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, andΒ  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.

66 response to "How I learned to Self Abuse by Pam Witzemann"

  1. By: Pam Posted: 19th September

    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

  2. By: Jasmine Posted: 19th September

    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.

  3. By: Pam Posted: 19th September

    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.

  4. By: Jasmine Posted: 19th September

    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. πŸ™‚

  5. By: Pam Posted: 18th September

    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.

  6. By: Jasmine Posted: 18th September

    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.

  7. By: Pam Posted: 18th September

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

    Pam

  8. By: Pam Posted: 18th September

    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

  9. By: pati Posted: 18th September

    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!

  10. By: Samantha Posted: 18th September

    Pam how can someone contact you for speaking engagements.

  11. By: Pam Posted: 18th September

    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.

  12. By: Jasmine Posted: 18th September

    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 πŸ™‚

  13. By: Pam Posted: 17th September

    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

  14. By: Pam Posted: 17th September

    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…

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th September

      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

  15. By: Karen Posted: 17th September

    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!

  16. By: Pam Posted: 17th September

    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

  17. By: Pam Posted: 17th September

    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

  18. By: Veronica Posted: 17th September

    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.

  19. By: Amy Posted: 17th September

    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. πŸ™‚

  20. By: Jasmine Posted: 17th September

    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 πŸ™‚

  21. By: Pam Posted: 17th September

    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

  22. By: Amy Posted: 17th September

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

  23. By: Amy Posted: 17th September

    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. πŸ™‚ 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.

  24. By: Pam Posted: 16th September

    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

  25. By: Amy Posted: 16th September

    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.

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