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Posts Tagged ‘Beth Moore’

ImageI don’t check up on this blog much anymore, but I felt led to do so and share where I currently am on my healing journey. The entire time I was writing the Blooming Lotus blog, I was active in Bible studies, particularly those written by Beth Moore, who is a Christian speaker and author who is also a child abuse survivor. Nobody who knows who she is thinks of her with the label of “child abuse survivor,” though, and that is what I am seeking in my own life – to discover who I am outside of the label of “child abuse survivor.”

Two of her Bible studies have greatly impacted where I am now: Breaking Free and Believing God. In March 2013, I was in another bad place and questioned whether I would ever be free of my past. Where was this peace and satisfaction that Beth Moore said were mine as God’s child? I set aside a full day for prayer, worship, and crying out to God, and my life has not been the same since.

For the first time in my life, I experience joy. Yes, JOY! I didn’t know that was possible for me, but it is and has been for months now. In May, I realized that the undercurrent of wanting to die was finally gone – GONE! I now know what it is like to live my life JOYFUL and without an underlying death wish. I never dreamed this was possible!

This wonderful period of joy has lasted for SIX MONTHS, even while various challenges slammed me in my day-to-day life. No matter what life threw at me, I was “standing on solid ground,” knowing that God is always – ALWAYS – in control and protecting me. Nothing that my abusers broke in me is too broken for God to heal. NOTHING!

Last month, God put heavily on my heart that it is time to heal my marriage. God had already been softening both my heart and hub’s for a number of months and even moved hub into a life decision to stop complaining and be content. I was not involved in this decision of his, and he has not complained in almost two months. This season has been challenging for me because part of healing my marriage involves healing my feelings about sex and undoing all of the lies woven into my head – that “pleasure” and pain are intertwined and that marital sex is trying to say “I love you” with the same physical action as rape.

For the last month, I have been integrating my most wounded parts, and that has been difficult. However, this time around, I know where my solid ground is, and I feel like I can reach out and touch God because He is so close to me as I heal my most wounded parts of myself. In the midst of healing the pain, I know in the very depths of my heart and soul that I am fully and completely loved. I don’t know what I will look like after this process is completed, but I am resting on the promise that God wants this part of me healed. Once this is healed, I will have fully reclaimed all of the parts of myself that my abusers took from me. I am living Isaiah 61. I have been restored!

I was always very careful not to weave too much “God talk” into this blog because I did not want to trigger anyone with religious triggers. However, I cannot blog any longer with God hiding in the background. GOD IS MY HEALER AND RESTORER!! Behold, He makes all things new! And He is making me new. After all of the trauma, pain, rage, and grief, I have been made new! If God can not only heal but RENEW me, He can do it for you, too! Don’t let ANYONE tell you that you are a lost cause. The Maker of Heaven and earth has the power to fully free you from your bondage if you will let Him.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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Today has been a really cool day! I started a new Bible Study written by Beth Moore that is entitled Breaking Free. If that sounds familiar, it’s because I did it a couple of years ago and shared some of the concepts that were helpful to me.

Here’s the cool part – During her orientation video, Beth Moore talks about healing for the “brokenhearted.” That is a term that always resonated deeply with me. If one word captures how I viewed myself for most of my life, it was brokenhearted. I had the realization that I am no longer brokenhearted. What a HUGE, HUGE realization!

Now, I am not arrogant enough to declare myself “healed” or “done” with healing. I think that healing takes place at deeper and deeper levels as we grow. I also believe that I am blessed to be in a season of emotional rest. If history is a good predictor of the future, that season is likely to end as Halloween approaches, but for now, I have been in a wonderful place of rest and appreciating the fruits of my labors. I just want to enjoy it while it lasts!

I also noticed another area of growth today. My sister called me from the road as she is driving up to take care of momster. She hasn’t been keeping me in the loop, but she wanted me to know that she needed to travel to tend to some medical issues that momster is dealing with, and this information was relevant because she and I are working together on a project professionally, and she needs to send an email to the group explaining why she cannot be as active for the next few days. She didn’t want the first time I heard about this to be in that email.

