindergarten- The corona semester”, you are probably like me, having to keep your children home from school due to the COVID-19.
Life in Belgium
Here in Belgium, all school lessons will be suspended starting today, March 16. However, the government called on citizens not to rely on grandparents to look after children meaning schools will still be responsible for providing care when parents have no choice but to work and for those who work in health care. The suspension of classes is until at least after Easter break. So many of you like me have to keep your children home. Yay?
My ‘dream’ of homeschooling (something very uncommon in Belgium) is coming true. But I know that my “dream” is considered a nightmare for others. I sympathize with those parents who still have to go out to work or are working from home with children already bored since this weekend.
I truly know that staying at home with kids can be a challenge, but it is what it is for now and we all need to try and make the best of it I suppose. But parents, do what you need to do to keep your sanity.
For me it, it’s having a schedule, for others, it’s switching on the TV for the kids while you go take a bath…it’s ok (yes, I’m thinking of you friend). These are unexpected times.
Schools have asked the parents to not treat this time as an extra school vacation but to try and keep our children academically motivated and busy. Some schools even providing homework and objectives.
So here I’m sharing with you what our homeschool kindergarten- The corona semester (3de kindergarten class, Belgium) looks like for now.
We won’t be very strict in following it, it’s more of a guideline. Right now it’s 10:30 am and my six-year-old is sitting on the table drawing Yoshi character from his new Nintendo Switch game. It’s all good momma!
Pinterest is full of great ideas! Here is my board with ideas I love and tried out. Pin some.
I’m going to share monthly with you what has sparked joy in the past month for me. It will not always be things, but it can be an outing, it can be a craft I did with my son, a new recipe I tried out. It can just be anything.
Here is my list of things that have sparked some Joy and given me a thrill this past month.
Visiting the train museum “TrainWorld” in Brussels on Wednesday afternoon and simulating an actual train ride at the end.
My new translucent with a touch of glitter, Jimmy Choo glasses. I love them more in their box than on my face though.
YNAB!!! I have been using this budgeting website for a couple of months, but it was only since this month that I can actually see where my money is going to and where I need to make changes. I love this website and so it’s so easy to use. I actually like doing my finances now.
The Museum of Natural Sciences. Must do the museum, again in Brussels. Tip: For children 5 and up there is the PaleoLab experience during the school holidays. My 6-year-old especially liked rebuilding a stegosaurus.
Ash Wednesday. The beginning of the Lent season. I actually love this more than Christmas. Easter is about the completion of God’s plan that begun with Christmas. I have been following Sarah Bessey’s “Simple Practices for Lent”
Last one and another museum. Yes, I love museums, don’t you? Well this one, The Gallo-Roman museum was not in Brussels but in a town called Tongeren where the Gaul Ambiorix is from. Probably my favorite museum up to now. Each level in the building was dedicated to an era, from the Neanderthal to the Gallo-Roman era. Very child-friendly. With a quick touch with of your audioguide on the item of your interest, you can choose between the children or the adult explanation. Tip: The “Super Guide” who is there during the School Holidays from 1:30 pm until 5:30 pm who knows about almost everything in the museum and lets your child, hear, experience and taste the past.
So that was it for the month of February. Many museums, not so many actual things.
Have you tried/done any of the things on my list above? Any comments you would like to share? Would love to hear. Any more museum recommendations?
Several times in my life, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that someone I dearly love is abusive. They are not always criminals like my ex-husband, but abusive none the less.
Their words are cruel. Their smiles were disingenuous. They lie. They insinuate. They gossip.
Psychological or emotional abuse may seem like no big deal, but it’s absolutely insidious. Someone you love and trust mounts an intentional strategy campaign to make you feel stupid, crazy, or worthless. Understand: they can destroy your friendships or even drive you suicidal. And don’t even get me started on the threat they pose your children. You want your kids to be healthy and happy with firm faith in God? Psychological abusers will try to destroy that.
