A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Suicide Prevention

If you have ever felt suicidal, dear reader, what strategies have you used to avoid ending your life? Maybe by sharing our experiences we can help others.

Helovesme said:

I tried to kill myself because I had been abused for so long, and I couldn’t take it anymore. The Lord used it to get a hold of me, but attempted suicide can be a touchy subject. Even in Christian circles, there can be a great deal of ignorance about it.

It’s not the coward’s way out, nor is it the easy way out. Seriously—-there is nothing easy or cowardly about contemplating, and then trying to take your own life.

There can also be a stigma attached to it, just like a stigma may be attached to admitting your were abused. People may look at you differently, and the difference may not be complimentary!

There is no condemnation for those that are in Christ. Never ever believe His wrath is aimed at you for being abused. His wrath is directed entirely at the abuser who dared to hurt one of His precious sheep.

I understand why many people keep their stories about abuse to themselves. It’s very private and very personal. Without a doubt, you never have to talk about it unless you are 100% able and willing to.

Again—you have nothing to be ashamed of. If Christ holds nothing against you, neither should you.

James said:

Many years ago I picked up a young hitch hiker, maybe 18yo. He was going on about a family friend who had committed suicide and saying how they were weak, cowardly and selfish, etc. I asked a few questions and quickly realised that this boy was merely repeating statements he had heard the adults around him saying and now thought of as his own wisdom.

It was a bit of a sore point with me because I had spent many years contemplating suicide myself. So I asked him, “Do you think this person was in pain?” “Yes,” came the answer. So I then asked, “How much pain would you have to be in to take your own life?”

It was a quiet trip after that.

Helovesme said:

Those that do not contemplate or attempt suicide are not be seen as superior – as if they “handled” their trials or abuse so much better than those that did.

Anonymous said:

I know you have your workload cut out for you, and it’s your blog, but perhaps you might want to do a blog posting on “Why You Shouldn’t Suicide” for the really mangled, severely abused women out there. It’s something I continually deal with and I know I’ve read it in so many other abused women’s accounts, where suicide is very much on the minds of abused women.

Then other readers can comment on what they do to get through the day, how they stopped themselves from suiciding, and people can support one another.

When Anonymous made this suggestion, I initially thought it was a great idea. Then I got cold feet. How can I dare risk publishing a post about suicide prevention? I might say something wrong, or say something poorly, which would lead to someone taking their own life. It’s too scary for me to do this!

For several nights after Anonymous had made her suggestion, I had awful dreams. Dreams where I was feeling frenzied churning. In those few days, when I was awake and reflecting on the feeling state I’d had in those dreams, I realised that the dreams were (i) my remembrance of the times in my life when I felt suicidal, and (ii) were also perhaps the Holy Spirit giving me windows of empathy into the feelings of many other victims of abuse who have, or will be, or are, contemplating suicide.

And in my daily Bible reading, these passages came up:

Psalm 6, CSB
Lord
, do not rebuke me in your anger;

do not discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, Lord, for I am weak;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are shaking;
my whole being is shaken with terror.

And you, Lord — how long?

Turn, Lord! Rescue me;
save me because of your faithful love.
For there is no remembrance of you in death;
who can thank you in Sheol?

I am weary from my groaning;
with my tears I dampen my bed
and drench my couch every night.
My eyes are swollen from grief;
they grow old because of all my enemies.

Depart from me, all evildoers,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea for help;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
All my enemies will be ashamed and shake with terror;
they will turn back and suddenly be disgraced.

1 John 3:18-22, NMB
My babes, let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
For by this we know that we are of the truth, and can quiet our hearts before him.
But if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and knows all things.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, then we have trust before God – 
and whatever we ask, we shall receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

I put a verse of the 1 John passage in bold, because it might help some folks who are feeling suicidal. But if you are feeling suicidal and that verse I emphasised doesn’t help you, please forgive me.

I know from personal experience how convoluted and uniquely personal one’s thinking can be when one is feeling suicidal. Each of us is different. And just because I’ve felt suicidal at times in my life, doesn’t mean I understand all the ins and outs of your thinking if you are feeling suicidal.

From the pen of the man [William Tyndale] who later faced his own martyrdom without flinching, came words of consolation and encouragement to those who had recanted [those who, under persecution by the Roman church, had denied their faith].

In his “Obedience of the Christian Man” Tyndale wrote:

If any man clean against his heart (but overcome with the weakness of the flesh), for fear of persecution have denied, as Peter did, or have delivered his book or put it away secretly [book = the New Testament which Tyndale had translated into English or any other book which the authorities at that time had forbidden], let him (if he repent), come again, and take better hold, and not despair, or take it for a sign that God hath forsaken him.

For God ofttimes takes His strength even from His very elect, when they either trust in their own strength or are negligent to call on Him for His strength. And that doth He to teach them, and to make them feel, that in the fire of tribulation, for His word’s sake nothing can endure and abide save His work, and that strength only which He hath promised. For the which strength He will have us to pray unto Him, night and day, with all instance.

“God’s Outlaw: The Story of William Tyndale and the English Bible” – Brian H Edwards, (Evangelical Press: Darlington, 1976) p 125.

I will end with another scripture, James 5:13a.
If any of you be vexed with sorrows, let him pray.

***

For folks who are not themselves feeling suicidal but want to know how to help people who might be contemplating suicide, I recommend the website Mental Health First Aid. It’s an Australian website and it has several PDFs that you can download.

 

68 Comments

  1. Thank you for highlighting this problem, Barb.
    I also thought of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians, that those suffering this kind of pain might know, with all the saints, what is the breadth and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.
    Sometimes God’s people have been so beaten up and have not had their wounds bound up (Ezekiel 34) by the shepherds, and they really need to be reminded of the love of Christ again and again.
    Of course, don’t we all?
    Thank you for reaching out here

  2. Finding Answers

    For many years now, I have understood the pain and suffering of those who have committed suicide, as well as the people suicide affected.

    There are MANY times the idea of committing suicide passed through my mind, though I never took action / attempted to take action.

    I have NO idea how I made it through these times, nor have I any suggestions / advice that might help anyone else.

    The people I have encountered who have been affected by suicide have all been so different, I could (can) only respond to the individual(s) in the moment.

    The ONLY thing I knew / know how to do differently was / is avoid the mockery / indifference / guilt-tripping I received.

  3. Anonymous

    I once had a dream where I had done something that was hazy in the dream but it was something harmful to either myself or another – something that was not able to be undone and restored. It was unclear in the dream the exact details except that it was harmful and not able to be reversed, whether it was suicide, murder, or some permanent incapacitation of some sort.

    In the dream, I was standing before God and God asked me a simple question, “Why did you not just leave?” — implying that I should have left before I did this irrevocable harm to a person, perhaps me or someone else.

    When I woke up I could not figure out the meaning of the dream, but I felt it was important and so I kept meditating on it, trying to make sense of it and praying about it for insight.

    Eventually, I came up with a plausible interpretation and took action based on this dream and my interpretation. I was in a stressful relationship and did not see a way to leave and be faithful. My dream as I interpreted it led me to leave without figuring it all out. Leaving was very scary, for all I knew, my new situation would be worse, perhaps much worse. But I left anyway, even though I only had a little light for a few steps. Taking those few steps was important. I look back and am glad I had the dream and acted on it. I was going to walk into the potentially very scary unknown just trusting God when nothing else was making much sense.

    I most certainly am thankful for the dream and I think it was my Abba God leading me by the hand.

    [Paragraph breaks added for readability and clarity – Eds]

  4. E

    After struggling for several years with suicidal thoughts that included taking my young children with me (described in Psalm 88), the precious promises in Psalm 118 effected healing from them:

    5 I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me…

    6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man [INCLUDING MYSELF] do unto me?

    7 The Lord taketh my part…

    8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man [INCLUDING MYSELF].

    9 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes…

    13 … the Lord helped me….

    14 The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.

    17 I SHALL NOT DIE (my emphasis), BUT LIVE, and declare the works of the Lord.

    18 The Lord … hath not given me over unto death.

    21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.

    23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.

    24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

    25 Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.

    28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.

    29 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

    **I was not in the grips of a mind-crushing manipulator at that time, though, and removing that from life is what I have seen help in others’ lives to hear the Lord again, and to feel able to pray again. There must be great spiritual satanic darkness and oppression where the reprobate mind wolf lurks:

    “Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad…” Ecclesiastes 7:7

    • HeLovesMe

      What beautiful verses!! Thanks so much for sharing them, and your story.

      The end of Psalm 27 is also one of my favorites to meditate on:

      What, what would I have become, had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living!

  5. Helovesme

    Barbara, each of your posts reflects such growth in the Lord. I see Him working in you and through you to extend compassion and comfort—-for that, we all thank you! And we thank the Lord, too, of course.

    Sometimes those that have attempted suicide might fall into a trap that Pastor Sam brought up in “My Two-Bits” post.

    Just because you have experienced something yourself (aka a suicide attempt), does not necessarily mean you are qualified to counsel others who have undergone the same or similar experience. Or are considering taking their own lives. Tread very, very carefully.

    The presence of the Holy Spirit in your life is not a full-on qualification to attempt counseling. Ironically, it takes quite a “dose” of the Holy Spirit to know when to restrain yourself (guess what? you don’t have or know all the answers. Direct them to someone who has training.)

    But never forget—-any and all believers are qualified and equipped to show comfort and compassion. You don’t need a counseling degree for that.

    Along that thread, I found extreme comfort and consolation in the prophet Jeremiah. He was on the younger side when he was called to prophesy. I too was barely 19 when the Lord got a hold of me, and I was 18 when I had tried to kill myself.

    So Jeremiah resonated with me. I also found a kindred spirit in him when he poured out his despair—he didn’t hold back. He was determined to be faithful and remain committed to the Lord (something I was hoping to emulate), but he made it clear it was no picnic at times:

    “Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!” (Jeremiah 20:14)

    “Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them” (Jeremiah 9:2).

    I too am like Barb in that I worry that I might encourage people in the exact opposite way that I am intending! So I won’t offer any more verses along this line. Please understand that knowing I wasn’t alone gave me hope. Even the “greats” in the Bible hit very low points!

    My suicide attempt was less about wanting to die, than wanting to escape. Make no mistake, I knew what I was doing when I swallowed all those pills. I knew I was putting myself in danger

    But to this day I don’t know if I was 100% committed to wanting to die. When I was taken to the emergency room, I panicked and fearfully asked the nurse if I was going to die. She said, no, I was not going to die. And I willingly took the potion they concocted so I would throw up the poison out of my system.

