Painting Pictures of Egypt

leaving the security of familiar coping mechanisms is terrifying. Especially when nothing seems to ease the fear and pain like what I knew. When the “new life” became difficult or not what I expected, I wanted to return to the comfortable. I wanted what was comfortable even though it was dangerous and painful.

NOTE: This was originally posted in 2019.  I’m posting it again because I was recently reminded  how difficult moving forward can be. When an unexpected trauma occurs, it is easy to revert to old habits and thoughts. We want to grab hold of what we know or the first thing we see. The problem is we what held us up in the past doesn’t work anymore. Most recently, I’ve struggled to understand several disruptions in my life that seemingly blocked what I thought God wanted me to do. Although I was briefly tempted to reach for old, unhealthy coping mechanisms, I resisted the temptation because I recalled the song I write about in this blog. When you are tempted to hold on to what brought relief in the past, remember you are most likely, “painting pictures of Egypt and leaving out what it lacked.”

As I reflect on my healing from childhood abuse and my recovery from sexual and food addiction, I am reminded of a song by Sara Groves entitled “Painting pictures of Egypt.” I always liked that song because it illustrates how hard it is to move forward from a place that is comfortable.  Even when the comfort is painful or unhealthy, moving forward is very hard. Leaving the security of familiar coping mechanisms is terrifying. Especially when nothing seems to ease the fear and pain like what I knew. When the “new life” became difficult or not what I expected, I wanted to return to the comfortable. I wanted what was comfortable even though it was dangerous and painful. “I was dying for some freedom/But … I hesitated to go. /I was caught to between the Promise/And the thing I [knew].”[1] I was often like the Israelites who constantly complained and rebelled even though God had delivered them from slavery.

They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?” Exodus 14:11

“the place they used to fit me/[Could not] hold the things I’d learned.”

I remember times memories flooded me and I forgot the strength of the woman I had become. I became the frightened child curled up in the corner wishing I could magically teleport to somewhere, anywhere that was not my parent’s home. I convinced myself that I could hold on to the “what if’s,” that “it wasn’t so bad.” and the “let me tell you about…”I told myself so many times, “I’ll get it right this time, but let me just stay here for a little while.” “I’m not ready to leave this yet.” Sometimes I took baby steps out of Egypt. Sometimes I took giant leaps. Each time, I would forget the downside of dissociation, promiscuity or overeating because “the future [felt] so hard/And I [wanted] to go back.”[2] But as Groves writes, “the place they used to fit me/[Could not] hold the things I’d learned.”[3]

I felt the old patterns, “calling out to me/Like a long-lost friend.

I wasn’t comfortable in my new life, but returning to my old habits wasn’t an option because “Those roads were closed off to me/While my back was turned.”[4] I longed to escape reality even though dissociation was frightening to my adult self, mentally disappearing brought momentary relief to my ravaged soul. I tried to revisit the past because as Groves writes, “The past is so tangible. /I know it by heart. /Familiar things are never easy/To discard.”[5] Letting go of addictive behaviors and temporary mental escapes that kept me sane for so long was excruciatingly painful. I held on for my life. I knew there was something better because I experienced it in moments of sanity and clarity. Groves words rang true to me so many times during those early years of recovery and healing, “I don’t want to leave here/ I don’t want to stay/ It feels like pinching to me/Either way.”[6] I felt the old patterns, “calling out to me/Like a long-lost friend.”[7]

Wanting to return to old patterns wasn’t about “losing faith…or about trust/It [was] all about comfort.” My addictive behaviors were comfortable. They weren’t perfect, but they were comfortable. I depended on them for my life, or at least I thought I could not live without them. Then I learned I could live without them and I learned new healthy ways of managing anxiety and stress. Memories did not send me into a spiral of irrational thought.

no longer caught between the Promise and the things I know.