My in-laws…I have previously written a post about saying goodbye. This was weeks after discovering what my husband had done. I had hoped for their help and support, but I knew that would not happen because I knew how they were during our marriage. What happened, happened over a period of years. This was planned. This was a strategy to sew discord.
After I don’t know how many ridiculous situations where I have been avoided, where I heard mean gossip from them, getting angry looks, I finally acknowledged that my loved ones were abusive.
Is it in my mind?
I was wondering what could possibly be their motivation? Maybe It’s all in my head. But the pattern of abuse became undeniable. Upon confronting these people (only one responded by the way), wanting to be able to talk about how the situation felt for me, them ignoring me, cutting me and my children out of their lives, telling lies to others. They refused to talk about the situation. I somehow was an evil genius who somehow instigated my husband (and physical abuser) actions to frame him. They gossiped and lied. The mask fell off. The smiles turned to spitting rage. It was ugly.
Before I confronted them though, the emotional influence they had over me was terrible. Just seeing their name pop up in my emails caused a wave of nauseous. I had nightmares about them calling me on the phone, seeing them in school or at the supermarket, insulting my kids, or spreading lies about me. I realized that for the sake of my mental health – and for the sake of my children, and my emotional stability – I needed these people out of my life. But they hadn’t committed any crimes!
There was no one event I could point to and say, “They’re dangerous.” But like I said, the patterns of abuse were undeniable. They stretched back for decades and demonstrated a clear malevolence and conscious intent to harm and destroy. And now, these behaviors were affecting my kids, my sleep and my ability to heal from the spousal abuse and divorce. That’s when Psalm 1 came to my rescue:
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on His law day and night.
I am not called to enable wicked, abusive people. I am not called to tolerate the damaging sins of the unrepentant. I am not called to socialize with people who mock, lie, and mess with my head or my kid’s heads or even other people’s heads. I am called to cling to God and meditate on Him day and night.
I longed for their love and support, but they denied me this and instead were part of my torment. They made me feel like the criminal instead of the victim. I finally realized that I am so much better off without them. I finally realized what they did too, was abuse.
Now, if someone else were to go and minister to my abuser(s), I’d say, “Thank you! God bless you!” But my abuser is not my mission field. They do not love me. They do not respect me. Nothing I say or do can help them, except to deny them the opportunity to sin against me.
Within weeks – even days – of cutting those people out of my life, everything improved. My depression lifted partially, my anxiety eased up, my prayer life blossomed, my Bible reading was more fruitful, and I really feel I became a better mom, friend, and worshipper of God.
The moral of the story being, if someone in your life is spiritually poisoning you – if being around them damages your faith, causes friction in your marriage, exacerbates your depression/anxiety, or makes you feel stupid, crazy, or worthless – break free. Cling to God.
But I also admit that…while I’m trying to make myself the advocate for the authenticity and transparency of the challenges of an abused single Christian mom’s life (and life in general), I thought twice before deciding to make this public confession, and write about it.
Because in the Christian circle I grew up in, it was taboo to talk about that. It doesn’t sound spiritual at all, actually. At best, we recognize the big impasses in our lives, we promise to go and see a professional, but we actually just talk about it to one of our friends and tell them not to repeat it. At worst, we despise the very idea of talking to a shrink, especially if they are not a believer.
I’ve actually been around so many Christians who have had a long walk with the Lord and the equivalent of a Master’s degree in theology just by listening to preaching, reading books and participating in Bible study groups, but who are consumed by their inability to forgive, are unable to even name their emotions – let alone deal with them – and hurt everyone around them by repeating old patterns from their unregulated childhood. I say this with a great deal of compassion, but also with a great deal of sadness. Because it’s sad.
I’ve decided it’s not going to happen to me. I’m dealing with some severe stuff. Being surrendered to adoption as a baby. I’m also dealing with a hard life as a single teenage mom and more recently, finding out that my (ex) husband had been drugging and abusing me for years, and that my daughter was his victim too.
So there is enough reasons as too why I should go and see a therapist. We can all agree that difficult grief requires a helping hand from someone who knows about it. And It helped me a lot, by the way. It’s been a few months now and I feel like we are just getting started, there is so much going on, so much to be processed and we only have 60 minutes each time every other week. But I still desperately need it and will need for some time to come still.
