(okay, this is very long and may need to be read in separate chunks.. : ) )
Most every family has some form of dysfunction or other it seems. Well, in my experience, this is all I've ever known. Sure, some families "seem" like they are healthy and even believe themselves to be, but that does not necessarily mean that they are. When I was in high school, my family looked picture perfect on the outside to many a casual observer. But that was far from the truth. Let me set the stage for what came to be.
When I was in 6th grade living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, my mom told me that her cancer, which she had vehemently fought a few years prior, had returned. She told me they had given her 6 months to live. My father and her decided it would be best to move permanently to the states, where she could get the best treatment and perhaps survive. So we moved here, first to Arizona and two years later to Colorado. It was a very difficult time, especially to be uprooted from all my family, friends and what was familiar. I watched my mother deteriorate, becoming addicted to painkillers (morphine) and I don't blame her for that. I watched her slowly die over a period
of almost three years. She was at home for most of that time. Sometimes under the care of a visiting relative or nurse, but often under our inadequate care (my brother and I's). I was fourteen when she died, my brother eleven. My father worked long and late hours to be able to afford her very expensive treatments, We went from a life of wealth, to one of lack in many ways. Not by any means utter poverty, but just a significant change for us-- we couldn't afford to get furniture among other things, but that didn't really faze my brother and I much. We wanted and believed our mom would live.
Most of this time, we were greatly unsupervised under the circumstances. Money was short to pay for much additional care. Thankfully my grandma came for a good part of my mom's last year and that brought me some real comfort. But unfortunately, she had to leave following my mom's passing and she herself died shortly after.
The reality is that from twelve on, I pretty much had to fend for myself, and having been molested as a young girl once, I did not have good sexual boundaries. I wasn't taught well how to respect myself. The incident had happened by a stranger and my mother didn't know how to handle it, so she didn't really believe me and didn't speak about it ever again, to anyone. This was very damaging to me and prepped me for more abuse, unfortunately. (I know, sadly, this is all t0o common for so many girls, but the effects are detrimental...)
So did God abandon me? I thought he had. I thought he flat out hated me. Did I really know God back then? No I did not. So I looked for love in all the wrong places. I was exploited in many ways. I lost my voice. I fought for a long time before I lost it. I fought with my dad, trying to get love and affection from him. I yelled and screamed. But he too was dead in many ways.
He had sought comfort in the arms of a "strange" woman shortly after my mom's death. It wasn't even 6 months of her leaving when he remarried.
I was desperate for this woman to accept me and she too exploited me and whatever was left of our family. She took as much of my dad's money as she could, along with his self-respect. Do I think my dad was a victim? No I don't. I think he made poor choices for all of us, many of which he has not taken responsibility for. He treated me very poorly from the time of my mom's passing on; I was the scapegoat for all his rage, as was my brother. We were both abused by him physically and emotionally. He was legally charged for one of the times he beat my brother. In desperation I called the police on him. Somehow the charges were eventually dropped, though he would do it again... So as you can see, my dad was a very sick man, and in many ways he still is. He wants to pretend everything is fine to this day. He is now living a lie with a new woman that he started seeing shortly after he ended with Linda (my first step-mother). He claims to have found God and uses him to hide from our past. Has he ever taken responsibility for his abandonment or abuse. No he hasn't. He cares too much about his image and the lies he believes about himself. He is a "successful" man, a doctor, a "minister", a wealthy man. He was just a victim. So all is seemingly well in his world.
In my neediness I played his game for too long, until I woke up to his deception and manipulation once and for all. He exploited me too. He is self-deceived. He has made that choice. I have tried confrontation, only to be either accused myself or totally disregarded.... It has not been easy
Anyway, there's a lot more to this story, which is to be continued....
I just want to add that it was at 19 years of age that I finally met Jesus; five years after my mother died. He hadn't abandoned me, like I believed he had. No, he had his eye on me. He came for me when I was ready to see him. He chose me as his very own. And I tasted real love and there has been no going back. How could I, He truly saved me.
I no longer see myself controlled by my circumstances. I have been redeemed from the destructor. There has been real healing and abundant hope. It has been (and is) a process, sometimes very painful, but well worth it. What's been said is right-- if we can't embrace the pain and the truth, then we will not heal, and we will not really experience love. Life is about learning to suffer well because our ultimate reward is not of this world. We don't look for suffering, it finds us; and what we do with it makes all the difference in the world. I am learning this more and more. I fail, a lot, just like you, but I know there is grace there to help me get up and do what is good. With God's help, I can only extend this same grace to those who have wronged and abused me. It is up to them whether they will embrace it... and I pray they do.
In many serious cases, it takes time, it takes distance, it takes separation. I don't think these are incompatible with love.
We the abused are also called to respect ourselves as we do others. When you've been bashed half your life, you sort of forget that you are worthwhile. But Jesus is sure to remind us!!! If I have failed, I have also failed at loving me in a healthy way, respecting my needs and limitations.
Thanks for reading. Your comments are welcome.