After years of work I realize, “I am no longer caught between the Promise and the things I know.”[8] Groves ends the song with “If it comes to quick/ I may not appreciate it. /Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?”[9] I firmly believe there is no quick fix for healing or recovery. While I believe in miracles, I also believe sometimes the journey is the most important part of healing. A quick fix might rob you of the ability to appreciate the change in your soul. However, change requires taking the first step out of Egypt. Waiting too long might cement the habit or thought pattern and makes it harder to leave it behind when you walk toward your Promise.

Leave Egypt once and for all

To move forward, we must take a close look at what we are holding onto.  What is keeping us stuck? When we keep one foot in Egypt as we look toward our “promised land,” we hinder our ability to move forward.   Through Christ, you have freedom. In Christ, you can move forward. We can leave Egypt and not be trapped by, “Painting pictures…leaving out what it lacked.”

Related Posts

How do I Change?

Sonnet III. How Can I Make It Right?

[1] Sara Groves, Painting Pictures of Egypt lyrics © Music Services, Inc

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

Hope Today-Finding God in the Darkness

I am grateful for the opportunity to share moments when God showed up to give me hope in the darkest moments of my childhood as well as the importance of both counseling and faith in my healing process.

Today I had the privilege of being the guest on Cornerstone Television Network’s program, Hope Today. I must admit I was more nervous about the interview than normal because it was a live broadcast. However, the hosts immediately put me at ease. Their approach to the interview allowed me to share aspects of my journey that I’ve not shared on previous programs.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share moments when God showed up to give me hope in the darkest moments of my childhood as well as the importance of both counseling and faith in my healing process.

I wanted to share the interview on my website so others may better understand the dynamics of healing from childhood trauma.

The Hidden Child

Between my Sophomore and Junior year of college, my anxiety and depression grew more profound as did my compulsion to act out sexually. If I dated someone who was not interested in a sexual relationship, I broke up with them. I felt trapped and believed I must be evil.

Note: Writing sonnets helped me verbalize thoughts and emotions that were difficult to express any other way. In 2018, I told my story through a sonnet sequence as part of a class assignment in my Creative Writing course at Houston Baptist University. A lot has happened since I wrote the sonnet below, but reading it today reminded me of the journey to healing that included getting to know the hidden child.

Between my Sophomore and Junior year of college, my anxiety and depression grew more profound as did my compulsion to act out sexually. If I dated someone who was not interested in a sexual relationship, I broke up with them. I realize now, that my unconscious mind recalled my father’s threats and declarations that my purpose was pleasing him and anyone he brought to me. The problem was, I did not remember anything about the interactions with my father. I did not remember that he was the one who first ignited the flame that I could not extinguish. I felt trapped and believed I must be evil. I continued to feel the tug of the child in my dreams. I wondered whether the child held the answers to my questions. She remained hidden, but I believed that she might hold the key to my freedom.

The sonnet, “The Hidden Child,” describes the continuing battle between my conscious thoughts and the child who wanted me to listen. After the first quatrain, the sonnet is a list of questions that demonstrate the anguish I felt as hidden memories struggle to be set free. In the sonnet, I tentatively accept the existence of the child but am not certain what to do with her.

Why can’t I stop this all-consuming flame?

Oh Lord, I do not like who I’ve become.

I can’t contain what lurks within my brain.

Fire that won’t quit once it has begun.

Will I someday know who first struck the match?

Who ignited the flame that will not die?

Who’s words told me that love comes with a catch?

Does the child know why love must be a lie?

Who is the hidden child that screams for peace?

Who is the hidden child that haunts my dreams?

Who is the hidden child whose cries won’t cease?

Does the child hold the key to what love means?

Will she reveal what I don’t want to see?

Tell me, Lord, how can the child be set free?

Related Posts:

The Forgotten Fire

The Child Left Behind

A Letter to My 13-year-old Self

his is a repost of one of my most read blogs. As I consider all the events of the past two years, I thought the letter to my younger self speaks volumes about the journey toward publication of my memoir, What Kind of Love is This? My inner child still speaks to my soul in moments of chaos and doubt. When she does, I remind her she is not alone and thank her for her courage and fortitude through years of abuse. 

