Learning the Purpose of My Story

 

I was raised in a family that had struggled with abusive people in their lives. Yet, I was taught — perhaps unintentionally — that abuse was a shameful thing for the victim to talk about.

“Don’t tell anyone what so-and-so went through — it’s embarrassing.”

“Keep the negative stuff off the internet. You’ll put other people down.”

“No one ever knew that person was having such a hard time. They have such a good spirit for never saying anything. God doesn’t want us to complain.”

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Does anyone see what’s wrong with this concept?

I don’t have this plan of writing this great self-help book or anything like that. I’m not even 100% sure why I let everything out at once when I finally broke up with my ex. Mostly it was my word versus his, I’m not good at talking, and I am definitely the less dangerous person. So, I did the only thing I could to protect myself and just laid pretty much everything out there for everyone I knew to see. And that’s when I learned an important lesson:

DON’T BE AFRAID TO TELL YOUR STORY.

You wouldn’t believe the number of people who came to me in those weeks and months just to say that they’ve been through similar things with an abusive partner or relative. Some of them knew each other for years and never knew that they had this in common. It was shocking really. All because I had done something “embarrassing” by revealing a secret I kept for years.

No wonder the trend of abuse continues the way it has. If you bought a drink that was tainted and made you sick, would you hide it from everyone else? Or would you make sure that everyone knew it was poisoned so that they didn’t drink it themselves?

Why don’t we do the same thing for something that is so deadly? “1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners.”*

Yes there are movements to stop abuse — that’s wonderful — but it doesn’t really seem to hit home until someone you know goes through something awful. And if they keep it a secret, how would you know?

(This was supposed to be a short “aha” moment. So let’s stop the tangent.)

Anyways, one thing I was taught in youth group that stuck with me is that sometimes bad things happen to us so that we can help others who go through the same difficulty.  And the more I heard stories from friends and coworkers and their friends and family, the more I realized that something good can come from the bad by putting my story out there. It had the plus of keeping me sane when I couldn’t tell the difference between my thoughts and his voice in my head.

And guess what? I had a good friend approach me this week because she realized she was in a toxic relationship. Apparently, I was the only person she knew who had gone through something similar. (I’m sure she knows more, but once again, people don’t like to talk about it.) We were able to get together tonight and talk things out. She just needed someone to not judge and validate the decisions she was having to make.

There was a lot of prayer going on the last couple of days! It’s easy for me to talk about what I went through (mostly — there are still things most people will never need to know, and those tend to be triggers anyway), but I’m no counselor! However, I can do my best to be there for my friends. We aren’t all called to be counselors; however we are called to lift each other up (I Thess. 5:11). We at least had a good time of catching up and venting. If anything, those 5 years of pain were worth it if they keep someone else from going through the same — and I truly believe that this is what God wants me to do with my experience.

So tell your story. Don’t be ashamed that you were once a victim. It may be difficult at first. Will it scare some people? Yes. Will some people be offended? Of course. Will it be embarrassing? It can be at times. If you need to do so anonymously, that’s perfectly fine. You should make sure to stay safe. But doing so will do two things — it will help others, and it will help you heal. And those aren’t bad goals at all. 🙂

Story

 

*Bridges, F.S., Tatum, K. M., & Kunselman, J.C. (2008). Domestic violence statutes and rates of intimate partner and family homicide: A research note. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 19(1), 117-130.  http://ncadv.org/images/Domestic%20Violence.pdf

 

A Pigeon Story

The strangest things can help you in ways you’d never realize. If someone had told me before last night that a pigeon would help me face my fears, I would have laughed. But knowing my life, I should just expect these things.

You see, last week I started following a wildlife rescue called Izzie’s Pond (they do great work. Check them out!). Last night, they reached out to see if anyone could transport a pigeon to their home. Long story short, I didn’t have too much to do anyways and ended up volunteering.

Here’s where it gets interesting. The town where the pigeon was is the very same place I avoid like the plague because that’s where my ex lives. And I do whatever it takes to avoid him even realizing I still exist. This made me a little nervous. But I had that picture of that sad little hungry bird, and I just had to go anyways. But who knew that the pigeon would be located off the same road I drove almost daily for over 4 years to get to that same ex’s house. And I did this ALONE! In the DARK!

Granted, I did play it as safe as I possibly could. But I was afraid to get out of my car, not because I was meeting a stranger to pick up a bird in a box, but because of where I was. I DID get out of my car though (pretty sure pigeons can’t open doors by themselves, lol). And then I high-tailed it out of there 20 mph above the speed limit. But still, I did it. By myself. I needed that. I’ve gotten so tired of anxiety. It will probably always be there. But I do not have to live my life in fear.

And you know what? That pigeon will never have to live in fear again either. What I didn’t tell you was that he is a racing pigeon. Like me, he was “owned” and controlled by someone who didn’t really care about him. The poor thing is emaciated. But somehow, he got free, found some people with half a heart, and will live out the rest of his life fat and happy. And that’s a great ending, don’t you think?

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

Over Thinking All the Time

image

I’m a very analytical person. Which pretty much means my mind won’t stop over thinking all the time.  I joke that I’m morbid because I come up with the worst case scenarios for every situation. Panic attack before vacation? Of course! Thankfully,  I’m too restless to live in a bubble (besides, bad things can happen if you do that — I’ve thought about it).

But some days are worse than others. If I’m relaxed, the over thinking lets up a ton. But when I’m stressed or sleep deprived, it gets pretty bad. This week I’m both. Between having too much to do at work and my lovely friend pms, I’m shot. I got to the point today at work where I just shut down.

I NEED A VACATION!!!

My big question tonight for over thinking?  What if I’m not doing enough with my life?  Am I a failure because I’m 30 years old and have done nothing significant?  Day in, day out work is not meaningful for me. So it’s not that satisfying. I’m not saving money by any means. I’m not broke, but I’m not far from it though. I need ideas on how to change this.

I mean, I did basically have to start from scratch a few years ago, but I’m impatient!  I know I lost my ability to verbally commit to anything,  and that’s part of the problem. Stupid what-ifs.

Thankfully, writing out my rambling brain helps it calm down, so maybe I can sleep now.