This week was my birthday. I turned 36. It seems like such an odd year doesn’t it? It’s not 35 which seems more like a special number, and it’s not 40 which traditionally is a “BIG deal” when you turn 40. It’s just 36 – in the middle, weird, transitioning into the big one. It’s a gap of time where nothing could happen or everything could happen. Why do we mark time like this?
Doing so much inner healing work has taught me that my soul is outside of time, as is my Jesus. So why does time matter to us?
It’s how we mark our losses.
It’s how we mark our victories, memories and moments.
Birthdays somehow facilitate the remembrance of all these markings.
So, here I sit officially 3 years out from divorce on October 10th. I am more myself, my voice continues to become the loudest in my head, while the accusers, criticizers and abusers grow quieter with each passing day.
When they do haunt me – I am ready and able to speak back from the fire within my own soul.
The Wild Woman – she has been redeemed and freed from her cage, and she becomes the driving force in my journey.
I see how far I’ve come, from entrapment, divorce, freedom, an apartment in the city, and now a 2 bedroom home, with my trusty friends Lucy and Dixie, my ever faithful four-legged companions. Each with their own Wild Woman within. It was my desire to provide them with a fenced in yard, so that they may experience the freedom they lost as well. Our heavenly papa was so kind and gave us exactly what we needed.
Four years ago we laid in the basement of my childhood home, on an air mattress the night before our big move. I sold that home, ready to start new and escape the bondage that had held me for a lifetime. This was the defining moment, breaking free from the cult, my first act of righteous defiance, seen by others. My autonomous moment. A culmination of all the times I bravely spoke truth in my marriage confronting sin. Speaking and protecting the little girl inside of me.
We lay there in the dark on our own little life raft and thru my hot tears I reassured my puppies, “we’re gonna be okay, we’re gonna be okay” Really, I was reassuring myself and the little child inside that was absolutely terrified to be alone for the FIRST TIME in her life. There would be no man to take care of us. No dad, no brother, grandfather or husband. Just me.
As I’ve sat in my healing cocoon for the past four years, my capacity has grown stronger. I do not hear the so-called “pastors, teachers, and shepherds” I hear only my myself and JESUS working together, interacting with each other and talking in depth – just as I would talk to you! We are relational, with real tangible memories together. He is no longer far off and unavailable, not punishing, brooding or disappointed in me. He is friend, lover, father, mother, brother, and protector, defender. We have built a solid foundation of emotional intimacy. There is no abandonment, no unfaithfulness, and no confusion. He teaches me what love is – though it is deeply difficult to understand, based on my poor examples in the past. But healing is outside of time as is He – and to him – a day in my life is like 1,000 years. I’m not in a hurry and neither is He. (well sometimes I am, but he’s there to tell me to calm down)
Fighting off the inner critic is a daily engagement, especially in times of stress or conflict, yet overall she submits to my self-compassion and core spiritual self.
The first 32 years of my life would read like a modern day tragedy.
Sexually abused at 5
Witnessing domestic violence and living it
Trained to serve, be small and “nice”
32 years of emotional, spiritual and psychological abuse
Married an abusive sex addict; forced, manipulated, raped and restrained, deceived and crushed for 11 years
Growing up in a Baptist Cult and spiritually abusive church community
Two year crushing relationship
Sad? yes. Painful? Hell yes. Life ending? No.
When I look at this list and the names associated with the events – I am learning not to see tragedy.
I reframe and call it my Victory. All battles and fights I have survived and won!
None of these events or names no longer have ANY place in my life. They do not have power, influence of control. They cannot steal my joy-filled Shalom. I survived, and I will continue to do so.
The most beloved years of my life have been the last four. I continue to find my voice and fully embrace my victory. My story took a turn because I WROTE IT THAT WAY. Now, it reads like a fairytale. There is no Prince, because I’ve learned the soul and Spirit inside of me is my greatest provider, validation and advocate. I am her, and she is me! Success after abuse is NOT about finding the right man and experiencing the marriage you always wanted. It is not about re-marriage. Success after abuse is finding and reuniting with the fractured parts of yourself. Living from and trusting your core spiritual self. Learning to hear the voice of true Jesus.
“The Spirit is the one who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are SPIRIT and LIFE.” John 6:63
This fairytale season of my story includes:
Moving to a new Kingdom
Waking from the curse laid upon me by other’s shame, wounds and abuse
Being surrounded by so many fairy God mothers, listening, loving and empathizing while pointing me to my own voice and the TRUTH
Floating down new bends in the river
Trusting my own judgement and decision making
Connecting with the PRINCE OF PEACE
Showing myself compassion and allowing that to pour out onto others
At 36, I have befriended my grief, embraced the silence and entered into the forest of the unknown.
I travel on solo, and it is a beautiful thing. I am resiliently strong.
At 36 the struggle with longing and wholeness is REAL and the point is not to “fix it” or “heal it”, but to bravely hold its hand, ride off into the sunset and live “happily ever after” in the tension of life’s two greatest gifts: Joy and Grief.
What will 36 be like, I wonder? I fully trust wherever the river will lead me next.
May the Wild Woman be free and embrace the Kingdom that is amidst her now.
” And Jesus said to them, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already within you.” Luke 17:21
For the women who love me and teach me, I love you.
For the women suffering and feeling alone, I love you.
To the Wild Woman and my core spiritual self, I love you