Tag Archives: dreams

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 38)

My grandpa served in WW1, my dad in WW2, brothers and cousins in the Vietnam War and Cold War, cousins and nephews in the Gulf War and many campaigns on the War on Terrorism. Thank God, all returned home from their service, but not all returned home unscathed.

Firstly, for those reading who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces or as First responders, or family members of those who have served –thank you for your service! Your sacrifice to make America and the world a safer place is deeply appreciated.

A beloved nephew has wrestled with PTSD since his return home. Flashbacks and nightmares have haunted him. I may not completely understand his trauma and pain, but I can relate to it.

I have friends who for other reason are almost terrified to go to sleep at night for fear of what they might dream; and that anxiety makes it near impossible for them to fall asleep in the first place – let alone sleep restfully and peacefully when sheer exhaustion overtakes them.

I’ve had seasons of my life when I feared going to sleep at night – afraid of what I might dream or worse still, remember. I think this is one of the cruelest schemes of the enemy … the stealing of our sleep. And since he steals while we are in a diminished state of consciousness, we are powerless to do anything about it. Or that’s what I used to think. (More about that in the next post … probably the next post).

Right now, I’m reading Mark Batterson’s book “In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day (How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars)”. I’m only a few chapters in because I am finding so many nuggets of truth and wisdom that I want to chew on each one a while before moving to the next chapter, lest I overlook the very truth that I need to overcome the lions facing me today. Chapter 4 is entitled “Unlearning Your Fears” and it perfectly complements what the Lord put on my heart for this post.

If you’ll recall, at the beginning of this series (Of Dreams and Nightmares), I described two of my recurring dreams as “processing dreams” and “veiled remembrances”. By the time I was dreaming those dreams, I’d already been equipped with enough Scripture by Counselor John to know and trust that if Jesus allowed me to remember something, He would be there with me in the remembrance to help me deal with it. (Isaiah 43:1-3,13; Isaiah 54:4,14,17; Psalm 91; Philippians 1:28; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14-15, 1 Timothy 1:7). So even though I had some anxiety about the possibility of remembering something terrible that I didn’t really want to remember, I also wanted to know the truth about my past and understood that some of that truth might come by allowing my psyche to release fragmented memories of things that happened decades ago. With that understanding, I tried to embrace the process of remembering/processing, and I was able to lay my head down on the pillow at night and sleep because I had greater confidence in Jesus’s love for me than I had in any dream to derail my sanity (which was of course the taunt of the enemy – that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the truth or the lie he served up masquerading as the truth).

Of Dreams and Nightmares, partial reveal www.puttinghopetowork.com
Of Dreams and Nightmares, partial reveal

But there is more to the healing process just remembering, because if remembering alone brought healing then why would so many people need medication (physician or self-prescribed) to help deal with nightmares and night terrors, PTSD, panic attacks? Remembering nightmares would actually be a good thing, because those nightmares with their fragmented and sometimes veiled menories would be the process to healing, right?

“Almost like a hard drive with a computer virus, our minds have infected files. Irrational fears and misconceptions keep us from operating the way we were designed to. And if those fears and misconceptions aren’t uninstalled, they undermine everything we do.

Half of learning is learning. The other half of learning is unlearning. Unfortunately, unlearning is twice as hard as learning. … Unlearning is twice as hard, and it often takes twice as long. It is harder to get old thoughts out of your mind than it is to get new thoughts into your mind.”

~Mark Batterson, In A Pit With A Lion On A Stormy Day

Com’mon … that makes no sense whatsoever!

Remembering in and of itself does not bring healing. Remembering alone often feels like we are reliving the moment over and over again, it induces fear and terror and heightened anxiety.

No, my friend. It’s the remembering and processing while being overshadowed in the knowledge of how deeply we are loved by God that brings healing … for it is only by the power of His love that we can un-learn the fear that is tethered to those memories and allow faith in Jesus to over-write our memories and re-write our stories!

“Half of spiritual growth is learning what we don’t know. The other half is unlearning what we do know. And it is the failure to unlearn irrational fears and misconceptions that keeps us from becoming who God wants us to be.

The invalid in John 5 is a great example of the importance of unlearning. He had been crippled for thirty-eight years when Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well. But the man believed here was only one way to be healed:

“I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

This man made an assumption that may have cost him thirty-eight years! He had only one category for healing. … In a sense, he was imprisoned by what he knew. But Jesus uninstalled that mistaken belief with one sentence: “Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!”

