Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Why Am I Alive?

On Saturday while I was driving over the rolling hills in God's beautiful creation, a question rolled off my lips, and the tears rolled down my cheeks...

With many women dying every single day due to intimate partner violence, why did God choose to keep me?

Look at these stats if you want to know more.

Why did God spare my life?

Again?  He's done it so many times.

1. God spared my life before I was even born.  My earthly father wanted my mother to abort me.
2. When I was a young child, I fell into a well.  The only explanation is an angel pulled me out.
3. I contemplated suicide regularly for over 25 years. Something (Someone) always stopped me.
4. I fell asleep while driving and went off the road. It was half a kilometre away from a steep river bank.
5. I lived with a volatile man for 11 years.  He could have snapped at any time.

These are just the times I know of.

I don't have an answer to the specific 'why.'  What I do know is God has a purpose for me as long as He keeps me alive.  Then, there will be a purpose in my death.

A sermon I heard on Sunday was about whether or not the actions of one person makes a difference. The conclusion is clear:

"... the thing that makes the right action effective is that it is undertaken in faith. You don’t do it because you have a guarantee that it will work but because you are willing to trust God to take what you do and multiply it through the actions of many others. But whatever you do, don’t believe the lie that this world tries to sell you that your decisions and actions don’t matter. They do."  - Rev. Scott McAndless (full sermon here)

My actions matter.

Your actions matter.

God has a purpose for each one of us.  He spared your life.  You are still here.

Perhaps you, too, have a 'why did God spare my life' question.

The 'why' is not as important as the 'who'.  Two 'who's' actually.  God and you.

God chose you.

God spared you.

God is not done with you.

What action is He asking you to take? Whatever it is, God is with you.  He is in it for eternity.

Your actions matter.

Your life matters.

You matter.

Monday, July 29, 2019

My Not 20th Anniversary

20 years ago today I said, "I do" to an abuser... and it changed my life forever.

As grateful as I am that I am no longer in that situation, I do feel a level of sadness today as I am aware I will not be celebrating a 20 year milestone with friends today.  Instead, I reflect on the promises that my groom and I made to each other on July 29, 1999 and realize just how far we are from them.

The Vows We Said

... to be my wedded husband/wife
... to have and to hold
... from this day forward
... for better, for worse
... for richer, for poorer
... in sickness and in health
... to love and to cherish
... till death do us part

His Vows - what he meant based on his actions 

... to officially have you as my possession
... to have you do whatever I tell you and to hold things over your head as a way to manipulate you
... from this day forward I will control you
... for you better have the house clean, the meals prepared, and the children looked after, or things will get worse for you
... for the richer I become, the poorer you will be because I will spend my money however I want
... in sickness I will blame you for not taking care of yourself and make fun of you for struggling with mental health
... to love you in a completely selfish way, to get what I want, when I want it, and to not cherish your needs, not that I know what cherish even means
... till I make your life so miserable that you contemplate self-inflicted death on a regular basis and hopefully you will follow through with it so it will prove you were unstable and people will have pity on me

My Vows - what I meant based on my actions

... to do whatever it takes to make you my happy husband
... to have you control my actions, my finances, my friendships, my time, and anything else that I have, and hold your hand in public even when we just had a fight
... from this day forward I will be submissive, passive, and have no opinion of my own
... for better to have you happy then to say what I really think, because standing up for myself will make things worse
... for when I get richer, by working many hours and having to take the kids with me to events I am overseeing, I will use my money on what you tell me to and I will become poorer. And, when we are poor, it will be my fault
... in sickness I will not take a day off because we need the money, and when my mental health is deteriorating, I will hide it the best I can
... to say "I love you" when it hurts or when you've just hurt me, and to be okay with never being cherished by you
... till I consider death daily, and the only way I can part from you is with your permission

This is how life turned out for us.  I don't regret marrying him, as I have two wonderful children and a lot of experience I can now use to help other women.  I do wish I would have left sooner so there would have been less impact on my children. 

Through it all, I know that God was with me.  On this earth we will suffer, and I am no exception.  But, I am grateful that God gave me reprieve from this suffering after 11 years.  

I choose to look forward to the amazing things God still has in store for my life and the lives of my children.

And, perhaps, I will celebrate alone with my favourite cheesecake.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Face Down and Face Covered

"Do you feel like a man when you push her around?"


Fear of being hit.

Fear of being called names.

