Baptism

…… a work in progress……..

I sat there in the back, on that broken wooden pew, my head down, my fingers twisting against themselves. I kept my sweater pulled tightly around myself; a cotton bubble intended to shelter me from the world, protection for my soft raw heart,

and I wail.

I do not just cry,

(this pain in unearthly, this pain is beyond all)

I wail. Every tear is ripped from my soul with brutal force, and I wail with every breath. Moaning desperate smothered screams, heaving ragged breathes.

I’m drowning in my own fears and self-constructed failures. I’m drowning in this red sea of disconnected loneliness. I stretch my hand out and reach for Jesus, but I only grab handfuls of forgotten

broken, cutting words. Words like jagged glass on a sandy beach. I grab them, clenching them in my fist. I try to pull myself out of this desperate and dirty water

but I just bleed from a million tiny cuts and fall deeper

under the lies of my life

and I wail. I plead, I beg, I wail….. please Jesus take this pain from me. Please Lord lift me up out of this turmoil that is me. I cry out to him to save me from this rancid demented

sickness that is me. I struggle to breath, I wrestle to pull myself out as I wail, imploring God to free me.

I grow weary and let go. My hands loosen and the broken lies crushed from my grip fall away chased by ribbons of my tainted blood. They disappear as I sink

deeper into blindingly beautiful water, water like diamonds, water like rainbows; and I breathe it in

this gloriously living water fills me. It feels like joy, it feels like sweet music, it feels like light freed from darkness. I’m gratefully drowning in love, drowning in grace, drowning in cleansing blood.

I float deeper still, as a leaf will float from a tree, and the beauty is beyond earthy words.

Fire fills my belly and my tongue learns a new way to pray. It feels like courage, it feels like thunder, it feels like overwhelming love. I’m joyfully dancing in the flames of his love, dancing in his glory, dancing in praise.

Peacefully dying in His presence.

The world is shocking as I’m pulled out of icy water. I gasp but can not remember how to speak, I cry elated tears but make no sound. My heart is new and rejoices, but my soul yearns.

I try to say ‘Lay me down, put me back’ but no sounds escape my lips.

My heart may sing Hallelujah; but my soul, it misses Him.

Loved

Forgotten;
Like fall leaves fallen, Unnamed.
Like painful memories buried, Secret shame.
Like cold coffee unfinished, Left behind.

Left behind;
Like babies on door steps, Unclaimed.
Like blemished produce on the vine, Undesired.
Like pennies on pavement, Found.

Found;
Like truth after a lie, Discovered.
Like sheep in the valley, Rescued.
Like my soul in anguish, Saved.

Saved;
Like coins in a jar, Valued.
Like photographs in frames, Cherished.
Like a woman reaching for His garment’s hem, Beloved.

Beloved;
Like snow in sunlight, Pure.
Like grass after a storm, Clean.
Like whispers in the dark, Loving.

Loving;
Like His blood on thorns, Sacrifice.
Like pursuing your one and only, Relentless.
Like living fire, Healing.

Breathless Love

Your caresses enfold me,
like climbing vines on melancholy walls.
I had forgotten your love,
now I seem to glimpse you in every window.

Because of you, my heart shatters and mends anew each day,
I achingly crave the beauty of your love.

(my bridegroom)

I had forgotten; that you created me with your very own hands;
I didn’t realize; how desperately you desired my love.

Because of you, I love even unremembered men drowsing in parks
the lost men that have neither voice nor sight.

I had forgotten your voice, your roaring still voice;
I did not yet know how to listen.

(El Qanna)

By your eternal sacrifice;
I am freed from the bonds of my transgressions.
I live victoriously, like it is my birthright;
if I should stumble, your hand will steady me.

Because of you, I love even the men who scarred me;
because of your Grace; I again seek your Word, Holy words that conquer my flesh:
prophetic preachers and dedicated disciples.

