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I Never Felt Loved – A Testimony

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Written by Belinda – Angels by Grace Pub. March 1997

My abuse started around the age of eight or nine, by one of my closest Uncles. This Uncle was everybody’s dream father. He helped with homework, played sports, went swimming, fishing, and so on.

My Aunt treated me as if I were her own. She took me shopping and bought me things, helped me with homework, took me to church with all its activities, and she was teaching me about believing in God. I got Baptized, too.

Because my parents always fought, would separate and then get back together, I felt my Aunt and Uncle’s home was my safe haven. There was no fighting or hitting taking place. They ate dinner together, it was like a dream home where people were family. Then my Uncle started molesting me and that’s when everything went wrong.

My relationship changed with my Aunt, it wasn’t as strong any more. I was afraid she would figure out what my Uncle was doing. I feared going to their house and was afraid to go to sleep while there, or even go to the bathroom alone.

I seemed to be afraid of a lot of things, afraid someone would look in the window, afraid my Aunt would be angry at me and not love me any more. And my Uncle seemed like he didn’t care if he was caught. Yet I felt like I was the guilty one. Knowing the abuse was wrong but being scared people would blame me.

For a year and a half my Uncle grabbed, touched me in places he shouldn’t, as well as making sexual remarks. Then my father began abusing me and that lasted until I was fourteen years old.  My father seemed like he’d turned into this evil man. I couldn’t reason with him, no amount of crying or begging helped. It was like he had no feelings.

Some of my father’s abuse took place on his boat. Hundreds of happy people walking just feet from where he was abusing me and I’d think, “Why doesn’t someone stop! Somebody come in here and help me.” When it was over I hated walking outside because I felt like everyone knew what had just happened and I felt so embarrassed.

What I really can’t understand and what really hurts me is that my mother had caught him abusing me on two separate occasions. My grandmother had also caught him and merely said, “He’ll quit.” But he didn’t. That’s when I lost all hope and faith that he would ever be stopped. He did finally stop abusing me when he and my mother divorced, but then I guess I was in “shut down.” All my survivor skills kicked in and I no longer cried, no more begging, nothing mattered. I had been an A and B student, but I no longer cared for school. I hung out with older crowds, drank, stayed out all night. I thought there was only one way for the boys to like you.

I met the man I married and I suddenly felt loved. Of course I depended on him to make me happy because I didn’t know how to be happy. Some years into the marriage I suddenly didn’t want to be left alone, not even for him to go to work. I started remembering some of the things from the past and I was so unhappy. It was like nothing could make me happy!

I refused to face the past, thinking, “All that’s in the past, it isn’t happening now.” I was in big denial that the abuse was the cause of so many of my problems. I did start seeing a counselor but I continued to feel un-loved, out of place, unhappy, and that no-one cared for me.

I couldn’t make decisions, I felt like I was just floating through life with no purpose, just waiting for it all to end. I couldn’t accept that I was going to have to face my pain and it was almost un-thinkable that I would have to do just that.

I’d tell my counselor, “I’m not angry, I’m not hurt. I feel sorry for my abusers.” Recognizing my anger was real hard for me. I felt like it was betraying my family. My family didn’t deserve any anger from me! I’ve worked on many areas of hurt in counseling. One being, I couldn’t talk about this part of my life with my husband. I didn’t want to share or for him to know I had been abused. I fought with my feelings about not telling him, yet I felt my reasons were justified. What I really felt was that he wouldn’t love me any more if he knew.

My counselor told me many times, “Go home and talk with your husband about this.” My reply was always the same, “I can’t! I’d rather jump off a bridge!” But somehow she got us to go to family counseling and its been going well.  My husband is my number one supporter.

For so long I fought the feelings that would rise up in me and felt there was no hope of ever getting past the abusive past. I felt there was just too much damage done, but I was wrong. Therapy has been very helpful.

After a while I started noticing that I paid attention when God was mentioned. I’d even catch myself praying for His help and guidance. You see, I always said, “There can’t be a God. Why would He let it happen to little girls?” Then I’d think, “Okay, He let it happen, but why make me suffer and not them?” It seemed like I was the one being punished. But then one day I realized I was angry at God. I won’t say I’m completely happy with where I am with Him now, but I’m on the right road and still learning.

