Tag Archives: dreams

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)

 

jpeg_20180830055624_74305715996226889891890444315657271833.jpg
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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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 28)

By the grand old age of 20, and after less than two years of marriage, I was on my way to becoming a divorcee. Having married right out of high school, I was making a very modest hourly wage – certainly not enough to live on my own. My parents graciously received me back into their home while I got back on my feet again, and while I’m grateful for their kindness, it was uncomfortable for all of us.

Soon after I filed for divorce, I left my data-processing job at a semiconductor company and I started anew as Receptionist at a small manufacturing company. This was an exciting new environment for me and my strong administrative skills were quickly noted by the President and Sales Manager, affording me several opportunities for advancement within the company. It was also while at this company that I started dating again.

Why is it that after a divorce (or break up of any long-term relationship) we are so quick to “get back in the game”? Under what reasoning do we think that we can process the searing pain, relational loss and likely also some sense of betrayal in a matter of 3-9 months? Where were the counselors to caution me about dating again so quickly? Certainly not at home, for my mom was in full support of my return to the dating world. After all, I’d already “tasted the forbidden fruit” and so naturally I would have desires that demanded to be satisfied again. And isn’t self-gratification more important than taking the time to process your emotions, evaluate the mistakes made, and experience at least some level of spiritual and emotional healing?

I didn’t even wait until AFTER my divorce, I started dating DURING my divorce! Lord almighty! But this is what the world tells us to do … to “Get back up on that horse!”

Try
Colbie Caillat

Put your make-up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?

Get your sexy on
Don’t be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?

It was 1980 and I was a young blue-eyed, blond-haired woman-child in the age of “Enjoli” commercials telling me that I could and should have it all; love, career, and financial success. I quickly captured the attention of the two single engineers that worked on the other side of the reception area. They regularly flirted with me and I ate it up. “J” took me on a few dates, but it quickly became obvious that he was only interested in one thing, which by the way he was already getting from his on/off girlfriend. And while tempting, I didn’t want to be used in that way. I’d already had a taste of that … I knew better (or so I told myself) than to go that path again, and so I refused any further invitations from him.

“T” however. Well, “T” was another species the likes of which I’d never encountered before. He was from South America and literally oozed sensuality. He was a smooth operator, but in the most charming of ways. At first he flirted with me from a distance while his buddy “J” had a run at me. He was sizing me up, laying the groundwork.

The women in the office talked about “T”. They said he was a womanizer. They said he had kids in South America and was looking for a ticket to bring them to the US. They said to steer clear of him.

But “T” made me feel attractive and desirable. He admitted he had kids in South America that he wanted to bring to the US. But he also said he had “sown all his wild oats” and that he now wanted to settle down and have a family with a special woman … a woman like me. He told me everything I wanted to hear … everything I needed to hear … and I agreed to go on a date with him.

As I’ve been writing this post, I’ve been listening to Andy Stanley’s message “Three Myths, Part 1, ‘How to make sure next time is better than last time.’” We all experience unpleasant endings in life … job endings, relationship endings, etc. And if we will take the time to evaluate our experiences that led to those unpleasant endings, we just might successfully course correct so that our next time is better than our last time. But that takes energy, honesty and personal responsibility. It also takes time – time to process, time to heal. And when you’re young, who has time for that.

While tempted by “J’s” smooth talking ways, the remembrance of my upbringing and desire to be a “good Christian” helped me to exercise some modicum of self-control. But all that went completely out the window with “T”. I am utterly ashamed of the way I behaved during our first date. Thankfully, mobile phones with cameras hadn’t been invented yet and so no one was able to document our scandalous behavior as I gave way to the torrent of desire that he (12+ years my senior) so artfully stirred up in me. It is by the sheer grace of God that despite his persistent and seductive invitations, I managed to get myself into my car after he brought me back to his place (a small house which he rented with 2 other guys, one who just happened to be “J”). * Sigh *

I clearly remember the image of him in the rearview mirror, wearing a red sweater over a white shirt tucked into well-fitted jeans as he watched me drive away. I said to myself “that man is the devil himself” and then I drove off before I behaved even more atrociously than I already had. I had no idea how true those words would prove true over the course of the next 10 years.

