Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Celebration Side

(This is my original 10 Years post).

Yesteday marked 10 years of being free from domestic violence. Not one part of me is celebrating divorce because I know that is not how God intended things to be when He created man and woman. He intended marriage to be until death but, sadly, that is not how my marriage worked out.

The ideals of marriage aside, I AM going to celebrate that I have been living in freedom from abuse for ten years!
During these years, God has been so faithful. On the morning my ex was arrested, there was no way I could imagine that today, a decade later, my life would be filled with the richness that comes from great friends, a supportive church(es), amazing teenage children, a safe home, and 5 years of further education.

Has the journey been easy? No, of course not. Thankfully, God has placed amazing people in my life who have helped me grow, learn, and change. God also led me to Celebrate Recovery where I experience unconditional acceptance, space to process and heal at my own pace, and opportunities to comfort others in their affliction in the way God comforted me (2 Cor1:3-5).
Many things were challenging.  Some days, everything was challenging.  On those days, I depended on God more to help me take care of my two children who were also suffering the effects of having lived in an abusive home. Some days, the challenge was so great that even leaving the house was daunting.

Slowly, minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day, we began to adjust to our new way of life. I can't say it got easier, rather, we got stronger.  

(I considered sharing some of the details of the struggles that come along with leaving domestic violence, but I am going to leave that for my book.)

God strengthened me in my weakness. He remained faithful even when I wasn't.  He kept leading even when I was too weak to follow.  He kept working things out for our good even when I thought things were tanking. He kept pulling me out of despair even when I fell into depression. He stayed close even when I tried to push Him away.

God never failed me.

And, THAT is worth celebrating!!!

(If you are interested, here are the links to previous celebrations: 1 Year, 2 Years, 5 Years).

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Day the Silence was Broken

I had a whole post written to celebrate my decade of freedom, but by the time I got to the end of it, all I could feel was grief.

Allow me to explain.

Today marks the ten year anniversary of being out of domestic violence.  And, while I am incredibly grateful to God that the kids and I are no longer subject to daily abuse, it comes with a heaviness...

This is not an anniversary anyone should ever have to celebrate.

This is not the way it was designed to be.

Abuse and violence should never have to be experienced.

And, yet, it is.  With every minute of every day, someone is being violated.

Our neighbour.

Our relative.

Our friend.

Our child's friend.

Abuse happens to people of all ages, all races, all colours, and all religions.

It is a horrific way to live.

And, yet, millions and millions of people live that way. Or, have lived that way. Or, have been a victim of some type of violence at one time or another.

The worst part about abuse is not physical harm.

It's not even emotional harm.

It's the silent suffering.

It's having no one to talk to and being terrified of the ramifications that will inevitably happen if you do talk.

It's the unknown.

Living in the abuse becomes all that is known. It feels safer to live with what is known than to leave and be faced with the unknown.

It's easier to keep him calm when you're there.

You can read him when you're there.

The day I went to the Police and reported the way the kids and I were being treated, was the most difficult day of my life since the day he entered it.

In the hour between me making the report and him being arrested, I was completely numb.

And, shaking.

Instead of going home, I took refuge at the Pastor's house.

And, he almost caught me there.

That would have been explosive.

Finally, I got word from the Police that he was arrested.

We had escaped.

But, not everyone does.

That is what today really celebrates - the day I chose to no longer suffer in silence.

I didn't do it alone, and it was only by the grace of God.

You don't have to stay silent.

Talk to someone.

Call a friend.

Call a Help Line.

Call the Crisis Centre.

If you are in immediate danger, call the Police.

Break Your Silence.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

It Only Took Forty-One Years

"You’re already preaching at everyone, your pulpit just looks a lil different from traditional ones."

Oh, friend. This sentence has completely changed how I see things.

My pulpit is different. Often, it is a table at a restaurant like William's or Tim Hortons. Other times, it is a table at Celebrate Recovery.  Lately, my "table" has been a Zoom or FaceTime screen, or a phone call.

And, most often, instead of being the preacher, I am the listener. Interestingly, listening is my favourite thing to do.