My first reaction to this news was feeling badly for my sister – not guilty for me not helping out but just sad that my sister, who is working and going to college while parenting two children as a single mother, is having to take care of yet one more person. My second reaction was that I take no pleasure in knowing that momster is in pain. I didn’t think that her pain was the result of karma or whatever. I felt badly for her that she is in pain while, at the same time, had no compulsion to get involved.

I am aware of the many ways that I have changed as I have healed, but I don’t often have days like today where I am really aware of how much growing I have done. It’s a great feeling!

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I had an interesting “vision” (for lack of a better word) last night. The first half is safe for all readers. I have included religious triggers for the second half of the blog entry.

As I have shared before, the holidays are tough for me from Halloween through New Year’s Day. I still don’t know why. I feel tense as bedtime approaches, have trouble staying asleep, wrestle with nightmares, and then feel exhausted the next day. Last night, I was praying about all of this, especially for relief from the pressure and emotional pain. Here is what I “saw”…

I was walking in the parking lot of my church toward the church building. I “zoomed out” so I could see myself from the outside, and I was this buff warrior woman, like an Amazon. (Trust me – Nobody would describe me physically like this!!) I had bulging, strong muscles, and I was tall. I was a powerful warrior.

Then, I looked in a full-length mirror and saw a skinny, scared little girl. She was wearing a thin, cotton nightdress holding a teddy bear in one hand, and she looked terrified. She was the complete opposite of the powerful warrior looking in the mirror.

That imagery was powerful for me. I have grown into a powerful warrior, but I still see myself as a scared little girl, which means that I ACT like a scared little girl rather than a powerful warrior when I feel threatened. I was able to see the irony of a huge, powerful warrior hiding in a corner when the “threat” could be easily overpowered. I am no longer the helpless little girl I see in the mirror. I need to see the warrior when I look in the mirror.

***** religious triggers *****

So, then I prayed about how to stop seeing myself as a helpless little girl and start seeing the truth. I immediately remembered what we have been learning in our Beth Moore Bible Study, Believing God:

  1. God is who He says He is.
  2. God can do what He says He can do.
  3. I am who God says I am.
  4. I can do all things through Christ.
  5. God’s word is alive and active in me

In our last lesson, we focused on #3, which is the hardest one for me – believing that I am who God says I am, not who my abusers said I am. Beth Moore recommended memorizing the following things that the Bible says about God’s children: they are forgiven, accepted, blessed, chosen, adopted, and redeemed, all because they are loved. It is going to take me a while to get there, but at least know where to focus my energy. That vision is a powerful way to do this.

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A huge part of healing for me has been learning to stop letting other people’s opinions of me drive how I feel about myself. I spent most of my life trying unsuccessfully to please those around me. In my opinion, dissociative identity disorder (DID) is the most extreme form of the “people pleaser” because you actually “split” yourself and create alter parts to please the different people in your life.

I had a huge epiphany during the Beth Moore study I attended over the summer about stopping trying to please everyone else. Most people have an agenda, whether well-meaning or otherwise, and they are going to express their approval or disapproval depending upon how my actions align with their agendas. Even friends who I know have my best interest at heart will sometimes have very strong opinions about my choices that conflict with the direction I want or need to take. At the end of the day, I am the one who must live in my own skin, so my choices need to work for me. How anyone else feels about those choices is irrelevant as long as what I am doing brings them no harm.

When I am having an off day, I can still be vulnerable to the opinions of others. The problem is that nobody’s opinion seem to match up. Some people think I am not really working unless I have a full-time job. Other people think that I am not a good enough mother because I work part-time time. Because I don’t have a full-time job, I should keep an immaculate house. Because I work part-time, I am not giving enough to my child. I travel too much. I don’t travel enough. I am too active in volunteer activities. I am not active enough.