    I now think that I wanted to be in as much pain as possible so that I did not have to deal with the emotional pain that had built up over most of my life. I started out by cutting myself, which ran along that same principle. My dad took his anger out on me, and I in turn took my anger out on myself.

    I paid a dear price for my dad’s choosing and insisting on controlling and punishing us. In turn I paid a dear price for having to shoulder the consequences of his choices, and I then made choices that hurt and punished my body. My body and soul bore great scars.

    My mom, who took me to the ER—-was not at all happy to have done so. My dad and I had had a terrible fight that night which was the tipping point for me, but he chose to stay home. My mom did not stay with me in the hospital room, and one of the first things she said was what a stupid thing I had done.

    Often, it’s the aftermath of a suicide attempt that is almost, if not more painful than the actual trauma of an attempt. When we got home, it was as if I had left this world. No one spoke to me immediately afterwards. I won’t got into tons of details—I mean to encourage and believe me, it will drag any readers down even more if I kept going!

    I didn’t realize, at the time, that I was likely a prime candidate to attempt suicide again. I did not go down that road, but I never completely shook off the tendency for my thoughts to become suicidal (especially when my life was about as unbearable as I could handle)—-But I never intended to and never did carry out those thoughts.

    In the last four years or so, I’ve suffered trauma in multiple ways. I liken it to being in an automobile accident: I was slammed into on all sides. So it was a “pile up” of epic proportions. Imagine the aftermath of broken glass, broken hearts and broken relationships.

    Worst of all, I know who the drivers of those cars are. They were all people I trusted. They were all people I had a strong bond with and a strong love for. They emerged unscathed for the most part, but I have suffered multiple wounds in multiple ways.

    It is just as hard to decide to live, and not passively neglect what it takes to actively live, actively engage in life.

    You aren’t actively trying to destroy or take your own life, but you are passively doing just that. Note: I’m not a danger to myself or anyone else. I wake up and I do my best.

    What I mean to articulate is that it’s a fight to want to actively live, and actively choose to do so. Indifference to life is a passive form of expressing a contempt for life. And it has strong consequences. Indifference is a stationary state of being. You are devoid of active choosing, but that fact in of itself IS a choice.

    If you are like that (like me, basically)—-you aren’t alone. And don’t despair. This may be part of your story, but it’s not the end of your story. Maybe it’s a very LONG chapter in your story! I’ll say it again—-this does not and hopefully WILL not define the end of your story.

    I’ve had a lot of people around me act as though I don’t exist anymore, very much the same way my family acted long ago. Either I have done something to deserve it, or I have ceased to be useful to them, or I am just not worth their time. OR, I have chosen to cut them loose.

    You can imagine how that feels, given my past. Most of them don’t know about it, but likely it would not change anything.

    If you are here—alive and breathing and a part of this world—He has a plan for you. He doesn’t care what others have to say. Their thoughts and opinions about this mean absolutely nothing to Him.

    I can’t give Him enough praises for this. He simply doesn’t look for, or need, or ask for—permission from others in who should or should not exist. Don’t take an opinion poll from others about how they feel about your existence.

    They don’t matter to Him, so it shouldn’t matter to you, either. Oh, it hurts all right (dive into the book of Jeremiah. He took it very personally when people wanted to hurt or kill him). But the Lord’s sovereignty prevailed, and Jeremiah grew as a person, AND a prophet.

    His bravery is outstanding, and my hat is off to him. When the troubles DID come close to him, he drew courage from the Lord—enabling him to stand in Him. That encourage me like nothing else.

    Also, he authored the entire book of “Lamentations,” which is one of the most depressing and despairing books in the Word. But there is where a well quoted, well known and well used verse can be found: “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”

    Those mercies are new because He knew that every day requires a certain amount of mercies (harder days require more mercies). AND, they have to be fresh. You can’t rely on recycled mercies from the day before.

    If those mercies were not new every morning, I would not be here today.

  6. Krikit

    Having once attempted when I was a teen, the only “strategy” I have is the knowledge and remembrance of the devastation to both my parents after 2 of my younger brothers committed suicide. What their deaths did to those they left behind, is all I ever needed after that.

    • Helovesme

      I thought about your words Krikit. I remember Halle Berry talking about her suicide attempt. As she was attempting to carry it out, she thought of her mother and what this would do to her, and that caused her to not carry it through.

      There are so many reasons why one might change their minds, or have a change of heart. Your story is one of those reasons: no matter how much they don’t want to live, they don’t want to pile on a ton of pain onto their loved ones by deciding to not live.

      Horribly, not everyone can claim that their parents and/or family would suffer if they were gone. I was fairly certain my family would openly grieve, but secretly be relieved if I had died. I still stand by that, but I do not hold it against them anymore.

      When I tried to boil it down, I separated the feelings of people (about me) from the faithfulness of the Lord. Even if they would have said “good riddance” (again, secretly!) if I had died, the Lord’s faithfulness goes far deeper and is far above whatever they thought.

      This is hard to understand and even harder to stick to. Even though our parents bring us into the world. at heart—the Lord brought me into the world. He formed me and fashioned me, and fought for my soul when He died for me.

      All the best, most loving earthly fathers in the world, put together, cannot compare to Him as a Father. This is because the Lord’s love is in a separate and distinct arena from us. They can’t compete with Him because He is in a league of His own. One that only He can occupy.

      Ever been told I wish you would just go away. You make us miserable. You make us unhappy. You make us regret bringing you into this world.

      Well that is enough (more than enough!) to crush even the thickest brick wall. Thankfully, God doesn’t agree with that, and if He doesn’t—-then their words don’t deserve to be taken seriously.

    • replying to Krikit 9th June 2019 – 8:05 pm, and daughterofgod 9th June 2019 – 9:38 pm

      You mentioned that the love you felt for others helped you resist the impulse to take you own life.

      At the time in my life when I had decided to kill myself and had started to take steps to carry out my plan, I thought about a young woman who I had been tutoring in numeracy. She was a slip of a thing, probably around 20 years old. She had probably been abused as a child and had not been able to pay attention in school much as a result. She was paying me to teach her basic arithmetic. Even though I’d only had a few sessions with her, she had in a veiled way indicated that she was working as a prostitute or call girl, and that she was painfully ashamed of her small breasts and was saving up to get breast implants. I felt so sorry for her. And sitting on the tram heading out to my chosen place where I was going to take the substance that would (I believed) kill me, I thought about her. I thought about the fact that she would feel let down that I did not give her any more lessons.

      Another thing that happened on the tram. It began to rain steadily. My chosen place of where I would take my life was an outdoor location. I thought about how cold and wet it would be. And I shrank from that thought.

      I got off the tram and started walking towards the psychiatric hospital that I knew was about 2 miles from there. When I got there, I told them I was suicidal and they admitted me. I feel sure that God got me off that tram. I don’t remember the moment when I actually decided to get off the tram and plod through the rain to the hospital. It was like it was happening to me, but I had not been the original author of that decision.

      I praise God for getting me to go to hospital.

      While I was an inpatient at that hospital, I decided — I vowed to myself — that I would never try to commit suicide again. I had tried once and failed and I knew God had stopped me. So I figured that if I tried again, I would probably find the same thing would happen: I would be a bit cowardly about doing it, and God would stop me again. No point doing a repeat of all that.

      And I realised that the INTENSE willpower which I had needed to even make the decision to suicide and then start putting my plan into action –– that same will power could be turned around and used to live my life and face my problems.

      • Krikit

        Your last para: Excellent point, Barbara.

      • Finding Answers

        Barb commented “…….I thought about the fact that she would feel let down that I did not give her any more lessons.”

        ^THAT!!!

        The Holy Spirit led me to a GINORMOUS light bulb moment.

        While I never completely dissociated, I had some “semi-alters” (my own, unprofessional term). The phrase I copied out of Barb’s comment was the thought of my “semi-alter”, the one I ALWAYS considered my twin.

        This “semi-alter” aged with me, from my “semi-alter’s” birth during a traumatic experience on the way home from the hospital when I was six months old until the day the Holy Spirit re-integrated me a few years ago.

        OH WOW! I’ve got some MAJOR re-evaluating of my life to process – thank you, Barb, for adding your story to the post’s comments.

      • Wow, that is indeed a ginormous light bulb moment, Finding Answers.

        For those who don’t understand what is meant by “semi-alters”, I can recommend Martha Stout’s book The Myth of Sanity. The book explains and gives examples of many different kinds of dissocation, from having no memory of the last hour or so when you were driving on the freeway, through to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) which is usually caused by severe trauma (often as a child). In DID the mind splits into different personalities by erecting amnesic walls between one personality and the other. The amnesic walls protect the other personalities or the main personality from experiencing and remembering the trauma.

        Martha Stout is a psychiatrist who has specialised in treating people who have suffered trauma. She is not a Christian, and near the end of the book she briefly recommends using Eastern meditation techniques as one possible way (only one of many ways) to help oneself recover memories. If you read the book, bear in mind that I don’t recommend those Eastern meditation techniques. However, I do recommend the book because IMO it gives a balanced and comprehensive overview of the phenomenon of dissociation.

        We already have in our recommended books Martha Stout’s book The Sociopath Next Door. [affiliate link]

      • Speaking of dissociation, Rebecca Davis wrote a post it at Facebook. Here is a link to that post:

        She said:

        It’s time to say something about childhood memories.

        A woman might tell me, “My father abused my daughter [confirmed], but he didn’t abuse me. I know this, because I remember my whole childhood.”

        I might say to her, “Abuse memories can be dissociated. I personally know several people for whom this was the case, and I’ve read several accounts of this in my studies.”

        If I were to say this, I would NOT be telling the woman that she did experience childhood sexual abuse. I would simply be saying that thinking you have no abuse in your background because you don’t currently remember it is no confirmation that there was none. Confirmation one way or another needs to come from somewhere else other than what are called “autobiographical” or “normal” memories.

        I also have no memories of childhood abuse in my own background. But almost since I began learning about abuse and its connection with dissociation seven years ago, I started asking the Lord that if I did have any abuse in my childhood, to bring it forward. This is not saying that I actually did have any—and to this day nothing has come forward. It is only acknowledging that memories of childhood abuse can be dissociated. The Christian world would do well to learn and understand more about dissociation.

        Other Facebook users chimed in, so there was an interesting discussion there about dissociation.

      • Hope Faith and Love

        Dear Finding Answers and Barbara,

        I’m glad you spoke of the semi-alters. That’s so important for others to understand. I didn’t experience severe dissociation until I had a extreme abuser/predator in my life and there really are amnesic walls that are created. I couldn’t remember for the life of me why I started doing this or that, as though my life depended on it, but I was compulsive and deadly serious about it. I blocked out abuse in huge chunks. I totally checked out in other time periods. I was a zombie. I thought I was surely insane and then, when given some space, things eventually started flooding me, coming back.