Where it began

Note: This is a repost of one of my most read blogs. As I consider all the events of the past two years, I thought the letter to my younger self speaks volumes about the journey toward publication of my memoir, What Kind of Love is This? My inner child still speaks to my soul in moments of chaos and doubt. When she does, I remind her she is not alone and thank her for her courage and fortitude through years of abuse. 

On Monday, March 18, 2019, I began the final class for the Master of Arts in Cultural Apologetics program at Houston Baptist University. The class provided the opportunity to complete a capstone project of our choosing. My project was beginning my memoir about the abuse I endured. However, the memoir chronicles more than the sexual, physical and emotional abuse inflicted on me. I wrote the detailed chronology of the abuse about 20 years ago but did not publish it. At sixty-six, I had the luxury of reflecting on my life much differently than at age forty-something. I see the consistent thread of God’s grace and the constant presence of Christ in my life. The memoir is not a testimony of instant relief or dramatic healing through deliverance; nor is it a clinic account of healing through intellectual and psychological understanding. There was no quick fix to the distress and chaos in my life. As I stated in other posts, I healed from the trauma by integrating faith, reason, and imagination. Letter writing is one of the most effective tools in my recovery toolkit. Writing letters, poems and journaling helped me express feelings and thoughts that were difficult to articulate any other way.

Who is Charlie?

Charlie is the nickname given to me in the 7th grade. I used the nickname throughout my teen and young adult years. When I started remembering the abuse at age 34, I went back to Charlotte, but I changed my middle name from Louise to Bethia.  I legally changed my middle name when I divorced my first husband. Charlie represents the child who could not speak for years because my mind silenced her.  For some reason, I felt she needed reassurance that she is safe. Writing the letter eased my anxiety about starting the memoir and allowed me to voice my fears about the project. For those who endured similar experiences as a child, think about what you might say in a letter to your younger self. As you read, imagine what your younger self needs to hear from you.

Note: Original post written before I began writing my memoir.

Dear Charlie,

Next week I begin to tell our story in a way that I never thought I would. I want to honor you in that telling, but I also must reveal things you may not be comfortable with other people knowing. You may feel betrayed by what I share. You want to hide or run away to one of your safe places. I understand because as I write, I sometimes want to run away too. The problem is that I can’t run anymore. I know you are afraid that somehow the bad people will find you and hurt you again, but I promise you they can’t find you. Most of them are dead and my name has changed so even if someone reads our story, they won’t know it’s you. I know they told you they would always find you no matter what and that you belonged to them, but they lied. They can’t hurt you anymore.

Remember how Jesus always came when you needed him most. He will not abandon you now. He will not leave you. He understands how frightened you are and will stay very close as I tell the world how badly you were hurt. He will help me explain how he kept your soul safe even when the bad people said they were stronger than him. They could not have your soul then and they will not get it now.

There are so many that need to know what you can tell them.

You never gave in to the demand to become like them. You fought them every day. They tried to break you, but you survived to fight another day. Yes, some who read the story will not believe that one little girl could endure so much pain. Some will say you made up the stories you tell. You heard the words, “that didn’t happen,” so many times that you believed them and forgot all they did to you. You invented a life that was absent of pain, a life that kept you sane.

You are Stronger than you think

When I remembered all you sought to hide, I nearly died. Sometimes I wanted to die to stop the pain. I did not understand that what happened was not my fault, nor was it your fault. I understand that now and want you to believe that you are not the evil person they said you were. You are a beautiful little girl who was robbed of innocence. You survived to tell the tale. You are not the frightened, defenseless child that hid in the corner. You are the beautiful, pure young woman who stood your ground when darkness engulfed you.

Charlie, our story will help other children who suffered in darkness. By telling the truth and sharing the light, others may finally see beyond the pain and finally be free. Put your fears to rest, little one. You are safe and no harm will come because the same Jesus who held you in the darkness stills guards your heart and your soul.

I love you,

Charlotte

What would you say in a letter to your younger self?

