Sep
16

How I learned to Self Abuse by Pam Witzemann

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Please help me welcome guest blogger Pam Witzemann as she shares about Self Abuse and how she realized that it was in fact, learned behavior. Pam is a frequent guest blogger here at Emerging from Broken and contributes her voice to the comments in almost every post here on Emerging from Broken. Darlene Ouimet

 

Self harmHow I learned to Self Abuse by Pam Witzemann

 

I was a self-abusive person. I wasn’t born as a self-abuser. I was taught to abuse myself by the way I was devalued as a child and the behavior that was modeled for me.

 

As a child, I was medically, emotionally, and spiritually neglected. I was psychologically and emotionally abused. I was given alcohol as medicine on a regular basis from the age of six months and also allowed sips of beer and other adult drinks. On holidays, I was allowed to drink hard eggnog and wine. As a toddler, I was allowed to eat only candy and drink coffee with the adults. I use the term toddler as an age descriptive term but I was never actually a toddler. I was what is now called a schoocher. Because I was born premature, my brain didn’t know where my arms were and I used my legs instead. I sat on my bottom and scooted. I tried to walk at about one year but fell like an egg, unable to catch myself, and didn’t begin walking until I was three. I never had any medical help with this disability. I don’t know if there was any help available but I do know that my parents never investigated any further than the family doctor. My mother worked with me and taught me to pull myself up on a broom handle. I was very uncoordinated and my childhood drawings were of heads with arms and legs coming directly out of the head in various places. I had poor control over my body and I never could physically keep up with other children my age. I felt that I was very different from others and I was never free from a pervading loneliness.

 

At four years old, I became sick with a high fever. I developed a rash and my parents decided that I had the measles. They put me in a darkened room and gave me the usual hot toddies, a mixture of bourbon, honey, and lemon juice. My grandmother came to visit and was alarmed at my condition. She told my parents that she thought I had Scarlet Fever and she insisted they take me to the emergency room. My grandmother was right and I spent the next year taking Penicillin. I learned how to read that year as I spent so much time alone in bed. My great aunt and my grandmother were both teachers and they gave me books on phonics and primary readers. I taught myself how to read. I also had to learn how to walk all over again. I couldn’t start school until I was seven but people thought I was about four. I don’t know how tall I was but I do know that I weighed 20 pounds. I didn’t know how to relate to other children as I had been around very few children. Because I was so small, the bigger girls played with me as if I were a doll. I was miserable and I always felt that I was alone. I was sick often. Partly because my immunity was low,it was an escape from the children at school, and  it was the only sure way I could get any attention from my mother. My parents continued to give me hot toddies when I was sick and I developed a taste for bourbon. I wanted those hot toddies and I don’t remember not knowing the taste of alcohol. In my house, booze was god and I took part in the regular sacraments when offered or when no one was looking.

 

I don’t remember being held by my mother. I remember being held by my dad when he came home after a long drunk. Most of the time he was gone working or drinking. My mom began drinking when I was about six, in what I now believe was an effort to keep him at home. My dad was a dramatic drunk who frightened me and I was terrified when I saw my mom also, begin to drink. I hid in my room or in the closet when they were drunk and arguing. The most predominant memory I have of my parents is of them sitting at the dining room table drinking. If it moved from the table it would spin out of control and those were the times that I and my siblings were terrorized by my dad’s out of control, violent behavior. To me it seems that my entire childhood revolved around that table where they sat and drank every day. I dreaded being called to that table for a drunken lecture; but if they directed anger toward my siblings, I would willingly insert myself and take their place at that table. At twelve, those lectures were an every Friday night event. This is how my parents spent time with me. My first memory of contemplating self-abuse was also, at twelve. I hid in the closet during one of m dad’s out of control terror sessions, with a hack saw in my hand, sliding it back and forth across my skin as I thought about cutting my wrists. My deep feelings of loneliness overwhelmed me and became an almost constant state of mind that year. It seemed that if I no longer existed that it wouldn’t matter to anyone and I wouldn’t have to hurt anymore. By the age of twelve, death seemed to hold more promise for me than life. I was sure that I wouldn’t live past the age of 15.

 

My dad treated my mother as a possession. He called her his “mommy doll”. This was supposed to be a term of endearment but he truly, treated her as a toy. He was 28 and she was 18 when they married. When my mom became pregnant with me they moved onto the ranch owned by my father’s parents. My dad took my mom’s driver’s license and when her glasses broke, she didn’t get new ones. The ranch was fifty miles from the nearest town and our closet neighbor was three miles away. We had five neighbors. My mom was not only my dad’s toy but a prisoner. She never had a friend of her own but was expected to cater to the people my dad wanted admiration from. These relationships never lasted long and ended when my dad’s true self would become known and he was confronted with his own failings. My mom never fought for herself but always submitted to my dad’s ill treatment of her. He demeaned her looks and made fun of her intelligence. The more he mistreated her, the worse she became, and he would denigrate her even further. He included my siblings and I in that denigration of our own mother. When we displeased him, we were told that we were just like our mother. My mother’s development froze at 18 and she never grew up. To this day, she willingly submits to my father’s mistreatment. She is content to do his bidding and never having to take responsibility for anything. She never fought for her children either even though she could see that we were being destroyed from the inside out just as he destroyed her.

 

My dad is a huge liar. He lives in a world created by his lies and no longer knows what it true about his life. My mother goes along with him and supports the lies. I grew up inside that world formed by my father’s lies. I believed those lies as a child and accepted many of them into adulthood because they were so seemingly, inconsequential. I know now that even small details of my father’s life are fabrications. Lies told at one time to impress someone and then made permanent in an attempt to remember them and maintain a preferred false image of himself. Now I believe nothing except what I witnessed myself. As a liar, my dad was also a manipulator. He manipulates for attention and he will do anything to anyone to get attention. He loved to manipulate me and I think he practiced his technique on me while also getting an emotional fix from being able to control me. He teased me mercilessly and when I would cry, he would chastise me for not being able to take teasing. He loved to hold me and prevent me from moving. Sometimes, I thought he would crush the air out of me. When I got older, he manipulated me by pretending to be my friend and side with me against my mom. He would purposely get between me and my mom to try and get all the attention and admiration for himself. He let me start smoking at fourteen so that I wouldn’t burn his barn down and so I would think he was cool. When I got caught smoking pot at the same age, I was given beer to drink and cigarettes to eat, and then told that if I wanted to get loaded, I could drink at home. If I ever brought up any of his short-comings, he would turn them around and blame them on me. My mother also blamed me for everything that went wrong in our family. She resented me most when I began to want to make decisions about how to dress and I wanted to be with my friends instead of her. In her mind, she expected me to become the girl friend that my dad never allowed her to have and she was angry with me for failing her. They also taught my sister and brother to see me as the problem source when my parents drank too much and did something they were ashamed of. I was the one who caused them to drink because I was so hard to deal with. I was marked and isolated within my own family. I was told I couldn’t sing (a lie) when the rest of the family was musical. My father was a musician and since he saw all of us as part of himself, a child with no musical ability was of no good use. At sixteen, when a pedophile (I didn’t know what a pedophile was) enticed me to leave home and I saw it as an exit from the misery I lived in, they let me go. I wasn’t allowed to drive because my dad said I was too immature and would wreck his car. However, when it came to going to live with a 28 year old man in the porn industry, who was divorced with a child, that I barely knew, and they didn’t know at all, they stepped aside and allowed me to make that decision. They turned me loose in much the same way as people in the Old Testament of the Bible sent their scape-goat out into the wilderness after they placed all of their sins upon it. In me my parents saw everything they hated about themselves, each other, and the misery of daily life in our family. They left me on my own to get what they deemed I deserved or more aptly put, to take in their place, what they deserved. This was my value to them, that I be held responsible and sent away so they never had to face or take responsibility for their own behavior.