        Indeed, a person can live through severe trauma, abuse, and violation and not be able to remember it in their day to day. But when it comes back, and the amnesic walls come down, it’s real. It happened. And then it’s gone again, because the pain is so great. It’s as though the body and mind just shut it down, black into blocked off oblivion. And once the wholeness is gone, shattered by a predator, one’s world is never again the same.

        Amnesic walls may be great for survival in the short-term but chronic dissociation and chronic blocking things out is involuntary and becomes very dangerous for the victim as she can’t remember and she doesn’t realize how much danger she is in because she can’t remember. And to outsiders, she probably does look unstable and/or insane. And she feels insane, as though she is losing her mind, or at least I felt that way, When I’d go back into shutdown mode and my amnesic walls returned, I couldn’t remember and thought I was either insane or a liar, but it happened, it just got blocked out, so it felt as though I was insane or lying, but it’s not so. I just couldn’t remember but for small periods of time when things would flood back and it was like I was back in it again. Like it was happening again and real. Again, another mind-bending experience that otherwise causes a person to question their sanity.

        And who benefits through it all? Abusers, predators. And I think the smart ones know that if they are severe enough, shock and awe, they can count on dissociation and amnesic walls protecting them. And the crazymaking tactics are so instrumental.

      • Dear Hope Faith and Love welcome to the blog! 🙂

        “I think the smart [predators] know that if they are severe enough, shock and awe, they can count on dissociation and amnesic walls protecting them.”

        I agree. I believe that some predators create dissociation very deliberately and they have developed this into a science. And they use the dissociated parts (alters) to serve their evil long-term agendas.

      • by the way, Hope Faith and Love, you might like to check out our FAQ page and our Resources page. We have masses of material on this site.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you so much Barb and Hope Faith And Love for your comments.

        Barb, your story was so touching. It doesn’t have to be a close family relation to realize your worth and value. You meant so much to this young girl that it meant something to you as well. And again, it doesn’t have to be someone that you are related to, or have a long term relationship with.

        That was truly a “light bulb” moment for me! I will keep that in mind when I feel worthless or expendable—often by those that ARE your family or close relations. There are other people in the world that consider you precious.

        How Hope Faith And Love described the ” amnesic walls” was so profound. I have not experienced what she described as deeply as she has, but I could very much relate some of the factors she brought up.

        “It’s as though the body and mind just shut it down, black into blocked off oblivion. And once the wholeness is gone, shattered by a predator, one’s world is never again the same”

        I get flashbacks of memories that I have buried deep within, but I haven’t 100% disassociated myself from them. The ones in question are wrapped up in humiliation. It was not always about parental abuse, but also at school, sometimes from the teachers as well as the kids.

        So when they DO come back (something triggers them and they “rise” to the surface), it’s extremely emotional, to say the least. And for the most part, I can even remember details. Those memories are in 100% pristine shape, but they are fairly whole.

        I likely tried to bury them as deep as they would go in order to escape them. Or, in order to cope and survive. Or, just plain old fashioned denial (I convince myself that they never happened. And then I can tell myself that I’m not traumatized)

        I may be able to insert “grown up” perspectives into the memories. Why did that teacher shame me in front of everyone? Well, maybe this or this was going through her mind. It’s never to make excuses; it’s just to help me deal with what I could not possibly make sense of at the time.

        “I just couldn’t remember but for small periods of time when things would flood back and it was like I was back in it again.”

        Yes, yes and yes. That is exactly what it is like for me. It really was like I was back in those episodes. And worse yet, I could no longer tell myself that they happened so long ago, how could they possibly mean so much in the present day? You’ll hear things like: I was abused or bullied at school but that was a long time ago and I’m over it now. I’m an adult, not a kid, so it’s like it happened in another life, to another person.

        The problem with this argument is hard to admit: yes, you are not a child anymore, but you didn’t “morph” into a separate human being once you became an adult. What you went through as child did not disappear or cease to exist once you reached adulthood.

        By the way, this can happen even if you were an adult when you were abused, and therefore traumatized. A woman told her story about an attempted sexual assault as a college student. There were holes in her memory, and there was deep trauma, but she never forgot it completely. The impact of memories started to resurface in therapy.

        “And she feels insane, as though she is losing her mind, or at least I felt that way, When I’d go back into shutdown mode and my amnesic walls returned….”

        This is how I felt, and still feel. I would look back on certain interactions and realize that they were being insulting or rude or simply cruel, right to my face, but I chose to desensitize myself to it. Or, I would tell myself I was reading too much into things.

        It’s amazing how much you will tolerate, even from abusive and toxic persons—just for a brief but fleeting moment of fitting in.

        Or, jokes that were made at my expense (but didn’t realize it then). So, sometimes it is 20 years later, when I look back and start to experience real and proper reactions to what I tried to repress at the time.

        And make no mistake—people can pick up on that. This is likely NOT accidental, but not necessarily consciously intentional on their parts. Instinct takes over without depth perception—-hey, this person is like a pinata. I’m going to swing some “jokes” her way and get everyone laughing. It’s all good; she likes the attention and likes being a clown.

        “And I think the smart ones know that if they are severe enough, shock and awe, they can count on dissociation and amnesic walls protecting them. And the crazymaking tactics are so instrumental.”

        I thought I was crazy for way too long, too. Concerning the more severe memories I have—-this is where I thougtht I must be insane. I could not have heard that right, been spoken to like that, seen what I saw with my own two eyes, or experienced what I know I experienced.

        Here is HOW I deluded myself: the persons in question, supposedly nice, church attending, Bible believing, professing Christians that seemed rooted and responsive to Him—-were living their lives in a way that did NOT back up how they presented themselves.

        For my home and school days, where Christ was not professed—I struggled less with denial and focused more on survival.

        The people in question were middle class or upper middle class—so as I got older it shocked me that dysfunction was thought of more as a lower, or lower middle class problem?? That was about as narrow minded as I’d ever heard. Any and every socioeconomic level of society has the potential to be filled with broken families, broken dreams, broken lives and individual broken persons.

        But perhaps I told myself that if I just LOOKED confident on the outside (regardless of my lack of physical attractiveness or expensive clothing)—-no one would suspect how broken I was on the inside (it never worked)

        I think I drove myself MORE insane as I constructed lie after lie to keep the trauma buried deep. So when I did try to let the trauma be heard, no wonder it must have seemed insane, or that I was a liar. A person who seems to emanate sunshine to the world is the last person you would think of as battling storms on the inside.

        The harder I tried to be perfect, the more my insides would scream in protest.

  7. daughterofgod

    My love for my family and after I had children, my love for my children kept me alive. The thought of the hell my babies would go through with their abusive father if I wasn’t around to protect them. Also knowing God and that He loves me helped me. Hope is one of the fruits of the spirit. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. The bad thoughts swirling in my mind were lies from the pit of hell. It helped me to sort through those lies and rebuke them. Counselling, talking to people and learning about what I was going through helped expose those lies, and helped me to heal my pain.

  8. Some Anonymous Bloke

    Thank you for carrying on with the work, Barbara. I especially enjoyed the first quotation by Helovesme.

    It seems to be a nearly universal principle that the already burdened are continually given more burdens to bear in the ill-advised attempt to, in some way, shame them out of their pain (which is sure to bring about further affliction, alienation and shame). Even worse, it appears that some feel an innate sense of superiority for their purported mental and emotional toughness, which must account for their ability to persevere through difficult times. I tend to believe that ignorance and haughtiness are at the root of this foolish, self-congratulatory kind of thinking.

    • Thanks, Some Anonymous Bloke. 🙂

    • Some Anonymous Bloke said:
      “…the already burdened are continually given more burdens to bear in the ill-advised attempt to, in some way, shame them out of their pain (which is sure to bring about further affliction, alienation and shame).”

      Truth ^

      To Some Anonymous Bloke and others who are reading this thread about Suicide Prevention, click this link to see a video presentation by Allan Wade, which confirms what Some Anonymous Bloke has said.

    • Helovesme

      Some Anonymous Bloke that was so well said and thank you for it.

      “Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” Luke 11:46

      “Shame them out of their pain.” Seriously, well said. And you are spot on. It just piles on the burdens onto an already strained and stressed soul.

      “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice” Isaiah 42:3

      Many times I am guilty of reading the Word but not letting the words sink in. While others may abandon a bruised reed, or thoughtlessly blow out a flickering flame, God’s not like that at all.

      So for those bruised and burning out—and others have devalued you as a result—God doesn’t agree with that. He sees your true worth despite being bruised, and He knows how to gently bring a dim flame back to life.

      I hear you about the “purported mental and emotional toughness.” Not everyone chooses to attempt suicide as a result of whatever they are going through.

      That makes me glad, personally. Attempting suicide brings on a lot of trauma into an already (likely) traumatized life. And I don’t want anyone to leave this world by their own hands.

      But they have no right to look down on those that have gone done those paths. I don’t look up to those that have not tried to take their lives, and I don’t look down on those that have done just that.

      Once in awhile you might hear a victim of domestic abuse, who escaped the abuse, come down rather hard on those who have not yet escaped. Their narrative is that they got out, got through it and got their life back—-make those choices for yourself and if you do not, that says something.

      It’s not that simple, right? Narratives like that can actually do more harm than help.

      So it’s not that simple to just tell someone who is contemplating suicide—hey, I know you are hurting, but don’t do that. Do this instead. Get help. Get healthy. Get through it.

      ” ignorance and haughtiness” are the perfect words to describe why it’s so hard to talk about.

      I think it would help if people would just listen to what we have to say, before slapping an unflattering label on such persons.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented “I think it would help if people would just listen to what we have to say…..”

        For me, ^NOT that.

        I would MUCH rather listen to someone else than repeat the same old cycles / stories about myself and drain others around me.

        SO many times in the past I was told to “just volunteer in a soup kitchen / homeless shelter” / “read books to the housebound” / “join a support group” / etc.. I KNEW this wouldn’t work for me, but I could not describe the pictures in my mind. (Omitting details for my protection.)

        Sometimes I did the smallest thing for someone else – hold open a door / smile / wave my hand in acknowledgement / do a simple manual task. (Omitting details for my protection.)

        Now, even those options for me are extremely limited.

        (Omitting the remainder of the details for my protection.)

      • I smiled as I read this comment of yours Finding Answers. It reminded me of how different each one of us is… and our individual uniqueness is one of the things that makes life so rich.

