a frayed string

For the survivors – I understand.


My therapist told me to write a letter to you so, here we go.

When I was young I would write letters addressed to whom it may concern. And I stopped writing those when I became a Christian, because I thought I knew who you were, finally, and now I’m so confused.

I don’t blame you and I do. I trust you and I don’t. I cannot help, after all these years and the talk-throughs and the counseling and diagnoses and validation of my pain and theology classes and books and worship songs – I cannot help but wonder where you were, why me, why this way, why now.

In rehab you told me a little bit. There, you reminded me that in the darkest times I still, somehow, had a dream to live for, a smile on my face, an unshakable hope like a slave with a prophecy of freedom.

I had no means by which to back that belief up when I was a child. It was delusional. A fairy tale.  Assurance of things unseen. But there it was. And it is there, still, but it used to be stronger, I think.

There used to be nothing that could break me. Arrow after arrow would pierce my skin and I would keep on, and keep keeping on, to a dawn only I could see beyond an abandoned shore, lonesome, without direction, just the involuntary need to keep and survive. I wasn’t really present in the fight. People called me resilient or determined and I looked back at them befuddled – is it determination if survival is simply what seems to be the lesser of two evils?

Now I am older, and I understand more about what was on that shore then I did back then. I know the things that tried to hurt me, have looked into the eyes of the demons that scarred my flesh. And I know that surrender would mean victory, even if a small one, for them. Torture and victory, that’s what they’re after.

I’m after a chance of hope, the last sputter of light from a dying fire, wondering why you won’t send off a brighter spark for me.

I’m after a chance of hope, the last sputter of light from a dying fire, wondering why you won’t send off a brighter spark for me. It is dark out here, and cold, and I do not know the way, and all I can hear, all I know, is the dim echo of your voice from years ago. Not even the present. Not even today. Just the memory that pain can lessen with time, the promise of miracles that have come before, that I witnessed, that I have recognized as Your will.

Lately there doesn’t seem to be enough evidence for me. Nothing to hold on to. Not even a frayed string, the warmth of your skin near mine, a whisper, nothing.

Where are you? Am I doing something wrong? Am I paying the penance for my behavior, for my lack of self discipline, for my unwillingness, for sloth? Is that how this works?

I remember the dedication of my youth, the fervor, the naivete. The blind, unasking, unassuming faith I had. The having nothing but my beliefs. Those beliefs being enough to live for. I remember that; those beliefs saved me from ending it sooner.

But has been over a decade, God. Twelve years of tumult and confusion. Twelve years of breaking down and building up and breaking down some more. Twelves years of therapy. Of people looking at me like a lost cause, of dodging death, of avoiding pain, of drowning my hurt and then trudging through it like a swamp, almost going under, maybe my nose afloat. And the half dozen before I was eleven, not even developed enough to recognize what had been done to me.

Lord, I have suffered. And I don’t know why I’ve suffered more than some. I don’t know why it is me, right now, at this time in history, in this context. I don’t know why I am so alone in the specificity of my suffering, why you have not given me the parents of my fantasy, why none of my friends can begin to relate to the battles I fight every day.

I think of Job and I just see someone better than me. Someone who could take it. Someone stronger, more deserving of a relationship with you. I think of martyrs, of the third world, of the Westernly impoverished, the homeless, the kids who will never be adopted who will die abused, silenced, suffering. Those who will continue the patterns and hurt more children.

And I wonder why, why, why I had to be the Moses of my family. Why me? I am not strong. I am nothing special. God, I have been so close from taking this out of your hands and into my own so many times I cannot recall. I am not a Moses, or a Job, or a goddess, or a prophet.

I am King David: broken and questioning, doubting and fighting, rebelling and regretting. I am a curse. I hurt.

Lord, I ache every day. Every day, God, do you hear me? Every night I dream of unwanted touches – memories or the occasional curated nightmare. Every morning I remember my family, and wonder where they are and how they’re doing and I miss them, miss them, miss them. Every day my body is tense, my jaw damaged from years of clenching in fear, my back taut with stress I didn’t know could manifest so deep within my muscles. Sometimes the pain is so sharp I cannot move or sleep without crying. I don’t know what it is. My body finally feeling itself? I fight God, every moment, flashes that come without warning, memories threatening to scare me away, shame, shame, shame for what has been done to me. Constant heartbreak. Constant.

I am exhausted, Lord. Every day, exhausted. I have been fighting since I was five, or six, or four, or whenever the abuse began. Fighting since I was taken out of the womb, since my mother lied about my father’s whereabouts on my birth certificate, since the very first day a man tried to teach me what I was meant for. A man. Boys. Anyone with a penis.

Fighting.