Now, here is what you need to see. Jesus didn’t just set this man free physically. He set him free cognitively. Faith is unlearning the senseless worries and misguided believes that keep us captive. It is far more complex than simply modifying behavior. Faith involves synaptogenesis. Faith is rewiring the human brain.”

~Mark Batterson, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day

Mark goes on to explain that just like a computer’s memory periodically needs to be defragmented, our computer-like minds also need to be defragmented. And the way to do that is to upgrade the Operating Systems of our minds by downloading Scripture into our minds and spirits. Because when we read and meditate on Scripture (the Words and unshakeable Promises of God recorded for us), we are recruiting new nerve cells and rewiring neuronal connections. In short, “we stop thinking human thoughts and start thinking God’s thoughts!”

I’m really holding myself back folks – I’m tempted to quote the entire contents of Chapter 3 for you, it’s that good! But hopefully by now you get the gist.

STEP 1: Visualize Jesus with you in the circumstance.
STEP 2: Download a Superior Operating System
If we want to overcome the torment of dreams and nightmares, be it the result of PTSD or some other condition or experience, then we must (a) defragment our minds from the corrupt material that is playing/replaying in our heads (during waking or sleeping hours) and (b) download a Superior Operating System to overwrite fear altogether! And that superior SOS is the Word of God!

And with that, I’ll pause and allow you to chew on all this … maybe even go out and buy yourself a copy of In A Pit With A Lion On A Story Day 😊 and read it before my next post and the continuation of my story.

As always, I’m eager to hear your thoughts and reactions to this post – please drop me a comment below. Praying sweet sleep over you, with a calm and defragmented mind renewed daily by the Power of His Word living in you.

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All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 37)

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.'” (Psalm 55:4-8)

I wonder if the Psalmist was writing about things that were happening during his waking hours, or if he was writing about the terrors that come at night. Perhaps both, probably both. I’m certain the Psalmist had seen enough violence to be at least occasionally harassed in his sleep by nightmares.

The Mayo Clinic describes Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as “a mental condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”

Symptoms
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks.

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.
Intrusive memories
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event
Avoidance
Symptoms of avoidance may include:
Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
Negative changes in thinking and mood
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:
Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
Hopelessness about the future
Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
Difficulty maintaining close relationships
Feeling detached from family and friends
Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
Feeling emotionally numb
Changes in physical and emotional reactions
Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:
Being easily startled or frightened
Always being on guard for danger
Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
Trouble sleeping
Trouble concentrating
Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
Overwhelming guilt or shame

For children 6 years old and younger, signs and symptoms may also include:
Re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play
Frightening dreams that may or may not include aspects of the traumatic event

I have had recurring nightmares of one sort or another for most of my life. As a child, I had recurring dreams about a stick-figure man who came to my bed at night, and also dreams of my father jumping off a train to his death or accidentally falling and dying of a head wound. Not exactly normal dreams for a 8-9 year old!

When in my mid-late 20’s (after the death of my father), I began having a series of recurring dreams that were about “familiar but unrecognizable” places … places with labyrinths of interconnecting bedrooms, bedrooms where evil lived. I didn’t dream them every night – and often there would be gaps of weeks or even months between them. At first, I blamed them on yesterday’s dinner. But over time, I began to realize that I was dreaming of the same places over and over and over again. The places portrayed in them so familiar to me that I knew them almost as well as I knew my own home. I would frequently think to myself within the dream, or even say upon waking … “I’ve been there before.” And yet I knew of no places like these, so no – I’d never been there. They were just dreams, right?

IMG_20180908_143042064_HDR.jpg

In my 30’s (after finally divorcing my abusive 2nd husband (“T”), determined by the Courts to be a sociopath) I began having recurring dreams of someone/something visiting me at night, using my body for its pleasure. These dreams were particularly disturbing for me on a couple of fronts:

  1. Because they felt like “present day” experiences, meaning these did not feel like veiled remembrances of something from my past, but rather like I was being visited and violated now
  2. Because they were very difficult to wake up from, and therefore they seemed to continue well past the point when you’re awake enough to know that you’re dreaming, but not awake enough to get out of the dream. So there I would remain, in the dream, trying desperately to wake myself from the dream, so that I could open my eyes and confirm that it was only a dream.