        Bless you. 🙂

  9. Anonymous

    Thanks for broaching this topic, Barbara. I hope you don’t mind me chiming in as a mental health clinician.

    I think it’s helpful to know that over a lifetime, the proportion of people who have actively consider suicide is nearly 50%. It is simply a natural way that our minds try to solve our problems, and if our problems seem intolerable, or interminable, or inescapable, then killing ourselves will seem like an appealing option. The only problem with this thinking is that it doesn’t consider enough options, which again makes sense when you consider our tendency towards negativity when we are in a dark depressed place. Again, it’s just our God-given minds trying to protect us by being overly negative (in the same way that we overprotect our kids by highlighting dangers or being negative about risks). So there’s no need to beat ourselves up for having suicidal thoughts. The important thing is being aware of the need for help, and making sure that our actions don’t end up closing off all options (with God, there is always a way). Suicidal thoughts don’t kill anyone, but actions to kill ourselves may.

    It would also be helpful to see that there are many reasons people kill themselves. Some people kill themselves as a way of revenge (if they are antisocial for example), some do it because they see no way out of their pain (most victims of abuse and most who live with mental illness I imagine), and some do it to “make” others take notice of them (that is, to increase their sense of power and worth if they have felt invalidated for a long time). Strategies will depend on each person’s context for wanting to take their lives.

    There may be little anybody can do to stop antisocial/ psychopathic persons determined to kill themselves if they are facing criminal charges and prison time; but for a person in great pain, strategies to manage pain and maintain hope (for example, through seeking or strengthening social support) may well be very effective.

    • Thank you SO much, Anonymous, for your comment. Your perspective as a mental health clinician is very much appreciated!

      “There may be little anybody can do to stop an antisocial/psychopathic persons determined to kill themselves if they are facing criminal charges and prison time”

      That brings to mind many cases I’ve read about.

      I think of news reports about men who killed themselves soon after police had laid charges on them for child molestation or possession and sharing of child sexual molestation videos.

      I think of pastors who were credibly accused of having multiple ‘affairs’ with female congregants, men like Iain Campbell, a pastor and renowned teacher in Reformed church circles. (Click the link to read the post I wrote about him.)

      I think also of people who died soon after some of their heinous sins were about to be exposed (the s##t was about to hit the fan) and the cause of their death was dubious. The main stream media gave a story. The main stream media story was challenged by people who are advocating for abuse victims. So an intelligent person who was following the story was left with lots of questions: That person’s death might have been freely self-chosen suicide, or it might have been coerced suicide (coerced by the other heinous sinners who were connected with this person and who coerced/leaned on this person to seemingly take their own life by “free choice”).

      I’m talking about the wheels within the wheels of the evildoers’ networks… the evildoers are psychopaths, or, if they are not full-on psychopaths, they are under the control of psychopaths –– which means they are being blackmailed and threatened, and they will do whatever the higher ups demand, in order to save their own skin or their livelihood or their loved ones.

    • “for a person in great pain, strategies to manage pain and maintain hope (for example, through seeking or strengthening social support) may well be very effective”

      This ^

      Strategies I have used and still use to manage pain:

      Go to bed and get warm in bed. Put my wheatbag into the microwave and heat it (my wheat bag is fairly large, so I set the microwave to heat on high for 3 mins, but your wheatbag may be smaller, so be cautious: I don’t want you to have a fire in your microwave oven!). Get into bed and put the warm wheatbag onto the parts of my body that are most cold.

      Rest. Rest in bed. Let myself off the hook of all the things I think I “should do”. This is mental health management. I can be kind to myself, even if in only small doses.

      Go for a walk in nature or a park. Or, if a park or nature is not available or it is dark (I never walk or ride my bike in a park after dark), I walk along the pavements of well lit main roads and just let my mind de-focus and ‘freewheel’. Physical exercise, even if only a small amount, helps.

      Do distraction things. For me that might be sudoku, crosswords, nine-letter-word puzzles, reading children’s books, watching the football game, watching a BBC costume drama or a BBC or ABC detective drama.

      Rest. Wait. Rest. Don’t try to re-engage or tackle my “should do” tasks too soon.

      I know from experience that I can misjudge how much fuel I have in my tank when I have been burned-out, or have suffered great recent pain, or have been traumatised or RE-traumatised. So I’ve learned to not push myself to get back onto the grind wheel too soon (the ‘grind wheel’ being the work my conscience and God calls me to, which is to advocate for and help other victims).

      I’ve learned to not lay expectations on myself to be firing on all cylinders soon after I have taken a rest break.

      • Helovesme

        That was beautiful, Barb (strategies I have used and still use to manage pain).

        Burning out is a real thing. I burned out after working way too hard and spreading myself way too thin—-and my relationship with God backslid as the trials and traumas piled on.

        I made the mistake of thinking it was “Biblical” to neglect myself and think solely of others—-easily forgetting or dismissing that I too happen to be a person who needs to be taken care of.

        Worse yet, professing Christians around you might unintentionally encourage you to burn bright and burn out. There are acceptable, religious ways to express yourself as a “godly flame” or being “on fire” for the Lord. So that feeds the fire, pun intended.

        This may not lead you to have suicidal thoughts. But it MAY lead you into shortening your life span simply by ignoring your own human frailty

        I was diagnosed with an auto immune disease a few months before my 30th birthday. I was told it is usually hereditary, but it did not run in my family. To this day, I have a strong hunch that the intense stress I was under may have caused my body to break down in this way. Even though I got treated, I dealt with multiple consequences over the past decade.

        Take Barb’s words seriously: Rest. Wait. Rest.

      • Artina

        Barb, I can relate to many of your ways of managing pain.

        Good sleep, walks, mysteries-lighthearted. I’ve come to learn over many years that eating particular food types over a good bit of time causes problems for me.

        Frazier reruns came in handy during a really, really intense time, giving me relief from how I am, how I needed to be, but they really helped bring some relief by breaking up my intense search for information.

        Mindfulness breathing and refocus practices are wonderful but some types of practices are pretty hard for me.

        Stretching and exercise or just whatever movement I can muster.

        Trying to think of things to be grateful for like water. I have a really long list now, but sometimes in the past it was much harder work to focus on this list more than the pain and the long list of negative thoughts I was consumed with.

        I also sought social connection and counseling support as needed, which was a lot in the past.

        A counselor told me once to try and make a panic attack worse, that I wouldn’t be able to and would find relief in not being able to make it worse. I tried this and it worked in the moment. I had a lot of other work to do on other contributing factors, too.

        “I know from experience that I can misjudge how much fuel I have in my tank when I have been burned-out, or have suffered great recent pain, or have been traumatised or RE-traumatised. So I’ve learned to not push myself to get back onto the grind wheel too soon (the ‘grind wheel’ being the work my conscience and God calls me to, which is to advocate for and help other victims).”

        At times I haven’t realized I was doing this for myself until someone else told me they saw it as a good thing.

    • Helovesme

      Thank you for those words of wisdom Anonymous.

      Cutting myself was the way I chose to prevent a suicide attempt. That was one of my “options” that I contemplated and then engaged in. It seemed to make the most sense, at the time. As long as I released the pain in this more “benign” way, I thought I could make it until I turned 18 and left for college.

      Much later I realized how wrong I was! Cutting can actually lead UP to a suicide attempt, so it can have the opposite desired outcome. I tried to take my life a mere 10 days before I left for college, so I had the added shame of giving in and choosing the ONE thing I did not want to choose for a long time.

      I also never considered calling a suicide hotline. I couldn’t imagine anyone I knew that I could call, but hotlines exist for just that purpose. My mind wasn’t thinking clearly. I had struggled with suicidal thoughts for so long, that I thought I knew how to manage and control them, so I shunned the idea of any outside help.

      “It would also be helpful to see that there are many reasons people kill themselves.”

      I’m so glad this was put in bold print. Please, one of the BEST things we can do as a church is to just listen to their stories. You don’t have to offer anything profound or poetic.

      But here is something to NOT say: don’t say something like—-but you seem like such a cheerful person. Or: you’re usually so positive, outgoing, friendly and warm. Or: you don’t seem like the kind of person who would do that.

      I know those seem like a compliment. It implies that you are a completely changed person (or, the Lord has completely changed you). The dark, dreary defeated person who tried to take his or her life is no more. Now you are living out His joy. Now you can be an example for what the Lord can do for others who are in your former state.

      All I can say is that that is NOT necessarily what needs to be said, or heard. This is why I would ask that people just listen. Yes, you have survived, but not necessarily thrived. And living in the joy of the Lord doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t still shedding a lot of tears and dealing with pockets of darkness.

  10. Helovesme

    Response to Finding Answers
    10TH JUNE 2019 – 1:47 PM

    Right on; I see what you are saying and I agree with you. Being a listener for others is just as valid as being listened to.

    I was also very much advocating for what you pointed out is NOT helpful: just listen to me; don’t tell me how to fix thing, or fix myself. I’m a person, not a product.

    “Sometimes I did the smallest thing for someone else…”

    ABSOLUTELY. I can’t tell you how things that may seem “little,” often make the biggest difference to someone. It would take too long to sort though and pick out a few examples, but I can testify to the truthfulness of those words. For those that I have done things for, and those who did things for me. It works both ways.

    “Now, even those options for me are extremely limited.”

    I’d like to insert that I think you do a LOT for us on this site, without at all trying to diminish how you feel.

    • Gany T.

      I’d like to insert that I think you do a LOT for us on this site, without at all trying to diminish how you feel.

      ^That, Finding Answers

      • Finding Answers

        Thank you, Helovesme and Gany T..

        I feel like parts of me are FINALLY having the opportunity to grow up and find ways to communicate. To quote an often over-used / trite comment: It takes a village to raise a child.

    • Artina

      Finding Answers, I can relate a lot to the concept of “It takes a Village to raise a child.” And your comments and replies from others are helpful to me, too, as I’m sure they are for others as well.

      “Sometimes I did the smallest thing for someone else…”

      When I was a child I looked for “bright spot” actions, whether they were done for me or not. I noticed things I liked and wanted to be like that, like the nuns who brought cinnamon toast and hot chocolate to my siblings and I when my mom was in the hospital and we were waiting, like being included in other families’ spaces that seemed more functional than my own, especially a few church couples with children my age, like people giving me paid babysitting jobs or other work.

      Even now my connection to the Village concept is possibly why I like to listen and look for unsung heroes in history. I like heroes, living or not, who acknowledge how they learn from those they “teach”, especially, and heroes who acknowledge how they’ve been helped. Also I like heroes who acknowledge that something they share came from someone else, which probably came from someone else, etc… I just make positive note of that, it seems to help me in my trust, or needed inspiration. I think, maybe, trustworthiness would be patient and not pressuring or demanding, waiting for learning and awareness to internalize, without keeping track of time or sequence. Maybe it is like the “meandering river” that I heard a well known contemporary author speak of.