I met a lady during the time I was in the hospital and she and I became very good friends. We sat up and talked all night and once when I was really upset she said, “Belinda, you know Someone has been watching over you. Because if not you probably wouldn’t be around today.” That really sticks out to me. Now when things get tough and I don’t think I can go on I ask God to please help me and guide me. Then, somehow, I get through it and the next day is a little brighter.

I feel my accomplishments have been numerous. I no longer deny my feelings (most of the time.) I can at least identify them and can put some of the shame where it belongs. My relationship with my husband and children is much better. I try to listen to myself and believe my pain does exist and it’s okay to hurt. I have hope and I’m trying to find out who “me” is.

The most difficult part of healing for me right now is my relationship with my mother. I loved her so much and I just needed her to say, “Its going to be okay.” Instead, she refuses to accept that I didn’t want the abuse or the damage that the abuse has caused. That’s very hurtful for me. I can’t pretend it didn’t happen so I struggle with feelings of guilt, fearing I’m hurting my family. They believe, “It’s all in the past, so let it go.” That makes me feel alone and that my family doesn’t love me.

I try to remember that my husband and children do care and want me to heal. I have them. I’m working on issues of my family and those losses. Letting go of that fantasy family and childhood, yet realizing “normal family” can’t be.

If someone called me on the phone and asked for my advice, I’d tell them, “Don’t deny your feelings. Things will get better and easier. Follow your heart, you deserve healing.” And I would cry for them and just let them talk until they couldn’t talk any more. And I’d let them know Someone is watching over them.

My work has been hard and I know I have only one way to go. I would choose to heal again if I had to because I’m just getting a glimpse of who I really am. I know when I am through healing I’m finally free from my childhood and its pain. My husband, children, and I can truly be happy.

I’m working very hard on my relationship with God. I am forever grateful for the people who have helped me. My husband, for standing by me and not giving up. My best friend ____, who listened and pulled the truth from me. ____for all those encouraging talks, and the work that my counselor has done. For my angels, Sue and Kay, who took the time to help and understand. I look at them and think, “It does get better. They can laugh and smile and be themselves.” So they are a big inspiration.

I’ve always thought about angels and to me it seems kind of strange that I landed at Angels Group Support Group for help, and I’m receiving it. I’m hoping for everyone to receive the healing we all deserve. Keep me in your prayers as I’ll keep you in mine.

Belinda

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Note: With Belinda’s counselor and our support Belinda pressed charges against her abuser. He pled guilty and was sent to prison.

 

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elah501c@bellsouth.net

Blessings to you.

A Precious Gift – Testimony

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Written by Mari Levitt-Helms – Angels by Grace Pub. July 2003

Growing up I often heard how selfish I was, most often when I was depressed. To an extent I will agree with depression being a little self-centered. How could it not be when you are caught in your own black hole of despair and hopelessness?

Early in my life I started going to counseling and at 32 I’m still going. Just last week I was caught in a black hole of hopelessness about the amount of time that I’ve spent in counseling – more than half my life. Then it was brought to my attention that my journey in recovery is a gift I give my husband, my daughter, and myself.

In all honesty my progress in therapy prior to Christian counseling was mediocre at best. When I accepted Christ and invited Him into my heart, life and recovery-I could see dramatic changes.

After many years of longing to be a mother, God has blessed me with a wonderful daughter. I never dreamed how amazing or how difficult it would be. Just days after she was born I learned some of the difficulties I would face as a Mom and a survivor.

My daughter continually triggers me ( through no fault of her own). One of the greatest things I wish to accomplish as a mother is not ever making her feel responsible for my feelings. Often I find myself looking at her and wondering what it was like for me at her age and mourning for the loss of my childhood. I wonder how my mother felt knowing what was happening to me and not stopping it. It is incomprehensible for me to think about not protecting my precious, innocent daughter.

Sometimes I feel totally incompetent to be responsible for another human being and it is so easy to get caught up in all the triggers and fears, but I have given myself a gift – to seek Christian counsel. Not only through prayer, but with someone I know loves Christ as much as I do and helps ground me in my life and “mothering.” She helps keep me balanced in what God truly wants and in my distorted ideas of what I think He wants. She also helps when I have a tendency to overcompensate for something I lacked.