In my last post, I mentioned moving with my daughters about an hour’s distance from “T”. In that beautiful coastal community, we found a fantastic church and we began to thrive.

One Sunday, the Pastor Daniel told of two sisters he met doing some missions work overseas. He described how one had been repeatedly violated by a family member, while the other sister (thought to be sleeping) was in the room and therefore a witness to her siblings abuse. Oh the torment of soul she carried, and Pastor noted that one doesn’t have to be the physical victim in order to be abused. As he shared that story, something within me began to violently shake and quake. I found it near impossible to breath, and before he finished I had practically ran out of the sanctuary – barely able to contain myself. “Is that what happened Lord?”, I asked. “Is that what was so upsetting to me at age 3?”

Fly Away
“Fly Away” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

It is an established truth that my sisters were abused (my dad didn’t deny it, and my sisters had full recollection of it). That they had memories and I didn’t made me somehow feel like I was “a poser” to say I’d been abused too. Hearing Pastor Daniel retell the experience of these two sisters, and my reaction to it, finally gave me courage to say “Yes, it happened to me too, I was abused too.”

I still had questions, for I still had very few memories of my childhood due to dissociative amnesia, but it was another step on the journey to truthfulness.

Thankfully the majority of people don’t have PTSD, recurring nightmares, or other symptoms common to trauma or abuse. But we ALL experience fear. And it is of FEAR, and the power of FEAR that I will write in my next post.

Until then, may the King of Peace overshadow you with His righteous right hand, and grant you sweet sleep.

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All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 36)

I suppose we all have similar wrestling’s when we dare to step out of our comfort zone and attempt to do something ‘bigger than ourselves.’ The last few weeks, a not-so-kind and not-so-small voice has been taunting me with questions like “Who are you to _____ (speak of life and liberty, hope and deliverance)? I know the truth about you.” So let’s just get this out of the way right now: I’m a flawed human. I’ve got junk, struggles, and issues. My life is a mix of highs and lows, failures and successes. And I still deal with many of the things I write about in my blog posts. Why?? Simple; because even though I may have gained a certain level of victory in these areas, we all know that ‘the devil don’t like losing!’ He is always, and I mean ALWAYS, trying to regain territory lost to him – be it 2000 years ago, 20 years ago, or 20 minutes ago.

“And I said, ‘this is my anguish, But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old, I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds; Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God?” ~Psalm 77:10-13

As I’ve been preparing to start this next series of posts on the subject of Dreams and Nightmares, which is really a focused continuation of my chronological testimony (aka “My Story”), the instructions of the Old Testament about ‘remembering’ have taken on new colors of meaning for me.

“Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’” ~Deuteronomy 4:9-10

To the enemy of my soul that taunts me for revisiting all these old wounds and places of soul torment, my response is: “I will not forget. I shall remember the works of the LORD, surely I will remember His wonders and of the miracles He performed on our behalf. He has brought us out and given us liberty as promised. Who is so great a God as my God!”

And with that as my confession (proclamation) of faith, let us begin …

Considering all I went through up to the age of 30 (I left “T” just a few months before my 31st birthday), I think it funny that it is THIS subject that brings tears to my eyes. I suspect that’s because by the very nature of dissociation, much of my childhood terrors seem very distant to me and at some level I was still practicing dissociation (or at least I was trying to) during the chaos taking place in my second marriage. As Counselor John once told me, “dissociation was a self-preservation mechanism needed to survive the abuse of my childhood … but the practices that saved me as a child were wreaking havoc in my adult life! I had to grow up and learn how to deal with my life”.

Well, in the early 1990’s, I was doing just that – growing up and learning to deal with my life. I left “T” mid-1991, and while we were in/out of court for another 2-3 years, I was learning to stand up to him; to speak loudly on behalf of myself and my daughters, and to carry a big stick (i.e. the protection of the Father and the favor of Family Court Services who pegged him in about 10-seconds flat!).

By the mid 90’s, my daughters and I were settling down into some resemblance of a normal life. We had a great church family, friends who loved us, and I was on a good career path in selling technical manufacturing services to the electronics industry. Even greater peace and healing came in approx. 1995 (?) when we moved about an hour away and closer to one of my sisters. That extra distance between me and “T and She” meant I was no longer over my shoulder for sight of them in the parking lot of the grocery store, etc. Wow! What a difference.