Fear of being cursed at because of my actions.

A constant state of fear.

No break.

No pause.


I walk on eggshells but he still gets mad because the shells crack too loudly.

He gives me permission to go out with friends but he is dangerously angry upon my return.

He reminds me who the boss is.

And, it's not me.


He forgets something at home and it's my fault.

We are driving out of town for a day trip, he gets mad at something I say, he hits me, and he turns the car around to head back home.  My fault again.

He tries to initiate sex at 4am after I just get our baby back to sleep.  I say 'no' so he punches me in the leg and leaves the room.  I never say 'no' again.

I sit at the kitchen table facing away from him.  He is angry.  He punches me in the back of the head. I didn't even see it coming.

Eleven years spent in constant fear.

It's no wonder I am so afraid when I am around men.

"Facedown in the dirt she says 'this doesn't hurt.'"

It's okay.

He didn't mean it.

He said he was sorry.

He said he will never hit me again.

My head is pounding from being punched in the temple but it doesn't hurt.

He told me I will never amount to anything but it doesn't hurt.

He made me look like the bad guy again but it doesn't hurt.

I have to say no to my friends but it doesn't hurt.

Sex is being forced on me but it doesn't hurt.

It does hurt.

It all hurts.

But, I keep pretending it doesn't.




That is what my life is built on.

It's no wonder I want to hide.

I live with the after-effects of this every single day.

My mind and body remind me constantly.

Let me talk about it.

Ask me questions.

I am still sacred.

I am still hurt.

But, I'm trying.

Have grace.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Setting Boundaries Doesn't Mean You're Broken (it means you're rebuilding)

I have struggled with boundaries ever since my personal property was violated at thirteen years old. The guy who assaulted me didn't ask if he could come in - he broke down the door and barged in.  

He destroyed my boundary line.

Since that time, I have been assaulted by several men and one woman.  I had no idea how to put up a new fence and rebuild my door.

In 1998 when I started dating my now ex-husband, I went to counselling to get help with my fear of being hurt again.  I went there for boundary help (even though I didn't know at the time that is what it was) and what she gave me was, "Not every guy is the guy who hurt you."  To me, that translated as, "Let him in even if it's scary.  He's not the one that hurt you."  She essentially counselled me to not rebuild.  

And, so, I didn't. 

My ex-husband went on to cross each one of my boundaries.  He took advantage of me in every way.

Fast forward to four years ago.  I started attending Celebrate Recovery and learning what healthy boundaries are all about.  

Then, a year ago, for the first time, I verbally set a boundary with a guy.  I was not comfortable with his actions around me and I told him I had to back away.  We made a 'no physical contact' boundary. 

Since then I have set many non-verbal boundaries.  I always take a step back when a guy stands too close to me, I most often stand in the doorway of a man's office instead of going in, I don't engage in emotional or sexual conversation with men, and only in specific situations with other people around will I initiate any physical contact with them.  

There's a guy at one of my jobs who is touchy-feely.  Since the first time I met him, he often put his hand on my shoulder or touched my arm.  He also invaded my space by reaching over me or standing too close.  I dismissed his actions, even though I froze with fright every time, because I knew he was not intentionally trying to hurt me.  He probably thought he was just being friendly, and to those with a strong fence and a bolted door, perhaps that is all he was doing.  

Not for me.  I knew I needed to set a verbal boundary.

Recently, I helped him with something around the office and he put his hand on my shoulder as a way to say "thanks" (which he also said out loud).  This time, however, he also gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze.  

I knew it was time to stand up for myself, put another picket in my flimsy fence, and another hinge on my door.

Later that day, I told him that I was uncomfortable with him touching me.  He was a little puzzled about me needing no physical contact, but he apologized and was very respectful.  He even thanked me for telling him.  Because I have a good working relationship with him, even though I know I didn't need to,  I told him I spent 11 years in domestic violence and that I am not over it yet.  

I wanted him to understand where I was coming from because I care about the relationship and not as an explanation for my request (we all have a right to our boundaries, no questions asked).

My hope is that he will think twice before putting his hands on another woman, especially in an office setting. I honestly think he just wasn't aware of what he was doing, and I hope by my speaking up he will be more aware and conscientious of his actions.

If you want to put your hands on someone, especially someone of the opposite sex, respect them by asking for permission first.  If asking for permission seems stupid or unreasonable, then do the smart and reasonable thing - do not touch them at all.