(Adonai)

Your caresses enfold me,
like climbing vines on melancholy walls.
I had forgotten your love,
now I seem to glimpse you in every window.

An open letter.

My dearest sister;

I saw you today.  I saw you buying groceries and counting pennies. I saw you struggling under the weight of your own existence.  I saw your slumped shoulders and curved spine; the result of  consistent exhaustion.  I couldn’t help but watch youpray for you.

I saw the panic in your eyes as you rushed through your shopping. I saw the fear etched across your face; a map of pain.  I ached to reach out to you, but I have to let you reach out first.  I wanted to save you, but you have to take those first steps alone.  I promise sister;  someone will take your hand when you do.

I saw you see me.  You looked straight at me but didn’t recognize me.  You glanced at my crown, the light in my eyes, and quickly looked down.  I wish you would have looked again.  You saw my blessings, my victory; all real, true things. But if you would have looked a little longer, you would have seen the river of scars carved across my skin.  Scars that match your own wounds. 

We are the same, my warrior sisterOur blood and tears (spilled in combat) soak the ground.  I walked off that battlefield victorious, and so can you.  I would be honored to  fight alongside you.  We all would.

I saw you leave, I saw him impatiently waiting.  I heard his voice; angry, sharp; the hot blade of a knife across your raw skin.  I heard you answering; sorry for everything (even the breath in your lungs). I heard your voice today, tired and timid; and maybe just maybe you sounded a tiny bit pissed off. I pray you still feel that spark in your belly.

I saw you today, my beloved sister, I saw you walking in defeat.  I saw you today and I cried.  Hours later I still cry.  I cry for you and for me.  I cry for the woman we were, and the women we will be.  I cry for all the real men who would, but can not protect us.

Sisters, I can not stress this enough. You can leave, the door is there. He may tell you that the door is locked but I promise you, it will swing open with a touch. Everything he has ever said to you is a lie. I know you believe he loves you, or that you love him; love doesn’t come with blood and fear, violence and cages. Trauma bonding mimics love; if love was twisted insanity. You were wonderfully and fearfully made, you deserve so much more. Sister, life is waiting for you.

Here is information on trauma bonding. https://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2015/10/what-is-trauma-bonding/

Reach out, help is waiting. thehotline.org

Secrets, Shadows, and Precious Seeds

I write often about about speaking out, yet I write under a pen name and hide my face. I’ve been talking the the talk, but not walking the walk. I’m still hiding from my shame; still letting fear choose my path. Sisters; It’s a tiresome thing.

For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. -Luke 8:17

Since leaving my abuser, my life has only been victorious. It is a life filled with sunlight and laughter, small successes and constant amazement. Sisters, mountains tremble and leap out of my way when they see my crown. So why do I work so hard to keep my words a secret from my ex-abuser?

I plead with you to show the world your festering wounds, as I expertly cover my own. I hide my secret in darkness; it sits in my heart like a dead thing. There can be no harvest if there is no light. It’s time for me to speak up in a real way, sisters. It’s time to sow, it’s time to toil; it’s just time. Almost simultaneously, two seperate things have cracked my carefully applied mask.

I would have hidden indefinitely, but God has a way of calling his daughters higher. A beloved warrior sister called; sending my mind running in jagged circles. She reached out to me, asking me to be a speaker. She has asked me to stand up, in front of a multitude of women, strip my disguise away; and let my scars bleed in front of their eyes. She has taken me to task, the way I have taken all of you to task.

My first instinct was no, no, never; even though I knew the right answer was yes. I can keep walking or perish where I stand. I will rise to this challenge, I will step over my fear, and I will break my silence. I will do it because our scars become beautiful in the light. I will do it because I need to walk back into that battle field, and fight beside my sister warriors still trapped in war. However, I may throw up in my helmet first.