      • Finding Answers

        Artina commented “…….look for unsung heroes in history……”

        Exactly! And many of the unsung heroes are NOT the people who have been told to “pay it forward”. Nor are the unsung heroes people aiming to appear in history books / cast in bronze statues / commemorated with their name on a building or wall plaque.

        Artina also commented “…….who acknowledge that something they share came from someone else, which probably came from someone else, etc…”

        ^That. My difficulty is remembering the point of origin. Frankly, I’ve often gotten seriously annoyed (in my mind) with people who can quote verbatim, AND include the author and book! THAT, however, is my own issue, not theirs. I grasp the main concepts and am MORE than happy to give credit where credit is due, but rote memorization is NOT one of my strengths. I would never have “succeeded” in the kind of Bible studies described by “c”hristian (celebrity) authors, “c”hurches, or “c”hristian counselors.

        Some of MY unsung heroes are blog writers / commenters / authors / etc., people I have found in the unlikeliest of places / ways, people who may / may not be still alive.

        There are SO many unsung heroes I would thank if the opportunity arose. Instead, I hand my thanks to God, knowing He will see my heart.

      • Helovesme

        I do like and try to use that phrase “unsung heroes” as well. A lot of charities, for example, are full of people who risk their lives and work extremely hard—-but they usually don’t get a lot of attention. Or even recognition—on an individual basis.

        You represent a group, so when that group gets attention, you are of course included. But no one might ever know your name, even though you are doing exceptional work.

        That is probably not intended to dismiss such people. They may not WANT to see their names in print. They aren’t courting fame. They’re not interested in gaining prestige.

        Also, undue attention carries with it a strong possibility of making your work somewhat harder. Suddenly it’s not focused solely on the work itself, it’s about who is doing that work. The spotlight should be shining most brightly on the needs of others, not so strongly on the ones who are doing the helping.

        Sometimes I think this is why the Bible cautions us to do our giving in secret. It’s not because you don’t deserve recognition, or be thanked, or given encouragement. The Bible promises reward—-from the Lord Himself. The praises of man are not as rewarding (at best, they are fickle. At worst, they are phony) If that is your goal—-you already have your reward.

        It would take me way too long to try to pick out examples of unsung heroes I’ve encountered. But make no mistake; they are out there, and there are plenty of them. And it’s a wonderful pursuit to imitate their example.

  11. Finding Answers

    Anonymous commented (10TH JUNE 2019 – 1:58 AM) “……Suicidal thoughts don’t kill anyone, but actions to kill ourselves may.”

    ^That.

    Thank you, Anonymous, for these thought-provoking words. They are, in a way, comforting, especially as suicidal thoughts are as regular as the cycles through the pits of hell I have encountered (and STILL encounter) on a tediously regular basis.

    Anonymous also commented “……So there’s no need to beat ourselves up for having suicidal thoughts…..”

    ^THAT!

    I find myself continually apologizing to God for thoughts over which I have no control, and condemning myself makes matters worse. Knowing condemnation comes from Satan’s lies, not the Holy Spirit’s truth does NOT ease the pain, and does nothing to change the cycle through the pit. It takes a LOT of re-programming to fix the bug in an infinite loop, sometimes all it takes is deleting a semi-colon where none is needed.

    Anonymous also commented “…..but for a person in great pain, strategies to manage pain and maintain hope (for example, through seeking or strengthening social support) may well be very effective.”

    ^That. (Strikethrough added by me.)

    Barb commented (10TH JUNE 2019 – 3:06 AM) “Strategies I have used and still use to manage pain:”

    For me, the strategies are almost ANYTHING but thinking of me.

    • Helovesme

      Absolutely agree with these thoughts, but with a bit of a personal slant to add:

      “Anonymous commented (10TH JUNE 2019 – 1:58 AM) “……Suicidal thoughts don’t kill anyone, but actions to kill ourselves may.”

      “Anonymous also commented “……So there’s no need to beat ourselves up for having suicidal thoughts…..”

      Here is what happened in my life, so bear in mind that it’s unique to me and me alone. Not to be applied across the board.

      I had plenty of hateful and hurtful thoughts, plus lots of suicidal ones when I was growing up. I didn’t think they were completely harmless, but as long as I didn’t act on them I figured I shouldn’t be too concerned.

      They added up over time, however. It was a lot like pushing me closer and closer to an edge of a cliff, but I didn’t realize it. My back was facing that edge, and I was walking backwards to it, so I had no frontal vision.

      As long I had solid ground under me as I crept closer and closer to that edge, I thought I was safe—-but I didn’t KNOW there was an edge. I didn’t see and couldn’t see it.

      When I started reading the Word, I saw the Lord caution us about murder and adultery—-but in a whole different way. He focused on the thoughts that open those doors, not just the acts themselves. It was where I first started to understand that all that self-hatred in my heart, as those thoughts built up over time—likely had a big part to play in the eventual action I took in attempting suicide. It was how I started to understand that hating others (including myself), just in your mind—was nothing to thumb your nose at.

      Every self-condemning, self-hating, self-harming thought I had towards myself—-was slowly “murdering” me, until I became so lifeless on the inside, that harming my outside did not seem to be that big of deal.

      Okay, a very important insertion:

      Hating oneself or others does NOT mean you will inevitably murder anyone, or try to take your own life. The Bible never says that. I am STILL 100% on board with Anonymous’s comments. If you have thoughts about killing oneself, you’re not the most horrible person in the world, you should NOT beat yourself up.

      And as Finding Answers said: “It takes a LOT of re-programming to fix the bug in an infinite loop,” And: “thoughts over which I have no control, and condemning myself makes matters worse.”

      This is huge personal struggle of mine as well, so I will never suggest otherwise. When you’ve been hurt, traumatized—-believe me, you are in an extremely difficult trial. I struggle with thoughts that overtake me like a tidal wave. Crushing me and sweeping me out to sea. Then I sort of lift my head up and try to find my way back to solid ground!

      For me, it’s imperative to keep in mind that my mind is a huge battleground. Remind myself that my thoughts matter—-even if they will not inevitably define my actions, they DO matter.

      I had no idea that I was building up more and more “ammunition” to eventually inflict great ham on myself. I never thought I was capable of carrying out what I kept thinking about, but never acted upon.

      So I aim to be transparent, rebuke condemnation (in any form), and cry out to the Lord for clarity, compassion and comfort as my thoughts are “all over the map.” Sometimes they come and go so quickly that I can’t get a hold of them in order to deal with them!

      I also aim for Biblical caution—-abide in Him as He abides in me. Make sure, as I wish over and over again that I want to go home to Him—-to not slide down into deeper and deeper self-disgust. That is not His will for me. And I know how constant and consistent self-hatred CAN take a toll on you. They can eventually and seriously sicken your soul.

      I once read that pneumonia is something you don’t get, it’s something you get to. This happens to people who are overworked and becoming more and more exhausted. Slowly but surely, it all catches up to you, and your body eventually tells you that it can’t take any more.

      I hope this all came across just right. If anyone does find something problematic, please let me know and I’ll try to correct myself, or clarify myself.

      Oh, when Finding Answers talked about paying attention to others to help with personal pain, that resonated with me, too. It’s not THE answer (paying attention to oneself is a nice idea, too!)—-but I hear her on that. That is something that has really blessed me as well as hopefully blessing others.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented “I hope this all came across just right…..”

        For me, yes. Thank you.

        And you explained beautifully about self-hatred, self-murder, and sickening the soul. Draining the poison before it festers in the mind reduces the chance(s) of the mind becoming numb to the pain.

        I used to “jokingly” / “sarcastically” repeat the negative things people said to me BEFORE they had a chance to say them, thinking if I beat them to the punch, it would hurt less. In actuality, I was doing their work for them. Isn’t that just what abusers want, for the abused to do the work for them (the abusers)?

        I (rarely) call myself derogatory things anymore, and work to identify the source when it does happen. There are times, though, I need the help of the Holy Spirit to identify the root cause(s).

        I learn SO much from other people’s perspectives, things I hadn’t previously had explained in a way I could connect the dots.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you Finding Answers; you have a wonderful sense of humor as well as sharp insights.

        “I used to “jokingly” / “sarcastically” repeat the negative things people said to me BEFORE they had a chance to say them,”

        I cringed at that, because I know all too well what you are talking about. Laughter can be great medicine, but it can also be a terrible poison. Humor is a wonderful tool, but like any tool—use it with caution. Follow safety procedures. Be very aware of your surroundings.

        If you don’t, you might start a fire—-“burning” a lot of people who are already broken, and adding to their wounds is not at all helpful OR humorous.

        I used to joke that I am “damaged goods.” It was a lighthearted way to communicate that I have a lot of problems, without taking myself terribly seriously. It’s hard to talk about your brokenness in a way that doesn’t make others uncomfortable, so I’d use (what I thought of) as “soft jabs” directed myself.

        I’m not against poking gentle fun at oneself. But I now hold back at using that phrase about myself. If the Lord doesn’t think of me as “damaged goods,” then I’m not going to promote that mantra.

        Fine to say that I’m damaged (aren’t we all), but I am not a piece of merchandise, and neither is anyone else.

        I still cringe at trying to be funny, not only towards myself but towards others—trying to hard to cover up what I didn’t want anyone to see. Pain.

        However, on the flip side—-I think that sort of thing can be encouraged, even expected. Just crack a bunch of jokes and you’ll not only laugh through your own pain, but entertain others who might be hurting.

        I was rebuked by the Lord about this. Stop trying to be tough, or appear tough, or toughen up as an expression of faith. That’s not how it works.

        Again—humor is only weaponized by those who are looking for a weapon. When humor is used cautiously and not callously—it really is good medicine for the soul.

  12. Krikit

    Personally, I take great comfort in scripture passages that encourage and instruct us regarding taking captive our thoughts, which often can be wayward (of poor perspective). Every instruction that His written word gives us, He also provides the tools and means to action them, through His Living Word, Christ. I am never alone…because of Christ.
    2 Cor 10:5
    Isa 26:3
    Rom 12:1-2
    Phil 4:8
    Ja 4:7
    2 Cor 10:3-5
    1 Cor 10:13
    2 Cor 2:16

    • Thank you Krikit. I love 2 Cor 10:3-5. Here it is from the New Matthew Bible version:

      Nevertheless, though we walk encompassed with the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal things, but things mighty in God to cast down strongholds, with which we overthrow imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity all understanding to the obedience of Christ

      Overthrowing imaginations, speaking off untrue words that others have said about us, rejecting false ideas, rejecting unjust labels that have been slapped on us… it is all about overthrowing the mind control. Our adversary the devil has employed many tactics of mind control, but with the power and authority of Christ we can overthrow his falsehoods.