I don't preach in the traditional way. I used to, many years ago, but that is not where I am in this season.  Now I preach by begging God to give me the words to say when I am listening to someone across the "table" from me.

Over the years, I have done many different things. I started with two years of Bible College back in the day.  Since then, I have completed a Social Service Worker Diploma, a Paralegal Post Graduate Certificate, and a Graduate Certificate in Biblical Care and Counselling.  I am currently working on a Life Coach Certificate and a Master's in Theological Studies.

I have worked in restaurants and churches, managed a portrait studio, and ran Provincial Offences trials.

Some might say I am a "Jack of all trades and master of none."  While that is true, I am also "equipped with all I need for doing His will." (Hebrews 13:21). 

It has taken me until today to realize who I really am.  I spent years trying different jobs that I thought would satisfy me, but they all came up short. The problem was that I was trying to find my identity in the job, the "success," and the title. Inside, I felt there was more for me because I still felt empty, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled in each job.  As the challenge and novelty wore off, so did the high I was getting from it. Then, I was back to the beginning again, wondering what I should do next to find my next fix. (Ouch! That is a harsh realization of a pattern I did not see before). 

Apparently, it is time to break another addiction.  I did not see that coming.

I would start new projects that always fizzled out, make new email addresses that would signify my "new start," and focus on the things I could do instead of on the person that I am.  I would highlight what I have been through instead of being the person who has been through stuff.  I had forgotten that my past and experiences are not what defines me... God defines me, and I am His daughter.  

So, the question is: With my identity rooted in God and being made in His image, who, then, is Paula Joy Rumbolt?

I am an assistant

The one thing that has been consistent throughout my whole life is my desire to help people in any way I can. 

Help how?  Well, many ways...

~ listen
~ encourage
~ empower
~ practical tasks
~ welcome
~ teach
~ support
~ get into the pit with
~ pray with
~ learn with
~ grow with
~ journey with
~ stay in the background unless stepping into the light would help someone else shine
~ in any other way God leads or is needed

When job titles and degrees fall to the wayside, these are things that I define me. These are at the core of my being. These are my gifts. 

1 Peter 4: 10-11 - "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others..."

Adding to that, my desire is to comfort others in their troubles the same way I was comforted in mine (2 Corinthians 1: 3-5). 

This changes everything. Regardless of my job, title, or success, the truth will always be, I am God's assistant. I help others the way He has helped me.  I use the gifts He has so graciously given me to serve others. It's not about what I DO, it is all about who I AM.

And, that is God's design. 

HI! I am Paula Joy Rumbolt and I am an assistant. 

I have only one primary email address. 

I finally know who I am.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Choosing to Fight (instead of retreating out of fear)

I found two lumps in my armpit on Tuesday morning.  I contacted my Doctor's office right away and they said I could go in at 5pm that day.  

As you can imagine, my mind was running in all different directions.  I vacillated between "I'm going to die" and "It's nothing." I cried, I reevaluated, I prayed, and I told a few people.  I asked a lady at work for a hug, and I asked a faculty member to pray with me.  And, I kept handing it over to God.  I knew I had to trust Him in this.  He had been with me that far - I knew He wasn't going to just drop me. 

Finally, five o'clock came and I was sitting in the Doctor's office.  I had to put on one of those gowns that are open in the back.  I sat up on the table to wait for the Nurse Practioner to come in. [Why are the rooms always so cold? I had to put my jacket on over the gown! :D] A long time later she finally came in and examined the lumps.  

Cysts.  Sebaceous cysts.  Treatable with antibiotics.  What a relief!  She said they were just below the skin and not in the lymph nodes, so it's very unlikely to be cancerous.  

I know it could have gone either way.  And, either way, God would be with me.  I suddenly recognized the fragility of life, and I'm so grateful it was nothing serious.

There's nothing like the thought of my life coming to an end to make me realize just how much I want to live.  As I have shared in the past, I spent over 25 years struggling every day with suicidal thoughts.  I don't struggle with those thoughts anymore, thanks to God and CR.  In fact, this month marks two years of being free from the constant, invading, overwhelming lies from the devil that said I would be better off dead.  

