Domestic Abuse

You Don’t Have To Be A Superhero

Have no fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand ~Isaiah 41:10

 

 

Powerful words and so true!

For many years, however, other words echoed in my mind. Words like “I’m going to be alone….” Then just a few short, but dreadful years after those echoes left their scars came, “I’m not strong enough…” Those two statements were  as equally powerful during the time I lived them as the words of God are for me today. They summed up my entire two year 11 month marriage. I’m remarried now, to my wonderful,  loving Ryan who sometimes gets on my nerves… He can’t help it. It’s the Y chromosome.

Anyway….

One is too many.
One is too many.

I met my first husband (who remains nameless, and not because I’m protecting him) my junior year at Centenary College in 1992. You know how blind dates stories go; a friend of mine was going out with a friend of his blah, blah, blah.  He was five years older than I and in the Army, a tanker to be exact stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey.  Even as we started dating our relationship was bumpy. He’d make jokes at my expense and lie all the time. I always forgave him. In 1993 after graduation, I moved in with him. We lived in a ” summer cottage” in the Pine Barrens. I moved in with him because I wanted to and because of the not-so-subtle pressure from my family to take the next step in my relationship. When I moved in, my mother was opposed to the timing of it all. My parents went south for the winter soon after my move and my mother thought I was sneaking away. A ridiculous idea, for I wasn’t, it just happened that way. Besides, I thought moving in with him was what she wanted anyway.

But that’s a story for another blog.

There, at 207 Spring Lake Boulevard, it started.  Pushes.  Slaps across the face. Breaking my things. The verbal and mental abuse. Why did I stay? Looking back, it was because of the “take what you can get, Linda, you don’t want  to  be  alone forever  do you?” statements in my head. I was trying to make my family and everyone around me believe and see I was “normal ” with a  “normal” life. I tried hard to make my mother happy instead of fearful of what kind of future I was going to have.  I gave over so much power by allowing myself to be torn apart for the sake other people’s happiness.  Looking at it now, it really pisses me off that I allowed that to happen.

linda-and-ryan
This…. is what God’s strength can do. Ryan and I at our wedding.

We got engaged, and again, I did so to make other people happy. I didn’t know that then, of course.  I wanted to get married, have children, a house etc., but I was definitely goaded into the union, pressured by the questions of “isn’t it time you got married?” Of the wedding itself, it was a traditional, big wedding that makes me feel like I wasted a perfectly good party on an a$$hole. I had a lovely father/daughter dance and all that it goes along with it. My wedding to Ryan didn’t have a father/daughter dance. My father died a year before we got married.  Ryan never met my father because he was really sick for a couple of years before his death and never came back to Warwick during that time.

In the winter of 1996 my first husband  got stationed in battle Creek, Michigan.  So we moved to a place where I knew no-one, a 12 hour car ride away from home. There the abuse really got bad.  I had to go on anti-seizure medication because the stress, abuse, and seizures were so bad. I’d have three seizures per day. I had seizure issues before that, but never had to be medicated for them. I endured every kind of abuse, and if I had stayed, I truly believe I wouldn’t be here today.   My turning point came when he-who-shall-not-be-named held a pillow over my face so the neighbors wouldn’t hear my screaming. That made me leave him (if all the other things he did weren’t enough). On July 9, 1997 after I sent him off to work with a kiss and a “have a nice day, Honey” I got to work on a new direction for my life. I called up a friend who came over and helped pack my car along with my dog and cat. At 1pm my freedom began!

I drove 12 hours straight with my animals as my co-pilots. I’d love to say I never looked back, but I can’t.  Although I never went back to him, the thought did enter my mind. That’s just one side effect of the diagnosed PTSD his abuse caused.

The first time he hit me across the face I heard a voice say, “and so it begins.”   God uses fire to refine us. I’d not change a thing of what happened to me because it made me the person I am today.  I’m not sure if the “it” ended with me leaving him. Maybe the “it” was, and is, a journey; a lifelong voyage to I say “I am your clay, God, mold me and refine me.”