 

I first started using drugs at twelve when I began stealing my mother’s allergy medicine to sleep. I was depressed and anxious most of the time. My family teased me for moping and pouting and I was called a scrooge because the holidays sent me into depression as they were days for my dad to drink to excess and spoil whatever childish expectation I had for culturally important days. I was afraid of holidays. No one ever tried to find out what was wrong. I was different and I was alone. It was my fault that I felt so sad, scared, and isolated. Soon after I stole those first pills from my mom, I began swiping pills from my grandparents. When school started, I found kids who were using pot and by fifteen, I was smoking pot nearly every day. I seldom went to class and my parents were angry that I was bringing home F’s but they never delved into the problem or made an effort to find out what was wrong or help me. My drug use took over my life and I put myself in risky situations to obtain more and stronger drugs. I endured sexual abuse as a teenager because they kept me high and when they were done with me, I became the worst abuser of me. I became like my aggressors but instead of abusing others, I also targeted myself for abuse. I blamed everything on myself and I punished my body with needles, pills, and whatever I could get my hands on to feed my head as I continued where the sexual abuse ended in promiscuous and dangerous relationships. I often combined drugs with opposing affects such as Heroin and Cocaine, called speed balling. I was a joy-popper and would inject anything into my veins. My life became a death dance by the age of eighteen and eventually, I committed the ultimate abuse. I intentionally overdosed on a mixture of Morphine, Heroin, and sedatives. I murdered me. A friend found me out cold, not breathing, naked, and wrapped in a sheet. She called 911 and I was rushed to the hospital where they used paddles and brought me back to life. When I came to I cried because I was still alive. I saw no solution to the problem, which I viewed as myself, but death.

 

Just as my decent into self-abuse was incremental and slow, my climb upward was long and arduous. It began with my belief in Jesus and my receiving the gift of eternal life. I wasn’t instantly changed into a person with no problems with a healthy psychology but I no longer celebrated death. Instead, I began to celebrate life. It was as if a light bulb switched on and I became aware of the life and beauty around me and I wanted to be a part of it. I began to try and make changes in the way I lived my life and I conquered my drug abuse over twenty years ago. Confronting the abuse in my past began with stopping the behavior that threatened my life. The journey continues today as I continue to learn how to value myself and others by placing blame where it belongs and ceasing to abuse myself in my thinking. I am learning why I developed certain patterns of behavior rather than believing that I am somehow, corrupt.

 

There have been many people who have helped along the way and I believe that God has placed each one in my path at just the time I needed them. My husband is the person who has given me the most help toward healing by simply loving me and showing me what unconditional love is. There have also been friends, pastors, doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists. My children have taught me more about myself than anyone. None of it would have mattered though if I had never believed and had my idea of a solution changed from death to life. I needed a healthy spiritual outlook to strengthen me in overcoming the negative psychology that I was programmed with from birth. Emerging from Broken is also important to me as I continue to confront myself and my past as I continue to reprogram and search for greater healing. I believe God also directed me here at the moment I needed it most as through what Darlene writes and what commenters share, I’ve found that I’m not alone and there are many on this same journey with me.

Pam Witzemann

Pam Witzemann was born in Santa Fe, NM and is now 54 years old. She has been married for 33 years, raised two boys and has two grandsons. Pam and her husband have had their own business for about twenty years. Pam is a painter and a writer and hopes to make these pursuits more than a hobby in her later years. Pam authors the blog Boomer Back Beat; a place where baby boomers find inspiration in the process of aging.

Categories : Depression

66 Comments

1

The majority of the time I was reading this, I was thinking “ok. Where is God in all this? He is the solution.” I say this because I relate to what you shared on a personal level. All of it. I’m happy you have found that life-changing moment who is Christ. Christ is helping me when I haven’t been able to help myself at times. My faith is strong and my walk with Him is getting even stronger. I’m amazed by the divine appointments such as this, by the miracles being worked in me and through me. I’m so humbled and even more grateful I’m even here to speak about this. 7 months ago I couldn’t do ANY of the things I do now including reading and writing because of my prescription drug addiction. I was emotionally, physically, and spiritually bankrupt. I know without a shadow of a doubt I would be dead if I had not checked myself into treatment when I did. I know it would’ve been less than 48hrs before I would’ve died if I had not surrendered everything to Christ. My treatment team wanted me to transfer to a critical care unit because they couldn’t take care of me. I was being pushed around in a wheelchair for 2weeks. I just kept saying “please do not give up on me!” And they didn’t. Thank God because if they had I would’ve looked at as just another person giving up on me because they didn’t give a damn so why should I. I walked out of there 47 days later with a new Outlook on life. I’m here now and I have been radically changed. It’s only because of God. I’m medication free now! I never in a million years thought this would happen for me. Amy. I thought I was always going to be sick, depressed, have intense anxiety, in pain and an addict. Not so! God had to take me that low so I could experience this (His mercy & grace). I treasure each moment now. I don’t regret my past nor worry about the future. I view my life like puzzle pieces whereas before they were all in a box just jumbled up. No direction, nothing fit together, nothing made sense. Now, today, they are all coming together perfectly and they are made up of my past, present, and my future is waiting to be added in securely with God’s firm hand. They stand strong in my faith by Jesus Christ. They are held together so firmly by the Holy Spirit that it’s unbreakable. That’s my puzzle and its only the beginning. What’s next? I’m excited to see what He has in store.

Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

2

Hi Amy, I’m so happy that you’ve found the way out. I know what it is like to believe that you’ve gone too far and there’s no way back. I call that period of my life, my shattering. I lost me and really, I had never had a chance to know me before I was so used up by abusers,me included, that there wasn’t a whole, Pam left. Just pieces, like you describe your puzzle pieces. I needed love so badly and a new beginning. That is what my faith in Jesus did for me. Later on, I still had struggles with all my self-destructive habits and thinking and sometimes, I doubted my faith because I thought if I were saved from my sin, they would just all go away but they didn’t. God did take my needles away. The situations in my life changed and I never had opportunity to use that way again but I was still weak and I know if I would have had that opportunity, I would have fallen. I struggled still with alcohol and pot and cigarettes for several years but with God’s help, I eventually overcame them. I know now that God left those so that I would build a strong character and no longer have the weakness that always caused me to stumble and fall. Faith, for me, has not been about being freed from struggle and pain but no longer being alone in my struggles. You are not me and I don’t know what God intends for you but I know from experience that this is your new beginning of a new life.

I have also learned that psychology can be helpful too. I don’t know why you got into drugs but for me they were just a symptom of underlying emotional damage and I had to be able to understand human behavior on a microscopic level in order to mend the things in me that were broken. God has been behind all of this also. Sometimes He heals us directly and other times, through the hands of others. I do know that complete healing includes not only the healing we need in the present but also, the healing of the past. God never left me during all the years that I struggled, undiagnosed, with PTSD but I had to face my past and give that broken little girl the love, attention, acceptance, and protection that she never had to find the way out of my depression and hyper vigelant anxiety.

Today is a wonderful day for you and I am so happy when someone escapes from the vampire like world of drug addiction. I’m excited when another stops dancing the dance of death and embraces life.

I don’t know if you are a boomer but on my blog, I focus on the spiritual and I would love the opportunity to talk to you more and I really don’t care if you aren’t a boomer.:0)

Thanks for making my evening, Amy. God bless you for all the days of your life.

Love,
Pam

3

Pam, as I referenced but maybe not emphasised, I relate to every part of your story. I was abused. In every possible way. Emotionally, mentally, sexually, verbally. If I’ve left something put its only because I’m at a loss for words. This is what lead to my drug use along with huge adornment issues from my parents and so much hurt from my childhood that I can’t begin to touch on here. It would fill up a book with this history. This part of my life with drugs is a snapshot so to speak even though my addiction went on for half of my life. Throughout this the abuse and pain continued of course. I’ve been to psychologists and counselors and so many other Doctors as well as support groups. Psych hospitals became part of my life as well. Long stays actually to save me from myself. The missing part through any of this was God. I’ve thought about embarking on another medical journey so to speak to heal my past wounds. I have to be honest and say this is really frightening for me because Doctors and counselors are the ones who convinced me that “something was wrong” with me. I was convinced I needed medicine and doctors as well to “get better”. I need you to hear that I’m not saying this is the wrong way, its just not the right way for me at this time. 🙂 I absolutely love hearing others share their experience, strength, and hope and I embrace whatever avenue it takes to bring them to the point of comfortable sharing. I also need you to hear that I did understand through your reading that you had found God. I guess none of this was clear or maybe I’m exhausted and missing the mark completely. Lol I found that I could relate to every aspect of your story. All of it. I’m so happy to hear of you and how you’ve come to the place you are at today. You are truly and overcomer.

4

That was supposed to say “abandonment issues” I’m on my phone.