Now, I genuinely want to live.  I have a reignited passion to do what God has called me to do, with the time He has given me to do it.  Only He knows how much time that is.  And, I will do my best to live for Him in the time He gives me.

This plays into my next thought.  I was listening to a message this morning and the Pastor mentioned Gideon's army.  In Joshua 7, Gideon had an army of 32, 000 men ready to go to battle.  The Lord said, "You have too many troops... announce to the troops: ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling may turn back and leave'..." That's when 22, 000 troops turned back.  They were too afraid to fight.  

Unfortunately, I know that feeling all too well.  And, I certainly get the trembling piece.  It is quite possible that I would have been one of those 22, 000.  I started thinking about how many times in my life I turned back in fear instead of going to battle.  It was quite convicting.  I don't want to be one of the majority any longer.  God has called me to fight, so fight I must do.  

God has been preparing me for battle and now is the time for me to fight! 

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Done Me Wrong

This video is about a woman who got out of an abusive relationship.  The video documents the story of what it looks like for the woman now that she is in a new relationship.  While I am not in a new relationship, it does show really well what happens to me when I am around men in general, especially in the scenes where she is expressing her opinion about something and he doesn't like it so he pushes her. 

I am scared to express my opinion around a man because I fear he will turn violent

I feel scared when standing close to a man because I fear he will hurt me.  That is why I always take a step away.  Some days I have the courage to stay put, but even when I do I am still frozen on the inside. 

I am terrified when there is a man standing behind me because I fear being violated. There are two main situations that contribute to this:

1. The first time I was assaulted at thirteen years old.  I was standing in the cafeteria at school and my abuser walked up behind me and began to touch me inappropriately.  

2. The first time I was punched by my ex-husband.  It happened two weeks after our wedding.  I had just gotten out of the shower and I was sitting at the kitchen table with a towel on my head. I was facing the wall and he was standing behind me.  I don't know what the conversation was about, but he didn't like what I said and he punched me in the back of the head.  I couldn't even see it coming.  

Cognitively, I know that I am transferring the fear of what other men have done to me on to the men in my current life.  I know that is not fair and I am genuinely sorry.   With counselling, Celebrate Recovery, and some healthy friendships, I am constantly growing and experiencing some freedom.  

I don't know if I will be broken like this for the rest of my life.

And, yes, somebody really did do me wrong. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Decade in Review

When I stepped into the 2010s, I was still living with my abuser.  My children and I were still trapped in the Cycle of Violence, and I believed I had to stay in it forever. That's where I was when the clock struck midnight turning the calendar to 2010. 

Little did I know that only 6 months later the kids and I would begin our journey to freedom.  On June 10, 2010, my abuser was arrested and removed from our home.  I opened The Car Door and got out.  I have not lived with him since.

In the summer of 2011, as I began to reclaim some of my value and confidence, I took an online Philosophy course and started to prove to myself that I was not as stupid as my abuser continuously told me I was.  I passed that course with an A. 

In the fall of 2011, I started an online program for a Social Service Worker diploma.  Over the next two years, I proved repeatedly that I was a good student and that I could learn.  I graduated from the program with Honours with Distinction. 

In July 2013, I packed up the children, our home, and our dog, and moved us 1700 kms away from my parents to a city where I had two relatives I hardly knew, and one friend that I had not seen in 18 years. My plan was to work in the Social Services field, but that did not happen.  Instead, I managed a Portrait Studio for a year. I quickly began to realize that was not my calling.

In the fall of 2014, I started a post-graduate Paralegal program at a local community college, and a year later I graduated with Honours with Distinction.  A month after writing my licensing exam, I was hired by a local firm that specializes in Provincial Offences Act matters.  During my time there, I did intakes, corresponded with our clients and the courts, attended court, ran trials, and met with the prosecutors.  For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed that job.  I love the people I worked with at the office and I still consider them family.  Again, I began to realize that it was not my calling. 

