This is for all of those who are writing for tomorrow or wrote for yesterday’s Spiritual Abuse Awareness synchroblog, who are fighting through the old hurts and lies to tell their stories.
Take some time tonight to read Caleigh’s wonderful post here on how she practices self-care, and make sure you’re being gentle with yourself tonight. Thanks, Caleigh!
My hands have been quiet since writing my post for Elora’s Rebel Diaries yesterday. I didn’t expect to be so emotionally and mentally wiped out since writing it, but I should have expected it due to the very nature of what I revealed. I have recognized a pattern with my writing, and I know I am not alone in this pattern. It’s this pattern of being mentally numb after writing something big, something that you have never shared before, something that shows everyone the tears you have cried.I haven’t been able to write anything since writing that post, and it’s been like a piece of me has been broken and I have yet to put it back together.
When it comes to writing difficult stories, there is almost always a crash of emotional and mental stability upon finishing the story. It’s like you were holding your breath, tiptoeing around a fragile pyramid of champagne glasses, and as soon as you write that last paragraph, sentence, word, you let your breath out and the whole pile comes crashing down. It’s this sometimes overwhelming feeling of “I did good” and with a quickly following sense of “my emotions and heart are bleeding.” It’s this release of an unstoppable flood, and the only thing to do is to let the waters run their course. Writing about your story is difficult for anyone, but it is especially difficult for those of us who have faced hell. This written retelling is not the same as speaking a story. It is a permanent, almost etched in stone, kind of deal, and that’s scary to a lot of us. We can’t take back what we write, and in the age of internet, once something is out there, it is very difficult for it to be taken back.
There is this fear of being laughed at, not being taken seriously, scorned, and being told you are just being bitter and aren’t forgiving your oppressor. It is a fear of being vulnerable, letting the world see the cracks and brokenness in your heart of hearts. It’s giving the world the keys to hurt you deeply by sharing what has already hurt you. There is an openness and willingness to be hurt in the sharing of your life’s story and the tears it often accompanies.
I am still learning to feel the pain of my past. I subconsciously tell myself that I don’t feel anything over this, it’s just the facts, it’s just my story. But it isn’t. It has never been JUST the facts, my story, or anything. It is horrific, it is painful, it is heart wrenching. It makes others cry, and it makes me cry, when I am honest with myself and am willing to feel the heart wrenching, breath taking pain all over again. I have beaten myself up in the past for needing to break away from people because I felt overwhelmed, or needing to sleep in because I had had a bad night, or for losing myself in a favorite book because reality was too much for me. I felt like I was being weak, I wasn’t strong enough and that no one would be proud of me. I felt like I was despicable and disgusting for needing space from my family, my siblings, my friends, and I felt like I wasn’t being a good daughter. I have felt severely guilty for calling in sick to work when I know that I can’t physically function that day, or when I had to call off a social get together because I didn’t have the mental energy to interact with anyone.
Self care is still something I am not always good at, and I still push myself too far. I remember feeling confused the first time a friend told me it was okay to need space, that that was healthy, and recommended. How was it okay to let people see how broken and weary I was and still am? I had taught myself how to be rigid emotionally, and to guard very closely the beatings my heart took. Learning to let that control go and admitting that spending the day catching up on an almost entire season of Psych, or Bones, is okay is still very hard for me. Letting myself sleep in till 10 because of still feeling the emotional withdrawal of a hard post is okay, but I still kick myself over it. Letting go and being the broken vessel I am is important because through that letting go, I am healing. Through eating pretzels dipped in Nutella, through the watching of episodes of favorite TV shows, through the reading of favorite books, self care gives a gentle place where healing can start.
Self care for each person can, and should, look very different. Each person has a very unique way of healing, and that is the beauty of all of our stories. We are all so individual, that it makes so much sense that self care is individual as well. I often look for the thing that makes me feel most safe, the thing that I can rely on and I know it is not going to surprise me. That is the thing that I will look to for when I need self care. For me, as I have listed a little bit already, self care looks like drawing back from people except for my husband and one or two of my closest friends. It looks like watching my favorite TV shows on Netflix, and in case no one has figured it out yet, I love crime shows. Crime shows make me think in the way that is very natural for me; logically and factually. I don’t have to deal with emotions, and that helps alot. Self care also looks like giving my brain a break. Whether that looks like a romance novel that is cheesy, happy, and short, reading through Ender’s Game in a day, or taking a week to fly through Harry Potter, losing myself in those books, it’s something that I know I can count on and that it will always be the same no matter how many times I read it. I don’t have to wait to find out the outcome, I can go straight to the last page, and it will never be something I have to rethink, or be surprised over.