5

Amy, I’ve been through the bad stuff with the psych community too. They made me a druggy again and because I had never dealt with my underlying problems, I had no self-esteem to fight it when they insisted I was bipolar and needed medication for the rest of my life. I reached a point to where I was either going to be committed or die. That’s when I began to listen to only God and myself and look for answers on my own. I did a lot of reading and part of that was understanding the narcissistic family structure and my place in it. I also read a good book on boundaries accompanied with a good Bible study on self-confrontation. I sat through a series on how to confront the past Biblically. Then I found EFB and found Darlene had gotten well by doing what I was doing, facing the past and applying truth.

Some people have wonderful therapists. I know they are out their but like you, I never found one besides a family counselor that we use and I’m not comfortable seeing him alone for my issues. I also know that I had to have that initial inner change of seeing life as a solution to my problems rather than death.

You were clear, I was just trying to cover a lot of ground in a short comment.:0) You and I have a lot in common.

Pam

6

The thing that makes me think is, you don’t have to teach someone to self-abuse…not even a child. I can vividly remember myself as a 11-year old, sitting under a study desk in my babysitter’s house, sliding a penknife across my fingers. I learned it from nowhere, and I definitely didn’t know why I did it. All I knew, was that blood and pain felt good. Soon, it became my “hobby”. It became my little secret, that nobody knew. It stopped for a few years, but started again when I entered therapy. When the issue of termination came up, to my horror, I found myself doing the same old thing, and carrying a penknife with me wherever I went. In the therapy room, I sometimes even dig my nails into my skin for 15 minutes…never daring to look at my therapist. When I finally looked up, I saw horror in her eyes. There were other times when I scratched myself in therapy.

Nobody taught me self-hate; I just did. I was blessed with a clinical psychologist who demonstrated love for the first time of my life, and taught me to appreciate myself. She valued me, but it’s just so difficult to still embrace myself. Though I don’t often hurt myself physically anymore, I still beat myself up emotionally. I considered myself “recovered”, and have received some opportunities to write my story in newspapers and also for my therapist’s book, but I felt that I was only gaining “cheap publicity”. I couldn’t be proud of myself. And then I beat myself up for beating myself up. Just today, I rejected my therapist’s offer for sending my story into a local (Malaysian) daily…because I see myself as pathetic.

I had forgotten that it was God who had brought me to where I am today, that I had promised to use every opportunity possible to share my story of hope, that it is God who had opened every door. I forgot that it isn’t just about me, but it’s a testimony of God’s goodness. I also forgot that I am God’s workmanship, created to be perfect.

Yes I’m “recovered”, but self-love is still very much a challenge. Whenever something good comes my way, I always filter it through a negative filter. I have to make it a habit to remind myself of how far I’ve come, not just how far I still have to go.

And as for whether I will turn back and take up the offer that I had rejected, I don’t know yet. Right now, I’m having a writer’s block (it’s in Chinese, and I have problems with the language)…but when I manage to convince myself that this is more than “cheap publicity”, perhaps I’ll gather enough courage to write in 🙂

7

Pam, thank you for your comments. Would you please put the name of the book you referenced in your next comment? I want to read it. 🙂

8

Jasmine,
Share your story, knowing that there is a greater impact than whatever ‘cheap publicity’ may come your way. Your story can and very likely will touch a reader that needs to hear *your* words and *your* story, that no one else can tell. You are worthy and you are able to help others.

Pam, and Amy, thanks for sharing your story.

9

Jasmine, I blamed myself for decades and beat up on myself, daily even after I overcame my drug abuse and promisquity. I hated myself for what I did to myself. I also tried to carry the blame for what people I loved did wrong because I was made to feel overly responsible by my parents irresponsibility and scapegoating of me. They did directly train me to self-abuse by their daily example of self-abuse but moreso, by their teaching me who I was to them and my adopting that definition of me.

When I quit abusing drugs I took responsibility for my own wrong-doing, which was good and what I needed to do. However, I also continued to take responsibility for everything and to see myself as responsible to prevent and fix whatever went wrong. I was still self-abusing and I couldn’t stop until I reconed with my past and removed the initial shame and guilt that had been placed upon me. I no longer have deep periods of depression or hyper vigelant anxiety. I have learned to love me the way God does and I have learned that love is unconditional. I don’t have to do or be anything to receive it or give it to myself and others.

Everyone experiences their own pain and the reasons it came into being may be different but I firmly believe that we need to heal our past in order to completely heal in the present. That healing of the past was what was never offered to me in therapy. Darlene did find such a therapist. I wish there were more like him.

Thank you for your comment, Jasime. I’ve found that God uses many avenues to bring us to the point of true healing. I know there is a plan tailored specifically for you and I believe you are already on it.

Pam

10

Amy, The book is called simply, Boundaries and can be found at any christian book store. I’ve loaned my copy to a friend and I’ve forgotten the author’s name but if you send me an email at Pam@boomerback-beat.com, I’ll get that information to you.

Pam

11

Thank you, Pam, for your amazing testimony of God’s grace and mercy in your life.

Jasmine: may I encourage you to PLEASE tell your story. There are so many others who feel like you felt and I know God will use you to help them! It’s about using our stories and painful past for HIS glory. Think of it that way. That’s why I spill the beans about my own dysfunctional past and family of origin and trust the outcome in His hands. My parents are very wealthy and I run the risk of being disowned, but I want to be obedient to my God more than anything else. I will go where He leads because I know it will always be the right path. Besides I’d rather build treasure in heaven than on earth anyway, where nothing is going to last. I can’t wait to see my glorious mansion one day!

12

Karen, You’re welcome.:0) All of our stories are important and reading the stories on this site has strengthened and encouraged me in such a way as I’ve never experienced before.

My family did disown me when I told them that they had to treat me with respect if they were going to continue having a relationship with me. That was too much to ask and very telling…

13

Hi Pam
This post really shows the progression of how we become to see ourselves as unworthy. For me self abuse has been about not believing that I deserved better. Not being taught my own value and because of the actions of others, treating myself the same way that others treated me… as valueless, unlovable and unworthy. This is exactly what happens to children who are raised not knowing that they are precious.
Thank you so much for guest posting (again) for Emerging from Broken and for all you contribute here. I appreciate your voice and your input always.
Hugs, Darlene

14

Darlene, That’s exactly it. I thought the way I was treated by my parents and the men who sexually abused me as a teenager, was normal. I treated myself that way without understanding that I was self-abusing. I was trying to be what others wanted me to be and having a “good” time. Others enjoyed themselves while abusing me so I did the same. I also had tons of anger that was all turned inward and it makes sense that if I were angry with my abusers, I should also be angry with myself because I became one of them. Death, whether slow or quick by the use of drugs, was the only solution I could see to my painful state and situation.

Love,
Pam

15

Pam,

It’s been very hard to admit that I’ve come a long way in recovery. I guess the biggest monster to defeat is actually self-rejection/hatred, because now it’s not really about how others treated me, but how I treated myself. Even though my mum has stopped being critical; in fact, she’s now the best mum that I could ever ask for….there were times when I still push her away because I felt like I didn’t deserve her love. That way, i continued to punish myself, but I also realize, that I’m also punishing the people that I love and want to love me.

Karen and Veronica, thanks. Actually, the moment I told my therapist that I will put aside her offer this time, I realized that I wasn’t being rational. I realized that I had forgotten that I wrote because I wanted to spread hope. I had forgotten that it was God who has brought me out of this, and it is He who’s opened every door. I forgot that I had promised to use every opportunity possible to share this message of hope. This morning, I sat down to add in that paragraph to an already-ready article, and realized that I actually didn’t really have a writer’s block after all. It was more of a mental block :)I haven’t sent it, but at least I don’t have an excuse to not write anymore.

Pam, I’m currently reading Boundaries by John Townsend and Henry Cloud. Someone introduced it to me years ago when I didn’t even know what boundaries were. I didn’t even know that boundaries exist. Hence, it wasn’t until recently that I understood its contents 🙂

16

Jasmine, I was the same way when I read, Boundaries. It was a revelation to me in how to relate to others. However, I also had to reconcile with how I missed out on developing any of those boundaries. In my home, everyone’s identity was emmeshed into my dad’s. I wasn’t only not allowed to develop boundaries, I wasn’t allowed to be, Pam. My parents treated me much the same way that I might treat my arm or leg. I was an extention of themselves and meant to serve their needs. They have never seen me as my own individual person. I don’t hate my parents but I needed to understand how I was affected by the way I was raised so that I could make changes in my thinking and in my view of myself.