There is a small second thing, sisters. I am almost embarrassed to share this with you. However, this small thing is a huge step in my healing; a poetic intermission in my victory story. There is a man. I never thought I would say those words again. This man planted seeds of hope in desolute terrain. He is a man that inspires respect, admiration. He looks like sunlight wrapped in fire. I can clearly see the warrior in him. He is not mine, yet he has awoken the woman in me; I can feel her light as feathers on my skin. He saw me and named what he saw; beautiful, smart, kind, wanted. His voice has diminished the power of names she once answered to; dumb, cunt, useless, stupid. He has spoken life over my heart: A match in the dark, a hand leading the way out. It is the sweetest thing to be led again; even for a mile or two.

He multiplies my boldness. I had forgotten the math of a good man. Our abusers were men of division and subtraction; every equation ending in null. Sisters, there is another kind of man; his math is addition and multiplication; always ending in transfinite numbers.

Our healing becomes stunted when we continue to protect our shame. Our abusers still win if we appect counsel from our shadowed secrets. Hiding in the dark causes our harvest to be less than bountiful. I will step into the light, sisters, and I will bring you with me. I believe that we can win this war by joining together and we will win it with truth.

As always: if you are living in fear, if your hands shake when the phone rings, if you have panic attacks because a train is too long, if you’re a prisoner of war; reach out there are warriors waiting to help. thehotline.org

Apologies, Sunshine, Trusting

I woke up to a text from my ex-abuser this morning. He apologized for “saying negative things” to me when we were together. It’s like apologizing for staining the carpet, when you’ve burnt the whole house down. Even his apologies are lies.

A narcissistic systematic abuser, will never tell the truth, they don’t understand the concept. In their minds, they are the center of the universe, and the world is theirs to manipulate at will. Therefore, the truth is whatever they want it to be. Truthseekers, like you and me, will wear ourselves out trying to recieve truth from them. We frustrate ourselves trying to reconcile what we know and what they say. It is an impossible goal, best abandoned.

Everyone says that there is healing in forgiving, but for me, the healing has been in the telling. I’m pulling the thorns from my soul, draining the poison from my heart. A woman’s instinct is to be a secret keeper, but some secrets are too ugly to keep.

 Mark 4:22  For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light.

As women, we are created to be submissive; we are never more content or beautiful as when we willingly submit to a man of kindness and integrity.

1 Timothy 2:11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.

Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. 26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Recently, my attitude towards men and dating has shifted. I’m not sure of it’s because of the healing or these warm sunny days; but I have remembered a long forgotten truth. A good man will increase our power, no matter how vulnerable and submissive we are. Whatever we give to him, he will multiply and return. That, my sisters, is a beautiful and magical thing. A thing worthy of our efforts. Those men that seek to destroy our power, who take and never return; they are just despicable caricatures of what God intended when he made men over women.

The hardest part for me was learning to trust. Sisters hear me when I say, I do not want you to trust any man who smiles your way. Hopefully, we have all learned that lesson by now. We have to learn to trust ourselves again. We have to trust our ability to to know truth from lie, our own judgement, our instincts. That is one of our many challenges on this road to victory. Women need the good things a man brings to her table to completely flourish, no matter how strong, capable, and joyful she is. It’s like the sun shining on a common flower; the beauty escalates.

If you’re being abused, you can leave, there are people ready to help. Contact your local child service department or women’s out reach program. Thehotline.org is also a great resource. There is life waiting for you sisters. Come join me in the light.

Returning to Battle, Gaining Ground, Even If I Tremble

Proverbs 31:8-9 
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Sisters, our bible teaches that we should help those in need and stand up for what is right. It teaches to advocate and to not fear. It seems simple on paper. In reality, you’re walking back into the battlefield. Your putting your armor on, picking up your sword, and fighting along side another warrior. Her fight becomes yours, and blood will flow.

If an abuser learns to abuse from his parents, then logic tells us that his family will also be abusers; brothers, cousins, nephews, sons. It becomes a twisted family tradition, even an expectation.