Related Posts:

Angel in the Cellar

Letters of Hope- Part One

The Child Left Behind

Angel in the Cellar

This blog was originally posted three years ago. Today I reflected on the Sonnet and the circumstances that led me to write it. Putting the emotions surrounding my experience in the cellar was a catalyst for writing my memoir, What Kind of Love is This? Three years later, my story is published and I am sharing it with new audiences across the world. Revisiting the Sonnet seemed appropriate in advance of my Virtual Book Launch scheduled for August 7, 2021 at 2PM CDT. The sonnet expresses the theme of my story-finding God in the darkness. 

Note: This blog was originally posted three years ago. Today I reflected on the Sonnet and the circumstances that led me to write it. Putting the emotions surrounding my experience in the cellar was a catalyst for writing my memoir, What Kind of Love is This? Three years later, my story is published and I am sharing it with new audiences across the world. Revisiting the Sonnet seemed appropriate in advance of my Virtual Book Launch scheduled for August 7, 2021 at 2PM CDT. The sonnet expresses the theme of my story-finding God in the darkness. 

My last post, The Problem of Evil, began with a description of an event that I experienced at age 9. Since writing the essay, the introductory vignette has haunted me. As those who experience Post-traumatic stress reactions will understand, managing such occurrences are part of the healing process. However, I had not experienced such a flood of physical and emotional reactions to memory in years. So the experience was unsettling, to say the least. As I processed my emotions and physical reactions, I recalled another aspect of the experience that I briefly mentioned in the essay.  Throughout my life, I always felt God’s presence. Sometimes I did not understand it, but as I look back on my life, God always showed up. I have said that before, but the experience in the cellar was such an experience. Each night an angel came to the cellar and held me until I fell asleep in her arms. The constant presence of God, Christ and angels gave me glimmers of hope that kept me alive throughout my childhood.

What is a Cellar?

For you to fully understand the setting of the Sonnet that follows, I want to describe the cellar. Basically, a root cellar is a hole in the ground used to store fruits and vegetables. The temperature is a constant 57 degrees F. The room is small, damp and smells of rotting food. There are shelves for storing the fruit and vegetables, but the walls and floor is packed dirt.  In my case, there was no light except when my uncle came back to get me because the light hung from the ceiling and I could not reach the cord to turn it on.

The Game

The game I talk about in the essay and in the sonnet is the term my father and my uncle used to describe the sexual abuse. The rules of the game changed, but for most of my childhood the dominant rule was, I had to pretend to enjoy the abuse. I was a fighter from day one and rarely acquiesced to the rules. As the result, I endured days in the cellar or other absurd punishments for failing to play the game. I think my determination to fight and resist kept me alive, but it also led to substantial pain. The Sonnet describes “The Game” and my thoughts about my situation as well as the comfort of angels in the darkness.

Angel in the Cellar

As the door slams above the earthen cell,

Walls of dirt surround my shivering frame.

What must I do to escape from this hell?

To be free, must I always play “the game?”

“The game” that my Daddy says is my lot.

“The game” that now my uncle seeks to win.

“The game” my soul and body always fought.

“The game” that always ends when I give in.

But every time I cry and scream in pain.

I cannot pretend his touch brings me joy.

I cannot let him know that fear remains.

I cry out, “I am more than just your toy!”

The darkness fades and once again I see

An angel comes to hold and comfort me.

Related Posts

Sonnet I -Are Daddy’s Words the Truth or Does He Lie?

The Problem of Evil

The Child Left Behind

Changing your Inner Voice

When I recognize the inner voice that tells me to sabotage a relationship, or warns me to run away from a friendship, I stop the thought and replace it with scripture. Part of the process is identifying when I felt the same emotions or physical sensations

Long Term Effects of Abuse and Neglect

Note: This is a repost of a blog I published last year. As the release date for my memoir is just days away, I realized the content resonates with me today. I struggled with the inner voice of a frightened little girl this week. Reading this post grounded me once again. 