I can’t know how another person’s problems developed but I do know how mine did. Deep down, I always knew but people kept telling me that it wasn’t that bad, that I was blowing in out of purportion, that I needed to forgive(when they never admit to hurting me, they don’t want forgiveness, they want me to let it slide), and any other thing they could say to hide their wrong-doing and put all of it on my doorstep. From the time I was six, my dad blamed his drinking problem on me. That was a huge load for me to carry and feel responsible for. My parents think that I was born to care for their needs rather than they care for mine. My childhood and my entire relationship with them was backwards. I could go on but the simple fact is that parenting does have an impact on how we view ourselves and abusive, negligent parenting causes emotional damage.

When I accepted Christ, I took responsibility for my sins and asked for forgiveness and He empowered me to overcome my destructive habits. However, I was also asking Him to forgive me for what people did to me and He doesn’t do that. He brought me to a point where I had to individiate myself from others(a lot of that came through my understanding personal boundaries and what I was and was not responsible for)and stop carrying the blame and shame for my family of origen as they continued to devalue and disrespect me. I forgive them but they refuse to accept my forgiveness or apply it by acknowledging their own wrong doing and taking responsibility for it. Their only use for me was as their scape-goat, and someone to mooch off of.

Sadly, finding my boundaries and setting them and sticking to them has cost me the relationship with my family. I’m still confident that what I’ve done is God’s Will for me. They will never get better if I continue to allow them to use and mistreat me.

Thank you for sharing your view, Jasmine. Even though we may not see it completely in the same way, I am helped by your view and your story as the comparison brings my own understanding into sharper focus.

17

Pam how can someone contact you for speaking engagements.

18

thank you all for sharing your amazing stories.i just want to say that it enriched me to hear each one of your stories.please keep up the good work in sharing your stories,it does help others.even tho i am a survivor in many things i really got a spiritual lift from reading all these today.thank you and God Bless each one of you,and please,write,write,write!

19

Samantha, I’m very flattered but I’m not a speaker and I’ve never considered it. I’m a blog writer and that is about the extent of my influence. You can email me at Pam@boomerback-beat.com.

Pam

20

Pati, I’m happy that you received a boost and thank you for the kind encouragement.

Pam

21

My childhood was also very enmeshed…with Mum. It was to a point where I didn’t know how to buy my own clothes when I went to another state for university. I had to always call her to describe the blouse…when my friends are out of hearing. I was never physically or sexually abused, but there was pretty much emotional, psychological and verbal abuse. I think that is a lot more rampant in my community. I grew up thinking that I had it wayyy better than “other kids” who were abused in other ways. I guess that’s partly why it’s so hard to love myself.

The difference between our families probably is that my mum had wanted to do anything possible to get her daughter back. She took the first step to spend time talking to me and stuff. When I entered therapy, I reciprocated. But it does take two to tango. If one party refuses to play their part, I’m afraid that reconciliation is very hard.

22

Jasmine, There are always people who suffered worse treatment than we did. That doesn’t mean that what happened to us isn’t as important as what happened to some other. I know how hard it is to feel that you don’t measure up and something is wrong with you for not appreciating what you have. That got better for me when I truly, reconciled with the things that happened to me and accepted them and accepted myself. I still wish my family would work with me and be healed also but they prefer to deny and pretend that everything is okay. It’s very sad because they are missing so much and all it would take would be accepting and acknowledging the truth. I can’t heal for them, I can only work toward my own healing. I’ve gained a lot of ground in that the last few years since I began my self-confrontation.

My dad actually taught us that we were part of him. If I did something that pleased him, I was ‘like’ him. If I did something that displeased him, I was like my mother. My sister pleased him best so she was seen as most like my dad. I was made to feel that I should be more like my sister so that I could please my dad and mom and be loved and accepted by them. There was no, Pam in any of that. Just appendages of my dad. That’s what I mean as enmeshment. When I began setting personal boundaries, and marking the places where I began and others ended, it was comparable to the surgery that seperates conjoined twins. I survived the surgery as a whole but my family is still enmeshed and has no understanding as to what happened. They can’t see me as an individual but only as an appendage of themselves. I’m angry at them sometimes but really, my heart breaks for them but I can’t do their work for them. I tried and tried to explain and reach them but I can’t. The best thing I can do is be the whole person that I am and love them through prayer. It isn’t easy but it is the only loving, truthful way to proceed.

Self abuse ended for me, both in outward action and inward thinking, when I said yes to myself about what had hurt me, who did the hurting, and how it caused me to view myself, the world, and caused me to behave in reaction to the pain I felt. Thinking that someone suffered worse did me no good at all because I’m only responsible for dealing with and healing my pain.

I don’t know your mom. My mom would do anything to get me back except take responsibility for her own behavior. I’m sure she hurts now and I don’t like that but she has all the power to end that. I purposely left her that power by laying down the boundary for relationship with me as her mandatory treatment of me with respect. She feels her loss as a loss of part of herself and has never seen or had any emotioanl response to any of the horrible things that happened to me. I can’t go back to being part of her which is also part of my dad by denying her the opportunity to finally hold herself responsible, grow up, and also, free herself.

I don’t know if this makes sense to you or if it applies to your situation, but this is the root of my self-abuse and like any noxious weed, it had to be removed root and all.

23

Pam,

I guess cognitively, I know that what happened to me was wrong and wasn’t my fault, but I still find it hard to FEEL that way. I still feel that what happened to me was my fault, my problem, my responsibility. I guess self-blame has become so convenient and “safe”. I remember when my therapist talked about termination, I blamed myself for making her “abandon” me, and I turned to self-harm. My therapist’s response shocked me – she asked me why do I hurt myself for something that wasn’t my fault, that I should be angry at HER instead, or rather at the system. She even said, “Come on, throw it at me. I can take it. Just don’t hurt yourself anymore.” I remember sitting there, shocked. There were other times when I knowingly challenge her boundaries to (unconsciously) cause her to say “No”, and then prove my “theory” of rejection. I didn’t know what I was doing until she pointed it out.

My recent therapist did art therapy with me during one of our final sessions which gave me that final breakthrough in therapy. Two of the drawings showed me imagining that I was tied up/caged, when I actually wasn’t. I was the one who did it to myself. I was the one being harsh with me.

I don’t know how long it took for you to finally accept yourself, but personally the distance between KNOWING and FEELING is very far. I am now trying to not beat myself up for beating myself…I guess that has to be the first step.

I don’t know how you tried to draw boundaries with your mum, but I know that it’s not easy. It took me months to assure her that I do want to have a relationship with her, and I’m working hard on it. I also let her know how her actions affected me, how I need to draw boundaries with her…but it doesn’t mean that I love her any less. I also explained that neither of us can do it alone. I also affirmed her positive actions. I let her know that I don’t think she chose to be a bad mum, it’s just that there were certain things that were not right. Not easy at all, but it paid off. Mum began to see how her own mother was being manipulative and controlling.

Recovery is hard work, but it seems like you’ve come a really long way. 🙂

24

Jasmine, I do know the gap between understanding and feeling can be difficult to bridge. In many ways, I felt but didn’t understand. Recovery has been a life-long struggle for me. I quit using drugs and engaging in dangerous, self-degrading sexual relationships decades ago but on the inside, I continued to beat on myself and hold myself accountable for the wrongdoings of others. I had to take off the blame and shame that my family clothed me in and give back what belonged to them. It was a deeper healing and more complete. I still have a ways to go in reclaiming myself. Writing about my experience by saying this is what happened to me, this is what it did to me, this is what I did, and this is who I am now is a huge part of helping me to do. I split off portions of my life with parts of myself and locked them deep within myself. Each splinter of me carried the wieght of guilt for the trauma that I endured but then blamed myself for. I punished myself by trying to kill the person I had been at the time and then trying to be another person. Now I’m reclaiming all of those pieces of me. It feels good, Jasmine to carry only my own emotional responsibility. I wish I could make my mom whole but I can’t. She has to take responsibility for herself. I only add to her own sickness by continuing to carry the entire weight of responsibility in our relationship. I would love to be her daughter but she only sees me as her scape-goat and someone to take care of her needs. It is her responsibility to be a mother first so that I can be a daughter to her. She’s too sick to see this, won’t try, and prefers to remain as a little girl who no one expects very much from. Sometimes, people become so comfortable in the mechanisms they’ve developed to cope that it is preferable to reamin ill. That’s where my family is at. I’m not.

Keep reaching for wholeness. Life is all about wounding and healing and those of us with very deep wounds can heal.