What self care looks like for you will probably be different than what it looks like for me. Guess what though, that is very much okay. I have been wanting to write for this week’s synchroblogs, but through these guest posts, this is my way of contributing when I can’t find words for anything else. Take care of yourself, run that bubble bath, light those candles, crack the cover of your favorite book, pull out those paint brushes. Self care is very important for everyone, especially for those who have been hurt.
Breathe, relax, cry, and heal.
Caleigh blogs over at The Profligate Truth.
8 thoughts on “SAAW: Self-care”
I needed to hear this yet I have been unable to contribute anything. I feel too vulnerable at the moment.
I just found my way here. I have experienced tremendous spiritual abuse over decades. I was part of a large mission organization and married a fella 29 years ago. It took me over 25 years to come out of denial that I was in a verbal, emotional and spiritually abusive relationship. After reading The Verbally Abusive Relationship, by Patrica Evans, I went to Church leadership who took me off my post but did not take my husband off his. (We volunteered nearly full time for the denomination) I went to the leadership of the organization we worked for for over 3 decades and once we were placed in the HR mechanism I faced a lot of spiritual and some verbal abuse. I even tried to quit one day but the HR guy wanted to fire me instead. (No benefits if fired.) I felt stuck in misogyny and spiritual abuse. Fortunately, there were individuals who heard me and the Holy Spirit who lead me to a ministry for abused women and to Alanon. God worked large and small miracles of emotional and spiritual healing in me. When marriage counseling failed, again, (4th time around) I was able to get a divorce.
I am still in the church, but only barely. I have not felt released by God to leave, but I only attend and am not active. There is a new Pastor who supported me in the divorce process, but honestly, my support came from a great cloud of individuals from many different churches who have walked with me and PRAYED for me and my X for years. Without these Godly, patient, broken/humble lovers of Jesus I would NEVER have made it!
I am not a fan of organized religion. Yet I know we are not to neglect the gathering together of believers. Abba has provided safe places, but I long for the Church to be the safe haven it is intended to be. (I have a former co-worker who has a title for a book she hopes to write:”Crucified by Christians.”) The Love of God MUST be received (It is freely offered) in order for the Church to behave as the body of Christ.
Oh, Andrea. Welcome. You’re in good company. Thanks for bringing your story. I hope this week you’ll feel a lot less alone and a lot more loved.
Caleigh, thank you for sharing over at Elora’s and thank you for giving yourself and others the release to rest. Thank you.
Caleigh, I read your post over a Elora’s yesterday( I tried leaving a comment, but had trouble logging in).
Your story has been weighing heavily on my mind. I’m so sorry for what you had to endure. I wept for the anger and anxiety that filled your home.
I wept for your mother because in her I saw a picture of what my life might have looked like if hadn’t left my husband. I wish I could take her hand in my own and tell her she doesn’t have to live like this anymore.
I rejoice with you over the love and peace you’ve found in the man that you’ve married. I rejoice in your voice as you speak words of truth and freedom. Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing your story.
Natalie, thank you for caring. I wish other wives would come along and show my mom that she doesn’t have to put up with this anymore. I know it’s especially difficult for wives/mothers in her position because of having 6 kids still at home, another almost out on her own, and then me and my brother who are out. She doesn’t want to put the kids through the ringer with getting a divorce, but I do hope she can get out.
I’m so glad you mentioned the crime shows. This week I found myself completely unable to enjoy any of my favorite shows and I had no clue why. Reading this it clicked – too much emotional investment. I just have NOTHING left this week. A few crime procedurals later, I found myself able to fight for normal. 🙂 Also, I love HP and Ender’s Game. 🙂 Thank you thank you thank you for writing this, for the reminder and just for being strong enough to share.