Beauty from ashes daughter

Words of hope from an abuse survivor

Joy in the Morning September 14, 2012

Filed under: Healing,Hope,Jesus,Survivor — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 12:50 am
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One of  God’s most beautiful promises:

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

My new day is dawning and as God reveals more and more of it to me, He takes my breath away.

Beauty Will Rise

Steven Curtis Chapman

It was the day the world went wrong I screamed til my voice was gone

And watched through the tears as everything came crashing down

Slowly panic turns to pain as we awake to what remains and sift through the ashes that are left behind
But buried deep beneath all our broken dreams we have this hope:
Out of these ashes… beauty will rise and we will dance among the ruins. We will see Him with our own eyes. Out of these ashes… beauty will rise. For we know, joy is coming in the morning… in the morning, beauty will rise

So take another breath for now, and let the tears come washing down, and if you can’t believe I will believe for you.
Cuz I have seen the signs of spring! Just watch and see:
Out of these ashes… beauty will rise and we will dance among the ruins. We will see Him with our own eyes. Out of these ashes… beauty will rise. For we know, joy is coming in the morning… in the morning…

I can hear it in the distance and it’s not too far away. It’s the music and the laughter of a wedding and a feast. I can almost feel the hand of God reaching for my face to wipe the tears away, and say, “It’s time to make everything new.”
“Make it all new”
This is our hope. This is the promise. This is our hope. This is the promise. That it would take our breath away to see the beauty that’s been made out of the ashes… out of the ashes… That it would take our breath away to see the beauty that He’s made out of the ashes… out of the ashes…
Out of these ashes… beauty will rise and we will dance among the ruins. We will see Him with our own eyes. Out of this darkness… new life will shine and we’ll know the joy is coming in the morning… in the morning…beauty will rise!
Oh, Beauty will rise Oh, Beauty will rise Oh, oh, oh, Beauty will rise Oh, oh, oh, Beauty will rise Oh, oh, oh, Beauty will rise

 

Suicidal September 11, 2012

Filed under: Abuse,Depression,Emotional Pain,Suicide — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 7:25 pm
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As is the case with most abuse survivors, I went through a time in my life when I wanted my life to end. During this time period, I was being sexually abused and felt very alone in the world. I was also using drugs and alcohol to numb my pain. I thought that there would never be an end to my suffering if I did not bring about an end myself. I wrote many poems about my feelings during that time. I would like to share some of them here. I was approximately 14-17 when I wrote these. PLEASE NOTE these were written over 15 years ago and in no way reflect my current frame of mind.

Roses

I can smell the roses

Waiting at heaven’ gate

So close to me now.

The palace that I’ve longed for.

They feel my pain

And show me the love that awaits.

A different world full of happiness.

I’m not far from where I want to be.

Closer with each breath I take.

Nearing a chance to escape.

Look back at the things I’ve known,

Kiss them goodbye,

Wipe the tear from my eye.

No regrets.

Moved on to where I belong.

The angels sing me a song.

I’ve passed on to a better place.

I pluck the roses at the door.

This is what I’ve been waiting for.

I’ve found the sweetness I deserve.

 

Falling

I’m falling down into a hole,

I can’t seem to escape.

The further down I fall,

The more I get afraid.

I’m reaching out

For you to catch me,

But you don’t seem to care.

Your face disappears

Into the darkness.

I can’t find you anywhere.

I can’t fight for my life anymore.

I’ll give up instead.

I’m falling down into a hole,

And now I’ve fallen dead.

 

Escape

A quiet girl in a lonely town.

No where to turn, no one around.

Afraid of the feelings she has deep inside.

Searching for a dark place to hide.

Maybe they’ll miss her, maybe they won’t.

They watched her disappear.

She didn’t fit in here.

Wanting to leave this awful place.

Trying to conceal her face.

Looking for a reason to stay.

There are none. Time to depart.

Time to end the pain in her heart.

Just one moment and she’ll be gone.

A smile appears upon her face.

A shot rings out in song.

She’s escaped to where she belongs.

 

When I read these poems and reflect back on this time in my life, I am haunted by two primary thoughts and feelings.

The first are of frustration and disappointment. The notebook these poems were written in went with me everywhere – school, church, work, home. I even submitted Roses for a poetry contest and won. I was, in this way, subtly screaming for someone to notice how desperate I was to die. But no one did. And I just cannot fathom how every adult in my life managed to fail me by ignoring all of the signs. Sometimes I hate them for it.