God has given me so many beautiful gifts, most significantly the gift of His Son for my salvation. This is a gift I would not have appreciated years ago, because I didn’t even appreciate being alive. Through counseling I have come to appreciate, love and even enjoy life. His love for me as my heavenly Father has more than made up for what I lacked. He has given me insight and wisdom to know when I seek the help of other Christians and not let the old tapes play in my head about how selfish I’m being. He has blessed me with many wonderful people who guide and love me through my struggles rather than judge or condemn me. It’s a precious gift He has given me, a precious gift I give myself and hopefully a precious gift I give to my daughter.

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elah501c@bellsouth.net

Blessings to you.

“Which way do I turn?” – A Testimony

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Written by Kelley – Angels by Grace Publication-June 1998

Have you ever been bombarded with questions stemming from abuse, in any form, and there was nowhere to turn? Opening up to friends or your counselor just didn’t seem to help at all? Yet the questions do not go away and it is torment. Every person needs a safe place to turn when dealing with any issue. Yet, I have come to realize friends or counselors aren’t always aware of our needs to open up, no matter how childish it seems.

God has allowed me to see that I have been looking to people to meet the emotional needs in my life. Needs such as,  knowing what it’s like to have someone put their arms around me and say they love me when I feel crappy about myself. Having someone to hold me and let me cry out without judging me, or reassuring me when things aren’t going well. We all need this.

All these needs stem from what we didn’t get growing up. If we are saved, spiritually, then in that regard we know (or should know) who we are in Christ. If we are a man or a woman, we know because the evidence is there.

Where is the turmoil at? It is our emotions. There is a big gap between our spirit and our physical bodies. The emotions are there and they are damaged, which brings doubt, insecurity, fears, etc.  Satan has his fun by doing everything in his power to prevent us from getting out what we really feel. He does this by getting us to focus on the situations in our lives, instead of focusing on Christ.

A good example of this is me being without a job for a little over six months. The first thought is survival and that results into not tithing, for example. It is easy for me to trust God when things are going great because I feel like He loves me. However, when a trial hits that means depending on Him, it is now the hardest thing to tithe. But tithing is my responsibility no matter what happens.

After the not tithing issue, my value as a person takes a beating as never before. Satan will use looking for a job as a way to compound the emotions of rejection, feelings of not having any abilities that would interest someone enough to hire me, etc.

Who does a person turn to after finding out that the things of the world, friends or counselors can’t help or stop the pain? The Person to turn to is God! As much as I cover my true emotions up with anger, He is the only One I can turn to. I honestly can’t say the blank feeling with people is His fault because God knows the right people to bring into my life.

However, when there is no other safe place to turn, He is our refuge. Kirk Talley does a song called, “Sometimes a Soldier Cries.” Its message is that it is okay for a soldier to cry, not feel strong, etc. And that we can turn to God’s arms of love.

Do I ever feel His arms around me or His love? No! However, God really uses music to comfort me, to remind me of His love, that His arms are really there. Yes, I have been frustrated with things I have gone through involving job hunting, things in life, and counseling. I can honestly say that God’s purpose was to get me to realize He is the only place I can truly turn and just be me. I really believe that His love is going to flood my emotional hurts in such a way that I will never be the same and that the torments of thoughts will be less and less.

Recently, God allowed me to attend a funeral of a nine-year old boy. One of the preachers there shared a very touching sermon and it hit home for me. He talked about Job and how Job never blamed God. The preacher also shared about God’s Sovereignty in the boy’s death.  He pointed out that in God’s Word that our days are numbered and that the car accident was the means of God calling His child home.

How does this relate to abuse of any nature? Very simple. We have a Sovereign God who is in control. Yes, we could go into the question of if He’s so Sovereign, why did He let it happen? I have wanted to do that many times in an angry way because it hurts so much. God understands me doing that but, it would be my way of covering up the tears, the pain, and the need to release these feelings even though I’m scared.

