Oct 212014

It can be hard to feel like we are second best, can only afford second hand, or we don’t have a spare second for the things we want in life. Yet, God tells us to slow down, to live in His Word, to read it daily and this is so that those feelings of being second get switched off by a God who keeps each and every one of us first in His thoughts. Who wants us to have the best we possibly can have, to serve others in ways we wish to be served and to never feel alone again because we have Him as Father, Teacher, Friend.

If I don’t want to be second then I have to put forth the effort to make Him first, because in doing so I am saying that I am valuable enough to take the time to focus on my relationship with Him and that I need Him to truly be fulfilled and rooted deeply into the soils of life.

Oct 202014

You would think that when you have lived among the worst things this planet holds that you wouldn’t have fears anymore, and in a lot of ways you don’t. You know that if your talking to someone who has senselessly committed murder that they won’t think twice should your life get in the way, but there is some bias in that. It’s like, once you know your potential enemy you know how to pray for them, you know what they are capable of and you learn quickly not to push them. The fear isn’t so intense when you know.

It’s what you don’t know that can be horrific. For someone like me who had PTSD it is easy to get stuck on loop when it comes to a lack of trust and unnecessary fear. Why? Because I know what that murderer can do, I don’t know what the person in line at Walmart behind me can do, I don’t know what the stranger in the parking lot is capable of, or the guy from work.

People who don’t have PTSD often think opposite to how I do though. Seeing the murderer as the bad guy because a piece of paper says so, but before he killed, before there was a document saying he was the bad guy, he was the guy standing in line, the kid you grew up with, your neighbour, your friend. Then one day, the world changed and suddenly you hold yourself higher than him because you wouldn’t do that to someone.

It is amazing what fear can do and what it inhibits. I think that fear and love are the strongest emotions we can experience and in a lot of cases they go hand in hand. Your hubby is a few hours late and his phone is off and the fear inside of you begins to swell.

I don’t know how many times I heard growing up “if your father doesn’t get here soon he better be dead or I will kill him” simply because my mom was worried about him being away on icey roads for so long.

I always laughed at the irony, “if he is not dead I will kill him”! Poor guy!

The Gospel of Matthew tells us that worrying is not trusting God fully. I imagine fear is the same way. Though, I also think it naïve to believe that God would send us warning signals only for us to avoid them based on the assumption that he will keep us safe.

I am always reminded of the story of the man in the flood. Priests used to tell it to us in school. You see, there was a man and flood water was quickly rising and he was told he needed to evacuate and he refused saying that God would save him. They sent a boat to rescue him and he still refused saying that God would save him. They sent a helicopter as he stood on his roof and he refused saying God would save him. He drowned and when he got to Heavens gate he said to God “you said you would save me!” and God exclaimed “I sent out warnings for you to evacuate and you ignored, I sent boats and helicopters and you refused. I gave you every opportunity I could to save you!”

And then, for me, it all made sense. God doesn’t need to shoot down from the Heavens in a blaze of glory with horses and a sword to save me. I can save myself through what He provides me with. I am already saved spiritually. I have to learn though, that God’s saving grace here on earth may not be as obvious as one would think. Which is why keeping a prayer list or a gratitude journal is so fun. You read back ad see how much He worked in your life in such a short amount of time.

He died, so that I may live. Through His advice and grace I won’t be that guy standing on the roof dying when God clearly wants me safe.

Oct 192014

honourI have spent years and years struggling, more than half my life really, with the mere fact that I exist and the biggest struggle in this whole God-thing is that I still don’t feel like I deserve life.

Life was easier in a lot of ways on the inside, where I didn’t have to think and life got done anyway. Wake up and get dressed at 7:00, prepare meals for 7:30 clean up at 8…. Shower or read or nap or have a cup of tea or two or three and feed everyone at 11:30.

The afternoons were the easiest though. Days locked away with the lights out. My body relaxing into the unknown and the unknown being safer than where I was. You can’t kill someone who is already dead, and I was very much no longer alive. I had no reason to fight anymore, no reason to disobey. No reason to pull apart the razor and dishonour myself by pressing the cool blade into my flesh. There was Patricia Cornwell, Stephen King, Devotions and the Bible to read. When I really wanted to kill time I would pick up a Tom Clancy novel. Learning all of the intricate parts of a military airplane before dinner at 4:30, this was normal. This scary life I led is also missed.

Evenings went by quickly with writing and reading and praying and games. For me though? Mostly it was writing and those darned books that made the days turn into months.

People died. Good people, died. Leaving their kids orphaned because they had chosen this life. I never understood why. I never got it. I would go to sleep around 11 like I try to now. Coaxing myself to sleep with a book in my hands. Often I would read it straight through before I was willing to give it up and re-enter this life. Re-emerging into a reality that was far from real and deep down I knew it. I just didn’t know how to escape. For awhile I wasn’t sure I even wanted to escape.

Brainwashed into the mundane and between it all there was this feeling of being wanted so desperately that someone would go through all of that, risk all of that, just to keep me? Emotionally brainwashed I was. Lost, worn, and tired. Not sure if I was in Heaven or Hell, concluding that I had to be in purgatory because real life couldn’t hurt like that. Real life couldn’t be this, could it?

Mornings always sucked. They meant I had to wake up into this world I dreaded. Looking back now I can see that every moment I spent awake was a moment in which I tried to escape, to die.

I had no honour. It was stripped away with all of my possessions, my clothes, covered up in bruises and scars. My battle wounds. A battle I am not yet sure I have won.

All that is good in my life easily sends me into a tailspin. One where my plane crashes and I don’t even try to escape.

I wonder if my plane went down if I would fight to be freed and survive like my cousin did or if I would simply throw my hands in the air and let the earth consume me, swallowing me whole.

How do you give honour to your life when it terrifies you? How do you hurt yourself and love the Lord? How do you wake up to God each day and feel like you are a mere mistake?

It is hard to give honour when you’re so full of pain…

Oct 182014

The salty taste of tears running down my face and hitting my mouth, matting my hair like an infant who has cried in a summer’s heat far too long, begging for a drink, or love, or maybe both.

The red dripping vibrant and real, like it isn’t a memory of years past, the pungent smell of blood filling my nose, its’ taste fresh on my tongue as I urge it to slow, to stop.

Feelings I don’t want to feel swelling deep within me, pushing the acidic taste of an empty stomach to the back of my throat and I look up to God and I beg Him “why?”

Why am I forced to suffer, to live in pain, I handed my life to Him and I still feel the blistery burn of the flame and the rancid smell of death fresh in my mind. I feel clueless to reality and don’t understand their kind.

I don’t know what to say or do or not do. None of it feels right.

I feel like I am back in that place, under their command. Waiting to find out if I will live or die and at who’s hand.

Oct 172014

It has been a long couple of days here and I woke up extremely early today with a lot of anxiety about the weekend. The funeral is this weekend. The funeral of the man who I can only refer to as a cult leader, a cult that people didn’t even realize they were in until it was too late and their possessions were being burned at his command by husbands who demanded obedience in the name of God.

247 times that metal studded belt came down on my naked flesh. Me, refusing to give in, I wasn’t going to give up one of the only things I could hold onto. I just wasn’t and after 9 hours of being bound and beaten the cuffs were released. My bottom black and blue and the calendar read that it was barely the next day. What a long day that had been.

I don’t remember the pain it brought though. I remember instead being called a slut when this man saw through my window what was happening to me. Completely helpless, drenched in my own stinging sweat and then called a slut for being stripped of any inkling of humanity that I had been holding onto.

Words often sting far worse than any whip and they cut deeper than any knife. Words can make you or break you. In my case, they broke me down, wore me out. Changed who I was inside and out. Maybe because I was so confused it was just easier to lose myself inside of the black holes in my mind, where a bounty of nothingness existed.

Now as I sit here nearly ten years later I worry about the funeral and all the people who had hurt me being in town. I worry that he isn’t really dead and it’s some joke that the world has played on me. Giving me a sense of relief just before the cobra strikes, or the storm clouds swallow me whole.

God’s grace though? It is long and enduring and it holds onto me in ways that no one else ever could. It reminds me that I survived and that I won my life back, fair and square. That same grace, it tells me that I don’t have to be so afraid anymore. Part of my problem is solved. Parts of me that haven’t been free since I was a young teen are finally free and only by Gods merciful grace could that ever happen.

Where I go from here I have no clue. I am not sure what life will be like without the fear of being taken back, killed for escaping. No longer having to look over my shoulder or sit with my back to walls. Another aspect of being untrained that I will have to figure out during this insane life I live. Not a thing is normal for me. Not a worry is the same as what a non-victim feels.

I wonder if I will ever regain that innocence or if the evil that nearly took my life will always blanket the good in a dark shroud, forever reminding me that evil lives.

Now? Now I suppose I live in wonderment and pray that where this mans preaching left off isn’t picked up by someone brainwashed by him or as sick as him. I pray that no one else is ever hurt again at the hands of this “family”. I pray that this feeling of being safe is real and that I really am safe, in the grace of God now and always.

All of this, has been half a life time, too long. Far, far, too long.

Oct 162014

It takes all of us a different amount of time to adjust, especially when we are shocked by drastic change, fast. I was forced to adjust quite a few times in my life. The first major adjustment I made was when I was 15 and found myself dating a Ministers son. I quickly realized that the relationship was inescapable and everything I had known about God was a lie. I had to adjust to beatings and punishment all in the name of God and I had to adjust to this Bible that said I deserved it for not being obedient.

Soon after I had to adjust to being a mom as well. A mom who was in a dire situation and now not only fearing for her own life but the life of her child, I was trapped and I had no clue how to adjust to my new surroundings. Deep down I knew that if I did adjust I would be trapped forever, so instead I fought at every turn. Grasping onto whatever it was that I could that kept me in real life. There wasn’t much, but praise God there was enough to keep me above water.

Five years after it started on a cold February night it became a life or death situation. I had to fight for my life and for the lives of my kiddos. I was raped. I was beaten, I was cut and it was in the black of night. I had been knocked unconscious several times, my hair grabbed and my head smashed into the floor until I was out.

I knew I had to get out of there and I called 911, before the call went through that phone was smashed. I found myself grasping another phone shortly after and hitting redial. I got my mom. She heard everything that was going on. The cat was out of the bag and there was no turning back. I was out as an abuse victim and being abused with my mom hearing every sound.

I managed to get the kids in the car and we escaped in the wee hours of the night. My mom on the line and listening to everything. The phone was my life line and I wasn’t letting go. He tried to pull us from the car, but we weren’t going anywhere, my mom said “just drive” and he blocked the car. I didn’t care. I hit the gas, knowing that it was either hit or be killed. I hit him and drove off in the night in our jammies to my parents place. Never returning.

It took a long time for me to adjust to being free.

I remember about a week after our narrow escape my mom saying to me while I sat on the floor in the living room “you know you are allowed to sit on the furniture”. Yes, I was that brainwashed, that abused. I needed permission to use furniture. After all, I had been taught that I was a bitch and bitches are dogs and dogs sleep on the floor.

My world was unravelling and this freedom thing was something I struggled with. Never feeling adequate and completely unsure about how to please anyone. I am sure that I was the definition of lost in any dictionary printed at that time.

Over the next few years I would adjust to different things, different ways of parenting, different places to live, living on my own, making decisions without fear etc.

It has been nearly 10 years now since that night I escaped and I remember every sensation that I experienced, every emotion, as if it just happened. 10 years and I still struggle to make decisions. I still live in fear that I will be kidnapped and taken back. I feel like I am unfinished business and that scares me. To be honest, a lot scares me.

I suppose adjusting from forcibly being the victim of a cult to the free world will be a life-long battle for me. I am the girl who escaped, got away. I survived and 10 years later I still find myself wondering what for.

By God’s grace I know that He has a plan for my life, for my past and how I relate to others. I know that all the pain and suffering wasn’t in vain. I know that if I allow myself to be used by the Lord that I will have turned all that bad into good.

Oct 152014

I was held against my will for five years. Most people don’t know me unless you are close to me. I found out today that the head of that family, the cult-leader as we call him, died in the last day or so.

I feel torn.

I am happy that he is gone and I don’t have to fear him anymore because he can’t hurt me anymore. I know there are still several others in the family who can but he was the one who was in my face the most in the last almost 10 years of being “free” and the most threatening. So, I feel relieved and free, like some of those remaining chains fell off. Lighter.

Then the part of me that cares knows that the people who did love him, whether it was in a cult like atmosphere or not they have lost someone they cared about and the human side of me feels for these people who have experienced this loss because losing someone sucks.

I still can’t help it though. I can’t help but feel good and free and even elated. This is a funeral I won’t be attending and I am almost feeling badly for being so happy to be free of this burden that has weighed on me for HALF OF MY LIFE.

It is crazy and surreal and for me it is a blessing. I don’t have to worry about my children being in danger at school anymore, not like I used to anyway. I can feel confident walking into a store without being verbally assaulted and beaten right back down like a dog, the way they trained me.

Life has ended, but for the first time since I escaped I finally feel free.

His life ended and mine has just begun!

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