Eventually I was able to purchase a small house – a sprawling 832 square foot home on the frontage road to the freeway. It was perfect for us and a complete miracle that I secured with a $100 earnest deposit and a promise to buy it in 3 years (I’d love to tell you about that sometime!). Before escrow closed, I made a deal with “T” that I would waive off child support if he would give me a lump sum payment for back support (as I was a little short of funds). Some might think that was foolish – that I should have taken him to court and gotten what was due us. But in truth, I just wanted to be done with him! I hated being tied to him for finances, knowing that he could still jerk me this-way-and-that anytime he wanted just by dinking around with child support payments. Besides, by then I knew I had a Daddy God and Heavenly Husband that was more than able to provide for me! So I cut my ties with “T” and put my total dependence upon my God … best move ever!!

I can’t put my finger on exactly when I first started dreaming again – but I think it was while I was still seeing Counselor John (toward the end of my marriage) because I remember fearing these dreams marked the ‘opening of a door’ to past remembrances and I was terrified of being assaulted in my sleep by recollections of my childhood (and of things that took place while I was in a state of dissociation). I did want to have a better understanding of myself, of my past, and to be truthful about what happened – but if I could do that without remembering details, well that was A-OK with me! Again, Counselor John comforted me with the truth that if memories did come, that I didn’t have to be afraid of them – Jesus would walk through them with me, rather like the Good Shepherd walks through the valley of the Shadow of Death with (accompanying, comforting, and protecting) His sheep.

This first wave of dreams that I’ll write about is what I consider “veiled remembrances”.

THE LONG HOUSE
This dream evolved around a long barn-like structure located on the backside of an unknown property. Once inside and running the full length of the structure, there were a series of interconnected bedrooms – most having adjoining doors so that you could walk from one room to another down the full length of the structure. But there were a few rooms that had other, smaller rooms nested within them. These rooms you could only access from a specific bedroom. There was also a very long hallway running the length of the structure, but the hallway only accessed 2-3 bedrooms – most you had to access by going through another room. There was a time when I could tell you which room belonged to whom, but I have since forgotten. But I do recall that mine was a “nested room”, adjoining to my sister’s room. There was always lots of wandering from room to room in this dream; it wasn’t particularly frightening to me, but somewhat reminiscent of a game of hide and seek.

“Of Dreams and Nightmares” (a work in progress) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

TRAP DOORS AND TUNNELS
Another sequence of dreams consists of two quasi-connected houses. The first house looked nothing like the house I remember growing up in, but I knew it represented ours. Somewhere in the house was a trap door and ladder that connected to underground tunnels and secret and connected bedrooms. It took me years of dreaming this dream before I could bring myself to open the trap door and go down more than 3-4 steps on that ladder – for I knew ‘darkness’ was down there. But as my heart and spirit was finding healing in the present day, in time I dared to go down further into that creepy underground tunnel. The first bedroom contained several bunk beds and I think I recognized it as belonging to my older siblings. But the farther into the cavern of connected bedrooms you went, the more confusion and evil those rooms emitted– some rooms I refused to enter altogether.

And as for that ‘connected’ house? Even in my dream state I was hyper vigilant to ensure the kitchen door that accessed the shared mudroom connecting the two houses remained securely locked at all times. Something evil lived in or came to visit from that house. I hated this dream!

One might ask ‘what triggered these dreams and veiled remembrances?’

Initially, I think it was the acknowledgement of my own abuse that (you can read more about that here) that opened the doorway for processing dreams and an increasing flow of fragmented memories (as experienced, internalized, remembered from the viewpoint of a very small child). Naturally, they don’t always make a lot of sense, but given my age at the time of the abuse – that seems perfectly reasonable to me. Once I understood that Jesus was present with me even in my veiled remembrances, I stopped fearing these dreams and just allowed my psyche to let go of what it needed to let go of – to process what it needed to process.

“I will not forget. I shall remember the works of the LORD, surely I will remember His wonders and of the miracles He performed on our behalf. He has brought us out and given us liberty as promised. Who is so great a God as my God!”

For those of you who have read along with me these past several months, thank you for listening! These writings have been surprisingly healing for me – or perhaps “enlightening” is a better word. I have never before given my testimony in chronological order, and it has been through the exercise of putting these snippets together in order that I’ve not only gained greater understanding of my past, but I am better able to see the presence of God in my life – my whole life – shielding me, comforting me, calling me, drawing me out, strengthening me, and liberating me!