25

Pam, it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one going through a long, tiring journey of recovery. To be honest, my family didn’t really blame me for hurting, at least not explicitly. But in my culture at least, family pride is essential. Hence, I think this is one of the main reasons why it’s so difficult to talk about it to others, lest write about it. It’s difficult also to not just let it slide in order to keep the good image of the family. My parents allow me to talk about my own story and some family issues within certain limits, but I was warned by one of my pastors back home to not write about ever being abused. He says it brings shame to my family. Hence, it’s very difficult to talk about what others did to me, when I live in a community where family pride precedes personal needs.

I can’t imagine what it would be like if my mum wouldn’t want to work on our relationship. I told her that I can’t heal if we don’t get our relationship right, and I used to really believe that. But I think our healing was in part a miracle as well. In fact, I see my recovery as a miracle. Many people talk about instant miracles, but I believe that miracles in emotional healing can’t be a quick fix, because the process is essential. Of course, God can heal us with a snap of a finger, but what will we have learned from it? How can we grow? How can we empathize with others? God must have a reason why I got my mum back; but I’m sure He has a reason why He didn’t take away that thorn from your flesh.

One of the things that kept me going over the years were the promises of God. I recorded down almost every prophecy spoken over my life in the past 10 years in two small booklets. When I read them not too long ago, I’m amazed at how many of them have either come to past, or are coming to past. Those were the promises that gave me strength when I was weak.

I understand about people choosing to remain ill. There were times when my therapist thought I would never come back, because we dealt with tough issues. But I had never skipped a session, because I had hope that this pain is just temporary, and perhaps more worth it. After being in the darkness for so long, the light does hurt.

26

Jasmine, You bring tears to my eyes. I am very family oriented and protecting my family was and still is important to me. What I was doing,however, benefited no one. It kept my family of origen in their own mental illness and it hurt my children. I had to come to a point where I recognized that traditions that caused me to have to lie or degrade myself were empty traditions that didn’t please God at all. I miss my family. Every morning, I pray for them and ask God to work in their hearts and change their minds towards me. You are right about the importance of process and I had to step out of the picture and allow my family their own process. I also tried very hard to get them to acknowledge how I was hurt and the sexual abuse I suffered as a teenager in particular but they wouldn’t budge. Not even when I showed them what happened to me was against the law. They won’t budge because they want their own evil actions covered and never mentioned. They cover their sins by giving them to me to eat. That is their prerequisite for my having a relationship with them. There is nothing more anti-christ than that prerequisite. No matter how many bible verses or traditional christian teachings that my family uses in order to bring me back into line and eat their sins changes that. Pastors are just people. I think most of them mean well but they aren’t God and I’ve not met very many who know how to apply spiritual prinicples to those who have suffered serious abuse. They don’t understand it. They also make their living by the church and often, the hunger in their belly’s outweighs their desire to do what is right. Not always but very often.

I thought I had to heal my relationship with my family to be able to heal also. I thought that if I couldn’t have their validation then I couldn’t heal. I was wrong. The validation that I’ve received here at EFB through Darlene and others who share their pain has given me the validation that I needed.My husband, children, and close friends also give me needed validation and support. That’s another reason why I write. I don’t want to disgrace my family and it does cross my mind,at times, that I’m doing that. However, if they would step out into the light, there would be no disgrace but only more healing. Everything kept in darkness becomes greater darkness. Everything brought into the light becomes light. It is so much better to live in the light than to hide in the darkness. It hurts at first but then it becomes wonderful.

God loves you, honey. He wants you to be well. You are His temple. When you love and care for yourself, you are maintaining the temple of God. He will be patient as you heal and faithful to bring you to that point. Good spiritual health gives the strength to endure the recovery process that ends in good mental health. This is what I have found to be true in my own life.

Love,
Pam

27

Pam, thank you so much for sharing your story of abuse and healing. I know that lonliness that you mentioned. I felt it for so many years before I finally started to love myself. Yes, my parents abandoned me as yours did – emotionally, physically and spiritually. Because of the incest, I also abandoned myself. I didn’t feel worthy of God’s love either. He never left me but I turned my back on him for many years. I thought that if God loved me that he would have stopped the incest from happening and since he didn’t stop the abuse and didn’t love me that I didn’t need him either. I know today that he was simply waiting for me to turn around. He loved me always no matter what I said or did. That lonliness left me when I accepted God back into my life and learned to love myself.

28

Pat, I think that is what I want to write about next(if there is a next:0) is emotional neglect and that black hole of lonliness that it leaves. I never understood it and it started filling in when I became spiritual but the filling was a process for me and I can’t pinpoint when it was completed. I think it has been a number of things, God, my husband’s love, my children’s love, and finally, my self love. Parents instill so much into their children those first few years of life and for me, that was pretty much a void. God has been good to fill in all that I needed to become a whole person. There have been many plateaus on this journey, and many times when I thought I’d ‘arrived’, but then found another layer to deal with and mend. I am on one of those plateaus right now but I know there is still some work left to do. It is hard to distinquish the healing from the growing and I actually, believe they are one and the same. We victims of abuse really aren’t that different from anyone else but maybe, just a little more aware of the process of wounding and healing that is life.

I always enjoy your comments, Patricia.Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post.

Pam

29

I’ve been thinking about this subject of self-hurt alot lately. I’ve not hurt myself on the outside, but I believe that I hurt myself on the inside. I find tha,t on this healing journey, when I realize that someone that I thought loved really doesn’t, I tend to wake up with headaches or body aches or just feel exhausted. When I began to see this pattern, I thought back to an article I read that said two common illnesses among abuse victims are fibromyalgia (body aches and flu-like symptoms) and chronic fatigue syndrome (self-explanatory).

This all makes me wonder if these illnesses are not a way in which we subconsciously hurt ourselves for things we feel we’ve done wrong. Afterall, we’re taught by our abusers that everything is our fault. I know that it makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong when I expose someone as being abusive to me, even if only to myself. I feel like I’ve betrayed them because I’ve been programed to protect others and their image and character at my own expense. And even though these people have hurt me, sometimes I don’t really want to believe that they are bad, especially my religious leaders.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

30

Hi Robin, I think I’ve always felt emotional pain physically. Also, I’ve had fibromyalgia and fatigue most of my life. I also had hep c for 33 years and that is a physical explanation of my symptoms that are much better since I no longer have that disease. I’ve also reconciled with my past during the last five years, in the same time frame as when I was cured of the virus. I feel better now than I have for most of my life.

I used to think that if someone I loved did something wrong that I had caused it somehow. I do think that, depending on how bad it was, I felt it physically. I also used to spend a lot of time beating my self up in my thinking. Being beat always hurts.

I think self-abuse starts in the way one thinks and the actions come later. I was able to stop the self-abusive actions long ago but it is only recently that I’ve stoped beating myself from the inside.

Wonderful comment, Robin.

31

Pam

What i will say here is the first time I am letting this out ..but .. I learned to “self harm” from the church ..iT was ok .it was taught.. I was going to be a nun ..so spent much time with them. and one time in confession..the priest gave a penance that would be practiced many years..”Take the discipline.” for the space of the 3 psalms.

That space of psalms i think was psalm 150, 32, and another whose number i forget “have mercy on me God in your greatness, in your compassion blot out my guilt..thoroughtly was me of my guilt and of my sin cleanse me”

I know the psalms by heart the above was part of 150. We wer taught to beat ourselves with the discipline as an act of penance.. to make up for our wrongs and those of others..

By time those prayers were done. blood was flowing and if that were not enough.. we were given another thing called a “cilicio” .. which was a belt that appeared to be of chaing..it had points that you were suppose make sure were pointed toward your skin.. you wore this to keep you remembering the awfulness of the sins of the flesh.. ..

SO I can say .. I learned to self harm by my dearly beloved church that looked the other way when I cried about the hurt mom an bro and others did to me.

Now I was told that it was ok .. this was holy to cut yourself..to bleed .. it was ok .. to let blood flow when you do wrong..

I sometimes took the discipline so very hard .. i did it to try to undo all the unworhtiness my mom said I had.. No matter how much I took the discipline.. I never felt more holy. I developed a weakness of health..

Yet..that didnt matter..pain was something that was encouraged and complaining was not permitted.. if it were not for illness I would be there in a sad life beating myself for everyone’s sins.. what a sad life it would have been.. to think that God found pleasure in pain.

