Does this photo remind you of your childhood or a bad relationship? We all have heard the saying “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt you”. Even as a kid I knew it wasn’t true on some level but I wasn’t sure why. I grew up in a home where you didn’t challenge your parents. I didn’t have a voice in the family and I never was allowed to defend myself. My parents favorite saying was “children should be seen but not heard” and “I’ll beat you into next week”. So I didn’t while one level I went along believing they were right, on another (and mostly ignored level) I knew differently. The truth is I was too afraid to challenge them and think for myself. After all I was little. When you hear the same horrible things everyday you start to believe what is being said. I know there are a lot of other people who have faced much worse than me. So I don’t mean to be dramatic or belittle anyone.
My experience in the home was one of both verbal abuse and physical abuse. But it was the verbal stuff that was hardest to handle. I never quite understood how my parents could be screaming at me one minute and then in the next moment say “Hey let’s go for ice cream”. When you’re young, you think all families are like this. In those days kids didn’t have sleepover. Every child slept at home in their own bed. So I didn’t have anything else to compare my family to.
I was 26 when a counselor asked me “What was your childhood like?” isn’t that what every counselor asks at your assessment? My answer was “It was the normal, scream yell and swear”. What came next came as a real shock to me. She said “THAT’S NOT NORMAL” I was stunned and perplexed as I sat there trying to figure out what she meant. Not Normal???? My assignment for the following week was to write a letter to my dad. So I did. I brought it back for this counselor to read. With that she decided to refer me to a psychologist. On the drive home I began to cry. I couldn’t understand why I was crying. I always wanted to see a shrink so why was I upset? As I drove the Lord spoke to me and said ” I want you to lay everything down at the foot of my cross”
This was to be the start of a journey toward healing and a passion for counseling. As time went on, I did lay things down at the cross. I would just sit and listen to my heart. Whatever would be going on in my head and heart I would allow God to speak into it.
Fortunately I was also married to one of the most kind-hearted, patient men in all the world. He never spoke to me the way my dad did. His patience facilitated healing. I was lucky or blessed because I didn’t marry a guy like my dad and have to keep reliving the verbal or physical abuse.
Even more than that, together we broke the cycle of abuse with our children by not putting them down all the time or beating them. Instead we gave our kids what we needed when we were kids.