I’ve overheard some distressing comments coming from my ex abuser when his nephew would call. “If I was you I’d go back in there and slice up every piece of furniture in the house…. tell the cops she hit herself, she’s crazy…. no listen, you were here, no you were here with us, tell them that… don’t give her time to file a restraining order, you file first” Do you feel sick yet? There’s more.

My abuser’s twin, also an abuser. He’s was recently convicted of domestic battery resulting in moderate bodily injury. He lives with his wife and their three kids. A life of domestic terror. I love his kids, I love his wife. I even kind of love him. I hate what he does. I’ve watched his boys change from sweet boys to raging men; I will always regret not helping them sooner. But time passes, and a new generation begins.

A new generation. A new baby. A nephew, no longer a boy, but a man. A baby cousin for my daughter. Babies are so precious. I will say this, that boy loves his baby with every ounce of his being. He’d slaughter dragons for her and then sing her songs, all in the same day. Sweet isn’t it? My stories aren’t sweet though.

This baby has a mother, I will call her Eve. The cops have had to help her a few times when he’s hit her. Stalked her. Destroyed her property. He learned well. She’s young, so is he. She has two slightly older kids. She struggles, but she tries. Her parenting isn’t on trial here. She is a mother, she has a baby. She has a baby with a man who is an abuser who comes from a family of abusers.

Eve is a sweet girl, almost no education, no resources, no support. She’s a sister warrior from the same war and I keep her close. I pray for her, let her be strong. She calls me last week, “Jenny they got me, they got me good.”

She tells me the whole story. She let my ex-nephew take the baby for a visit; 2 days went by, no baby, then another week. Finally they call her. They’re going to pick Eve up and take her to get the baby. At this point I already know, and my blood boils.

They didn’t take Eve to her baby, they took her to a lawyer. They tell her sign this paper and you can have her. They tell her sign this paper or we will drag you through court, we will win. Sign this paper and you’ll still have her on weekends, sign this paper signing away your parental rights. Give us your baby, or else.

Bless her heart. The girl asks me if she can take them to court in a few months when she can afford a lawyer to regain custody. She didn’t even know the difference between custody and parental rights.

This is an old trick of my abuser, skipping court proceedings with paperwork. Nortarized paperwork signed in distress or fear or with false promises. He has even had them signed days before they are notarized. Slippery isn’t it? I know the trick, and I know about the grace period.

I help her write an affidavit to redact and file it with the court house. I call the abused women’s outreach, so now Eve has an advocate, a new best friend. She needs one, she is rightfully scared out of her mind. She is afraid of losing her baby and she is afraid of fighting back. Eve’s life is now one of hotel rooms, restraining orders, and looking behind her. She has her baby though, and now knows she can fight back. We’ve advanced in battle. We may even win.

Her fight is my fight. Not only because she is our sister in war; but because all the threats and all the tricks they used on her, they used on me first. I know her fear, it is also mine.

There will be attempts at revenge, or justice as they call it. The phone has already rang, the intimidation has already started. It’s worth it though, and I will do it again and again. I pray God give me wisdom and strength. I will never stop fighting this war; this twisted family tradition of violence and bullying ends with my daughter and her baby cousin.

Last words: this was hard to write, it took three days and the words came out jagged and sharp cutting me as they came. I’ll probably edit it again in a few days. The reason is that instead getting out feelings of fear or victory, I’m letting out so much anger. I am so angry that no one ( including me) saved my ex-nephew and he grew up living in violence, I am angry that the men in his life have committed these crimes against women for so long, and our still allowed to do so. I am so angry that because they men they think they have the right to hurt. There is an ocean of blood behind my eyes, and pray I soon feel forgiveness instead)

Staying, Losing, or Leaving

I stay for the kids.”
“It’s okay, he’s never violent to our children.”
“Don’t worry, he never hurts the kids.”

We’ve all said it, we may have even meant it. It sounds good, but it is just another lie in the arsenal of lies told by abusers and repeated by their victims.