“When your son asks you in time to come, saying ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statues, and the judgements which the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and the LORD showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land which He swore to our Fathers.” ~Deuteronomy 6:21-23

Do you suffer from nightmares or have trouble sleeping at night, either from fearful anticipation of dreams/remembrances or perhaps some form of insomnia? I’m sharing my story for YOU! I long to encourage you with the hope and good news of Jesus Christ; that HE is BIGGER than even your worst nightmare and that He has PROMISED in His unchangeable and unshakable Word to give you (His beloved) sweet sleep! It’s yours, and over the course of these next several blog posts I’m going to share with you how the Lord taught me to take hold of (appropriate) that promise of sweet sleep!
Here’s a simple (but lifechanging) practice you can start working on right now:

STEP 1: Visualize Jesus with you in the circumstance.
You are not alone as the enemy would have you think. King Jesus is well able to transcend all space and time, and it is His deepest longing to be with you and comfort you as you process painful memories from the past, confront trials encountered in your present, and envelope you with His strength and protection as you walk with Him into your future.
When you put your head on your pillow at night, visualize Jesus sitting on the edge of your bed. Worship Him and talk with Him as pull up the covers – and hear His voice speaking back to you – His loving and peace-filled voice lulling you to a state of trusted relaxation. Surrender to His peace, knowing that He will never leave you, and that He has assigned angels to protect you while you sleep (not that they’re needed, because if HE is with you – aint no devil in hell gonna mess with you!). Quiet yourself, and listen for the sound of His heartbeat in the room. Then sleep, my friend. You are His beloved, and He longs for you to sleep in peace.

“…For He gives sleep to His beloved.” ~Psalm 127:2

Many years later, I had another dream – a singular dream – but it was very impactful. I perceive it as being a crescendo moment. But before I tell you about that rather complex dream, I need to tell you about my adult nightmares first.

Until my next post, may He overshadow you with His peace and protection, and grant you sweet sleep.

(Artwork updated 09/08/2018)

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All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 35)

In writing my testimony (see “My story” category in side bar), I wrote in some detail about my recurring childhood dreams and nightmares. Dreams of flying. Dreams of my dad’s death by accident and/or by suicide (I am choosing to call them dreams vs nightmares because instead of terrorizing me, they brought a type of stillness and comfort to me – no doubt an internal processing of the abuse). Nightmares of the “Stick Man” who came to my bed at night and caused me such pain.

What I encountered when I “swooshed” back to that kitchen of linoleum countertops and blue cupboards was a terrified little girl who was in such utter pain of soul and spirit that it just broke me. For the few seconds that I could stand to be in that place of recessed memory, I knew instantly that this pain not from breaking a platter! This pain is from something altogether different. Something I didn’t want to know about. Something I never wanted to experience again.

I wrote how those dreams ceased dramatically around age 8-9 (?) only to be remembered decades later after my dad’s death and during a season of great emotional difficulty for which I was seeking counseling. That is when I finally acknowledged that I too (also, along with other family members) had been violated as a child by my father. And that is when the true healing began; when the Spirit of God was invited to ‘go deep’ and seek out those sacred and secret places of my spirit so that the traumatized and fragmented parts of my heart and psyche could be gathered together into His loving arms and united with the liberated and victorious woman that I was becoming.

The Nightmare that was Mr T
“The Nightmare that was “Mr T”. www puttinghopetowork.com

If you haven’t read my testimony, I hope you will invest the time to do so. Not because there’s anything so special about me! Unfortunately, there are millions of men, women and children who have had or are currently walking through trials and terrors far worse than what I experienced as a child or even during my abusive marriage. But for that very reason, I think it’s worth the read – because whatever devil you are facing (and we are facing a devil of one kind or another every single day of our lives!) – I believe there are nugget of TRUTH and HOPE in my story that can be applied to your situation, today.

TRUTH and HOPE to combat
devils of financial lack
devils of fear and hopelessness
devils of violence and torment
devils of drama-drama-drama
devils of sickness or disease
devils of loneliness and abandonment
devils of PTSD / panic attacks / nightmares / sleeplessness

"Dreams and Nightmares (prelim)"  www.puttinghopetowork.com
“Dreams and Nightmares” (preliminary sketching) http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

And it is of that last group that I’m prompted to address in the coming weeks, because while my childhood dreams and nightmares were finally acknowledged and resolved by the end of my marriage in 1991, it was well after my divorce finalized that I began having recurring nightmares again.