I was never alone throughout that time in my life.  God helped me carry on and helped me be strong.  Toward the approach of my turning point (while cooking dinner of all things) I heard a voice say, “Linda, you don’t have to take this.” I stopped what I was doing and realized that that was the voice of truth. The fact is, I never really believed that I didn’t have to take it anymore, I was too weak at the time, but God used that moment for His glory and to make me stronger and make His voice louder than my fears. A few days later I was gone.

f you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse share with them the links in this post. They are not alone.
if you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse share with them the links in this post. They are not alone.

In the days before I left, I was happier than I was in a very long time  My ex husband even commented on it. I was because I knew I had the power of choice. The power of a free and independent will that no filthy words and no fists could strike. I was a child of God and stronger together with Him.  My sincere hope is that anybody living with domestic abuse of any kind realizes this: You are never  alone.  Yes, you are strong enough to get out. It’s not about how strong you are, it’s about how strong you are in Christ. God is stronger then Superman and Ironman combined! He’s on your side! How cool is that? I’ve an image that might help: imagine standing up in front of this ginormous foe with Jesus at your back and say to yourself,  “I’m going to tag out of this one” (granted, as you pee your pants for the step you just took…. )

Well guess what? You can tag out of the fight. Step aside, smile at the adversary and let Jesus slay the dragon. Please, get a good lawyer; call 911 or the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse at 1-800-799- safe (7233) Trust in God that you will be ok in the end.

I’d love to have my ex see me now! First place winner in American Challenge National Championship last June for the deadlift; 143.2 lbs and in this past January in Virginia State Competition first place winner in deadlift at181.2 lbs and in bench press 70 lbs….

In your face a$$hole!I

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Limits

Don’t Be Limited By An Al

Al, bit.

horse
This is not Al. This is probably a very nice horse.

He bit, he reared… he scared the living horse-hockey out of me. But my riding instructor, mind you, the one not atop the two tons of ornery horseflesh, told me I was fully capable of riding him. Thanks for the vote of confidence there, but tell that to the voices in my head screaming I was one spoke short of a round spur for ever going near Al…

There’s something I wish I knew long ago: view yourself through God’s eyes. It will change how you see yourself and shape the decisions made throughout life. I’ve struggled, and continue to struggle, with the unending negative chatter in my head. The voices saying, “You can’t… you’re not good enough… how are you going to do…?” We have to step back, take a deep breath and ask ourselves, is that God talking?  Would God ever say nasty things like that to us? No, he wouldn’t! We must raise His voice louder than the negative chatter.

God says: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has gone, the new has come.”– 2 Corinthians. 5:17 ; “You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” – Matthew 5:4 ; and finally, “You are all children of the light and  children  of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.”  Thessalonians 5:5 We are new beings in Him. We are light bearing children of God himself that cannot be snuffed out. We belong to Him and Him alone.

horse-nose
Again, not Al. But if this was Al, he’d be thumbing his nose at this  blog.

Al, on the other hand, belonged to Al. That horse never changed. But I did.

In the next few weeks I’ll break down some situations when I limited myself because I wasn’t looking at myself through God’s eyes.  When you don’t see yourself like He does, your self worth lacks as well as your self-confidence. Doing so impacts your life in ways you may not think it would.

Here’s one illustration: grades.  Looking back, I realize my grades suffered because of how I felt about myself.  I had B’s and C’s… a D here and there. I know now if I had better self-confidence I’d have done better in school.  I was too busy being afraid of what teachers and other kids thought of me that it impeded my learning.   I’d call it “performance anxiety on steroids.”

Back to Al. Horses can sense “performance anxiety on steroids.” It makes them ornery.