I recently posted the link to an article by Roland Bal on my Facebook page. In the article, “Child Neglect and Its Long-Term Repercussions into Adulthood”, Bal explains,

 “In childhood, your brain and nervous system are busy laying down neural pathways. You are dependent on your environment for a stimulus to promote that growth of the neural pathways in your brain and nervous system.”[1]

Even though Bal’s background is mostly grounded in psychology and eastern religions, he presents a good overview of how important early experiences are to our emotional and social development. Bal explains that in cases of severe neglect there is no reference point for the individual which results in stunted emotional and social growth. The deficit often leads to seeking recognition outside of ourselves. The result is an adult who has no sense of self in the case of neglect and a distorted sense of self in the case of abuse.

In the article, Bal makes the statement that his “description makes child neglect and its repercussions into adulthood look very bleak.”[2] He then offers a few suggestions to help an individual rewire their brain.

The God Factor

While his suggestions are one method for finding a reference point and breaking old patterns of coping, there is another component that I found essential in my healing process-recognizing God’s constant presence in my life. I benefited greatly from psychological techniques like the ones Bal describes, but I always felt like something was missing as applied the meditation, positive affirmations and other tools that I learned.

A significant turning point for me in my healing process was embracing the truths found in the Bible about my identity. Yes, I constantly sought acknowledgment outside of myself and feared rejection because of the abuse and neglect I endured as a child. Bal’s description, “From there on it can become gridlocked into a habitual pattern of continually trying to please others while being met by further rejection or even abuse,”[3] describes the way I approached life for many years.

Sometimes, I still fall into the pattern which hinders my ability to form healthy relationships.

When I recognize the inner voice that tells me to sabotage a relationship, or warns me to run away from a friendship, I stop the thought and replace it with scripture. Part of the process is identifying when I felt the same emotions or physical sensations. Once I identify an experience, I change the conversation to something like I am not that frightened little girl anymore, I am a child of God and the evil one cannot touch me. Or, God did not create me with Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, anxiety or depression, so I do not have to react the way I used to react.fearfully and wonderfully made

The simple process takes me out of the moment, but not as a dissociative episode.  By remembering and announcing my identity in Christ, I ground my mind on the truth and dismiss the lies that my experience taught me. The change happens within me and centers me long enough to breathe, pause and react to the circumstance as a healthy adult rather than a frightened child.

The symptoms of mental illness are devastating and are not easy to manage, but I find that when I include scripture, prayer and speak the truth when I experience an intense situation, it brings calm to the chaos in my mind. I like to think of the process as integrating faith, imagination, and reason to bring about a more complete healing for the mind, body, and spirit. The process is life-long, but not hopeless. Rewiring my brain continues, but I don’t think it gets short-circuited as often or intensely as it did years ago.

I Am Not the Same

As I write my memoir, I realize there are nuances of my childhood experiences that were untouched during the initial years of healing. As I explore those nuances, I understand more about my reactions and emotions as an adult. However, I also see how far I have come. I ask for help and for prayer from others before I am in crisis. I take breaks and practice self-care. I allow myself to grieve when I realize some new detail. I don’t dissociate or lose my grip on reality like I did years ago.

I think I can say with confidence that there is hope and that Bal’s statement that “child neglect and its repercussions into adulthood look very bleak,”[4] is not true for everyone. I agree with Bal’s contention that “for many this is their reality.”[5] However, with a combination of psychological tools like those Bal lists and Biblically based tools, adults can find contentment, form healthy relationships and not be trapped by the faulty belief that their situation is hopeless.

Related Posts:

The 4R’s of Taking Your Thoughts Captive

Stop the Spiral

[1] Roland Ball, Child Neglect Long Term Effects

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

The View from the Foot of the Bed

Dissociation is a common occurrence for traumatized individuals. We escape to a safer place. The new sonnet is written from the point of view of the source of my escape and relief, Jesus Christ.

Introduction

The sonnet below is based on two lines from Sonnet I -Are Daddy’s Words the Truth or Does He Lie?, “With hope, I shift my eyes and look above/The bed. Escape and find relief again.” Dissociation is a common occurrence for traumatized individuals. We escape to a safer place. The new sonnet is written from the point of view of the source of my escape and relief, Jesus Christ. While He did not stop the abuse, He was always there to provide comfort and relief. Why He didn’t stop what was happening to me is a topic for another day.