The second is an incredible sadness that this was my adolescence. What should have been a time of discovering myself, having fun with friends, and preparing for independence, was instead a time during which I was preoccupied with death. It was almost the only thing I ever thought about. I was robbed of the joys of being a teenager. And multiple people are to blame for the theft. And no matter how sorry they are (and not all of them are), I will never be able to relive or rewrite that chapter of my life. My adolescence is etched in stone forever – filled with abuse, pain, trauma, suffering, and a longing for my life to end.

But I’m still here and I thank Jesus for His redemption from that chapter. He knew it wasn’t the final one in my story and now so do I.

 

Grad School September 9, 2012

I am in graduate school while working full time. Its been three weeks since the start of Fall Semester and admittedly I am overwhelmed and exhausted and not sure how I can maintain this pace. This blog is very important to me because it is something that God has been nudging me to do for a while and it is a way for me to live out my life’s purpose of helping and supporting others. I remain committed to this call but I also think its important to share what a struggle it is for me to find the time and energy to share my story with others. At the end of the day, when work and homework have sapped every bit of attention I have, the last thing I want to do is revisit the memories that cause me so much pain. In those moments, I remind myself that someone may benefit from what I have to share and somehow Jesus provides the strength that I do not have within myself. I love to write and so I shall write for anyone who cares to read. I choose to be a survivor.

Perhaps one of the reasons I am really feeling emotionally drained today is because I watched a video and read a chapter for my social work class that covered the topic of sexual abuse. This issue is very personal to me so seeing others suffer from the affects of sexual abuse causes me feelings of sadness and maybe even despair. Why on earth do we as a society allow this pervasive issue to continue eroding our children generation after generation? It baffles me and infuriates me. I hope that someday I can play a small part in changing the way the world responds to sexual perpetrators. Maybe I already have… more on that later. Now its time to sleep.

For those who are feeling exhausted like me, know that God is with you.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

 

Penny September 5, 2012

Filed under: Domestic Violence — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 12:06 am
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Most adults have pets as a part of their childhood memories. Unfortunately for me, each of my pets came with a traumatic experience. Our first dog, a collie named Dolly, was sent to a kennel while we went on a family vacation to Disney World. When we returned, my dad went to pick her up and came back claiming that she had run away from the kennel and was never found. At the age of 3, I was devastated. I still remember how hard I cried – burying my face in the couch as if the world had come to an end. I didn’t find out until I was in my 20s that Dolly had actually been put to sleep because she had bitten my sister. When it came up at dinner and this truth was revealed, my sister and father were both shocked that I had not figured that out by then. At the time, I thought to myself  “How many other lies have I been told in my life that I have foolishly believed?” Apparently, I take other people’s statements at face value, which I’m learning isn’t always a good attribute.

When I was older, approximately age 8, we had a toy poodle named Peaches. It was early in the morning on the day after Halloween and we were getting ready for school. My mom had let the dog outside to go to the bathroom and I heard her whining at the door. I let her inside and immediately realized that she was bleeding pretty severely. Turns out she had literally been bitten in half by a German Shepherd that lived in the home behind ours. She was rushed to the animal clinic where they barely saved her life. They had to remove a large portion of her intestines that had been damaged and suture her stomach back together, but she survived. She lived another 10 or 12 years after that, but those traumatic images of her bleeding profusely were forever lodged in my brain. Even seeing her with stitches after the fact was pretty traumatizing. Outside of this one incident, however, Peaches was the best dog I have ever had. She was present for all my growing up years and was the epitome of man’s best friend.

Between Dollie and Peaches we had Penny for a short time, who definitely carries the worst pet-related story of my childhood. That’s her in the picture above and its the only one that I have of her. We got her as a six week old puppy and only had her for two weeks. We had been keeping her in the laundry room because she was still being potty trained. I was playing in the playroom in the dormer upstairs and heard my father screaming. This was not out of the ordinary so I continued to play. It was only later when the police had arrived that I realized what had happened. Apparently, Penny nipped at my father (as puppies sometimes do) and drew blood. This enraged him and her threw Penny out the back door so hard that her neck snapped when she hit the cement. She died instantly. Yes, that’s right. My father killed my pet when I was just 4 years old. I have two lasting memories from that night. The first is of the police cars parked outside my home on the street. With this image of the police cars – lights glowing brightly – I came to the realization that my father’s fits of rage were not normal. The second memory is an image that is strongly imprinted in my brain. Its a single drip of blood running down the side of our 70s green clothes dryer. At the time, I thought it was Penny’s blood but learned as I got older and the incident was discussed with my mother that the blood belonged to my father. It was from the bite Penny made that caused my father to become so angry. To this day, those colors – that green and blood red – when together cause an anxious reaction in me. It helps that today as an adult I understand that she did not suffer.