This confidence battle happened throughout my school years. I was in an agonizing, vicious cycle inside my head. I’d try to get really good grades so teachers and students would see me as “normal,” but time and again I’d bomb on the tests. So the teaches and other kids knew I wasn’t as good as they were. The grades spoke loud and clear.  It was an emotional, living hell.

cu
It looked nothing like this when I attended. Maybe they sold Al.

Don’t get me wrong, I got through school just fine and I went to college etc., but how I saw and felt about myself made a huge impact on what college I got into, where I wanted to go, and in what I wanted to major.  I ended up going to Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ (now a University). In 1989 Centenary was a small college with 300 student residents.  My class was the first co-ed class to ever graduate—a 54 to one female to male ratio.  I didn’t want to go to a huge school far from home because I wasn’t comfortable with the idea. I thought I’d get swallowed up! My decision making process in all aspects of my life was base upon what the cold, unforgiving world thought of me and how I felt about myself. I didn’t try as hard as I could have because I was worried about failure. What would people think of me? They’d pity me.

Now on a side note: I’m so, so glad I went to Centenary because I met some of my closest and dearest friends there. Even when you limit yourself God, is there with you.   He has a plan and He will help you change your perspective and thinking. Through that, you will change your performance. I ended up taking private lessons on Al while at college. That individualized attention helped to focus my perspective, much like powerlifting does for me now. Al was still going to be jerk, and those weights are still going to outweigh me, but when I changed how I saw, and now see, myself it calms the chatter in my head. I become the one in control.

Not Al.

So the lesson of the day is don’t limit yourself, and always view the reflection in the mirror through God’s eyes. If you don’t do these things you won’t reach your full potential.

Who knows? You might win the Nobel Peace prize for bringing the liberals and conservatives together.

 

Self-Esteem

When Life Gives You Potatoes…

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”~ Psalm 139:14

I’ve thought long and hard about what my first blog should be. I’m going to tell you something I wish I’d discovered long ago: accept the fact that there are potatoes you’re never going to be able to peel.

russet-potatoes-cut
The villain of our story. Nasty little suckers.

More importantly, don’t let the fear of other people make you feel self-conscious of the fact that you can’t peel a potato. For a few years I went to private school until third grade when I started public education.  When I got home from my first day my mother asked me how it went. I told her great, I met some really nice kids and they seem to like me a lot. Her reply? She said, “They only like you because they feel sorry for you.”

Now, please don’t think I’m bashing my mother. Both my parents did all they could to help me. My prognosis as a baby wasn’t very promising. When I was adopted, doctors said I’d never walk or talk. They told my parents to enjoy me at home, and when I got too big to handle to put me in a home. After numerous different doctors came and went, my parents finally found one who put me on a 14 hour a day, six day a week physical and mental therapy program. Thanks to my parents and their devotion to finding me quality care, I’m walking, talking, have two college degrees and a family of my own.

The point I’m making is I’ve a very loving mother; she was just fearful that kids would make fun of me. She didn’t realize what she said out of her own fear was damaging to me. From that point on I had major trust issues and was embarrassed of who I was. Embarrassed of the way I talked and of my afflicted left side. Up to that point in time, the first six years of my life was surrounded by volunteers coming and going all helping me to become a better person and all of whom thought I was the best thing since sliced bread.

That first day of third grade changed me forever…  until recently.

Powerlifting shows me I have a power within me power that some people are afraid to tap into. Power that shows the world I’m not to be pitied. I love my mother with all my heart, but wish she’d have put her fear of what could happen to me aside and focused on teaching me how uniquely wonderful I was, and how much I had to offer.

Today I am getting over my trust issues because I’ve found something within that gives me self confidence. I’m ok that I will never be able to peel a potato.  My husband, Ryan, is  a  wonderful  peeler.

smashed-potato
Every problem has a solution made better with garlic and butter.

So I the lesson of the day is first, don’t let the fears your loved have shape how you feel and see yourself and, second, accept the fact you can’t peel a potato. It has no influence on what kind of person you are. Smash them with some garlic instead. Life is tastier when your outlook is better.

Every problem has a solution.