This time of a different nature altogether, and much more disturbing.

So over the next few weeks, or as long as it takes, I will talk with you about my adult dreams and nightmares.

• Processing dreams
• Muffled flash backs
• Veiled remembrances
• Fear-filled dreams of what may yet be

More importantly, we will talk about what the Lord instructed me to do about them so that I’d no longer be afraid to lay my head down on the pillow at night for fear of what I might see/experience in my sleep.  How He taught me to “put my night terrors to bed” once and for all. (pun intended)

Please pray with me about this next sequence of blogs (wisdom for what to include, what to omit, how to address).

It would also be most helpful to understand who I’m writing for, so if you have wrestled with devils of PTSD, panic attacks, nightmares and sleeplessness, would you please drop me a note below so that I can pray for your specific situation and respond with counsel as the Lord leads.

 

But for now, I’m going camping and fishing!  🙂  I look forward to reading your comments and talking with you again next week.

Until then, may the Lord keep you in perfect peace because your mind is fixed upon Him!  (personalization of Isaiah 26:3)

 

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Gone Fishing!  http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

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All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

 

 

 

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 29)

Throughout the eight years that I have been blogging, I have shared snippets of my life nestled in posts about faith, hope, and what the Lord has taught me over the years. Then, this spring, I encountered a young woman crying outside of a Big Box store (week 14) that changed the direction of my current blogging. She told me of a recent rape and of the haunting fear she had that the world was falling apart (judging by the nightly news, who could blame her). We spoke, we prayed, and when her dad arrived to pick her up I gave her my phone number and referred her to my blog so that she could read through my story and be encouraged that while some terrible things also happened to me, they did not define me. Neither did her experiences have to define her … God was big enough to walk her through this season and bring her out safely on the other side.

But upon returning home and browsing through some of my older posts, it occurred to me that I’d never really shared my whole story, but rather just bits and pieces. And so starting in week 20, I began writing a chronological summary of my testimony and transformation. Here we are … 9 weeks in and hopefully only a few more weeks to go. Yet before I pick up the story where I left off in 1984, I need to add a few disclaimers:

• Out of respect for the privacy of other people involved (including siblings, children and grandchildren) I am being very selective about what scenes and details are included. Some things just don’t need to be memorialized in writing, but are better shared over a cup of coffee in a spirit led conversation.

• Furthermore, I am trying not to involve family members to any significant degree. Again, some things just don’t need to be memorialized, especially if sharing them would bring discomfort or embarrassment to people that I love. My family members have their own stories to tell, their own testimonies to share. Rather, I am trying to focus on my portion of the events that took place and document my testimony of transformation and healing.

• Finally, I have spent a lot of emotional energy distancing myself from these events. Or more truthfully, releasing and forgetting them. As I have sought to reconstruct details and timelines, I’ve thrilled to discover that my memories are a little blurry. Isn’t that amazing! There was a time when these events were hard-seared in my mind and psyche … and now I’m having difficulty remembering details and timelines! What a gracious and kind God I serve! How grand is His love for me! How immeasurable His ability to go into the deepest places of soul and spirit, identify unhealthy growths of sin and shame, and remove them with the skill of a surgeon!

So with that understanding, I shall continue…..

It was 1984, I was 24, on my 2nd marriage and raising three step-children, and pregnant with my first child. My precious daughter was born that May, and she was to me the most amazing miracle I’d ever experienced. Still is!

For the most part, I was happy. The happiest I can ever recall being, because I finally had a family of my own and someone who would love me forever and always. By this time, “T” and the kids were attending church with me, I was actually leading worship at our little Baptist church (yup, they were desperate!), and my oldest two step-kids had accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. It felt like my deepest prayers had been answered, and while there were some issues … for the most part, I was happy.

Now is where things really start getting kind of fuzzy for me. For it was shortly after the birth of my oldest daughter that my world really turned upside down, and then started spiraling downward. Try as I might, I can’t quite recall the order of events … rather the next few years just sort of clump together in what I will call the pre -“SHE” period

I was not enough
• After the birth of my daughter, we scraped up the money for “T” to fly to South America for a few weeks to visit family. Shortly after he returned, he started pressuring me that we needed to get a Nanny to help with the house and kids. I refused, but that did not stop him from continuing to bring it up on a regular basis with increasing intensity each time.
• We started arguing more. He was super focused on physical fitness and appearance and was always criticizing me because I had put on so much baby weight and didn’t loose it quickly. Of course, I resented being objectified and so the more he criticized me, the more I pushed back. And pushing back against “T” usually didn’t end well, so over time I relented and traded going to church on Sundays with workouts and family soccer games to stay fit. God knew my heart, surely He would understand … especially because it seemed necessary to keep my husband happy and our marriage peaceful.