Not going into too much detail, but I still suffer from anxiety attacks, chronic stress and pain, depression, bitterness and the inability to let go. A classic example of an imperfect and tired mother. Except that I’ve decided I really want to fix this in my life.
Going to therapy doesn’t stop me from having a real prayer life you know. God and me, we talk a lot.
I have a relationship with God Almighty, even though we’ve had some arguments and even though I have a hard time understanding life, my relationship with Him is the main thing giving me strength.
But I needed a little more help, I couldn’t cope…and I admitted to it finally.
It should just be the first step in a real transformation process. Admitting. Acknowledging that we’re having a hard time. Then trying to fix those flaws, letting ourselves be transformed by God who calls us to walk from glory to glory and to continually become the best version of ourselves.
For me, going to a shrink and trusting God for a drastic transformation of my character…because often it takes a miracle…is by no means inconceivable.
It’s like believing that God can cure us of an illness, but going to see the doctor anyway, just to understand what’s wrong. It’s like believing that God can provide for our difficult finances, but going to an accountant anyway, just to manage our money well.
I could go on for a long time about the fact that I am convinced that God wants us to be able to be vulnerable but also wants to take advantage of the talents/knowledge that He has given to other people. He really likes to use human beings in general to bless us, and it’s just completely foolish to deprive ourselves of that.
What to do?
So, didn’t I convince you? You’re judging me, aren’t you? It’s really not a big deal. The point here is: do you have some boo-boos in your heart, some dead ends, some things inside you that are ruining your life and the lives of others? Are you convinced that you need to seriously work on living a real transformation to finally have a more peaceful and abundant life? (I hope so, because answering no to that question is a problem, in fact…! Haha! (uneasy laugh)). But you refuse to go see a shrink or you really, really can’t afford it, and there isn’t even a counseling service in your church? Well then, here are a few other suggestions, so you don’t become like the old Christians I described above:
Find yourself a series of good books on the subject(s) that concern you (that doesn’t replace your Bible, we agree) and seriously study them, with an open heart.
Talk to friends, real ones, who will challenge you and to whom you will be held accountable to on a very, very regular basis.
Find a mentor you admire and want to be like and spend lots of time with them. Ask her lots of questions too.
Put yourself in a “straight talk” mode with God…like, “What do you want to change about me? Where does that come from? What lie do I believe? Why am I reacting like this? “and listen to the answers, even if they might hurt! Afterward, ask Him concretely what you should do to experience healing (…suddenly He would tell you to go see a shrink, you know!). Hahaha!!!!!!)
I love Instagram and I love following other moms in particular. One of the tags I follow is actually is #momlife. I love seeing artsy pictures of cute children in cute outfits, I love seeing toys and crafts that I haven’t seen before and I love getting local tips or travel tips to try out with my 6-year-old.
I’m currently inspired & captivated with these 5 Instagram mom bloggers from Antwerp that you must go follow now. Seriously, do it. Now!
My top 5 Antwerp Instagram moms
Name Jessica // Blog: Exploring Life // Instagram: @jessicanobels– Teacher, blogger and an environmentalist with the cutest girls ever. Something about kids and glasses makes my heart melt. Maybe because my son wears them too.
Name: Lynn // Blog: Averechtse // Instagram: @LynnFormesyn – She is not the typical Instagram mom. She mainly uses Instagram to advocate for people with chronic pain (people like me). She is a gifted writer with an honest pen and recently wrote a book. Truly inspiring woman.
Name: Lies // Blog: Liesellove // Instagram:@Liesellove – She is a #momentrepreneur in the digital world and has a wonderful taste in taking colorful pictures of her super cute family. Also very inspiring when it comes to family travels.
So these were my My top 5 Antwerp Instagram moms!
Who would you like to add to this post? I cannot get enough of these strong power mama’s! Leave them for me in the comments and I’ll be sure to check them out!