Year-End Confessions: A Private Pain

candle

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Nearly two years ago to the day, I picked up the phone and dialed a therapist. I was suicidal. My mom had called me three months before with news that my father had cheated on her…again. She was distraught. I was distraught. She called me at work, sobbing hysterically. Dad called me at home, moaning about the mess he had made of things. Meanwhile, my husband worked weekly rotating shifts for the Navy, often off when I was away, completely absent 2 or 3 days out of the week–falling asleep whenever we tried to talk to each other.

I was drowning.

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When I Carry Him

When we were young and enamored.

When we were young and enamored

A couple of nights ago, I had a dream about my husband. In this dream, hubby was trying to help me with chores around the house. But he was very tired and, out of his exhaustion, kept doing nonsensical things that served only to frustrate me and add to my workload. At the end, he stood next to the stove talking to me as I prepared dinner.

Suddenly, his eyes closed and he slumped facedown toward the pots of boiling liquid. I caught him just in time and guided him safely to the floor. But what to do now? I needed to get him upstairs to bed, but in real life, he weighs about 100 lbs. more than I do. I can barely lift our 5-year-old, who weighs only 50 lbs.

But in my dream, I decided to try anyway. Continue reading

I Would Have Defended My Abuser, Too

jessa**Content Note: If you are a survivor of child sex abuse, particularly involving incest, and you haven’t begun or completed your healing process, please take extra care when reading this post. Detailed discussion of abuse and its effects.** 

Today, I read about Jill and Jessa Duggar’s recent interview on Fox News, where they talked about their abuse experience and how they’ve forgiven their brother Josh for molesting them. According to the articles I’ve read, the young women minimized what was done to them, saying that Josh was merely “sexually curious” and that the abuse wasn’t that bad.

Honestly, this does not surprise me at all. Had a TV reporter sat down with me at age 24, I would have said pretty much the same thing.

Here is my story:
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Don’t Worry about God

Lately, I’ve been receiving emails and messages from readers, thanking me for addressing the topic of sexual abuse on this blog. Despite being a survivor myself, I sometimes feel woefully inadequate to offer comfort whenever people share their stories (though I very gladly do). These feelings of inadequacy come from the place inside of me that is still wounded, from a pain that occasionally throbs so deep that I wonder if healing is actually a thing. I know that it is. I catch glimpses of it at times. It’s the moments when I sink into the dark that I start to wonder.

Today, a reader messaged me with her story. She said she had reacted so badly to her abuse, she now wonders if God has left her. It is a sentiment I hear often. Survivors carry so much guilt and shame that it’s difficult to believe anyone, especially God, would agree to stick around. Continue reading

Rethinking Joy

A dark night of the soul is this, sans light bulb.

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned my dark night of the soul. The news is, I’m still in it. And where I am is black. Pitch black. Moonless, starless, candle-less nothingness. I’ve never experienced a crisis of faith quite this deep, long or disconcerting. I’m not sure where the end of this thing is.

The other day, I asked myself what it would look like if I really loved myself. All of myself. The way God loves me. And in that moment, 90% of my theology fell apart. I realized that while I had experienced some of the best things in my church upbringing, I had also experienced some of the worst. There’s very little room for self-love or self-acceptance (let alone acceptance of others) in the doctrine of my denomination. I was always taught the JOY acronym: Jesus first, others second, yourself last. Except, like much of everything in evangelicalism, it’s arranged in a hierarchy. JOY is spelled vertically. Jesus is at the top, others are below that, and you are the bottom of the totem pole. It’s the trickle-down economics of love. You give most of your devotion to Jesus, then some to others, and hopefully have enough for yourself afterwards. Continue reading