      • Krikit

        I so want the New Matthew Bible! Thanks for posting that, Barbara.

      • Hi Krikit, you can purchase the New Matthew Bible in paperback or leatherbound cover. And you can read it on Biblegateway.com. At this point in time, only the New Testament is available.

        In case you or others are interested, here is the post I wrote about the New Matthew Bible:
        The Matthew Bible is the first complete English Bible, and Ruth M Davis is gently it updating for modern readers

      • Helovesme

        I love that translation, Barb! Thank you! I love that verse in general.

      • Artina

        2 Cor 10:3-5 is a very good verse. I’m going to be checking more into the New Matthew Bible version as I’ve noticed its helpfulness from the posts and comments here where it was referred to.

        Psalm 144:2 is one that a friend gave me as she knew of something specific I was going through. And it really helped me as I memorized it and meditated on it and it helped shape my perspective and gave me a sense of God with us through the event.

  13. Finding Answers

    Helovesme commented (11TH JUNE 2019 – 11:18 AM) “Sometimes I think this is why the Bible cautions us to do our giving in secret……”

    ^That.

    Barb commented (11TH JUNE 2019 – 2:42 PM) “…….Our adversary the devil has employed many tactics of mind control, but with the power and authority of Christ we can overthrow his falsehoods.”

    ^That.

    From James’ comment (in the original post) “…..I asked a few questions and quickly realised that this boy was merely repeating statements he had heard the adults around him saying and now thought of as his own wisdom.”

    ^That.

    From Anonymous’ comment (in the original post) “Then other readers can comment on what they do to get through the day, how they stopped themselves from suiciding, and people can support one another.”

    ^That.

  14. Finding Answers

    Hope Faith And Love commented (11TH JUNE 2019 – 11:18 PM) “…..Like it was happening again and real……”

    ^That.

    Though I never completely dissociated, and I experience this to varying degrees every hour and every day of my life, I keep reminding myself This is a memory., and MOST of the time, that is sufficient.

    Barb commented (11TH JUNE 2019 – 6:38 PM) “…..bear in mind that I don’t recommend those Eastern meditation techniques…..”

    (Strikethrough added by me.)

    For me, ^That.

    Meditation takes me to VERY bad places in my mind, so I prefer to focus on music and / or what I am physically feeling in my body. Some people might call this a form of mindfulness meditation.

    E quoted (9TH JUNE 2019 – 3:32 PM) “5 I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me…”

    ^That. And I call on Him a lot!! 🙂

    Sam Powell commented (9TH JUNE 2019 – 9:03 AM) “Sometimes God’s people have been so beaten up and have not had their wounds bound up (Ezekiel 34) by the shepherds, and they really need to be reminded of the love of Christ again and again.”

    (Strikethrough added by me)

    ^That.

  15. Finding Answers

    Barb commented (11TH JUNE 2019 – 2:42 PM), citing 2 Cor 10:3-5 from the New Matthew Bible: “Nevertheless, though we walk encompassed with the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal things, but things mighty in God to cast down strongholds, with which we overthrow imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity all understanding to the obedience of Christ”

    (Bold added by me.)

    ^That, when you substitute the words “pictures in my mind” for the word “imaginations”.

    Thank you to EVERYONE for helping me learn how I engage in spiritual warfare and cast down strongholds.

    • I memorised the King James version of those three verses when I first started walking as a Christian. I had to learn a lot about spiritual warfare as soon as I started walking as a Christian, because the devil was spitting chips that I’d changed sides. I still prefer the old translation over all the moderns translations of those verses. Why? Because the old versions use the word ‘imaginations’.

      And now I know that the New Matthew Bible also uses the word ‘imaginations’, I am guessing that the King James took it from the Matthew Bible, i.e., from William Tyndale’s translation of the NT. Praise God!

      I’m so so glad Finding Answers that this helped you 🙂

  16. Kind of Anonymous

    At different times in my life, I entertained the idea of ending my life. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that at each time, that experience was attended to by what can only be called supernatural evil and darkness, as if hidden wicked ones were right there to whisper into my pain, egg me on and add their evil suggestions, albeit in the voice of seeming truth and reality.

    Being that I was very young and knew nothing at all about God, church, truth, the supernatural, etc, other than what my abusive religious grandmother told me, I had no idea that there was more to this whole dark experience of despair, deep hurt and darkness than met the idea. The only thing that really stopped me from doing it was that I knew if I did, it would hurt some of my family members and mess them up, including my younger sisters.

    I knew nothing of dissociation either or even that I was actually traumatized, frozen in time as it were. TRIGGER WARNING I can remember for instance, that any time I vomited, I would cry and cry and CRY very hard, heart rending sobs that felt as if I had been just violated. It eventually stopped when I was in my mid teens. But I was always wondering why I experienced barfing as such extreme trauma! There HAD in fact, been an incident involving my mother being beaten and sexually assaulted by my dad, that I had been involved in via telling dad of mother’s misdoings. She’d turned to a relative of dad’s for the comfort and attention she wasn’t getting from my dad. Dad was beating her, sexually assaulting her and cheating on her with anything that was capable of copulation.

    I had little idea of her reality in that marriage. When I found her on the floor in the bathroom, it was clear that she was ill, had been traumatized and had thrown up. Yet my feelings, probably due to guilt, an overwhelming sense of responsibility, as if I had done serious harm to my mother myself by sharing that information, remained utterly frozen. They say that children who witness violence against their mother identify with their mother, so it’s as if that CHILD was the one who was assaulted. Assault my mom, assault me. Probably the vomiting and crying so hard had something to do with pain and sorrow locked away from my ability to access it. And in that case, I experienced something demonic taking advantage of the situation as well.

    Years later I was dating a fellow and tried to end the relationship because for various reasons, I just felt this wasn’t the one to marry. He freaked out and got really angry. I did not realize how triggering male anger was for me. I think on some level, I sensed or absorbed that some men, like my dad, feel as if they own the women they date or marry or are somehow “owed” them out of a sense of entitlement. They don’t see them as separate persons with the right to say Yes, I will or no I won’t, .

    When the guy got angry, I experienced something that I had never heard of. It seemed as if I immediately felt sheer terror. I was on the phone with him when I was trying to end the relationship but I actually backed up against the wall as if he were right in my face. In my past with my dad, when a little girl and pre adolescent girl, dad would sometimes make me stand stock still while he got in my face, verbally ripping me apart and acting very outraged and threatening. At the time such things never occurred to me, that THIS could have something to do with THAT.

    When I felt the intense terror, it seemed as if my mind were like a CD player with several disc trays that suddenly just switched CDs. I felt my consciousness of myself pinned against the back of my mind, as if I were in a low cave and I was pinned up against the back of it where there wasn’t quite room to stand fully upright. I did realize that the cave followed roughly the shape and outline of my head and since my mind was in my head, I suppose that makes sense in a corny way. I heard a flood of mental accusations just dump into my mind and for a moment had a flash sense that this was illogical and crazy and not the truth. The accusations were all about every incident involving relationships in which there had been sexual abuse and for which I felt guilt and responsibility. It seemed as if hatred were directed at me by one part of my self from another, although whether that was the case I am not sure.

    I heard oddly familiar stuff about how I needed to pay for my mother’s life. I didn’t realize until much, much later that this is what I had mentally heard the day my father assaulted my mother when I was three, and I wound up believing that because I had caused my mom to be seriously harmed, that I had to pay for that by giving up my own life, identity and right to a future in order to take on her miserable life and identity to pay for my crime of causing all this. I was quite literally beside myself when this happened at the age of three, I was so horrified by the outcome. It makes me think that perhaps when the phrase “He was beside himself” was coined, people were unwittingly describing the experience of dissociation, because somehow this takes you out of yourself and turns you against yourself when it’s an evil situation that is hurtful.

    When I was on the phone with this guy, I heard my own voice, as if down a long cardboard tube, from far away, saying to him that I was sorry for even thinking of breaking up with him and that I would give him another chance. Three days later I could not clearly recall most of this incident. Without ever having heard of the fog of abuse, I would describe the feeling as if my mind would attempt to recall but hit a thick fog bank. I quite literally had some kind of amnesia. I went through with the marriage against my real desires. I cried on my wedding day because well, in spite of it all, here I was , getting married. I was very confused.

    Did I really WANT To marry this man? I didn’t even have feelings of sexual attraction to him or love him really. He was very pushy and aggressive about trying to rush me to the altar and put a ring on my finger. I tried to convince myself that I did want to get married but was just having trouble with past abuse. Perhaps, had the effects of the abuse been cleared prior to us dating, I might have had attraction to him but then I was unable to. We had been out on a date once and for the briefest moment I had looked at him and found him handsome and felt a pull of attraction and at that second, I nearly BARFED and heard a host of accusations in my mind about how unworthy I was to have a relationship.

    We were married for just over a decade and had one child and for me it was like constantly driving with the brakes on. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be there or not. In the end, I felt that he had gotten me as a wife unfairly, as I had not made a free will choice to marry him because I wanted to, but because of a combination of manipulative pressure from him and trauma I didn’t realize I had on my end. I remember when we were first married I would have this recurring nightmare in which I realized I did not want to marry him and that the right thing for me to do was to go to him and break it off, only to wake up and find him snoring next to me with a wedding ring on his finger. Then I would feel panic and despair and want out. He was quite controlling and manipulative as was his family, as he too had suffered trauma. And so I was, as when you are so disempowered that you aren’t allowed to say no to evil or set boundaries (allowed to use the front door) then you do everything by sneaking around the back through the servants’ entrance if you know what I mean.

    All this time we attended charismatic churches. I was labelled demanding. Blamed for being focused on myself, which I was. He was seen as a really nice guy who was all behind me, although no one seemed to realize or know that he expected me to tolerate his family’s abuse so he wouldn’t have to deal with anything and could keep their approval. At no time in any of these churches did anyone discern trauma, let alone say anything about things like dissocation! Lots of judgement and blame though. When I tried to describe what had happened to a leader, she just said to me “I don’t care. You said I do. You married him”. She felt I was just looking for a fancy excuse to justify ending my marriage.