When I left the studies I took with me the instrumetns of torture and sometimes continue the punishment.. thinking if i prayed hard enough..took the discipline I woudl become worthy ..of love from my family.

My mother had wanted me to become a nun..so that I would lock away the terrible bad secrets.. what a disappointment I was ..

So i learned self-harm. from the good nuns and the priest who constantly told me to impose the penance on myself..

If you don’t know what a discipline is ..it’s a whipe with about 9 -12 braided cords dipped in wax and allowed to harden..So every strand had a waxed bulb at the end .You took the discipline by swinging it side to side across your waist.. ..men took it on the shoulders i understand..

Have I done harm to myself after leaving there ..I had.. I even created new disciplines.. when i wore my other out.. .. Do i do this now.. nope .but i think what was drilled into me by all this still needs to be undone . I have a very low image of myself.. .. this is why . i dont think highly of myself.. because it was seen as pride for which we would also take the discipline or cilicio

Joy

32

Pam

I havent even gone into details of this yet to my T but plan to next session. .I was going to wait to respond till I spoke with T but I feel it’s ok to share this. I don’t knock what is done but all of it gave me a deeper disdain of my self.. made me feel if I am not humble and don’t put others first i must punish myself. for pride.

joy

33

Taught to self harm

the blood it trickled down my skin
and opened up my heart within
lash after lash the wounds would appear
all sanctioned by the church I fear

around my waist the metal i wore
stung the flesh it crushed and tore
twice a week for several years
I inflicted hurt that brough me tears

I learned to cut out evil ways
and offer repentance as my praise
whenever i felt I was doing wrong
i would create a wound deep and long

ALl this done in the name of prayer
Hurting myself without much care
This was a ritual taught to me
In the name of religion I hurt me..

joy

34

Robin, when I was in my 30’s and 40’s I would get migraines every time that my dad came back into my life. I was tested by a neuralogist during that time and he could not find any physical reasons for my migraines. I believe that my migraines are purely stress related. As a child being abused sexually and emotionally abused by an active alcoholic, my life was filled with stress to the point that at 19 I made the choice to run away from home. I knew that if I didn’t leave then, I would have had a nervous breakdown. The migraines stopped for the 10 years that my dad was totally out of my life. I wasn’t punishing myself with the migraines. I never learned to deal with stress in a healthy manner so it would build into a migraine. The anger that I held in until it became rage affected my body also. I believe that the high blood pressure that I have today is a result of that stress showing up in my body. I have had headaches other than migraines since I was at least 7 years old, maybe earlier.

35

Joy, I’m speechless. That is just horrible. That kind of religion is deadly. I know about those kinds of practices amoung some Catholic groups but I’ve never had anyone tell me what it was like to live it. It makes me very sad that that was done to you in the name of God, Joy. The picture you paint is of a very cruel religion and very different from “visiting widows and orphans in their affliction and keeping one’s self unspotted by the world”. I’m sad that you had to suffer that way. I’m glad you aren’t doing it anymore. People who say they love God and then cause others to hurt themselves the way they did you are just liars, in my book.

36

Patricia, My health was at its worst during the time that I allowed my parents to move onto my property. I don’t think I punish myself but I do feel emotional pain physically and I agree that the stress makes me more suseptible to developing sickness. I look back on that and realize how foolish I was. I thought I had to “do the right thing” and honor my parents. I learned that parents being honored begins with parents honoring their children and when that doesn’t happen, there can be no honorable parent/child relationship. It is interesting how my life has improved on all levels since they have moved and not just for me but for my husband and children, as well. People who live off of others, both physically and emotionally, eventually suck their victim dry. That’s the condition both I and my husband were in after 11 years of being mooched upon. I’m glad that portion of my life is over and it is so good to be healthy.

37

The sad part, Pam, is because of all my brokenness from my childhood..all that made so much sense.. I went to study to complete my mom’s wishes for me.. her selfish wish that I would go and take that secrets that happen to me and make up for them .. for her and me and the whole family. I was to be the sarificial lamb. .suffer for all the sins ” i caused” .. I failed in that.. as my health could not hold up the a convent life and I carried too much brokenness.. I stayed long enough, though, to deepen the sense of unworthiness my childhood had initiated and it continued to dig deep into my soul.. THis is why its hard for me to think of myself first, to accept kindnesses..as it was drilled into me that i was unworthy .that my life was to make up for being born.. mom’s mistake ….SO many many groups in the catholic faith believe in this type of penance..It’s not in the open..I know people in the medical world would call what we did self harm. and I continued to do it up to a few years ago.. I found it one way to satisfy my need to make up for the wrong i committed by being born.. so I thought. i did the wrong.. I don’t know how I could have not been born..but i felt bad for mom that she hated me for being born.. I wish i could have undone it . .but it was irreversible.. I don’t accept anymore that I was a mistake. Someone far beyond all our reasonings wanted me to be born or I wouldn’t be here..

joy

38

Joy, Even though we have different stories, what we do have in common is being made a scape-goat, a sin-eater for our family of origen. That is unhealthy for them as well as for ourselves, on so many levels. Just as your self abuse began with the way your family taught you to see yourself and your purpose, so did mine. I quit acting out myself abuse in physical ways decades ago but I didn’t stop my self-abuse until I also stopped the self-abusive thinking. It is no fun being a martyr. Jesus did that for me once and for all.

A counselor taught me a healty way to keep my needs and the needs of others balanced. My needs are just as important as anyone elses, and the needs of others are as important as mine. I don’t serve others, I serve God and others are served when I do so. This has helped me a lot in deciding what I am required to give to another and also, what is permisible for me to expect from another.

I know you aren’t a mistake. No one is, we all have a special purpose in this world and we are made most happy when we find that purpose.

It makes me sad that you were treated in such a way as to leave you in so much pain. I know you can make it out of that world view that was imposed upon you and find the truth. If I can, you can. I saw the world upside down for a very long time but when I began embracing the truth about my life and the things that happened to me, it suddenly turned right side up. That sounds easy and I say sudden but the journey to that sudden moment was a life-long journey.Everything comes to each of us in its own time.

Love,
Pam

39

Joy, I just want to also, say thankyou for sharing that. It helps me understand why we get a little crossed up, sometimes. What is comfort and strength to me has been taught to you as degredation and pain. I love the psalms and it hurts to understand how all of that has been mistranslated into your life. Please, forgive me for the times that I was insensitive because of my ignorance. I didn’t know how I was hurting you when all I was doing was offering you that which comforts and strengthens me. Please, know my heart toward you is good and disreguard my words, as much as possible, when they sound otherwise to you.

Love,
Pam

40

Dear Pam..

Thank you for your kind words and I never thought in any way that you were trying to hurt me.. Many times I realize people say things only because they don’t understand .. and I was hesitant to tell since I am waiting to open that to my T but the subject was opened.. on self harm. and I know how much I have harmed myself in so many ways.. I was brainwashed to believe hurting myself was holy.. just as when I was a little child I was told suffering the abuses was holy.bringing me closer to god. ONe has only to read some catholic books about nuns or men who were saints and you will see how they held up suffering.. how suffering is glorified .. how its the quickest path to God’s heart and since I was taught obedience means never questioning. I accepted all the commentaries as gospel truth. .I was being formed into a little ‘nothing’ of a person.. brainwashed to believe that the more i suffered . the more pain i endured the closer I was to god.. I was taught that one should never speak of oneself in a positive way but humbly as though i was nothing.. I was to consider myelf the”scum of the earth” and that wasn’t too hard to do . since mom told me this all my life. .It is not just a few years that i believed this but every year up to the point of meeting my dear therapist who i am so grateful to.. I really have a great undoing to do but am glad its not by myself i have to do it.. i need someone with healthy vision to help me see what I am blinded to.. Thank god for my t..i love her dearly.. but can’t really say that but i do appreciate her so immensely

I love you too Pam for always reaching out and understanding me. .IF I have not responded quickly its only because i dont know how .. i cry alot as everything hits home so very much right now. everything is falling on me all at once. .I want to run and hide but theres no where to go but to look at it and do the best I can with it.

I know we share many similarities and seeing that you have come out fine gives me hope someday too I will be .everyone here is a blessing to me. Darlene is an angel .. i love her too.
I guess i love everyone .. almost 😉

well thank you . for helping me feel valued. .as its not easy to . when all this stuff is tangled up inside me.

Joy

ps.. know that nothing you have said is hurting me. and if it hurts. remember sometimes to be healed we have to hurt first.. like when the doctor gives us a needle to cure our colds.