Even the fact that I blog raises opposing opinions. I must not work hard because I have time to blog. If I have time to blog, then I should have a FaceBook page. (I appear to be one of the last holdouts in creating a FaceBook page!) I should write more because I am talented. I shouldn’t waste so much time writing because it doesn’t pay enough.

All of these opinions overlook one crucial element – ME!! I don’t blog because I am bored or need money. (I actually donate all proceeds from this blog to Isurvive, and I make very little revenue off my professional blog.) I blog because I feel called to do so. I feel passionate about taking the lemons that life threw my way (the child abuse), making lemonade (healing), and sharing that lemonade with as many child abuse survivors as possible. I write my professional blog because I want to offer insights into the mind of the abused child to those who are parenting traumatized children out of foster care. None of anyone else’s opinions on my reasons for blogging matter because they are completely off base.

I just chose blogging as one example, but pretty much every area of my life will bring about differing opinions based upon who I ask (so I no longer ask!). The bottom line is that **I** am the one who must live with whatever choices that I make. Therefore, the only opinion that matters is my own.

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I had another tough week with the Beth Moore Bible study I am working through entitled Breaking Free. Don’t worry – What I have to talk about today is not religion-based, so there are no religion triggers in it.

This week’s focus is on childhood dreams from girlhood and the ways that your faith can fulfill those dreams. I felt like a fish out of water, and recognizing my lack of these dreams hurt … I guess because it drives home just how different my childhood was and how this was another loss for me to grieve from childhood.

Beth Moore says that all young girls have the following four dreams and that this is one reason little girls love fairy tales:

  1. To be a bride
  2. To be beautiful
  3. To be fruitful
  4. To live happily ever after

We were supposed to put a check mark by each one that we remember dreaming about as a little girl. I could not check any of them.

I had no dreams of growing up to be beautiful because I “knew” I was not beautiful as a child. My mother forced me to keep my hair in a boyish cut and dressed me in boyish clothing. Until I hit puberty, people constantly thought I was a boy. On top of that, I saw myself as “ugly” because of the abuse.

Quite frankly, I have no desire to be “beautiful” today because I don’t want to attract anyone’s sexual attention (not even hub’s.). The more beautiful a woman is, the more men think about her sexually, which I see as dangerous. I had a well-meaning friend offer to give me a makeover, and I told her no quite firmly. I am not plucking my eyebrows into a sexy arch, wearing sexier makeup, dressing to flatter my figure, or wearing high heels because all of these things would attract sexual attention, and I don’t want any. I don’t want anyone to see or think about my body. I do believe this ties into why I struggle so much with trying to lose weight even though I work out an hour a day most days each week.

I did not dream of being a bride … I did not think that anyone would want me, and I was frankly shocked when hub did. I definitely had no dreams of being fruitful as a little girl because I saw that as more helpless children that I would have to protect, and my sister was enough. I used to have my Barbies abort their babies, and I hated dolls. You can forget living happily ever after – My dream was to grow big enough that my abusers could no longer hurt me.

And then here was the kicker that made me cry – The question: “Who is someone you are absolutely certain loves you?” and then list how you know. My answer was no one. I might have said my son a couple of years ago, but his mood swings sometimes make me question this. I know I have many people in my life who need me, but “needing” me is not the same thing as “loving” me. I sometimes question if I am in people’s lives because I am “useful” rather than because I am loved.

Do I know in my head that I have people in my life who love me? Yes. Is my heart certain of anyone’s love? No. I am certain that there is not one person in my life who is in it forever and that any of them could leave at any time. Yes, I know that my loved ones who have moved away still love me, but that doesn’t do me a lot of good when they are 8 hours away by car. I feel like I am easy to leave. I don’t begrudge people for following their dreams (or their husbands’ dreams), but it doesn’t change the fact that they leave. So, no – I am not absolutely certain about anyone’s love for me on this planet, and that hurts.