Sometimes it is like walking through a battlefield, like through the climax of Braveheart or one of the great battles in Lord of the Rings. I am that character in slow motion, majestic and slightly phosphorescent, untouched in the midst of bullets and swords and cannonballs. At least I thought so, until I began to understand my pain, and it turned out I had been trampled on and bloodied. I didn’t even participate in the battle, it kind of just happened to me, without my knowledge or permission. If I would have known, how I would have protested.

I do not know what I am living for. I don’t. My siblings, perhaps? Perhaps the only innocent beings in my life? The fear of adding trauma to trauma on their lives.

Is that it? Is that enough to live for?

It used to be the dreams. A chimera of freedom marked with laughter and good friends and a big roomy apartment with a rooftop garden and writing that people cared about. But those don’t have the same gallant effect anymore. They do not lift me.

I am mad at you, yes. I feel betrayed.

You have saved so many without reason, given freedom to people who take advantage, stability to people who would rather enjoy chaos, peace to the corrupt. Why not me?
I am so tired.

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8 thoughts on “a frayed string

  1. Thank you so much. The shame seems never ending sometimes; the pain overwhelming both when awake and asleep. I read your article, “What it feels like to be adopted at 17,” and it made me cry. I’ve had to cut myself off from my family, it’s not safe for my daughter or my sobriety, and though I wasn’t legally adopted, I’ve gained a loving, Christian family through marriage. But I still struggle with trust, still shake with fear until my hands become numb and I jump at every noise. I still have the compulsion to sleep under my bed or in the closet until I remember my mom isn’t there to get me anymore and if feels so isolating. But then I read stories like yours and see the beauty that can come out of such pain. Maybe we exist for a reason. Maybe God has shaped us to teach, inspire, cry together and show our children a different life. Through writings like these I don’t feel so alone and burdensome to society or like I have to starve myself to try and take up less space; drink myself into oblivion to forget how many times my mother told me she didn’t want me. Every day is still a struggle, don’t get me wrong, but this is the first time in my life I’ve chosen to live. I’ve found so much love, I promise it’s there, and every day I look at my daughter’s smile I know my work every day is worth it. There were a few times over the 4th of July where a drink look really good but then God brought me to your story and reminded me of my path. Thank you for your raw pain and beauty, it brought me to a point today of conviction and love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Monica, you are an eloquent writer yourself. Thank you so much for taking time to respond with such heartfelt words.

      It’s pretty awesome to be on the receiving end of comments from people who have similar backgrounds to me. One of the reasons I am able to hang on when things get terrible is because I know people like you exist and are fighting alongside me, somewhere.

      I share things like this because I don’t see a lot of relatable honesty from women like us available – part of the benefit is for my own processing, and my hope is that others like me will find comfort in my writing. I am so encouraged to know you have.

      I am here for you, praying for you, and believe in your ability to have victory and freedom. Your daughter is very lucky to have you.

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  2. I don’t know you. I have only read your posts. But as someone with a similar life journey, I finally found healing/made progress when I (my therapist actually…) recognized my BPD–borderline personality disorder–and its impacts on my life, relationships, view of the world.

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    1. Jared, thank you for sharing. It is such an honor to know that perhaps my writing can bring even a small source of comfort to people who can identify. I truly appreciate the time you took to read, and I wish you the best. 🙂

      (Go mentally ill people! We kick ass!!)

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      1. You are a talented writer. But as a fellow survivor, your writing causes me concern. Have you (or your therapist) ever explored a BPD diagnosis? I obviously am not trying to diagnose you but do think from what I have read and from what you have shared, it could be a helpful thing to explore

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        1. Jared,

          Thanks for your earnestness and concern.

          The experiences I share on my blog are quite intentional. In my own exploration, I have found a severe lack of female sexual abuse and trauma survivors who will speak with resolute honesty about their struggles as an adult. My experience in being one of these women, and also knowing several survivors like myself, is that we are not accurately represented in the media and popular culture. It is beyond obvious that victims of sexual crime are generally silenced, ignored and invalidated in America. For this reason, among several others, I have chosen to be very raw and exposed regarding my experience as an adult survivor of abuse.

          Now, I understand that from an outside perspective without much personal context, it could seem like I’m pretty unstable. Rest assured, that is not the case.

          What IS the case: living with the consequences of trauma is messy, complicated and confusing. I am a person grieving a million things at once while also needing to function. I have to go to work, pay the bills, clean my cat’s litter box, and exist in relationships. These are tasks that might be easier, or less complicated, for people who have not suffered abuse. My hope is that my writing serves to dispel the notion that this process is easy. I want to tear the veil off of mental health and the process of recovering from an abusive childhood, and show the world that there are thousands of us who are making it, digging through the trenches and defying statistics.

          It also serves to be honest about this fight. It is tumultuous.

          So to answer your question specifically: I am at the most mentally stable space in my life. I have full confidence in the diagnoses I have received.

          I think the reason you see BPD in my writings is because this process, in and of itself, is pretty manic.

          -Lyric

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