just about one year ago, i took this photo
of frozen autumn leaves lying on the ground, 
in their last moment of glory.

they reflected my heart and soul and mind at that time in my life.
as i explained in my last post, i had locked down my emotions
put them on ice
to protect myself from any further damage being done
by others
based on what they didn't like about my feelings

those leaves fell off of the beautiful Japanese Maple tree
that stood in the yard
in front of what was once my dream house
on a beautifully peaceful island
in Washington state.
this time last year,
i was in the process of packing up, selling off, and moving out
leaving my dreams and the life i loved behind.
leaving ME behind
because i didn't know WHO i would be
without all that had defined me for so long...

i have had a long, long road to travel since then
and i am grateful for the road i have been on.

that may sound strange to some,
but i have learned so much about me
about my life
about those around me for most of my life
about who i am and was meant to be
on this journey
that i can't help but be thankful for it.

in the past few months,
the discovery of so many resources
about what i have experienced
have enabled breakthroughs in my thinking
have allowed me to see why this happened. and how.
and what my part in it was
because of course i was part of it.
i write about my own experience,
but i wasn't the only one affected by all that happened
over 32 years.
others were hurt, damaged, hardened by it.

i get it now. i know why.
removing myself from the repeated cycles of drama
has given me clear vision to see
all that i could not see in the midst of the many endless storms.
i know what i did right, and what i did wrong.
i know why i did those things for 32 years.
i know what i didn't do, too -
especially those things that i am accused of doing.

there's been a massive shift in my thinking.

i am free from the lies and the beliefs of the past.
from the chains that bound me to one way of thinking and seeing.
i am free from being fearful about my feelings and choices and actions.
i am free from ridicule for the importance of my faith to me.
i am free from shame and guilt and blame for my mistakes.

i do wish i had seen the truth sooner
that i had had courage and strength to have done many things differently
to have changed the dynamic a long time ago

but i did the best i could do at the time
i did what i thought was the right thing
i had hope and faith -
just in the wrong thing.

now that i understand it all,
i can move on,
leaving behind all of the why's that have been screaming in my heart.
they've been answered.

i am healing in so many ways
my heart and my emotions are no longer frozen
and i am grateful

in a related thought,

today i read the following post on a website that i discovered recently.
i think this information is important for so many people,
and it is presented in such a concise and informative way in the article
that makes it easy to share.
i think there are a lot of people out there who might benefit from this information.

Types of Abuse
There are many types of abuse, ranging from blatant to subtle: verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual. 
No abuse should be deemed as minor. Subtle abuses are more widespread, as it takes those who are victimized a longer period of time to identify and feel the destructive affects. I use the analogy that people bleed out of their souls at different rates. If you take an ax to your cars oil pan it will bleed out and empty very quickly, but if you take an ice pick it will take a considerably longer amount of time to bleed out and become empty. So it is with your soul.

Abuse damages you physically, harming the body by physical violation.
It is also scientifically proven that distorted thought patterns and emotions affect you physically all the way down to the cellular level with the potential of causing diseases physically and psychologically. Abuse damages your self-image and can also harm you spiritually, twisting your view of God, His Word, and intentions toward you.

All abuse brings destruction to the soul – your mind, will, and emotions.
This means destruction to your mind through distorted thinking patterns, faulty beliefs, and negative expectations based on your experiences. It also produces destruction to your will – your daily choices and behaviors: life skills, relationship skills, boundaries, coping, communication, and conflict resolution skills. Your emotions can become flat, or become a volatile roller-coaster, creating a spike and crash in your emotions due to what you are thinking, choosing, and experiencing every day.

Physical Abuse is recognized by most of us as being struck, beaten, choked, cut, bitten, grabbed, or kicked. This abuse includes many more characteristics including, but not limited to shaking, tripping, tickling against your will, pulling hair, pinching, flicking, pushing, blocking your way, or physically standing over you to intimidate.

Sexual Abuse is any unwanted sexual advances including but not limited to: rape, molestation, forced sex in marriage, physical attacks to parts of the body, being treated as a sex object, and waking you up for sex. Sexual abuse can also include inappropriate conversations or comments about your body, inappropriate touching even through clothing, sexual touching games, seeing a revolving door in the bedroom of sexual partners, sexual contact that is done in your sight, or viewing any form of pornography.

Verbal Abuse includes a vast amount of behaviors ranging from silence and withholding, to yelling, raging , name calling, and put downs. It includes countering everything you say to hold someone accountable, blocking and diverting, shaming, humiliating, bullying, abuse disguised as a joke, accusing, judging, criticizing, blaming, minimizing and trivializing behaviors and feelings, undermining, ordering, denial, the abuser always responding with the victim mentality, and so much more.

Emotional Abuse includes crazy making which makes you feel like what you think and feel must be wrong, what you remember didn’t happen, or what you thought was said was never spoken. It includes mind games, mental coercion, controlling, dominance, manipulation, guilt, threats that produce fear, using children and finances as leverage, and much more.

Spiritual Abuse includes twisting Scripture to maintain control and dominance, to shame, condemn, judge, and accuse. It also includes demands for submission and obedience which requires the person victimized to allow and enable sinful behaviors without accountability, boundaries, or consequences.

This is only a small snapshot of what abuse may look like through your experiences.
If you even wonder if you are being abused, please ask for help and guidance. It is very hard to see clearly when you are in these types of abusive systems. Remember abuse can happen in the family, marriage, between children, siblings, friends, in the work environment, and even in the church. The person you seek help from should be educated, trained, and experienced in understanding and dealing with abuse. Tools need to be imparted to empower the person being victimized so that you may identify and properly deal with abuse to facilitate healing for all who are willing.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Michele Fleming
one that isn't mentioned here is SELF Abuse
if you read the definition of Emotional Abuse and Verbal Abuse above,
you'll find that it is very similar.
except we do it to ourselves.

it's an insidious way of keeping ourselves in the 'victim' role,
convincing ourselves that we can't do anything right
that we are powerless to change or make anything better,
no matter what we do or try.
seeing only our past failures and mistakes
instead of the whole picture of our lives.

oftentimes we have heard negative words and opinions about us
from others first, and repeatedly.
then we internalize them
and we keep playing that tape of negative comments
over and over and over again
inside our heads
until we ourselves believe it.
the damage can be devastating.

the cure?
forgive yourself.
love yourself.
accept that God loves you.
accept that HIS opinion of you is more important than ANYone else's
and work your way free of the lies you have been told.
once you know who you really are
regardless of what anyone says about you,
no one can stop you from healing.


Ann said...

Hi Deb, I have been following your comments and blog since the very early days at ivillage and Victoria Magazine's message board and subsequently through your blog and all the changes you have been through over the years. I am without words at what you have experienced over the years and how painful it must be.

From your writing over the years I picked up that you are a very creative person and then I would pick up a troubled marriage without knowing any of the details.

I would like to encourage you to find your true self and build on that. The scars from the past will always be with you but you can let them heal and not open those wounds ever again.

With God's grace you can become the person that God intended you to be. You can become the person that speaks assertively with appropriate boundaries. You can find peace and happiness once again. Time and God's grace can wipe away the tears and give you a new beginning.

Thank you for posting about the many abuses that exist. May all women read it and take to heart the damage that can come from the many forms of abuse.

I wish you the very best as you rebuild your life.


Christine said...

Half the problem is knowing the problem.
Looks like you are on your way to being free from the hurt, or least partly.

I love reading how you have and are over coming your pain.
I pray that you continue to grow and loved ones will come around.