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I am working through a Bible study right now written by Beth Moore called Breaking Free. I tried to do this study back in 2004 when I was in therapy and working through flashbacks. I dropped out after the fourth week – it was just too intense for me at the time in my life.

Now, I am doing this study again (the updated version), and it has me hopeful that I can “break free” from more of my issues and break more chains left by my abusers, such as my eating disorder, weight battles, insomnia, etc.

The Session Four video was particularly powerful. I watched it right before I went to sleep, and I dreamed about it all night long. The video talked about the dangers of “making peace with our bondage.” Some examples Beth Moore used were an aversion to sex, being overweight, and eating disorders. Ouch! She pointed out that one lie that so many of us buy into is that nobody has been able to beat this, so why should I believe that I will be delivered?

I must say that I do struggle with this mentality, as I believe that most people do. For example, remember when people believed that it was not possible to run a mile in under four minutes? That is, until somebody did it, and then lots of other people did it, too. The main barrier was the widespread belief that doing it was impossible. A part of myself believes that it is not possible for me to overcome my aversion to sex, beat my eating disorder, overcome my anxiety, etc. However, I know that some of you have overcome these obstacles, which tells me that it is, in fact, possible.

Beth Moore covered another topic that really spoke to me. She said that, to reach our milestones, we must first make it through our “moments.” It is my “moments” that continue to sabotage my progress. I will have soy milk and orange juice for breakfast and a Lean Cuisine for lunch. I will work in one or two light healthy snacks. I make to 5:00 p.m. feeling very good about myself and my body. Then, I have my “moment” where my ADHD son is driving me crazy, my husband is cranky, etc., and I turn to food, wine, or Xanax to get me through that “moment.” Most of my day is fine – it is those “moments” that undermine me every time.

I am going to keep working through the Bible study and see if I can finally find freedom from the “bondage” of an eating disorder, etc. I am sooo sick and tired of being enslaved to it.

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+++ religious triggers +++

I am a big fan of Beth Moore, who is a well-known leader of Bible studies for women. In my last study, The Patriarchs, Beth Moore talked about strongholds in our lives and God’s desire to free us from them.

One of my biggest strongholds is my battle with the eating disorder of binge eating/compulsive overeating. This stronghold has plagued me since I was a “tween.” As I shared the other day, I feel ready to conquer this for good, and I have set a goal to transform my body into a healthier one. I have set a schedule with a deadline, giving myself 6-1/2 weeks to make this transformation. (Of course, I would like this to be a forever thing, but I cannot wrap my mind around “forever,” so I am only staying focused on the next six weeks.)

Sure enough, on Day 2 of my transformation time, things blew up in my life. Nothing sets me off faster than something going wrong with my kid, and his new ADHD medication is not working, which affected his ability to learn at his new, very expensive school. I spent an hour in frustrated tears, and this triggered the despair of my childhood – that nothing is ever going to change.

I am now into Day 4 of my transformation, and I am happy to report that I did not binge eat!!!!!! The stage was set for failure – I had to bake brownies and my favorite bean dip for Bible study this morning, and I could have easily binged on either of them, but I truly was not even tempted. When I was upset, I cried and called a friend. I took Xanax to pull me out of the panic attack, and I drink a little wine last night to try to calm the anxiety. At no point did to return to my former stronghold.

That got me thinking about something that Beth Moore said in her study: She said that, when God has freed you from a stronghold, he will allow you to be “triggered” (my choice of wording here) to test whether you really are freed from the stronghold. The reason for this is that, until you are tested, you will always be vulnerable to returning to that stronghold.

I was a bit annoyed that God/life only gave me until Day 2 to test me out. Seriously, couldn’t it wait a week!?!! However, I passed the test!! Now, I am not saying that I won’t be blogging later about struggling and failing, but these past few days have given me hope. The stage was set fully for my failure, but I didn’t return to the stronghold. I used new tools – exercise, expressing my emotions, calling a friend, Xanax, and wine – to get through it. I didn’t return. Hooray!

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