I stood, looking in the mirror, looking into my own eyes. And I didn’t recognize myself.
It’s amazing and terrifying how quickly we can be stripped of who we believe we are if we let our guard down and the enemy comes in. I had been the light in someone else’s darkness. And the darkness was drawn to me. Before I realized it, I had no escape. I felt powerless.
I believed I could spot the red flags of emotional abuse, I felt confident in my ability to recognize active mental abuse. But I failed. I felt as though I had failed myself. And I was convinced I had failed in my relationship with God.
It started slowly. A very gradual escalation over the course of 3 years. First, he learned all about my deepest fears and my biggest insecurities. He was my husband, after all. So, I saw no need to keep these from him. I chose to be an open book. And in so doing, I gave him every shred of information needed to attempt to manipulate me, destroy my defenses, and weaken the woman I had been. The Woman I thought I was.
Manipulated into questioning my own thoughts and ideas. Questioning my own values and beliefs. Before I could realize what was happening, I had been separated from my family, pulled away from any friends that could help me see reason, and made to believe that I was so unlovable that my own family was ashamed of me and my God, my savior, would never see me as worthy or redeemable.
Nights were filled with desperate prayers, clinging to my Bible in hopes that I could be free once again, as a woman and a child of God. Utterly ashamed to admit that in the depths of my loneliness and pain, I would pray to fall asleep and simply not awaken again the next morning. And each morning, I would awaken and find myself still clinging to the dream of being loved and at peace again one day. I didn’t understand why God would choose to keep me alive in a situation where I felt I had no purpose. In a situation which I felt blocked from serving him.
But what beauty I found when I escaped! I say escaped because I felt I had to run. As fast as I could. For the sake of anything that had ever made me the woman I was.
Eventually, I began to think about and analyze what I had been through. I began to pray and seek answers. And looking back, I can now say that I am a stronger woman. I learned valuable lessons that I otherwise wouldn’t have experienced. I’ve gained insight into things I would have had no knowledge of before. And I pray I am in a better situation to be a stronger light to those who truly need one, not to those who wish to snuff it out for its brilliance.
Learning to love yourself all over again is not easy. It can be challenging and scary at times. Unlearning the negative self-talk that goes hand in hand with being brainwashed into believing you are worthless is a mountain to climb all on its own. But it can be done!
My faith was my strength. It had been weakened, but it hadn’t been destroyed. So, I tore down the crumbling ruins of the person I had been, and began working on my blessed foundation all over again.
Yes, starting over can be a challenge. Rebuilding can be intimidating. But it is worth it.
And please, never forget that you are worth it!
I feel I must add that if you feel depressed and hopeless, if you feel there is no way out. Reach out to someone if you can. Please, don’t give up on the beauty that is your life. There is happiness and peace to be had. Even when the future may look bleak.