“He just gets mad at me, he’s never violent with our kids
Let’s really look at this lie. According to the Center for Disease control; when children live in homes where domestic violence occurs, that child is more than 15 times more likely to be a victim of physical or sexual abuse. This is not referring to future abuse from a different abuser. Listen to me, Your child has a 60% chance of being abused by your abuser. The fact is that your abuser is not violent to your children; yet. You know the fear you live with everyday, now multiply that exponentially with how little your children are. They are little prisoners of war, and it’s not even their war.

He isn’t hurting our children.”
Here are the facts, according to CDC. Nine out of ten, 90%, of children living with domestic violence are eye witnesses at least one time. Around five percent of children witness a parent being severely assaulted, repeatedly. I know those are just numbers, but they are disturbing numbers.

Let’s look at how just seeing this violence harms them. Children who grow up witnessing domestic violence experience psychosocial maladaptation. When your child witnesses your abuse, his/her brain and central nervous system literally changes. These effects include PTSD, antisocial behaviour, depression, anxiety, and separation anxiety. Children will reenact the violence with peers, have recurring nightmares, and become easily agitated. In case that is not enough, they are, also, more likely to have learning disabilities, ADHD, attachment disorder, lower than average intelligence, and are at an increased risk to engage in self-harm.

The truth is this. Your abuse is their abuse. Saying you stay for the kids isn’t just unacceptable. It is a dangerous and negligent lie. They didn’t choose that life, and they certainly deserve better. Their little brains are being damaged in a very real and permanent way. Hormone responses, brain growth, and cognitive function are all drastically harmed. Scars are forming that will last a lifetime.
Staying for the kids is akin to dragging them through an active battlefield. Leave for the kids.

If you need help leaving your abuser, please reach out to your nearest Child Protective Agency. They are trained to help, they are waiting to help, they believe you, and they will help you find your way.
Thehotline.org

Wars, Lies, and Knives

They say that abuse is a cycle, and I do not disagree. I want to say this loud enough so that the people in the back can hear me. ‘Domestic Violence ‘ is a war that is being handed from generation to generation.

Fathers are teaching sons to dominate, control, and terrorize. That there will be no consequences if it’s done in the name of love. Mothers are teaching daughters to submit, to stay, to keep quiet, to wear their shame like a crown. That the word love means no justice. Each new generation bests the previous. We are raising gruesome masters of domestic war.

We have to teach our daughters to fight. We have to teach them to use the weapons God has given them. We need to teach them that they have authority. Our daughters need to know that they are clever, loud, brave, bold. Instead of secret keepers, teach them to be truth speakers. Most importantly, teach them that they are favoured highly by Our Father in heaven. Let your daughters see you fight.

We have to empower them and tend to their emotional wounds, just like we kiss the scrape on their knee or take them to an orthepedic specialist when they break. Our daughters can win this war by never setting foot in the battle field. An abuser can not abuse if there are no victims.

We have to teach our sons kindness and empathy, that the way of their fathers is unacceptable and unjustifiable. Do not let any excuse for any abuser stand in their minds. Show them your scars, do not hide the truth. And mothers tend your sons’ scars with love. Let them cry, let them be afraid, teach them to be responsible with their anger and strength. Boys love their mama beyond all reason. Watching you suffer and being helpless to stop your pain can harden them. Let your boys love you. They are something new, they are not their fathers. They can grow into righteous men, kind and just, if you show them how.

You have to let your children be a part of your recovery. You have to honest and transparent. Give them the gift of truth, for secrets are poison. Let them see you tremor when you are afraid, let them see you cry when you are sad, let them see your righteous anger. But do not let them see you lie, do not lie to protect your abuser, do not lie to make him seem better, or worse than he is, do not lie about your path, your choices. A discovered lie with grow in your child’s mind like ivy creeper, cracking the very foundation of your relationship.

Proverbs 22:6 
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it

There is a far off memory, crisp in the center but blurry around the edges that prompted this entry. I’m going to do my best now to find right words to share that moment with you.