    I was actually looking for permission from God that I wasn’t sinning if I got out of that marriage and got on with my life but I didn’t know if my case qualified. It was this idea that this man could gain me as a desired prize against my will because of past trauma that led me to some really miserable and dark depression and left me angry, bitter, miserable, negative and seriously depressed. My husband wasn’t all abuse. But he wouldn’t acknowledge that he had flipped out on the phone and I caught him lying to me, dealing unjustly and treacherously with me, a number of times. He gaslighted me and used intimidation tactics as well.

    Sorry this is so long. I caught the part of the discussion about dissociation and thought I would attempt to actually describe what I experienced that way. I can definitely corroborate that this happens and that fog and amnesia are real. And I can also attest that in my case, I had not seen a therapist who had introduced such ideas to me so it wasn’t therapy engendered sin dodging on my part. Even if it’s a reaction pattern of avoidance, there is still real trauma involved and the church doesn’t know how to help in a way that doesn’t add to the trauma and make one even more fearful of God. Given that we have a sinful nature that gets in on the act, and that our traumas are filtered through that nature, it’s unlikely that all our responses are pure and lily white because we are victims. But the church doesn’t know where God would actually draw the boundary lines and throws us back in by saying that marriage is so sacred that it doesn’t matter how you got there, unless you are all but dead, ending it and moving on is not approved of by God.

    If this is too long to be appropriate to publish, I understand. Just thought I would attempt to actually describe the way I experienced dissociation in case it helps someone else.

    • Thank you Kind of Anonymous. You described it so well.

      “When I felt the intense terror, it seemed as if my mind were like a CD player with several disc trays that suddenly just switched CDs.”

      That is an absolutely brilliant analogy!

    • Finding Answers

      Kind Of Anonymous commented “Just thought I would attempt to actually describe the way I experienced dissociation in case it helps someone else.”

      THANK YOU for taking the time to write your detailed comment!!

      My words haven’t caught up to the pictures in my mind to provide a more adequate response.

    • Helovesme

      No; thank you for taking the time and effort to write as you did. I too got a lot out of it. Too much to get into and not enough time on my part—-but there was so much in there to dive into and mull over.

      I too agree with Barb; I caught onto the “CD changing” analogy as quite brilliant and very relatable. Along with so much more.

      • Finding Answers

        Kind Of Anonymous commented “…..it seemed as if my mind were like a CD player with several disc trays that suddenly just switched CDs…..”

        ^That. A perfect description of the “not me” voices in my head.

        As I re-read your comment, Kind of Anonymous, I was SO impressed by your logical and detailed descriptions. I also hurt in my heart for you as I (re)read your comment, thinking of the emotional toll these awful experiences would have taken on you.

        You commented “……Just thought I would attempt to actually describe the way I experienced dissociation in case it helps someone else.”

        I can’t speak for anyone else who reads your comment, but you have added SIGNIFICANT details to many of the pictures in my mind. Thank you.

      • Finding Answers

        Adding on to my own comment of 16TH JUNE 2019 – 1:59 PM…….

        I wrote: “As I re-read your comment, Kind of Anonymous, I was SO impressed by your logical and detailed descriptions.”

        ^That. And you helped me find the contradiction in one of my own descriptions. (Omitting details for protection.)

    • “When I was on the phone with this guy, I heard my own voice, as if down a long cardboard tube, from far away, saying to him that I was sorry for even thinking of breaking up with him and that I would give him another chance. Three days later I could not clearly recall most of this incident. Without ever having heard of the fog of abuse, I would describe the feeling as if my mind would attempt to recall but hit a thick fog bank.” [bold added by me].

      In Martha Stout’s book The Myth of Sanity, she another gives example of this kind of thing. She says that sometimes people who are experiencing trauma see what is going on as if watching it though the wrong end of a telescope so it looks very far away and very small. She doesn’t mention ‘hearing as if a down a long cardboard tube’ but it sounds like the same kind of thing, with hearing rather than vision.

      The overall message of her book is that dissociation can take many forms and be experienced in many different ways. And that dissociation is the mind’s way of coping with severe trauma. And while dissociation is a good way of coping at the time of the trauma, it can pose a problem later in life because the mind’s habit of dissociating can make it harder to process and heal the memories and navigate the problem solving required for keeping safe and being healthy and productive in adult life.

      • Faith Hope and Love

        Barbara: “And that dissociation is the mind’s way of coping with severe trauma.”

        Exactly. Coping with severe trauma. Not ‘craziness’, but dealing with extreme, and life-threatening trauma.

        Barbara: “And while dissociation is a good way of coping at the time of the trauma, it can pose a problem later in life because the mind’s habit of dissociating can make it harder to process and heal the memories and navigate the problem solving required for keeping safe and being healthy and productive in adult life.”

        And the more habituated a person becomes to dissociating, due to a predatory, wicked, violent, evil abuser destroying her on the regular, the harder it is to stop doing such. It’s very much involuntary and the habituation thing is significant. A person loses their ability to recognize, act on, and defend against danger because they simply dissociate, pretty much automatically, and involuntarily so. It sets a person up for more and more victimization. It’s like a calling card for predators.

        Abusers are so evil and the damage they inflict on their victims is murderous and so vast. I can’t wait until they die so the world will be ridded of them, as it seems the only safe abuser is a dead abuser. Abusers are of the devil. And they absolutely ruin their victims. The most severe ones almost always do it all with impunity as their victims are too mangled, too damaged, too harmed, too habitually dissociated to be able to do anything about it.

      • Helovesme

        Faith Hope And Love you picked out the best quotes (I think) from Barb’s comment. Those are the ones that stood out to me as well.

        These words of yours stood out to me big time:

        “It’s very much involuntary and the habituation thing is significant. A person loses their ability to recognize, act on, and defend against danger because they simply dissociate, pretty much automatically, and involuntarily so. It sets a person up for more and more victimization. It’s like a calling card for predators.”

        This is absolutely and 100% as truthful as anyone has expressed it. Darkness loves to multiply. Unless it is dealt with, it will likely only get worse. This is why it’s so dangerous to be or become a passive, apathetic but professing Christian. Being a believer involves being active, aware and intentional. Especially for the traumatized in Him, it’s especially imperative to actively abide in Him, and He in us.

        Abuse does not exist in a vacuum. The actual incidents of abuse are a far different matter than the short and long term consequences of abuse.

        Abuse is something that victims carry with them in some way, shape and form—for their entire lives. Bear with me, you can be healed and set free in Christ from abuse! It does not have to drag you down for the rest of your life. This all varies depending on the severity and duration of the abuse.

        I would liken it to how Scripture describes Christ Himself after His resurrection. He still retained marks of His crucifixion (John 20:27, Revelation 5:6). So we can boldly declare that we are risen in Him, but that we still bear the scars of our turmoils.

        The multiple forms of potential victimization in the aftermath of abuse add layer upon layer of pain and suffering to your already broken spirit. People can pick up on your vulnerabilities, and the ones that stem from abuse—-they can be especially hard to hide. So the victimization continues, even as you try to heal from the primary abuse. And since being in a healing stage is also a form of vulnerability, that can also prick the ears of potential predatory persons.

        How it continues will vary. You don’t have to be so disassociated that you don’t recognize certain toxic and repetitive patterns—I saw some of them at least in part, but I had no idea what to do or how to stop it. The habituation aspect played a huge part. I was so conditioned to being treated as inferior that it was simply “business as usual.”

        Abuse chips away at you until you really do start to believe the lies you have been fed.

        Now, before anyone tells you to straighten up and fly right and start rebuking those lies in Jesus’s name, stop for a moment. Take a moment to absorb what was just said.

        Think of the abuser’s lies as food that looks edible, but is laced with poison that you cannot see, smell or even taste. Not every abuser goes full-on with the hate right away. They disguise their lies in a way that you readily swallow them at first (or you might convince yourself that they’re not poisonous).

        As time goes on, the abuser might get more bold and brazen with the lies, but by that time you’re so conditioned to swallow whatever is given to you. AND, if you lose the ability to discern what is being fed to you is actually poison, and not healthy for your soul—well, then every morsel handed to you by anyone and everyone is easily ingested and digested. This is how victimization continues, multiplies and sickens you even more.

        Then those lies work through you, and then they have made their home in you. You can and should call them out and ask the Holy Spirit to cut them out of you, but never underestimate how entrenched they are. So it’s not as simple as others might make it out to be.

        Think of it as “spiritual surgery.” Even the most practiced and experienced surgeon NEVER does a “rush job.” Often, when they actually cut into the patient, there is far more seen than they bargained for at first. X-rays and MRI’s give a blueprint, but only the actual surgery reveals all.

        Spiritual warfare is not about blasting onto a battlefield with guns blazing, using sheer force and violence—euphorically and exultantly beating down and beating up anything and everything in your way.

        First of all, YOU are that battlefield! And this is real life, not a video game where you push buttons and plow through whatever stands in your way. Spiritual warfare is messy, make no mistake—-but this is about cleaning up the mess while making you whole and healthy in Him. Taking a bulldozer into a broken heart will only cause more brokenness.

        So realize that you are likely open to more and more victimization as a survivor. It’s not inevitable, but it’s not impossible. I knew that, but I had no idea what to DO with that knowledge! And I also had no idea HOW vulnerable I was. Were all my instincts that messed up, or was I actually more attuned to the spiritual realm than I realized?

        (Both were true, by the way. I was and still can be clueless, but BECAUSE of my abusive past, I was actually able to spot dysfunction more precisely. Unfortunately, I did not take myself seriously—no one ever had. So I kept reminding myself of how supposedly inferior I was)

        And ask the Lord for discernment. He can spot a phony and a predator because nothing is hidden from Him. In His light, we see light (Psalm 36:9) It’s all right to admit you’re in fog, or in a dark place—you can’t see clearly, or you can’t see at all. That is what He is there for—He will be your eyes and ears. Lean on His understanding, not yours (Proverbs 3:5)

        You packed so much in one comment that I want to write a separate reply to the second part. That too grabbed my attention!

      • Helovesme

        “Abusers are so evil and the damage they inflict on their victims is murderous and so vast. I can’t wait until they die so the world will be ridded of them, as it seems the only safe abuser is a dead abuser. Abusers are of the devil. And they absolutely ruin their victims.”

        Just to be 100% transparent, I don’t think AT ALL that you were advocating murdering abusers so we can live in a safer world. I highly doubt anyone who regularly comments here would think that, but just in case a random person comes along—-please be certain that she nor anyone else is suggesting anything like that.

        There are so many horrifying aspects to abusers. But one of the WORST is how they can and do cleverly disguise themselves. They can appear very nice, very kind and very friendly. They can even be encouraging, open minded and generous. And they can appear warm, affectionate and attentive as well. And others around them will attest to how well they excel in these qualities. They can testify that these persons are the “real deal.”