41

Joy, You’re right about the pain necessary to heal. The analogy of salt in a wound fits that pain nicely. There is nothing that prevents infection from setting up in a would like rubbing salt in it and there is also nothing that hurts more. Tears are salty and good for keeping infection out of emotional wounds. Tears clean our wounds and laughter heals them. I like it when I get past the cleansing part and into the healing part. Someday, your tears will be turned to laughter. You are on your way to healing.

Yeah, I turned out okay but I haven’t fully arrived. I guess I’ll be working on that and growing until the day I die. It is very hard for me to distinquish healing and growing from each other. I believe that you also are healing and growing.I’m glad I haven’t hurt you more.

Love,
Pam

42

Hi Pam:

I sure shed lots of tears.. making up or lost time I suppose..before I wasn’t allowed to cry ; but now that I am allowed they fall and fall ( the tears ) .

Thank you for all your encouragement. 🙂

Love

Joy

43

Wow…sometimes life has the strangest timing. Yesterday I got a message from my mom whom I haven’t seen or spoken to since May. She said that she was filing for bankruptcy and wanted to take my name off of her bank account and to take her name off of mine. Her reasons were that she didn’t want me to be affected (lie) and she didn’t want them to think that she had more money than she really did (sounds more like the truth).

I immediately began to get a pounding headache just as Patricia described in dealing with her dad. Right away I took out a piece of paper and began to dissect what I was feeling and why. Finally I said to myself, “I have done nothing wrong,” and felt the tension ease a little. Eventually I also told myself, “And there’s nothing that you need to do to fix anything,” and I felt the headache go away.

Throughout the day, anytime I felt that panic come back and the headache and body ache return I would say these things to myself and I felt better. I really believe that subconsciously I was falling back into that old pattern of pleasing my abuser and sacrificing myself for her good. As I wrote down my feelings and talked to myself I realized that I did feel responsible for her and her problem. I felt like it was my fault that she was in trouble, even though it had nothing to do with me.

I really, really believe that a lot of the sickness and pain I have felt was because of a deep down sense of guilt and failure.

44

Robin, That’s incredible. I know that when I allowed my parents to move onto my property, my whole life went downhill and when they left, everything improved, including my health. I have been wondering a lot about that lately and trying to answer why. I wasn’t the only one affected by it but my husband and children too. I can’t really explain all of it. It seems that there was a maleviolent presense that came and went with them. Emotions are powerful and negative ones have the power to destroy.

45

Hi pam

I woke late after having been awake earlier at 3.. have been fighting ab bug and so am not myself.. this morning i got a wake up call. I am grateful in one way for the call but upset with myself for not allowing it to go to voicemail

I did *69 to see the number from which the caller ( mom ) had used but it was block .

The whole call lasted maybe 20 seconds.. I was not myself i have a fever and so i just picked it up thinking maybe my boss is wondering. am late starting work. so i just picked up .. said ” hello” and my lovely mom said ” I wish you would disappear from the face of the earth” and hung up.

I sat there with my phone in my hand and asking myself why did i pick up the phone. but then i said must i live my life afraid all my life that if i pick up the phone I am going to be abused..

If I pick up the phoone I may get an earful.

I cannot change my phone number as it would take one weeks time .it would throw me out of my bundled package and leave me paying too much money .

I am thinknig there must be another way.but after so much time. .why in the world would any mother wish such bad things on her daughter.. why can she not stop the nonsense.. would she really feel good .. complete..happy if I followed through?

I would never do such a thing. as am very much Pro-life.. but it hurts me to the core..when I am sick and not feeling well to get wakened to such a message.

She didnt say anythign beyond that..hung up ..herself.. I cannot block her number as she blocked it somehow ..

joy

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i really feel ..for my abuser..mom.. that if i would die it would help her move on. .i am a reminder .. I cannot talk her into sense.. it hurts me that there is nothing I can do to make her see the past is past.. I cannot do anything as she will not see .. as long as “I am ” she sees her mistake which she says is my mistake..it’s such a mess but i know there is nothing I can do that will be good enough or be appreciated or applauded by her . .I have to let go and letting go . .of hoping she will change is so against me as a person its hard . as i have so often believed one can always hope.. . miracles don’t always happen..its hard to accept this! .. but i need to please. pray for me.
joy

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Joy, I will pray for you. It isn’t your fault that your mom did that. She is responsible. I know that I could never figure out my parents or understand why they do what they do and I’m not capable or responsible for changing them. I am responsible for me and for taking care of and protecting me. I love my family through prayer and ask God to change their hearts, knowing that God is a gentleman and won’t force that change upon them either but patiently wait for them to come to the right decision. That’s what I’m doing also, from a distance that is safe and healthy for me. It isn’t anything wrong in you that makes your mom say such things. It is her problem to deal with and answer for. It makes me feel sad that you were hurt again.

Take good care of yourself and get well.

Love,
Pam

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Pam

I am doing better as the afternoon warms things up… i don’t see reconcilation coming in this life so am going to try to move on with mine best I can..

Love

joy

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Joy, me too. I’m glad you’re feeling better. That cold seems to be making the rounds…

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Pam

I have been trying to avoice if for a week but I don’t take rest as I need to..Need to practice some of the things T is teaching me like self-care which is so so opposite of all drilled in my head.. wish i could just empty it all at once..get a vacuum cleaner and pull it allout .. the bad stuff..

I must say despite the nastiness of the phone call this morning.. I am grateful a little as I overslept and would have been very late.. if i hadn’t gotten my wake up call..Even bad stuff has a little good in it..

And her hatefulness is not so bad as i am so used to being hated it doesnt hurt as bad ..

joy

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Joy, It’s always good to look for the positive. It helps us endure the rest. People who hate, hate themselves and view all others through that self-hate, I think. It seldom has anything to do with their target for hatred. Me, I just hate haters.lol! Really, I don’t hate anyone. I hate a lot of things that people do but not the people themselves, no matter how angry I may be with them.

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Pam, me either, i dont hate anyone but i hate the actions that hurt others.. I believe in love so much that i feel it’s because I believe in loving everyone that i end up so badly hurt so often. i dont know . I try to trust everyone .. believing everyone has good in them and then that gets me into problems.. joy

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Joy, It is possible to learn to love others within boundaries that keep us safe. Loving also doesn’t depend upon the presense of good in others or in trusting ourselves to that preceived good. I trust God as being good and love others from that source of my own love. A lot of people aren’t capable of keeping my trust even if they really want to. All people have some degree of brokeness. Many people are broken and completely unaware of it. I think we have to learn to see ourselves as God sees us and loves us then we can learn to love others in a safe manner.I trust very few people but I trust the power of love.

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Pam

I don’t see trust as first in loving. I see loving as first then then trusting.. I dont think you need to trust someone to love them.. After all we “love our eneemies” and surely wouldn’t trust them. I think love opens doors..sometimes it to trust and more understanding and other times to hurt and more brokenness..I think love means you open yourself to the possibility of being broken .. I can’t ever stop loving as i truly believe it’s that part of me. loving that makes me you and everyone else like God.: the loving.. how to stop people from taking what i give and hurting me. I dont know am trying to get to learn this with T .some people maybe we can only love from a long long distance and without communication. that way we can be safe.. others we can love really close up as there is no danger of hurt..this is what i am learning.. but i have yet long way to go to learn which people to keep in my silent love and which to draw to my communicating love ..:)
i do love every one but i know i cannot trust everyone .. am ony learning this. love doesnt mean to trust everyone..it just means you do good .. and there are different degrees and different ways of doing this i suppose..’)

joy

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Joy, I view trust as being necessary for a healthy relationship. I can love people without having a close relationship or even, any relationship at all. I have an attitude of love toward everyone and trust is formed between me and another when love is returned. There are many degrees of love and trust. There is a part of me that I only give to God. He is the only one capable of loving me perfectly thereby, being worthy of my complete trust. God is love and He also has rules for relationship. I have studied those closely and that is my pattern for setting boundaries and choosing who to enter into close relationships with. I love unconditionally but I no longer participate in unconditional relationships. There was a time when I did and it nearly killed me. I think you’ve been there too. We don’t have to give ourselves away to others. I give myself to God, my needs are met, and the needs of those whom I love are also served.