What kind of lies do you tell yourself? What won’t you see because if you saw it, it would derail the fantasy you are trying so hard to live out?

Date number two didn’t end “T” in the rearview mirror. I stayed that night, and a few other nights after that. He asked me to move in with him, and told me he loved me. It was music to my ears, and when I was with him I felt like the most beautiful woman-girl on the planet.

Whereas “M” left me feeling used, betrayed and undesirable, “T” adored me, hungered for me, and promised me the very thing that I wanted more than anything else. A family! He wanted to live with me, for me to be mother to his children (once we brought them up from South America), and he promised to marry me as soon as my divorce finalized.

Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards
You don’t have to choose, buy it all, so they like you
Do they like you?
Wait a second,
Why, should you care, what they think of you
When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing
You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to bend until you break
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try

With our pitiful combined incomes we somehow managed to find a 3 bedroom house to rent and moved in together while my divorce was being processed. I sold my custom made diamond wedding set (to one of my sisters to wear as a stunning pinky ring) and with the funds we purchased airline tickets and flew his kids up. And in preparation for their arrival, my sisters helped me sew curtains out of decorative bedding and turn the little dump we rented into something modestly welcoming and homey. Before the kids arrived, I had made a “welcome home banner” for them, and had their rooms staged with gently used stuffed animals and other yard-sale finds appropriate for their ages. We were going to be a family and I was finally going to be seen, heard, and loved unconditionally.

“KNOWING better doesn’t mean you have the strength, or power, or self control to DO better.” ~Andy Stanley

I had married “T” on my 21st birthday just two weeks after my divorce finalized. Red flags started going off almost immediately, but I ignored them. I had to. Acknowledging that I might have made a mistake would have meant that I’d be alone again, that I’d be a failure again. And my battered psyche just couldn’t handle that. I needed him, because I needed to be needed and he made me feel needed. So when he started disappearing for long periods of time on Saturday mornings, I quickly accepted his explanations that he was just handing out with friends after Karate practice. Sure it bothered me that one of those friends was a woman, but he promised me they were just friends. He loved me!

True, it infuriated me when I saw him knock the legs out from under his 10-year old daughter because she didn’t wash the dishes right … layed her flat out on the floor with a sweeping leg kick. But I yelled at him – told him I’d not put up with that, and he promised not to do it again.

And I was uncomfortable with some of the things that happened between us behind closed doors – but the Bible says that happens ‘in the marriage bed’ is OK, right?

Besides, by this time we had already moved his son and daughter (ages 13 and 10) up, and I had a family to call my own. The voice of shame spoke to me and said “You made your bed, now lie in it.” I obliged.

His Saturday morning delays grew longer, much longer, and eventually he told me about a 3rd child. He had also been spending Saturdays visiting his youngest son who lived with his ex-wife just a few towns over. Well I wanted a family, right? Imagine this … before my 22nd birthday, I was on my second marriage and was now raising a 13 year old stepson, a 10 year old stepdaughter, and a 2 year old stepson on the weekends.

Over the next few years we both experienced some professional success. We managed to buy our first house in 1983, a tiny little 2 bedroom place that was just big enough. And then I got pregnant, a dream come true!! With tremendous excitement for the life growing within me, we flipped that tiny house and moved a little farther out towards the east side of town and into a 3BR 2 BA split level ranch that had a large partially finished lower floor that could be finished off to add 2 more bedrooms. We were in love. We were a family. And we were having a baby. Everything was falling into place, and I was finally going to be happy.

Take your make-up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don’t you like you?
‘Cause I like you

Before I continue with my story I want to share this beautiful song by Colbie Caillat called “TRY”, which has an even more powerful video. I’ve listened/watched to it about 10 times while writing this post.

Friends, are you TRYing? Are you TRYing to be what someone else wants you to be, or what you think you should/need to be in to be loved and accepted? Are you TRYing to please your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife? Are you TRYing to please a boss or seeking the approval of a parent? Man or woman, young or old, gay or straight, pause a moment and please hear this. You don’t have to TRY.