In the summer of 2015, I began attending Celebrate Recovery.  Through this program, God brought and continues to bring, so much healing to my life.  I have worked on some of my hurts, hang-ups, and habits, and met an amazing group of people who have been with me through some tough times of healing. It is a blessing to have a place to go to every week where I am accepted and love purely for being me.  When someone asks, "how are you" they genuinely want to know.  The freedom to be my messy self is such a blessing to my journey. 

In the fall of 2018, I started a Master's Theological program at a local College & Seminary.  The first semester was really difficult as it was a different denomination than I grew up in and they have beliefs that I didn't even know existed.  My foundation was shaken and I experienced a lot of growing pains.  Thankfully, I had a supportive faculty advisor and a close friend there who helped me through.  

In 2019, my daughter graduated from grade twelve and legally became an adult (I don't know how to be a parent to an adult!).  And, I changed churches so I would have the opportunities to serve God and His church in the ways He's been preparing me for over the past ten years. 

Now, as the clock is going to strike 2020, I look back and see just how much God has done in my life in the last ten years. He took me from being a victim to someone who helps victims. That's my calling - to help others the way I have been helped.  Paul says it this way: (2 Corinthians 1:4)

     He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. 
     When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort
     God has given us.   

I like how the Message version puts it: He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

I am starting 2020 with infinitely more hope than I had when 2010 started because God has done infinitely more than I could have ever thought or imagined

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Non-Consensual Road - Part 1

Warning: Sensitive Content

If you have not read the Introduction, I would suggest you do so here.

I have never lived with my father.  In fact, I have never even met him, nor has he never been a part of my life.  

According to this article, "A father’s influence in his daughter’s life shapes her self-esteem, self-image, confidence and opinions of men... He must, first and foremost, treat his daughter with respect and love. Whether or not he is married to or still together with his daughter’s mom, showing respect to her mother is essential as well,” explains Austin. “He must also value women as human beings, and not as persons to be used. Daughters will see what their dads believe about women by how they value and respect women, or by how they fail to do so."

Failing to have a positive influencing and guiding father during my formative childhood years, and developing teen years, left me seeking attention from men.  I didn't have a consistent, positive model of how men should treat and value women, and partially because of that, I found myself in situations with men where I was getting hurt over and over again.  

I had some innate intuition when I was in grade six.  When I was babysitting one night for a couple, the father arrived home first.  He sat beside me on the couch and we chatted a minute, then he told me he had his horoscope read that day.  He went to the paper copy to show me.  When he came back, he sat beside me again and started showing me the document from his astrological reading.  He starting talking about star placement and other astrological things I didn't understand.  Then he said, "See this? Right now I am in the middle of my sexual phase."  That was my cue to get out of there. As I walked toward the door, I was shaking with fear that he was going to grab me.  Somewhere inside I knew it was not a safe place for me to be, and when I got out of there unharmed, I knew God was protecting me.  I never went back there.

Sometime that same year, there was a group of men sitting in front of one of the units in our complex.  It was summer and a friend and I were at the park in the middle of the complex. One of the men called me over and asked me to get my friend to come over to see him.  When she refused, I told him she didn't want to.  I knew something wasn't right, so I started walking to my building.  The man started following me.  When we got to the outside door, I told him I had to go home.  He kept asking me if he could come in to see the apartment.  I said, "no" and went inside. He could have held that door open and went inside with me.  Again, God was protecting me.  I went out the back door to a friend's house.  Later on, the superintendent of the building saw me and told me I shouldn't be talking to those men.  She knew there was something not right about them, too.

The catalyst in my life that changed every single future encounter I would ever have with a man happened in grade eight.  I was new to the school and a boy older than me started showing me attention.  He would talk to me.  He even called me one night.  However, all he wanted was a sexual relationship.  Our first physical interaction was him touching me from behind.

