Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My story

(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.

17 comments:

Nicole said...

Oh sweet Manu! What a story. Isn't God truly our savior? I am so blessed that he has taken your life and has turned it around for good!!! He is the best thing that has ever happened to you!!! Your story has touched me, and I am still processing it all!!! I can truly sense your love and desire for freedom and grace in your life! It blesses me to see you embrace Father!!! So encouraging too!!!

I will write more later!!!

Love you sweet one!

Love In Freedom, Nicole!

Sara said...

thank you for sharing your story.

wanting more said...

Thank you Manuela...I can really relate to all of this. I lost my mother at age 11 - almost 12, and my story is very similar to yours...although I still struggle with God abandoning me...anyway, thanks for sharing this. I anticipate more of your story.
Kari

Manuela said...

Thanks so much, Nickorie

Thanks for stopping by and reading my story Sara and Kari!! :)

Kari, I'd love to hear more about you... There have been many times I have felt abandoned by God, you are not alone in that. Even though it is just a feeling and not a fact, it's still awful, I know. Life can be really hard...
Losing a parent when young is traumatic no matter how you look at it. Thanks for sharing...love

Katherine Gunn said...

Thanks for sharing. Hmm... {{Hug}}

Heather said...
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Sue said...

Wow, Manu. You know, I am so glad you posted this because it's so healing to speak your own truth out, and also because we share many commonalities and it felt like a healing thing reading this. I'm so glad you met Jesus when you were 19. I just love the way you described how this unfolding freedom is occurring :) But oh, the pain of it, but one day we shall be free free free free. I can hardly believe that but I do feel it too, in my bones, that what He is setting in motion in all of us in some way shape or form will come to fruition. Imagine that?

In the meantime we birth and are birthed and we rip through and everything tears and fuck me if sometimes I'm just sick of the whole process (like now). And so this is why reading your words was such a healing thing for me tonight. Thanks for reminding me and giving perspective :)

One Voice of Many said...

Manuela -
This is a powerful story. Thank you for your honesty to put it out there!

Michelle

Nate said...
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Manuela said...

Thanks so much for coming by, reading and commenting, friends!!! and for the encouragement!!...love

Tyler Dawn said...
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Valorosa said...

The pressure on your whole household must have been gargantuan.
Your Mom must have tried to hang on so long for you.

Did they ever want to return to their homeland?

God is good

How is your brother now?

Sorry for all these questions I can see your family in that time so full of hope that your Mom would get better. The pressures on your Dad because a family really runs best with two parents. Especially a parent that breaks so badly under stress and sorrow.

So sad but so victorious.

Hugs

Erin said...

I just want to thank you for letting us into such a tender place. I pray God continues the healing process in you, and brings you peace and strength.

Joel B. said...

Wow, Manuela. Although I sit here in the presence of many females who have commented, I just want to say that as a man I was touched by your story very deeply. I've never dealt with the same types of things personally, but I know various people who have, and your story is one of hope. Thank you so much for sharing.

Manuela said...

Glad to see you both here Val and Erin! Welcome and thanks for your love/ prayer.

Valorosa,... I'll get back to your thoughtful questions : )

Joel,
Your words mean a lot. Thank you so much.

I want to comment more on all this... but I'm too sleep deprived right now...

Sue said...

Manuela, your story has touched my heart. It is so amazing how Father can take our pain and turn it into something beautiful. I can feel Father's love flowing out of you. I'm a grandmother and I know it must have broke your grandmothers heart to go back home and leave you and your brother. Thank you so much for sharing your story, I'm looking forward to reading more on your blog, you are such and encouragement.
Grandma Sue

Manuela said...

Sue,

Hello and welcome!!! and thank you for your sweet and comforting words!
It's so nice to meet new family members : ) ! ...Love