The family secret revealed
• It was late 1984 or perhaps early 1985 that my dad had been rushed into the ER to try to repair a ruptured aorta. With a very low probably of pulling through, my mom and siblings gathered at the hospital to await the news. Miraculously, he made it! But while in ICU over the next few days, one of my sisters refused to visit him. This really bothered me, and I told her so. That’s when she told my mom about the abuse she had suffered at the hands of my dad as a young girl. That conversation led my mom to talk to my other two sisters, who both told a similar story. Then they asked me…. had dad every approached me sexually? Of course not! (I had the perfect childhood. Remember?)

The ugly side of “T”
• A subtle threat of violence:
o One evening while telling me how frustrated he was with the maneuvering of the mother of his youngest child, he made a comment about arranging for her to have an accident. [Lesson: don’t mess with “T”, he can be dangerous]
o He was relentless when he wanted something. I don’t remember what we were fighting about, but I remember being in our bedroom, and he backed me up against the wall, got about 3 inches from my face with one hand on either side of my head, and yelled on and on and on. I remember trying to get away, managing to get the door opened part way, and with fingers holding onto the door frame and trying to pull myself out while screaming “let me go, let me go” (as if one of the kids might come to save me??). It was pointless … he was stronger and wouldn’t let me go. Eventually, you just had to agree with “T” or it would never end. [Lesson: don’t mess with “T”, he is relentless]
• Integrity is not a virtue:
o I think it might have been after “the secret” came out, but I could be wrong. Anyways, he began to challenge and mock me about my integrity. “I bet you’d even turn in your own brother if he robbed a bank.” (Yes, I think I would … because it’s against the law.). “I bet you’d even turn in me if I broke the law.” (Yes, if you broke the law, I probably would … because you broke the law). The implication was that my adherence to the law was somehow disloyal to family, and as a result I was in the wrong. Family was supposed to trump everything, even the law.
• It’s just sex
o Somewhere along the line, I don’t exactly recall where/when, he began pestering/pressuring me about giving him permission to have sex with whomever he wanted. His logic was simple: It was ME that he loved, but if I couldn’t satisfy him sexually, he wanted me to give my blessing to his finding sexual fulfillment elsewhere. Of course, I refused. If he truly loved me, he would only want to have sex with me. But on and on and on and on he went. Weeks. Months. And again, when “T” wants something, he is relentless. To my utter shame, eventually I agreed on the following stipulations:

1)  I would NEVER know about it.
2) It must be far away, to ensure my children/family would NEVER know about it.
3) He would give me the “ILLUSION” of a happy marriage.

(What a load of crap!)

o While my family was torn apart by the revelation of incest, “T” didn’t seem all that terribly bothered by it. In fact, I remember his commenting once that “Some people would consider it a kindness for a father to teach his daughter about how to be with a man. That it would be better if her first experience was with her dad” and so on. This was fairly soon after the revelation, and I remember yelling “That’s disgusting! Don’t you ever say anything like that again to me! Ever!” He didn’t … but between the subtle and not-so-subtle threats of violence, the shaming for not putting family over lawfulness, the forced permission to let him have sex with whomever he wanted, and now this … What had I gotten myself into?!?!?!

The Nightmare that was Mr T
“The Nightmare that was “Mr T”.    puttinghopetowork.com

Just bullet points, but I think you can begin to get a feel for what my life and marriage looked like during this season.

Who Am I
Who Am I

It saddens me to look back and see that I had utterly and completely given “T” the power to determine my value as a human being …  instead of taking my self worth and value from the God who created me.  

I would like to tell you this was the worst of it, but it would be another 4 or so years before I hit rock bottom and left.

But in the mean time, God used the blessings of my two little girls to begin teaching me about His love for me and slowly reshaping my perception of who He is.  I’ll write more of that and continue on in my next post.

Have you ever given (knowingly or unknowingly) another person the power to determine your value/worth?   I’d love to hear a little of your story.

 

 

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