From the foot of your bed, I see you hide

From what you fear. Your eyes reveal the pain

Of knowing that he will not be denied.

Your eyes fill with tears when he comes again.

If you are asleep, maybe he won’t stay.

He is not deceived that you are serene.

I want to shout to make him go away.

But I can only gaze upon the scene.

Frantic, you seek a way to find relief.

Finally, you understand that I am here.

You call out to me, “Jesus, help me please.”

He does not know I take away your fear.

I will not leave you. I ‘m always here

To shield your soul and wipe away your tears.

Related Posts:

Father’s Day-A Reflection

Painting Pictures of Egypt

leaving the security of familiar coping mechanisms is terrifying. Especially when nothing seems to ease the fear and pain like what I knew. When the “new life” became difficult or not what I expected, I wanted to return to the comfortable. I wanted what was comfortable even though it was dangerous and painful.

NOTE: This was originally posted in 2019.  I’m posting it again because I was recently reminded  how difficult moving forward can be. When an unexpected trauma occurs, it is easy to revert to old habits and thoughts. We want to grab hold of what we know or the first thing we see. The problem is we what held us up in the past doesn’t work anymore.

Two weeks ago I fell in my kitchen. As I felt myself slip I grabbed the oven door. Not the best idea, but it was the first thing my hand touched. I crashed to the floor taking the oven door with me and landing on the open dishwasher door. There I was wedged between the oven door and the dishwasher door. While the dishwasher door cushioned my fall so I did not sustain serious injury, I was stuck. I had to get creative to navigate to a place where I could stand up. I had to think outside the box. 

I felt silly, scared and emotional until I reached out to my daughter who made me laugh and helped me relax. I did not spiral out of control because I remembered to contact someone steady that could bring me back to reality. Unlike the oven door that simply went down with me. Recovery and healing present similar choices to us. In the following blog I reflect on the difficulty of moving forward and learning to depend on the new me.

As I reflect on my healing from childhood abuse and my recovery from sexual and food addiction, I am reminded of a song by Sara Groves entitled “Painting pictures of Egypt.” I always liked that song because it illustrates how hard it is to move forward from a place that is comfortable.  Even when the comfort is painful or unhealthy, moving forward is very hard. Leaving the security of familiar coping mechanisms is terrifying. Especially when nothing seems to ease the fear and pain like what I knew. When the “new life” became difficult or not what I expected, I wanted to return to the comfortable. I wanted what was comfortable even though it was dangerous and painful. “I was dying for some freedom/But … I hesitated to go. /I was caught to between the Promise/And the thing I [knew].”[1] I was often like the Israelites who constantly complained and rebelled even though God had delivered them from slavery.

They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?” Exodus 14:11

“the place they used to fit me/[Could not] hold the things I’d learned.”

I remember times memories flooded me and I forgot the strength of the woman I had become. I became the frightened child curled up in the corner wishing I could magically teleport to somewhere, anywhere that was not my parent’s home. I convinced myself that I could hold on to the “what if’s,” that “it wasn’t so bad.” and the “let me tell you about…”I told myself so many times, “I’ll get it right this time, but let me just stay here for a little while.” “I’m not ready to leave this yet.” Sometimes I took baby steps out of Egypt. Sometimes I took giant leaps. Each time, I would forget the downside of dissociation, promiscuity or overeating because “the future [felt] so hard/And I [wanted] to go back.”[2] But as Groves writes, “the place they used to fit me/[Could not] hold the things I’d learned.”[3]

I felt the old patterns, “calling out to me/Like a long-lost friend.

