Fear

Pins and Needles: Chronic Abuse and Trauma

Our formative years present the potential for self-harm to thrive. Our early experiences, for better or worse, shape us. And sometimes, that shaping can take the form of addiction. Hypervigilance often results from certain incidents, in which trauma somehow established our need to self-medicate.

"... When a child grows up afraid or under constant or extreme stress, the immune system and body’s stress response systems may not develop normally. Later on, when the child or adult is exposed to even ordinary levels of stress, these systems may automatically respond as if the individual is under extreme stress... Adults with histories of trauma in childhood have been shown to have more chronic physical conditions and problems. They may engage in risky behaviors that compound these conditions (e.g., smoking, substance use, and diet and exercise habits that lead to obesity)." "Effects of Complex Trauma," http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/complex-trauma/effects-of-complex-trauma

My first memory, a traumatic one at that, was when I was three years old; my parents decided to move the family’s sewing machine from one floor of our house to another. But they neglected to remove its drawers, filled with hundreds of needles and pins. Inevitably, I toddled downstairs, stepping on many of them.

The Value of Trials

REJOYCING
There are those who would consider that going through the recovery process is far from joyful. For most of us there is a great deal of pain along the recovery path.

    James 1:2-4 (Amplified)
    Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations;
    Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience.
    And let patience have its' perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.

Using Our Recovery Feet

Over the years, I have learned about boundaries and the discernment needed in determining when to stay and when to go.

"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet." Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11


These scriptures often deal with the spreading of the Gospel. And that is certainly the case. But I also see them applying to addiction/recovery matters as well.

1. We admitted we were powerless over a substance or behavior ─ our lives had become unmanageable.

Step One challenges our "I have this under control" lie we often tell ourselves.

I have encountered this from close family members, most specifically, my mother.

I was rather late arriving to the therapy party when it came to addressing my disordered eating/image issues. I wasn't in therapy as a skeletal anorexic, an impulsive bulimic or a ravenous overeater. No. It was a matter of "years later" when I finally decided I needed to face personal issues about myself. And I did it alone.

I did it alone because, when it came to dealing with those unpleasant and difficult issues, my family was unwilling to participate in unflattering truth's revelation.

I first encountered this as an emaciated anorexic.

Playing Hide and Seek with God?

I searched hurriedly to find just the right hiding place. Breathless I hid silently behind the shower curtain in my parents shower. A giggle slipped from my mouth and I quickly cupped my hand to keep it quiet. I could barely hear my friend counting... 6... 7...8 ...9... 10! Ready or not, here I come! My heart raced for fear I would be found.

I'm sure you remember the exhilaration and suspense of playing hide and seek with your friends. Now that I am older, I no longer play this childhood game with my friends or anyone else—or do I?

Listening in the Quiet (Pain, Loss & Suffering)

The historical account of Job is one of pain, loss, suffering, and God's wise control. The long and short of this book of the Bible is this: Job was a stand-up guy. He was faithful to God. He had a family, a farm, and a good life. One day, God and Satan were having a conversation about Job and his faithfulness to God. Satan believes he can turn Job against God and God accepts the challenge. While God is watching, Job loses everything. He loses his farm, his wife, and his sons.

Okay, let's stop there. So, God allowed Satan to test Job's faithfulness? Yes, but you see, while God allowed this, He was in complete control the entire time. God knows all things; therefore, He knew Job would remain faithful. So why would God allow Job's suffering? I don't know the answer to that for sure, but I believe there is purpose in our pain. I believe that God works all things according to His purpose and for my good.

In the end, Job remained faithful to the Lord and he was rewarded for his faithfulness. The same is true for me and for you. What does this have to do with Step Four?

While working through my searching and fearless moral inventory, I have to remain faithful to God. I know His

The Trigger of Grief

In the work of recovery, we address the danger of triggers. Its very word itself suggests the power to cause us harm:

"Something that precipitates a particular event or situation; To set off; initiate; To fire or explode."


On one August morning of 2003, I encounter such a trigger. The phone rang. My dad was dead.

My grief, for the next year and a half, was an alarming, unexpected reality. And each subsequent "anniversary" proves equally tricky also. Both defy what I thought I would - or should - be experiencing.

After all, coming from an abusive childhood, I didn't think the loss of this pain-inflicting parent would register as significantly as it did.

The Past is Over: Do Not Let It Define You Today

The Past is Gone
Once I learned to trust God with my life and my wills, my trust for others began to increase. I no longer allowed my past to define me. I stopped allowing the people of my past to define the trustworthiness of those closest to me.

I understand now, trusting God to love me despite my past also means I trust Him with my future. It means to believe He is starting something new within me as I rise each morning. This is a process that began with surrender, but that is not the end of the journey for me. I must also turn away from the mistakes of my past and turn toward God’s will.

Learning to Trust

Trusting others has been difficult for me. People have hurt me over the years and trust did not come naturally for me as a result. My husband, Patrick, never gave me a reason not to trust him, but still I questioned him in my mind. After he stopped drinking over a year ago, I wasn’t sure I could trust he would continue to abstain.

This lack of trust carried over into my relationship with Jesus. Could I trust Him? Could I take His Word for truth? Could I believe He loved me despite the past I carried with me? I worked against God’s way for so many years, how could He possibly love me?

Self-created Hells

Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40

Internet surfer that I am, I recently came across a meme which could be described as a drama queen's motto:

"I don't want to be overdramatic. But today felt like a hundred days in hell."


Yes, within the faith community, it is often agreed eternal torment is some kind of reality, even if it is beyond our finite minds.

Nevertheless, we do ourselves a large disservice to ignore our own self-created and contained versions of this most unpleasant torture. For indeed, even those pious Christian versions of us need to admit something hardly "Christ-like" or flattering. Sometimes we like to create our own little Hells. And then we further enjoy tossing others - and ourselves - INTO them.

Overcoming Worry

"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."


One Day at a Time
I have a confession to make. Sometimes I worry. I worry about big things and small things. Worry will plant a thought in my mind that my husband, Patrick, may start drinking again. Worry will throw a dart of doubt at me about a job loss. Worry will creep in about something happening to one of my children. My days are not consumed by worry, but there are times that it threatens to steal my joy.

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