Beauty from ashes daughter

Words of hope from an abuse survivor

My spiritual battle with food November 14, 2012

When I was a child and adolescent, suffering from the affects of domestic violence in my home and the subsequent sexual abuse, food often became a source of comfort for me. Sugary sweets and carbohydrate rich foods satisfied a deep emptiness within me, if even for a short time. Looking back, I know that I did what I needed to do in order to survive that time period. I do not blame myself for the choices I made at the time because I was managing the best that I could with the resources I had available to me. At the time, the method worked for me. Unfortunately, it also ingrained a pattern of self-reliance on food that has stayed with me into adulthood.

 

Its been about 12 years since I have been out on my own and sufficiently distanced from my perpetrators. Yet, the method of using food as a coping mechanism has remained. Now this habit has begun to affect my health. I am overweight and at high risk for diabetes. I am lethargic and easily exhausted. I am unhappy with my appearance, but even more so, with the way that I feel physically.

 

For years, the truth that I lack self-control and am not properly caring for the body God has blessed me with has weighed heavily on my heart. However, whenever I have attempted to change my habits, I always succeed for a while and then revert to old ways.

 

Around May of this year, I picked up a book at the Christian bookstore – Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst. With the help of this author, I have come to realize that my battle with food is a spiritual one. God cares about what I eat and turning to Him as my source of strength in this battle is the only way I will ever defeat the power that food has over me. I have also learned that when I value food above everything else, when it is the one thing that is constantly consuming my thoughts, I am worshiping another god besides Jesus. I am breaking one of the ten commandments by putting food above God. With this realization came the understanding that I have to replace my cravings for food with cravings for Jesus because He is the only one who can fill the void in my soul.

 

For the first time in my life, I have been able to tackle the issues of healthy eating and exercise with motivation that is greater than this world. It isn’t about losing weight or looking good, but about being obedient to God’s will for my life, which is to be wholly dependent on Him and Him alone.

 

On July 22, I began using a fitness app on my iPod called My Fitness Pal. There, I track my calories every day. I also started walking more with both my husband and some close spiritual friends. I have surprised myself with the distances I have been able to walk. My initial goal when starting this journey was to lose 20 lbs by Thanksgiving, which I have already achieved. But my greatest satisfaction comes from knowing that I am doing what God wants me to do. And my relationship with Him is deepening because when I am struggling with cravings, I turn to Him to get me through.

 

I have added my weight loss badge to my sidebar so that my progress will be continually shared. I have 42 more lbs to go to reach my goal weight.

 

This is just one more step I am taking to reclaim all that was taken from me by my abusers. I hope it will serve as an inspiration for others to do the same.

 

RKB

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Guilty and overwhelmed October 18, 2012

Filed under: Overwhelmed — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 12:48 am
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So its been almost a month since I have written a post for this blog. I am feeling incredibly guilty about this.

It started out with me just needing a break. I was getting a little triggered by the writing about sexual abuse here and the reading about sexual abuse for my class. I started having nightmares about my perpetrator. I thought I’d just take a week or so off, take care of myself, and then get back to it.

Then midterms for grad school took me by surprise with much greater demands for my time than expected.

Just as I was recovering from that, my grandmother died.

I probably would have felt better if I had been blogging throughout that whole process, but I just couldn’t seem to find enough hours in the day.

So, I’ve had a rough month. I’m still feeling very overwhelmed with all that I have on my plate between work, school, and family.

I’m giving myself permission to write shorter posts and hoping that will help me get back to sharing my experiences with y’all.

Please forgive me for my absence!

 

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

 

My first memory August 27, 2012

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

 

 
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