That is my way of putting it all into perspective. Because of being scape-goated and made the family sin-eater, I had all the issues of trust, love, service to others out of perspective. God didn’t become a part of my life until I was almost 20 years old. I didn’t go to church for ten years after that. Most of my healing has been through my one-on-one relationship with God. Often, there was no human being to help me but I could always read my Bible, pray and see what God had to say about my problem. I got confused when others started trying to wedge themselves into that one-on-one relationship and telling me what they thought God thought of me and what I should do to please Him. I think you’ve had those kind of people in your life for your entire life. When I quit listening to all of those other voices and started to listen to what God had to say to me personally again, I found my way out of the confusion. That’s why He is the only one I trust completely and that trust gives me the security I need to love others unconditionally, just as He loves me unconditionally. I hope all that makes sense.:0/

I think you are growing daily, Joy. By leaps and bounds, actually. You’ve come a long way. Much of your brokenness has already begun to mend.Every day you will become stronger.

Love,
Pam

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I had to take a very close look at what my definition of love was in the first place. I was taught that “love” was many things that it was NOT. The bible has great definitions of love, but I had been taught them wrong too; they were all twisted and manipulated. I had been taught them the way that would make ME the most compliant. Finding the true definition of love was a shocker for me and went miles towards my healing.
Hugs, Darlene

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Darlene, That’s true for me also. That is a bisic redefinition. It was amazing when I discovered that God loved me for my good and not for what He wanted from me. Unconditional love was completely new to me. I also learned what the love of a parent should be for their child by that redefinition.

Love,
Pam

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[…] Sorry Doesn’t Automatically Cancel the Damage By Darlene Ouimet Last week I published a guest Post by Pam about Self Abuse and how sometimes we “learn to be self abusive” by the ways we are treated as children. I […]

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Hi Everyone
I wrote a new post that was inspired by the conversation on this post.
It is about when people say they are “sorry” and that even when they are totally sincere, the damage is not canceled. There is still healing to do. On the flip side, healing is not prevented when the person who did the damage doesn’t say they are sorry.

please read the post here: Saying Sorry Doesn’t Automatically Cancel the Damage

Hugs, Darlene
Founder of Emerging from Broken

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[…] posts by Pam ~ How I learned to Self Abuse ~ Profile of a spiritual […]

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Hello Everyone!
I just published a new post by Pam!! This new post is about Emotional Neglect and it’s a good one!
You can read it here: The black hole of Emotional Neglect
Hugs, Darlene

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Wow, I really related to that story. I’m so glad you shared it with us, thanks 🙂

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You’re welcome, Jennifer!

Pam

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Thank you and I am grateful to the Lord that he has promised to restore all that abuse takes from us, as only He can and He uses others who have suffered abuse to help bring healing from that brokenness. For years I thought I had to stay in an abusive situation out of fear of not doing the christian thing and wait for God to change the situation…

But I finally realized through some great information concerning abuse that I had to leave the abusive situation and that I had to protect my self, and respect myself enough to leave … I really think I would have just lived a living death with no hope under the heavy rock of abuse that almost destroyed the beautiful heart and person I am.

I had guilt and deep fear that I had failed as a Christian not to stay and let God work it out. this is how very low my self esteem and self care were. Staying would have only made my situation worse…The more authentic I became the worse the abuse became from my abuser.

I thank God every day for the courage and grace He provided for me one of those being access to information about what verbal abuse was and the 15 different kinds of it which exsist. I was confused and in a state of shock not understanding what was actually occuring from years of abuse. I began to see that leaving behind a beautiful materialistic home and financial security was a good choice and a healthy choice. There were many many tears and hardships, still, but It was the only choice on the way to wholeness. i know this to be true, the name of the Lord is a strong tower and the righteous run into it and are safe….and He has provided for all my needs.

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Hi Lynn, I think many people stay in abusive situations for the very same reasons that you describe. It’s true that God hates divorce and for families to be broken apart but God also, hates abuse and putting up with abuse only makes a bad situation worse. Sometimes, it gets confusing but if we keep in mind that Jesus is Truth and we focus on the truth, it’s easier to make the right decisions. I believe that God always honors us when we take action based on the truth. There is no truth in living a life of pretense that protects abusers. I’m glad you found your way to freedom and wholeness.

Pam

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I think that this is a great post…Thanks so much everyone for sharing the damage that an abusive past, and abusive parents do..It helps me so much..especially having also been brought up by abusive and harmful parents.

I can only remember a handful of memories from my childhood, because I survived by blocking many experiences out. Though I get flashbacks that still sadden and appal me in relation to what I had to grow dealing with. I lived in a home where two abusive alcoholics were wrapped up in their own world of one upmanship. But that wasn’t enough for them, they also had to play myself and my siblings against each other, and they also loved to make me a scapegoat in too many ways to explain here right now.

I have a few memories, and they are mostly related to the most violent incidents, like for example, my father banging my mothers head off their bedroom wall, because she wouldn’t submit and satisfy him, or a time when he made a bonfire out of all our wrapped up christmas presents, and then he threw a coat my mother had spent two years making out of pieces of fur onto it, all because he claimed that she flirted at a party they had been to. They lived in a world of mutual rage alcohol and abuse, with my father usually winning. There were many more of those kinds of incidents, but its still all a bit of a blur, because I know that in order to survive, that I isolated into a kind of world of my own and I blocked a lot out.

Although we were washed and well dressed to present well to the world, myself and my four siblings, were completely damagingly deprived and abused, psychologically spiritually and emotionally, and we were most often criticised ridiculed or ignored. Just one memory I have is after visiting relatives far from our home, that my parents left me behind after stopping off in a hotel, and I can remember enjoying the kindness of the staff looking after me, as kindness was something very alien to me, and then I remember many hours later, my parents returning to collect me, saying sorry but that they hadn’t noticed that they had left me behind.

One of my mothers favourite forms of abuse, was to do things like ask, what would you like for christmas? and when you’d tell her, ie a special kind of doll, she would then say on the day, open your present! and I would get all excited, and then in the present I’d find a dolls dress, and then she’d say, oh dear, better luck next year. Then all I’d remember of Christmas was crying. Or another example of my mothers abuse, was when I had a cough which annoyed her, she convinced a doctor that I needed my tonsils taking out, and then all I can remember, is being in hospital in severe pain, feeling very very alone, coughing up blood, and my mother never visited me once.

Both my parents were alcoholics, and in later years, my mother got my older sister to drink herself to death with her. My sister died from cirrhosis of the liver, aged 43, and my mother incredibly, is still alive now age 86, and she now likes to joke about how my sister was her own worst enemy by drinking herself into an early death. When my sister only drank with my mother, hoping to get her love by doing so.

I only have contact with her right now. Only because she refuses to go into a home, and shes now in a wheelchair, and its fallen solely on me to help keep her alive, much as I don’t want to.

I have been in counselling for years to try to undo the damage my parents did. I can totally relate Pam, to wanting to be invisible, to avoid the pain. Via drugs via lack of trusting anyone for real, via isolating etc..Even though I feel that I can be very proud of myself to still be here, and to still be learning and growing, I am still constantly trying to learn self care ongoing, because yes Darlene, because I feel unworthy of it, and because I was never taught what that means. I live in Ireland, where alcohol is a huge problem, but my parents also gave us eggnog when we were sick at a very young age, as if it was a caring helpful medicine. It was loaded with whiskey and should never have been given to a child ever!. They also laid out a table when we were very young on special occasions, laden with alcohol, and it was a given that we could help ourselves. Totally irresponsible.

I still struggle daily to self love, and self care, and I’m still in counselling. Though one thing I am very very proud of, is that I took on my sisters two children when she died, and alongside my own child, I put my all into making sure that they were all nurtured, heard, and cared for, in every single way possible, with all the information and help I could get. I now have three young adults in my life, who all appear to be very stable, articulate, confident, outgoing wise and cheerful, and none are abusing drugs or alcohol.

Thankfully we can break the cycle, even though I feel that I am always going to struggle with insisting to myself, that I am worthy valuable and lovable..I am so grateful that there is such a thing as counselling.

I also think that although I’m not an atheist, that it would be a shame that people emphasising God so much in this post, could possibly alienate an atheist. I think that all people helping each other to heal, regardless of their faith or beliefs, is imperative for us all..and thank you Darlene for always remaining objective, while also being able to be open and subjective. This site is so validating to me. Thank you all.

Ps. This link helped me a lot especially in relation to my mother, I hope that it might also help someone else.

http://www.fortrefuge.com/Emotional-Abuse-Narcissistic-Mothers.html

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