There is no reason to blame God and get into the “What if’s” concerning myself or any circumstances that contributed to it. There is only forgiveness and letting His love flood my emotions. I know that God will always remind me of these things daily as a source of encouragement because He knows that I have the worst habit of focusing in on the circumstances and other people instead of focusing on Him.

 

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elah501c@bellsouth.net

Blessings to you.

False Memory Syndrome

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Many of us grew up in homes where Satan’s influences were more prevalent than Christ’s. All forms of abuse took place and for those who have experienced abuse, particularly sexual abuse, coping mechanisms and defense mechanisms can take place within the victim.

In the case of sexual abuse the victim can repress those memories so deeply that as an adult she/he may “forget” the abuse occurred. But it isn’t that easy because our brains don’t forget. Like a computer, even though we delete something, it’s still hidden somewhere in the hard drive. It will come up at sometime with the right buttons pushed!

The victim may eventually go for counseling for depression or anger issues or any number of reasons. One in particular is feelings that “something happened” or flash backs of abuse begin to occur. Others may know they were abused but can’t recall everything and the family members deny vehemently that nothing happened and “you’re making it up.” Which places the victim in a dilemma of “am I making this up or did it really happen?”

In my case I had to sit down and think back over the years I could remember. Yes, I had definite memories of places, approximate ages, and was having dreams that brought out a few incidents,  plus the fact that a sister was also abused even though my mother was denying that I was abused. I went through the stages of “he wouldn’t do that, it didn’t happen, I have to be making this up.” Yet I couldn’t deny that what memories I had were in fact real and not just figments of my imagination.

There are some guidelines that I found useful in discerning the truth.

1. Who brought up sexual abuse in the therapy session?  Did you tell the counselor you had vague memories of abuse? Or did you seek counseling for some problem area and found the counselor “suggesting” sexual abuse as an answer? If your heart reveals thoughts, memories, inklings of an abusive background, follow your heart. I found that when a memory surfaced, it felt right, or it felt wrong. It explained a dream I never understood or a vague inkling of something I couldn’t pin down. If your counselor insists you were abused and that just doesn’t resonate with your heart, mind, and soul, pray about it. God will show you the truth. Consider seeking another counselor if this one continues to insist on abuse.

2. Think back over the early years. Has someone else in your family talked about, or hinted at abuse directed at them. Did a sister reveal that “Daddy was hurting her.?” Is there a tangible friction between your mother and you that you can’t explain as normal friction? In my case there seemed to be a “wall” between my mother and I that I didn’t understand. I know now it was because she knew of the abuse and turned a blind eye to it. Even though I had buried the memories somewhere in my brain I knew she knew. I’m not suggesting that if you and Mom don’t see eye to eye that you were abused and she knew and did nothing to protect you. I’m suggesting you seek God’s truth and He will reveal the reasons why you and Mom don’t see eye to eye. Unforgiveness for other hurts can be a reason. Another indicator can be that you don’t want to be alone with a particular person, especially someone you trusted, find out why.

3. Confrontation isn’t a good idea until you are absolutely certain of abuse. If through therapy exact memories of places and events have been revealed by you, not a therapist telling you they took place even though you don’t recall them, then and only then is confrontation a possibility. That is up to you. Don’t expect an apology or even confirmation of the abuse and do it only with the Lord’s guidance.

It is very difficult to admit that someone we trusted and loved has betrayed that trust and love. As adults we waiver between admitting the truth to ourselves and others. When we have come to face the horrors of the past it’s still very difficult to seek counseling or tell others of the abuse. To have to face the truth about the past destroys the image we have put in place of a “happy home”  or  “I had wonderful parents.” It is having to face betrayal of the worst kind and that isn’t easy.

False Memory Syndrome is very dangerous to those of us who lived, survived, real – not imagined -sexual abuse. Ask Christ to reveal His truths and you will know within your heart, Is this false? Is this truth? Don’t allow others to convince you it did not happen when in reality it did. And, don’t allow a counselor, or anyone, to convince you it did happen when in reality it did not. Lives can be destroyed by a false memory.

My Dad finally admitted what he did yet my mother was still in denial right up to her death.

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If you have confidential comments or questions feel free to e-mail me at: elah501c@bellsouth.net

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Blessings to you.