Therapy from sexual, emotional, and physical abuse has been grueling at times. At times it has felt like my world is going to end and nothing will ever change. Then a moment comes when the pain is lifted, I grow up a little more as I learn about the world, its people, and healthy ways to live life. That is where the growth occurs and when I have those ah-ha moments. Each time I have one of those moments I heal that much more. The pain is that much more manageable, and my life becomes that much more enjoyable.
I have related these various ah-ha moments as my growing up process. I began this growth in the stage of selfishness. I have thrown fits. I have experienced many panic attacks. I have threatened to hurt myself if others did not love me the way I wanted. Basically, I acted like a little child and I felt like a little child. During this stage I craved many childlike activities. I colored, painted, desired to play in the closet of my counselor’s office, ran around with my kids like I was one of them and always daydreamed of playing what little girls would play but my grown up body told me that was ridiculous. I hated being reminded of that.
The ah-ha moments continued and I grew into the stage of adolescents. I dressed more provocatively, I behaved irresponsibly in a loud and crazy way, and I drank till I was incoherent. Looking back in hind sight I now realize that I craved discipline from the one whom I felt loved me unconditionally. This person was my counselor. He set up these boundaries that made me so upset. I would throw fits, cry, rage, scream and he never gave into my demands but he still showed me love, kindness, patience, and empathy. It was unbelievable what this guy put up with! It kept me coming back for more.
My counselor allowed me to go through these stages of childhood with him. He became my protector, my safety, my teacher, and my spiritual leader. My mind needed to experience a healthy childhood with a healthy adult. I needed to be raised, so to speak, all over again with love and understanding. Of course, it is different this time. I am in an adult body, I have adult responsibilities, and I have adult consequences. When my unconscious mind felt safe with my counselor he became the epitome of trust, security, and love and I regressed back to childhood frequently. I recently discovered that as I progressed through therapy with him I began trying to make him love me. I wanted him to fulfill the place in my heart where my father destroyed me. My adult self knew he was just my counselor and I was just his client but my child side was trying to find a loving safe family. I have been in constant battle with these two sides of myself.
Further on in therapy I came to a point where I literally felt like I reached the adult/college stage of my therapeutic life. Most counselors would call this the maintenance faze of counseling. I still needed to have this safe place to call home in order to air out my dirty laundry, a place to “come home” so to speak. I needed to know that even though I was out doing more grown up things, such as literally going back to college that he was still there for me. As I was going through this stage a bomb dropped! I equate it to being almost like a death in a family. My safe secure pretend family was moving far away. So far away that communication would be extremely limited. All of a sudden I went into high speed mode to make them like me so much that they would feel like I was part of their family. They would love me so much that they would make sure communication would never be dropped. My mind was racing finding ways to be clingier. My logical thoughts knew that I needed to begin to let go before they left. I needed to come to reality that my “father” isn’t really my father. He has no legal or blood commitment to me. But my fantasy kept winning over my logic. I couldn’t give up yet. I wanted him to tell me I am like a sister to him. But not just a sister in Christ; a sister that drops by unannounced, a sister that receives unplanned phone calls because he has a minute and thought of me, a sister that tells me what he does in his personal life. This man has raised me from a child so says my unconscious now conscious mind of mine and I want to be more than just a client. I want to be family!
Recently, I had a revelation. I realized that I am trying to hold onto something I have never had. I’m trying to make someone love me that doesn’t have to love me. I’m trying to keep the only feeling I’ve known of safety and security as close to me as possible. It’s not working. Instead, I am acting out in anger. I am hearing words of hurt that weren’t meant for hurt. I’m grabbing onto any thread of hope that he loves me like families love each other and it keeps slipping out of my hands, vanishing into thin air. Every time I go home to my own family I am reminded that I am not a part of his. Every time I see a Facebook picture of his family I am reminded that I have my own family.
So this is where I am today. I am left unsure what to do. I am left with unresolved feelings. I am left knowing the truth but not being able to accept the truth. I am left grieving for a father I never had and for a taste of what a father might have been.
While writing all this a word comes to mind … lucky. Lucky reminds me of being thankful. Can I be thankful that I did get to taste what a fathers love is possibly like? Or will I resent all of this because it hurts so much to let go? I’m betting there are countless women out there who have never experienced a father’s love. What would they give for that? What would they give for the taste that I experienced? I hope I can stay thankful, not turn it to resentment and hold onto that father’s love as I continue figuring out this growing up stuff of life. After all, God does say in Ephesians 1:3-5, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us…. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his [children].”
Not too long ago I wrote a poem. I read it often to try to practice the truth that God is my real father who will continue to love me while my counselor is gone. It goes like this:
God chose you to show me Himself.
I saw His image as you sat patiently while I cried with anger.
I saw His hands as I stared at yours to help me focus and stay present.
I saw His eyes as I briefly looked at yours for reassurance.
I saw His feet as I looked towards the ground at yours in shame and regret.
I saw His smile as you laughed back at something funny I spoke.
I felt His love as you walked me through panic and despair.
I felt His justice as I learned from you that I have the right to have boundaries.
I felt His strength as you gave me food when I punished myself through starvation.
I felt His heart break as you showed anger for injustice done to me.
I felt His comfort as you stayed with me during intense pain and emotion.
He taught me integrity as I watched you keep your boundaries.
He taught me relationships as I watched you interact with others.
He taught me commitment as you worked tirelessly for God’s kingdom.
He taught me forgiveness as I witnessed you forgive me for my mistakes.
He taught me honesty as I witness you proclaim the truth with sincerity and candor.
God chose you to show me Himself.
I couldn’t have chosen a better man for Him to use.