The positive result of this incident was that my father was forced to enter a program for batterers. He successfully completed the program and even anonymously endorsed it in the local newspaper a few years later. He was quoted in that article stating that he realized when he killed Penny that he had a serious problem with his anger. And because of the treatment he received, things got better in my family for a long time after that – about six years actually.

Its interesting that with all my pet related trauma, I ended up marrying a lover of animals, a man who works in the veterinary field.

RKB

 

Family Tree August 28, 2012

Filed under: Survivor — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 1:00 am
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Its always helpful for me to have reminders that I do not have to become like my parents and I can choose to stop the cycle of violence. I thank Jesus for giving me the freedom from my past in order to make that choice. Here is a song that illustrates that freedom in a beautiful way.

Family Tree
You didn’t ask for this
Nobody ever would
Caught in the middle of this dysfunction
It’s your sad reality
It’s your messed up family tree
And all your left with all these questions

Are you gonna be like your father was and his father was?
Do you have to carry what they’ve handed down?

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

I have a dream for you
It’s better than where you’ve been
It’s bigger than your imagination
You’re gonna find real love
And you’re gonna hold your kids
You’ll change the course of generations

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

Cause you’re my child
You’re my chosen
You are loved
You are loved

And I will restore
All that was broken
You are loved
You are loved

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re bringing new life to your family tree now
Yes you are
You are

No, this will be your legacy
This will be your destiny
Yesterday did not define you
No, this will be your legacy
This will be your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re bringing new life to your family tree now

~ Matthew West

 

Unwanted and unheard August 27, 2012

Filed under: Religion,Survivor — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 1:01 am
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When I was a little older, 10 or so, my mother once told me that when she learned of my conception, she wept. She said she prayed that I would not be born. She said she was devastated by the realization that she would be bringing another child (I have an older sibling) into a home filled with violence. Violence at the hands of the one who was to protect her and us. I know she didn’t say it to be hurtful. I think it was an attempt to explain how much she wished she could protect me. No matter what her reasons though, the idea that my mother never really wanted me stayed with me always – arising during my darkest moments in life. She actually hoped I would never come to be. God apparently had other plans.

My mother often looked to my sister and I for guidance, advice even regarding the domestic violence. As young as six or seven years old, I can recall my mother weeping on her bed, bruised, sometimes bleeding – as my sister and I quietly assessed her physical injuries, she would ask us – “What should I do?” I was placed in the role of parent before I ever had a chance to play the role of the child. I struggled to find the right words to offer her comfort in those moments because I had no example to follow, no parent to which I could model my behavior. Still, I remember trying my best to convince my mother to take us far away. Mature beyond my years, I begged for her to protect us and remove us from the danger of his wrath, which was unpredictable and erratic as most domestic violence offenders are. As an adult, these whispered conversations with my mother haunt me. My mother asking my opinion and yet never heeding it has a detrimental affect on my current responses in similar situations. The moment someone discounts my voice, all the bodily feelings of being hopeless and powerless rush inside me, quicker than quicksand, dragging me under. The slightest disrespect of my point of view, and I am back in that room, trembling and afraid, and feeling unheard. But I am learning not displace my feelings towards my mother onto others. And I am learning to trust that no matter what, God always hears my voice, even when its whispering.

 

My first memory

Filed under: Abuse — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 12:41 am
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I have this early memory, it seems to be the first memory of my childhood. However, I suspect it isn’t even accurate because I seem to be the age of three but I am sitting in my parent’s bedroom in a house we didn’t move into until I was five. Nevertheless, it exists in my brain for some reason – perhaps because of comments others have made or pictures I have seen or perhaps because of the memory’s symbolism, but most likely it is a combination of all those things and some portion of reality. Anyway, here is the memory that has made its home in my mind.

