"Knowing what I know now, about God and His Sovereignty...
Somewhere there is a heart willing to listen to this story about this little girl, orange carpet, hollyhocks, a small town ...and violence. Somewhere there is surely someone who will read Your story and see the Grace and Mercy in your life...and God will use you to touch that person, for His Glory.

Your story touches my heart, Pat "

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Healing is a Choice

A few years ago I lead a class at our church based on the book "Healing is a Choice" by Stephen Arterburn. I opened with my testimony, what it was like growing up with a narcissistic parent and come and go alcoholics. Knowing the content could be a lot for some to handle, I expected a few to leave, and they did. I was left with a room of hurting, people. Most of them processing, a few still blaming and a couple in willful withdrawal.
On the second night of class Ms. M walked in. She was pretty with long brown hair. She seemed confident, that take charge personality.
She sat at my table and began to talk of her childhood, soon the facade of that confidence crumbled. Having missed the first night and not hearing anything I had said, my jaw dropped when she looked at me and asked,"Do you know what a narcissist is?" I said yes, and smiled, perhaps I smiled out of shock.

She had two parents that fell into that category. Two? Details escape me, but I will never forget how fractured she was- still. At around 40, an adult with children of her own,  the little girl deep within told her story through tears and shaking. She could barely breathe.

So many times I have thought because I didn't suffer physical abuse it really wasn't that bad. I still think that. I figure most of the things wrong in my life are a result of me...and no one else is to blame, yet seeing her somehow validated the hurt that was holding on to the little shaking girl inside of me.

I once heard Dr. Laura Schlessinger speaking on air to a woman, she too had a broken mommy. Dr. Laura told her she needed to mourn the loss of her mother, the mother she wished she had.
I stood in the kitchen and cried, realizing I too had to mourn the loss of my mother, the mother I wished I had, the mother that would be there when I needed her.
I guess it fractures a child when they are forced to grow up. Forced to make decisions or be the adult of the house, to need comfort and receive none. It makes one tough, it can make one bitter, it may make them a bully and it can give them the facade of confidence.
You can't hurt me, I won't allow it.

but then.....
in that moment of mourning came the beginning of healing.
She couldn't be, she was incapable of being that mother I needed.
Narcissism stands in the way of empathy, it annihilates sympathy for anyone but itself.
It moves to the front of the grade school lunch line and punches anyone who tries to get in the way.
Narcissism consumes my mother, it does not absolve her of her behavior but it does explain it.
And, it allows me to lay aside all expectations from her.
She cannot let me down if I do not look to her to lift me up.

Miss M somehow still was waiting, needing validation from her parents. They were unable to give it, she was still allowing them to let her down.
She never returned to the class........Healing is a Choice.


The Path Traveled said...

This is a very good post today. Healing is a choice...If the person is not ready it won't happen and you have to forgive first which is the hardest thing to do. God forgave us first, but we are usually the last to forgive. Our pasture just said this past Sunday in his sermon that you can forgive that person who hurt or wronged you. You can do it in your heart, confessed to God. It doesn't mean we have to say it to the person to their face. This is what I have done with my family. I forgive my dad in my heart and I move on.

Pamela said...

I agree with you. Healing is a choice. It is about transforming from a victim to a survivor.

Karen said...

Shannon, how wonderful of you to lead a class at church and introduce this topic. There are so many of us 'walking wounded' out there, hurting alone. I was never physically abused by my father, but the verbal abuse leaves scars that go far deeper. I have attended Al-Anon and also Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) for years and it has helped me immensely. We're not alone, we just tend to feel so isolated because most of us were taught from little on to keep our mouths shut about what went on at home. I didn't want my friends to know what my life was like and rarely invited anyone over. Healing is a choice, and a process, at least for me. We can and should forgive, but as far as forgetting, well, that's a much harder thing to do. I firmly believe writing and talking about the past is very important, it is very healing to be heard and validated.

Keep up the fantastic writing, Shannon. I read your every word.

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

Oh Shannon, I'm so sorry for your childhood, but so glad that you were led to the way to deal with it. I know you have had to have a lot of courage and strength to become the adult you are today. I can't even imagine the struggles you've had to face. I am proud to "know" you and so glad I read this beautiful testimony. laurie

Jenny said...

This was beautiful.

My husband and I have attended many, many NA family support meetings over the years and I am always surprised at the resiliency of so many and saddened that so many still choose to embrace victimhood!

Thoughtful link. Thank you for sharing this.

mudderbear said...

I just wanted you to know I stopped in to keep reading. I hope you keep it going. And I truly hope it is helping you to find peace.