I wasn’t comfortable in my new life, but returning to my old habits wasn’t an option because “Those roads were closed off to me/While my back was turned.”[4] I longed to escape reality even though dissociation was frightening to my adult self, mentally disappearing brought momentary relief to my ravaged soul. I tried to revisit the past because as Groves writes, “The past is so tangible. /I know it by heart. /Familiar things are never easy/To discard.”[5] Letting go of addictive behaviors and temporary mental escapes that kept me sane for so long was excruciatingly painful. I held on for my life. I knew there was something better because I experienced it in moments of sanity and clarity. Groves words rang true to me so many times during those early years of recovery and healing, “I don’t want to leave here/ I don’t want to stay/ It feels like pinching to me/Either way.”[6] I felt the old patterns, “calling out to me/Like a long-lost friend.”[7]

Wanting to return to old patterns wasn’t about “losing faith…or about trust/It [was] all about comfort.” My addictive behaviors were comfortable. They weren’t perfect, but they were comfortable. I depended on them for my life, or at least I thought I could not live without them. Then I learned I could live without them and I learned new healthy ways of managing anxiety and stress. Memories did not send me into a spiral of irrational thought.

no longer caught between the Promise and the things I know.

After years of work I realize, “I am no longer caught between the Promise and the things I know.”[8] Groves ends the song with “If it comes to quick/ I may not appreciate it. /Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?”[9] I firmly believe there is no quick fix for healing or recovery. While I believe in miracles, I also believe sometimes the journey is the most important part of healing. A quick fix might rob you of the ability to appreciate the change in your soul. However, change requires taking the first step out of Egypt. Waiting too long might cement the habit or thought pattern and makes it harder to leave it behind when you walk toward your Promise.

Leave Egypt once and for all

To move forward, we must take a close look at what we are holding onto.  What is keeping us stuck? When we keep one foot in Egypt as we look toward our “promised land,” we hinder our ability to move forward.   Through Christ, you have freedom. In Christ, you can move forward. We can leave Egypt and not be trapped by, “Painting pictures…leaving out what it lacked.”

Related Posts

How do I Change?

Sonnet III. How Can I Make It Right?

[1] Sara Groves, Painting Pictures of Egypt lyrics © Music Services, Inc

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

The View from the Foot of the Bed

Dissociation is a common occurrence for traumatized individuals. We escape to a safer place. The new sonnet is written from the point of view of the source of my escape and relief, Jesus Christ.

Introduction

One of the subscribers to my YouTube Channel commented that my poetry touched her. I’m new to writing sonnets but I enjoy writing them. Poetry allows me to express emotions in a few short words that resonate with my inner child. I wrote the sonnet below two years ago, but thought I would post it again today. Perhaps you will understand the pain and sorrow that Jesus feels when He sees His children in pain. He stands at the foot of the bed and protects the child’s soul and takes away her fear. The sonnet is based on two lines from Sonnet I -Are Daddy’s Words the Truth or Does He Lie?, “With hope, I shift my eyes and look above/The bed. Escape and find relief again.”

Dissociation is a common occurrence for traumatized individuals. We escape to a safer place. The new sonnet is written from the point of view of the source of my escape and relief, Jesus Christ. While He did not stop the abuse, He was always there to provide comfort and relief. Why He didn’t stop what was happening to me is a topic for another day.

From the foot of your bed, I see you hide

From what you fear. Your eyes reveal the pain

Of knowing that he will not be denied.

Your eyes fill with tears when he comes again.

If you are asleep, maybe he won’t stay.

He is not deceived that you are serene.

I want to shout to make him go away.

But I can only gaze upon the scene.

Frantic, you seek a way to find relief.

Finally, you understand that I am here.

You call out to me, “Jesus, help me please.”

He does not know I take away your fear.

I will not leave you. I ‘m always here

To shield your soul and wipe away your tears.

Related Posts:

Father’s Day-A Reflection

Painting Pictures of Egypt

leaving the security of familiar coping mechanisms is terrifying. Especially when nothing seems to ease the fear and pain like what I knew. When the “new life” became difficult or not what I expected, I wanted to return to the comfortable. I wanted what was comfortable even though it was dangerous and painful.

Originally posted August 2018. Recovery is hard. This post from two years ago reminds me of the pitfalls of looking to old habits for relief when healing gets too difficult. The lyrics to a Sara Groves song provide the backdrop for telling the story of my recovery from food and sex addiction.