You are beautiful.
You are loved.
You are valuable.
You, today, now … just where you are, and just the way you are.
Because Jesus loves you!
Just where you are, and just the way you are.
He doesn’t need you to clean-up, pretty-up, dress-up, or fake-up in order to love you.
He just loves you. And try as you might, you can’t come up with a reason for Him not to love you.
He loves you with a perfect and all-consuming love, today and right now.
In your messiness. In your imperfection.
His arms are open to you, and He is inviting you in.
And as you draw near, if you listen … you will hear Him say this:
“I’ve already paid the price for you, son/daughter. Rest in me. You don’t have to try anymore.”

Two final notes. Last week I shared a preview of my next painting, intended for this weeks post. But it is really more appropriate for next weeks’ post, because it’s in 1984 when things really started to unravel and “The Nightmare that was Mr T” began.

Secondly, while I’m trying to write my testimony in a (relatively) chronological order, I may not have all the timing right and perhaps even misremember some of the details. In truth, I have spent the last 25 years trying to distance myself from this part of my life and so if you notice some inconsistencies between these posts and perhaps something written back in 2014 or 2015, please know that it is not intentional. I’m being as truthful as I can with the details as best as I can remember them.

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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 27)

 

Please excuse the delay in posting.  With the mid-week celebration of Independence Day, I got a little off track and off schedule.

And also, to be quite honest, there is a part of me that doesn’t want to write this anymore.  Not the blog in general, just my story – my testimony.  Up ’til now, I’ve shared about the childhood I remembered, the aching need for love and acceptance that had me searching for a husband at age 14, and the consequences of making choices based on emotional need.

And that was OK, a little sad at times, but it’s all in the past and in hindsight I can look back, sigh, and say “Thank you Lord that I’m not that girl anymore”.

Call Me Beautiful
by Ginny Owens

I’ve been waiting
For a hero who’s brave and strong
Someone to love me
Someone to tell me I belong
So I pretend I’m satisfied
And I stand watching from the sidelines
Till You pull me into the light
And say “It’s Your turn now
Welcome to your life!”

And you call me beautiful
And say You’ve loved me all along
And you’ve always held the keys to unlock my soul
Oh you call me beautiful

I’m sure you’ve got parts of your life you’re not all that proud of either.  We all do.  But a trusted friend would understand that’s part of your past and not judge you for it.  They’d see you for who you are now.  I’m hoping you will do the same.

In this next part of my story …. well, there is a lot about it that I am ashamed of.  Ashamed of my behavior, ashamed of what I let happen to me, and of what I let happen to those that I love.    And I wonder what will be the consequence and impact of my being so bold as to uncover these details of my past (or the details that are appropriate to share in this type of setting).   Will it shift how people see me in my day-job?  Will some people close doors because they’re uncomfortable knowing this much about me?  Will my honesty have any negative impact on my loved ones?

I know.  That’s all the voice of fear speaking, and I shouldn’t be listening to him.

But that’s a big part of the reason why I didn’t post on Thursday as scheduled.

Instead I painted.  Here is a preview of the artwork for the next section of my story.

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

 

Now to breath deeply, pray, and start writing about the worst parts of my life with hope that by doing so, someone might recognize themselves in my story … and more importantly recognize the LIFELINE that is Jesus Christ!

 

 

 

(continuation)

There’s a smile on my face
And a brand new light in my eyes
It’s a new day
And I’ve never felt so alive
I feel as if I could conquer anything
Oh that’s what your love has done for me
And now all I want to be
Is everything you want me to be

And you call me beautiful
And say you’ve loved me all along
And you’ve always held the keys
To unlock my soul, but I didn’t know
Now I can finally start to live
Take those chances I have missed
Things will be much different
Now that I know
You call me beautiful

The story is better than I could dream after all
Now this is reality
To know you and to hear you call me beautiful
Call me beautiful
Now I can finally start to live
Take those chances I have missed
Things will be much different
Now that I know
Now that I know
You call me beautiful

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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.