I sat in front of him on the bus one day.  He was slumped down in his seat with his knees on the back of my seat.  He kept grabbing my hand and pulling it towards his private area.  After a couple of tries and me resisting, he finally gave up.  On another occasion, we were in a classroom together, just the two of us.  He was sitting in a desk and I was standing beside it.  He slid his hand across the top of the desk and right between my legs.  I stepped back and left the room, but he followed me.  We went into another classroom and I went to the back and sat down.  He leaned down and tried to kiss me.  I got up and walked away.  

At lunchtime one day, I went into the computer room to do some work.  He was in there.  He came over to where I was and pulled his chair tight to mine so that the teacher and other students who were in the room could not see what he was about to do.  I had both hands on the keyboard, so he had full access to the private areas of my body.  He reached over and put his hand between my legs.  I grabbed it and pushed it away.  I went back to typing and he did it again.  As I was moving his hand away, he grabbed it and began pulling my hand towards himself.  I used all my grade eight strength to pull against him.  

He said, “Please?” 

I said, “No.” 

Again he said, “Please?” 

I responded, “No.” 

After one more “Please?” and another “No”, all the while pulling my hand towards him, he got mad.  He let go of my hand and moved his chair back to his own computer.  This is when I knew I had to tell someone about what was going on.  I told a female teacher, to which her first words were, "I can't believe it."  The next day the guy tried something again.  As I was passing him in a doorway, he put his hand up and rubbed it across my chest.  I told him to get his grubby hands off me, which is what the teacher told me to say if it happened again.  

The Guidance Counsellor spoke to the guy either later that day or the day after.  And, the guy requested to talk to me.  As I walked down the hallway to the Guidance office to face my abuser, I was freaking out.  I stood in the doorway as he said what he wanted to say.  He said he was sorry and that he would never do it again.  He said he would put his hand on the chopping block if he ever did it again.  I said, “Not to me or anyone else?” and he again said no.  I said, “You don’t know how much that hurt.”  I left the office in tears.  A few days later I told the story to the Police.  Then, I was told that the guy tried to kill himself.  I was non-verbally being blamed for his suicide attempt and shamed into thinking that it was my fault the guy was having a hard time.  Eventually, he did return to school so I had to see him on a regular basis.  He went to court and was sentenced to two years probation. 

This traumatic event changed my life.  My power was taken from me, my boundaries were not respected, and my pain ran very deep.  I considered suicide on a regular basis, and my natural "freeze, fight, flight" responses got very messed up. 

In grade nine I was at another babysitting gig. The kids were sleeping and the husband returned home first.  I was sitting in the living room watching television on one side of the “L” shaped couch.  He came in and sat down on the other side.  He flicked through the channels for a few minutes and then turned on something boring.  He laid back on his right elbow, picked up my left leg with his left hand, and began stroking it.  I froze. I actually couldn’t move. The ability I had in grade six to leave the house was not there anymore.  The husband started talking about relationships, asking if I had been in any.  Then he started talking to me about self-gratification.  He described parts of my body in detail and told me exactly what to do to feel good.  I sat there stunned, frozen, and in shock, as he continued to rub my leg.  I could not say how long we sat there.  When he heard his wife open the door, he put my leg down, sat back up, and started switching channels again.  I got up and went over to his wife.  She knew right away that something was wrong, but I denied it.  She offered to bring me home, but her husband insisted that he be the one to drive me home.  I did not want to say that I didn’t want her husband to drive me home because that would alert her to the fact that something did happen. I got aboard his truck and stayed as close to the passenger door as possible.  He immediately started back up with the inappropriate conversation.  He told me to “try it” and get back to him with the results.  I never babysat for them again. 

My boundaries had been violated again.  I had no power.  All I could do was freeze.  I started to believe that the only reason any man would want anything to do with me was for sexual reasons, and my future relationships resembled just that.  

The purpose in me sharing all these details is to show that the road to regular, non-consensual sex with my ex-husband began long before I ever got married.  My ex found easy prey.  I was a hurting teenager who continuously sought after attention from men to fill my father void, and I had no boundaries, voice, or guts, to stand up for myself.  I was easily controlled, very passive, and wanted approval from men.  My past created me to be the perfect candidate for a future abused wife. 

I'll talk about that next time.