I was young, a 7 year old girl playing with dolls in my new bedroom, in my mother’s new husband’s house. I would’ve been outside, except for the rain. In my child’s mind I blamed the rain for the events of that day. My mom’s piercing scream broke through whatever daydream I was lost in. Screaming for me to come here and help her, screaming my name. Why she didn’t scream for me to call the police or run to a neighbor is beyond me. She screamed for me to come bear witness and for me to help her. So I tried. I ran in there with a butter knife of all things. And as he kneeled astride her, slamming her head into the floor, I stabbed him. Three times in the back. At least I thought I did, he reached behind him and swatted me away sending me sprawling across the room. I ran to the neighbors, I remember that much. They didn’t help much. A step uncle and aunt picked me up. They spoiled me and explained how a family’s business stays in the family. They explained silence to me. I heard them. I dont remember going home, or how my mother looked, I don’t remember her talking to me about it. I do remember my mother’s monster apologizing and asking me to remind him to count to 10 if he got angry. I remember laughing at some joke and him hugging me good night. I even remember trying to remind him to count to 10 a few days later when he beat her so bad she couldn’t get out of bed for a week. She left him, she did good, she fought back and left. But the next husband was worse, and she spent 10 years in that hell. Most of them with me by her side. I watched her change, lessen, until she went crazy.

Around the age of 13 or 14, I started experiencing chronic body pain, severe dizziness, fainting spells, and extreme fatigue. I was taken to doctors, specialists, they ran test after test. They couldn’t find anything wrong with me. I remember being asked by each new doctor and nurse; is there abuse in the home, is your home safe? I lied everytime, I was a secret keeper. I always was a quick study.

Bed, Dead, and Fired

I talk about my non-marriage and the trauma of living with a systemic abuser.  I talk about the road to recovery and all the victories.  I talk about the saving grace of Jesus. 

What I haven’t talked about is how deep those scars run.  I haven’t told you about the fault lines in my mind.  My nervous system is a minefield, one misstep and the whole thing explodes.  I haven’t told you, that for every time I overcome the fear, there is time that I don’t.

Usually it’s small things; backing down when I should speak up.  Walking away instead of staying.  Staying home when I should show up.  I’m missing out on life, and I comfort myself with lies.  I tell myself that I didn’t want to go, or I didn’t have anything to say, or I’ll do better next time.  A lullaby of lies.

On Thursdays my ex-abuser picks our daughter up for his joint parenting time.  She does not want to go.  She begs and cries to stay.  This last time he had to pry her off of me. It is heart wrenching. It is sickening.  It is killing me.  I don’t have the tools to fix it.  I feel helpless, hopeless, scared; on her behalf.

This past Friday, I woke up at 6 a.m. for work.  I was getting dressed when it hit me.  My heart exploded in my chest, I threw up, my eyesight was blurry, my body shivered, and sweat poured down my back, my face.  I could not go.  I couldn’t make myself.  I disconnected entirely.

I spent the next three days in bed, I didn’t call in, I didn’t answer messages.  I stayed in bed and pretended I didn’t exist.  I stayed disconnected until an hour before my daughter came home.

I finally messaged my supervisor this evening.  I still didn’t have the nerve to call.  She’ll let me know tomorrow if I still have a job.  It would be a miracle if I do. I managed to miss 3 consecutive days. I didn’t show up, I didn’t call.  I didn’t even care. I forgot how.

For three days, I was nothing but a breathing corpse. And I can’t even promise it won’t happen again.

I am not alone in this skewed reality.  This war has claimed many.  Some die in battle, and some make it out alive; heavily wounded but breathing. Some never know that they can leave.

We have to keep telling our stories.  We need to keep finding ways to tend our wounded.  And the consequences for an abuser… those need to be much more… effective.  

I’m so overly emotional today, that I’m just going to stop, and leave this unfinished.

If you need help, reach out  thehotline.org