It’s a typical evening in my childhood home. The windows are open and a light summer breeze flows through the house. I’m trying to drown out the noise of shouting in the other room by softly humming to myself. I am three years old. I’m sitting at my mother’s vanity in my parents’ bedroom, running her brush through my pale blonde curls. The yelling draws nearer. My father bursts through the door. In a rage, he grabs the nearest item he can get his hands on, my mother’s black purse. Without hesitation, he hurls it across the room and it smashes the mirror before my innocent face. I don’t remember if I cried or what happened next, but that image of shattered glass and my broken reflection is a vivid picture in my mind. Again, I’m not even sure this ever occurred, but it symbolizes my lost innocence, which was taken far too soon.

RKB

 

Beauty from ashes August 23, 2012

Filed under: Emotional Pain — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 1:52 am
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So, you might be wondering why I chose the name beauty from ashes daughter for my blog. Well, I am a beloved daughter of God and beauty from ashes seems to me to be the most poetic phrase to capture the essence of my life. It, of course, originates from scripture:

“To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness.”      Isaiah 61:3

But I have found an even better description of this concept and it comes from the song whose lyrics are found below.

If I had a theme song for my life, this would be it.

Beauty from Pain

The lights go out all around me
One last candle to keep out the night
And then the darkness surrounds me
I know I’m alive but I feel like I’ve died
And all that’s left is to accept that it’s over
My dreams ran like sand through the fists that I made
I try to keep warm but I just grow colder
I feel like I’m slipping away

After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I’ve cried my last, there’ll be beauty from pain
Though it won’t be today, someday I’ll hope again
And there’ll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

My whole world is the pain inside me
The best I can do is just get through the day
When life before is only a memory
I’ll wonder why God lets me walk through this place
And though I can’t understand why this happened
I know that I will when I look back someday
And see how you’ve brought beauty from ashes
And made me as gold purified through these flames

After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I’ve cried my last, there’ll be beauty from pain
Though it won’t be today, someday I’ll hope again
And there’ll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

Here I am at the end of me (at the end of me)
Tryin’ to hold to what I can’t see (to what I can’t see)
I forgot how to hope
This night’s been so long
I cling to Your promise
There will be a dawn

After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I’ve cried my last, there’ll be beauty from pain
Though it won’t be today, someday I’ll hope again
And there’ll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

-Superchick

So I remind myself each day that the abuse is over and that this new day that God has blessed me with is my crown of beauty and I must wear it well.
RKB

 

My story – the short version August 22, 2012

Filed under: Survivor — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 1:20 am
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I was raised in an atmosphere of domestic violence from the ages of 0-14. Shouting, threatening, and breaking things was the norm in my world. My mother finally chose divorce when I was 14. During this tumultuous time, when I was at my most vulnerable, I began to be sexually molested by a youth group leader at my church. This continued for two years. Then, I disclosed the sexual abuse to my mother. She called me a liar. I recanted my claim as a result of this and didn’t talk about the abuse with her again until many years later.

At 16, I turned away from God and turned toward alcohol and drugs to numb my pain. Thankfully, through the death of a friend, He pulled me back to Him about a year later. I recommitted my life to Jesus and He has faithfully walked with me, and I with Him, ever since.

Now I am married to an amazingly supportive Christian man who has taught me what real love is. I work at a counseling agency for children who have experienced trauma. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Family Life Education. I am in graduate school at the University of Toledo.  I am ridiculously busy, but God is calling me to do this, so here I am.

I hope to blog once or twice a week, sharing stories from my life and experiences in no particular order. I will include poetry I have written, song lyrics that speak to me, and Bible verses that have brought me hope and healing. I’ll share about my struggles with anxiety and depression and the counseling I have sought to deal with those diagnoses. I’ll discuss my issues with food and weight and how I am reclaiming my health at this time. I intend to write about my interactions with the court system and how it is hopelessly flawed. Finally, I’ll probably occasionally offer some advice on how to keep children safe, how to fight against a system that lets perpetrators roam free, how to find mental health therapy that works, and how to advocate for yourself and your children.

Much love to my fellow survivors as I begin this journey.

 

Fulfilling my purpose August 19, 2012

Filed under: Mission,Purpose — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 7:03 pm
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I have started this blog so I can attempt to fulfill God’s purpose for my life. My personal mission statement is: To move and encourage the broken toward healing in Christ through the power of my testimony. Here goes…

 

 
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