As I reflect on my healing from childhood abuse and my recovery from sexual and food addiction, I am reminded of a song by Sara Groves entitled “Painting pictures of Egypt.” I always liked that song because it illustrates how hard it is to move forward from a place that is comfortable.  Even when the comfort is painful or unhealthy, moving forward is very hard. Leaving the security of familiar coping mechanisms is terrifying. Especially when nothing seems to ease the fear and pain like what I knew. When the “new life” became difficult or not what I expected, I wanted to return to the comfortable. I wanted what was comfortable even though it was dangerous and painful. “I was dying for some freedom/But … I hesitated to go. /I was caught to between the Promise/And the thing I [knew].”[1] I was often like the Israelites who constantly complained and rebelled even though God had delivered them from slavery.

They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?” Exodus 14:11

“the place they used to fit me/[Could not] hold the things I’d learned.”

I remember times memories flooded me and I forgot the strength of the woman I had become. I became the frightened child curled up in the corner wishing I could magically teleport to somewhere, anywhere that was not my parent’s home. I convinced myself that I could hold on to the “what if’s,” that “it wasn’t so bad.” and the “let me tell you about…”I told myself so many times, “I’ll get it right this time, but let me just stay here for a little while.” “I’m not ready to leave this yet.” Sometimes I took baby steps out of Egypt. Sometimes I took giant leaps. Each time, I would forget the downside of dissociation, promiscuity or overeating because “the future [felt] so hard/And I [wanted] to go back.”[2] But as Groves writes, “the place they used to fit me/[Could not] hold the things I’d learned.”[3]

I felt the old patterns, “calling out to me/Like a long-lost friend.

I wasn’t comfortable in my new life, but returning to my old habits wasn’t an option because “Those roads were closed off to me/While my back was turned.”[4] I longed to escape reality even though dissociation was frightening to my adult self, mentally disappearing brought momentary relief to my ravaged soul. I tried to revisit the past because as Groves writes, “The past is so tangible. /I know it by heart. /Familiar things are never easy/To discard.”[5] Letting go of addictive behaviors and temporary mental escapes that kept me sane for so long was excruciatingly painful. I held on for my life. I knew there was something better because I experienced it in moments of sanity and clarity. Groves words rang true to me so many times during those early years of recovery and healing, “I don’t want to leave here/ I don’t want to stay/ It feels like pinching to me/Either way.”[6] I felt the old patterns, “calling out to me/Like a long-lost friend.”[7]

Wanting to return to old patterns wasn’t about “losing faith…or about trust/It [was] all about comfort.” My addictive behaviors were comfortable. They weren’t perfect, but they were comfortable. I depended on them for my life, or at least I thought I could not live without them. Then I learned I could live without them and I learned new healthy ways of managing anxiety and stress. Memories did not send me into a spiral of irrational thought.

no longer caught between the Promise and the things I know.

After years of work I realize, “I am no longer caught between the Promise and the things I know.”[8] Groves ends the song with “If it comes to quick/ I may not appreciate it. /Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?”[9] I firmly believe there is no quick fix for healing or recovery. While I believe in miracles, I also believe sometimes the journey is the most important part of healing. A quick fix might rob you of the ability to appreciate the change in your soul. However, change requires taking the first step out of Egypt. Waiting too long might cement the habit or thought pattern and makes it harder to leave it behind when you walk toward your Promise.

Leave Egypt once and for all

To move forward, we must take a close look at what we are holding onto.  What is keeping us stuck? When we keep one foot in Egypt as we look toward our “promised land,” we hinder our ability to move forward.   Through Christ, you have freedom. In Christ, you can move forward. We can leave Egypt and not be trapped by, “Painting pictures…leaving out what it lacked.”

Related Posts

How do I Change?

Sonnet III. How Can I Make It Right?

[1] Sara Groves, Painting Pictures of Egypt lyrics © Music Services, Inc

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

%d bloggers like this: