One source of deep pain in my life has been my Dad.
When people in church talked about honoring your father, even if he is or was a terrible father, guilt used to pile on me. Guilt because we did not have a good relationship and for most of my life we had little to no relationship. Guilt from hearing "you can't be at peace with your Heavenly Father if you are not at peace with your earthly father." Guilt from hearing "if you can't reach your family, who can you reach." Guilt with "you may be the only Bible He will ever read."
None of that took into consideration the fact that my father would never be pleased with me unless I chose the life he did. One filled with drama, lies, and deceit. One based off him being two entirely different people- one with me and one with others. He consistently and constantly manipulated and lied. He was always the victim, distant and unloving, while telling others how much he loved us. I always thought he loved my brother more than me. That was a child's view.
When I was a child I heard, with my own ears, him tell my mother that he would make both, me and my brother, move out if it would make her happy. I couldn't even drive when I heard that. He adopted both of us; but never really loved or connected with either of us. He always put others first and made sure we knew we were never "as good to him" as everyone else.
People would tell me I should respect him because he adopted us and gave us a home. They didn't know that in that home, I was molested, demeaned, lied to, beat down, beat up, and always told that I would never amount to anything or never be enough. Maybe they did know or didn't want to address it. Someone I went to school with told me recently, that what they remembered about my childhood was I was always so sad. Others may only remember how much I drank. I drank because that was the one time I didn't feel like I everything was wrong with me. When I was a child, I complained once about being hit and molested. My mother told me I could take care of myself. My father told me I was lying.
Then he made fun of me.
As an adult and a Christ follower, I tried and tried to love him where he was. I came when he called, I tried to make things better for him in his old age, and still it all continued in the same way it always had. He didn't attend my brothers funeral. He told everyone, including me, it was because he had heart problems and the doctor wouldn't let him. His preacher believed him to be sincere. I called his doctor, it was all a lie. He didn't even have heart problems at the time. He hadn't even talked to the doctor.
So today I am sharing this because I needed to get it out. I am sharing because I hope it might help someone. You can love someone without buying into their lies or allowing them to abuse you. Removing yourself from an abusive situation can be the kindest thing you can do. It blocks the abuser from sinning against you to your face and gives them the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions. You are not responsible for their choices. It is never a reflection on you, but always a reflection of where they are with themselves. It protects you and that is extremely important and too often overlooked. I did not understand this until last year.
Most people I consulted over the years told me what I needed to do...you need to forgive, you need to love, you need to be there. You need to...you...you....you. None of this took into account what I needed for me. I needed to realize that you can not make someone love you. You can not make someone want you.
Fathers are supposed to love their daughters but the reality is not all do. Not all men are capable of being fathers, not all people can love. While I have forgiven, forgetting is impossible, it's a pipe dream. You can handle, heal, and grow from the pain but you don't ever completely forget.
I deal often with the after effects of how I grew up. I deal often with wrong thinking about myself due to the lies I have been told over the years. I deal often with the pain that childhood trauma causes long-term. The effects are deep and relentless.
So all of that said, here is what I want to leave you with- while God does make beauty out of ashes, never forget that a fire must occur before there are ashes.
Fire burns, it scars.
If someone shares their pain with you, don't revictimize them all over again by telling them what they must now do....tell them you are sorry. Enter their pain, put yourself in their shoes, weep with them.
Then love them while God helps them pick up the pieces.
The first person who wept with me blew me away, I asked them why they were crying. I had just revealed something painful, and they said through tears, no child should feel that unloved. I am writing a book about allowing God to heal our hurts. It is about how people mistakenly misuse the Word of God to impede healing for abuse victims. It's about how to meet our Healer and allow Him into those deep places filled with hurt. It's about how it is a process, not a one-time thing. I don't know what I will do with the book when I am done, but I know for me, I need to write it. So there, I feel naked and exposed, yet covered by the most beautiful Grace all at the same time. That's what writing does for me, it helps me heal. Thank you for reading this deeply personal post.