        All things that we tend to look for in friends, companions and of course—in fellow believers. And don’t fall for the narrative—abusers are only superficially Christ-like. Get to know them and their phoniness will become apparent.

        So HOW could any of them be agents of darkness, when they appear to be anything and everything BUT? Keep in mind Faith, Hope and Love’s amazing description of abusers. They are monstrous internally, but outwardly they are civilized citizens.

        There is something to that, but there is so much more as well. It’s just not that simple.

        Christ said that our righteousness has to exceed that of the Pharisees in order to enter His kingdom (Matthew 5:20). And the Pharisees were as good as it gets. They knew exactly where He would be born when Herod asked them. They knew Scripture well.

        But Christ made it clear that they are not the real deal.

        I’ve seen warm, generous, loving persons who are Christians AND non-Christians. They work hard, they care about people, they love their families and they are overall good citizens. They try to live by good morals, and install them in their kids. They try to do the right things, in the right ways, for the right reasons. And often times, their moral compass is not too far off. It can and does point in fairly accurate directions! Basically, their conscience is not obviously seared or evil.

        We love to say that we will know them by their fruits. It’s one of the best ways to spot a fake and a phony Christian. It’s also the best way to VERIFY a sincere Christian. This is 100% and absolutely valid. This is one of our greatest tools of discernment.

        But be careful to know WHAT is the fruit He looks for, and what fruits definitively define a born again believer. It is not just what you DO, or even what you are LIKE.

        It is also what you are WILLING to do to demonstrate Who you want to be like. And what you are willing to risk, endure and possibly suffer through in order to be like Him.

        Fruit of the Spirit is not always a gentle process. It can be hard work. It is often slow, patient and fire-refining work in us to produce something as precious and powerful as His fruit. Your sense of righteousness will ultimately come up against His, and only one can prevail. When He is refining us, it is often a battle to burn off our impure, imperfect sense of righteousness—-so that His can take center stage.

        It is also not always considered praiseworthy by others. Not only that, but you might dang well offend or insult people by daring to stand for HIS righteousness, instead of your own. And instead of the “bad imitation” of His righteousness of those around you.

        That last sentence is particularity poignant. Too many times you will see people take a self-made version of His righteousness, slap His name on it—and present it as His and His alone. But it is nothing but a bad imitation of the real deal. And that is the Pharisees in the nutshell. That is a cleverly hidden abuser, in a nutshell. Their righteousness is not pure and perfect as He is. It is not as obviously a filthy rag, as the Word says—but any amount of filth taints what must remain perfectly white and clean as snow to truly reflect and represent Him. that must be burned off by Him. And you have to be willing to let Him do just that, because you cannot serve two masters, and you cannot enter His kingdom while insisting on holding onto anything that does not belong there.

        I have and continue to struggle with self-righteousness. I’m one the most prideful persons I know. But I know I am and I try not to hide it, or hide from it. That too is something you will never seen in a Pharisee, or an abuser. They don’t hide in the darkness (often they are in plain sight), but they live in it, and inflict it on others.

        A true believer aims to be compassionate, and rightly so. This is one of the biggest fruits that is lacking in the church I think—-person after person will testify to that. I’ve had the honor of leaning on non-Christians who are more compassionate than those that profess Him—and boy am I grateful to them.

        But true Christ-like compassion will resemble His. And look at the Word to see what He went through, what it took, and what it often costed Him—in order to definitively display what true compassion looks like. He took risks. He defied public opinion. He boldly and brazenly stood up for others—often times in public view. He was not compassionate in a bubble so no feathers would be ruffled. So no one would feel offended. So no one would see what He was doing. He had nothing to be ashamed of, and He was not ashamed of those He helped, healed and gave hope to. Why hide in the darkness? He wasn’t interested in playing both sides—-you can’t do that.

        He confronted people. He started conflicts with them, not to be combative, but to compel them. This IS His compassion on full display. I’ve seen compassionate persons who will not go down such paths. And you cannot always cushion the feelings of others while being compassionate to them at the same time. Sometimes you have to look at them full in the face and put them in their place—-and that IS His compassion at work.

        Never believe the lie that a compassionate person is cruel when they confront out of love. Why are you being so cruel, you now non-compassionate person? NO. Compassion encourages and edifies, yes—but it also isn’t afraid of the ones they are aiming to show compassion to. Don’t back down from them, even when they cut you down for daring to look them in the eye as an equal. Compassionate persons are not His doormats. They are fully equal to those they serve, and when they are being served.

        If you are compassionate on the condition that you will not pay a price, you aren’t bearing His fruit in its entire purity. There is nothing saying that EVERY time you show compassion, you’ll offend someone—-but there is that risk. The Pharisees were only interested in power, control, authority and dominating those they felt were “beneath” them. They had nothing kind to say about the general population they supposedly served and shepherded—-so why take any risks for their well-being, especially if it came at a personal cost to them?

        I’ve seen long term Christians who are nothing like what I want to be. They have a very strong appearance of godliness, but the power that it emanates is not of Him. They are nice, kind, generous, even compassionate—-but there is a strong streak of self-righteousness, smug superiority and an unholy lack of empathy that kills, condemns and aims to control, not compel. They use fear and shame tactics, manipulation and full on hypocrisy, they enable, endorse and expect people pleasing. They weaponize self-pity. They claim to be extremely sensitive so others will tip toe around them, but are brutally insensitive to everyone else. And they know how to punish those that are out of line to them, and control their own to keep them in line. They don’t always use words, but they know how to send such messages. They are interested in one way control, not two way conversations.

        Don’t be fooled. A Christian family (or church family) can claim to be a close family, who claims Christian love and aims to spread the fragrance of Him—-yet they refuse to rebuke one another, stand up for and to one another, and stay silent when they should speak. They are dishonest and hide their true feelings. They are so afraid of one another that fear is the glue that holds them together—-it masquerades as unity, but not as He intended it. And not how He endorses it.

        And you CAN see these things. They are not obviously seen, but they are not wholly hidden. I saw them eventually. You WILL know them by their fruits. You WILL see what LOOKS like His fruit, but He is not their root. The power that emanates from His true blue godliness is the fragrance of life that you CAN sense and smell. The power that emanates from anything BUT is like an air freshener that is covering up a rotting corpse.

        A line from a funny sitcom comes to mind. A woman was using air freshener to cover up the foul smell of fishing equipment. Someone came in and said: smells like a fish died and they all sent flowers. THAT is it in a nutshell.

        Sorry this went on way too long. It kind of poured out of me. I’m dealing with so much right now and my body and soul are taking in so much. It helps to get some of this out of me, and hopefully others can relate or something will resonate with them.

      • Helovesme said
        “I’ve seen long term Christians who are nothing like what I want to be. They have a very strong appearance of godliness, but the power that it emanates is not of Him. They are nice, kind, generous, even compassionate—-but there is a strong streak of self-righteousness, smug superiority and an unholy lack of empathy that kills, condemns and aims to control, not compel. They use fear and shame tactics, manipulation and full on hypocrisy, they enable, endorse and expect people pleasing. They weaponize self-pity. They claim to be extremely sensitive so others will tip toe around them, but are brutally insensitive to everyone else. And they know how to punish those that are out of line to them, and control their own to keep them in line. They don’t always use words, but they know how to send such messages. They are interested in one way control, not two way conversations.”

        Thank you for this excellent description! As I read it, I was thinking of particular individuals I know.

        And I love your phrase “fear is the glue that holds them together.” I can think of families and ministries which fit that to a T.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you for those kind words.

        That was a very hard comment to write. I feel all alone in this boat. You are NOT a celebrated figure when you see such ugliness for what it is. It is a very heavy burden to carry, but a far less toxic one than the one I was carrying previously.

      • ((((hugs))) for you, Helovesme.

      • Kind of Anonymous

        Hi Barb I think the telescope analogy is indeed the same thing. I think CS Lewis made a comment about how people arrive at the wrong conclusions about the nature of reality and about God because they are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. I think it fits really well. That sounds like an interesting book. I would sure love to know how to stop dissociating. I have missed out on a lot of life because I am not able to stay present.

        I hope it isn’t rude to say, but I would like to be able to have a normal sexual relationship with a life partner without it triggering anything but love and closeness! I would like to be able to be around a man who is frustrated or cranky and not go into fear/compliance/flattened mode or react out of anxious and intimidated attachment. Arrrgh. It’s like my mind and heart run away the moment I feel under threat or feel any kind of guilt or shame. I would like to be able to fall or fail in my spiritual walk WITHOUT the whole triggering of fear and condemnation, splitting, and inability to forgive myself or connect with God. It would be wonderful to be free of this.

      • I think Martha Stout’s book would give you some tips about how to stop dissociating. You may need help from someone who understands dissociation and trauma pretty well.

        But even if you don’t get human help, the Holy Spirit is the Wonderful Counselor. He can gently bring memories up when you are in a safe place, so you can process them and integrate them into your conscious everyday mind. As Finding Answers puts it, the Holy Spirit can rewire your nervous system. He is the best of all counselors because He knows how to proceed very tenderly, at a pace you can handle.

      • Kind of Anonymous

        HeLovesMe and Finding Answers, thank you for your kind and supportive words. I was afraid that was too much to put out there and I am glad it wasn’t.

        I can relate to the idea of pictures in one’s mind and being able to connect them to things. I always felt as if it was as if my wires were all crossed and matched with the wrong corresponding wires so finding out what something was, what something meant, what God might say about it, etc, was like being re wired so the proper connections were made.

  17. Finding Answers

    Helovesme commented (17TH JUNE 2019 – 1:27 PM) “Fruit of the Spirit is not always a gentle process. It can be hard work. It is often slow, patient and fire-refining work in us to produce something as precious and powerful as His fruit……”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Helovesme wrote: “……….A woman was using air freshener to cover up the foul smell of fishing equipment. Someone came in and said: smells like a fish died and they all sent flowers……..”

    ^THAT!! In my synesthetic sense overlap, someone using evil methods and NOT the leading of the Holy Spirit will smell like rotting flesh. (Omitting further details to avoid triggering my own MASSIVE catatonic state / dizziness memories.)

    My apologies for my delay in thanking you, Helovesme, for your two awesome comments (17TH JUNE 2019 – 12:05 PM, and 17TH JUNE 2019 – 1:27 PM).

    • Helovesme

      Oh, no worries about a lack of reply. And thank you for the kind words. I’m going through a lot, so my personal prayer times tend to focus on my extreme neediness of Him. But I try to leave the door cracked open to pray for others, especially those who have shared what they’ve been through. And you’ve been through a LOT.

      Oh, and thanks Barb for the “hugs.” They mean so much.

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