Issues & Solution: Abuse

Haunted (Eye Hath Not Seen)

The month of October, leading up to Halloween, has emphasis on ghosts and haunted houses. Indeed, the telling of ghost stories is common as we approach October 31st.I have a few of my own ghost stories, of sorts. They involve the mystery that is my family. I’ve shared much about my dad’s abusive nature; that is familiar to me. What, however, is NOT as familiar, is knowing about him.

Like many immigrant families, the past was not discussed. I know very little about the exact country my family came from. Likewise, I don’t know much about my dad, apart from his rages and his obsession with farm work. The unknown reality, therefore, has left me haunted, especially within the last few years. I now have the responsibility of clearing my childhood home, a house in which my dad, his siblings and parents all resided.

The house, itself, is one hundred years old, filled with decades of memorabilia. And, in organizing, clearing and cleaning the house, I have stumbled across some relics, like his Army dog tags, which create more questions- and yes, ghosts.

I Was Addicted to Sex and Could Never Get Enough

My name is Jeff and I am a recovering sex addict. It all started when I lived at home with my parents. My father was and still is a sex addict and alcoholic to this day. I can remember when my mother would go to bed, my father would turn on the cable adult channels and allow me to watch them with him. He also had pin up posters and other adult stuff in the household. My father was verbally abusive to us and my mother. After 23 years, my father walked out on all of us. I moved out shortly after, when I turned 18. I lived from place to place and I would hang out with my friends during the week and watch porno movies and drink beer. On the weekends we would go to clubs and try to pick up on girls to have sex with. All I wanted was sex. Little did I know that the craving and the snares of Satan began there.

I slept with a lot of women and could never get enough. I was married at 26, only to last 9 months. I could not be loyal to one woman. A year later I married again but the problems did not stop. I became addicted to pornography on the internet. I was spending at least 18-24 hours a week on the net. I met women, had sex with them and I got deeper and deeper into it. My wife became saved, and I did shortly after but it did not even stop there. I was so bound to my addiction. I had an affair on my wife again and this time I confessed to her. Things were better for a while but I found myself back on the net again.

Hate: the Root of Addictions

I came into the world in 1949. My father was a radio and TV repairman.The US army had trained him to be a radar technician during world war II, and he transferred the skills to civilian life. According to my parents, Peoria was a rather dismal depressed area at the time, and my father moved the family to southern California.

My early memories are fragments, snippets here and there. I remember asking my father if there was a God when I was very small. His answer was “I believe in a Supreme being.” But that is not to say our home was a religious one. At some point in my very early years I remember attending a Calvary Baptist Church with my parents, and even going to Sunday school. But my parents stopped going to Church for reasons which are not known to me. I do remember attending Sunday school but I was so young I cannot remember much of what went on.

Despite their occasional attendance at church, my home environment was less than Godly. Like many homes there was a war going on between Mom and Dad (if you were lucky enough to even have a Dad) and I became a casualty of that war.One morning when I was about 5 years old my younger brother (3 years old at that time ) and I were playing with wooden blocks in our bedroom. Vaguely I recall Mom and Dad had been fighting.Dad left the house and my brother and I continued playing with the wooden blocks. Mom came into the bedroom screaming, “I told you kids not to play with those blocks.” My brother said, “run!” and we both ran into different parts of the house. Mom cornered him in the service porch and I heard the screams as she beat him. Then there was a sinister silence. Then she came flying into the living room in a boiling rage. “Now, its your turn!” she said. And, indeed, it was my turn.

I Died, Stayed Dead in Many Ways Until CIR

My recovery birthday is the day I registered at CIR. It was shortly after I joined. I chose it because I began to seriously take on my recovery as a whole: Alcohol, Codependency, Sex/love addiction, Bulimia (teens-20’s), then became Compulsive overeater, Workaholic, PTSD from Childhood rape/molestation…..abuses/ bullying of every variety including self-inflicted. I experienced a date rape with an abortion in 1994 (I died / stayed dead in many ways until CIR). All are interconnected.

I have since found a measure of serenity, of freedom from sin (or enslavement to righteousness) !!!! Romans 6:15-17), healing in the areas my mental illness/health problems & I have found the blessing of relationship/fellowship.

Colleen: Depression, Panic, PTSD, Agoraphobia, Rape, Drugs & ADHD

In my 26 years of life, I can now say that I am happy to be alive. My name is Colleen, I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. I have been diagnosed with severe depression, severe panic disorder, PTSD, agoraphobia, adult ADHD and a learning disability. I am a single mommy of the most beautiful little girl named Kristen. In her 17 months of life, she has taught me enough to last a lifetime. Motherhood has taught me just how strong I can be.

I grew up with a severely abusive alcoholic father. He was verbally abusive, and he sexually abused myself and my sister and brother. I started drinking and using drugs at the age of 14, and over the next 12 years, would sink deep down into my own personal hell.

Secrecy and Lies

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” Deuteronomy 5:20

Who would have guessed a doll could teach me about secrecy and lying?

When I was a child, I received a much-desired china doll, actually named after Florence Nightingale. So, obviously, when my mother bought her for me, I was thrilled, so thrilled, I shared my excitement with the wrong person: my dad.

“Earthquake, thunder, fire and fathers.”
Japanese Proverb

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.

God Chooses the Improbable

“You did not choose me, but I chose you…”John 15:16a

I know what you’re thinking: “God chooses others, but not me.”

You think it’s because of your secret, don’t you? The awful thing in your past — that abortion or that affair; your divorce; the rape; the sexual abuse; the shameful business failure; your drug usage; alcoholism; criminal past. etc. Like the clumsy, nearsighted child no one picks for playground sports, you want God’s favor, His grace, but it seems beyond your wildest dreams. It’s not.The poem “The Chosen Vessel” tells how God picks a vessel to use: “Take me,” cried the gold one. “I’m shiny and bright,”I’m of great value and I do things just right.” But God passes by the gold, silver, brass, crystal, and wooden urns, and chooses the vessel of clay. The poem explains why:

Then the Master looked down and saw a vessel of clay.
Empty and broken, it helplessly lay.

No hope had the vessel that the Master might choose,
to cleanse and make whole, to fill and to use.
“Ah! This is the vessel I’ve been hoping to find,
I will mend and use it and make it all mine.”

Power In Discovering Your Audience

Coming from a theater background, I’m no stranger to an audience.

“All the world’s a stage… And one man in his time plays many parts…”

In William Shakespeare’s play, “As You Like It,” Act II Scene VII, purpose-filled life is compared to that of a theatre stage.

How much more does that apply for those of us recovering from addiction, disorder or abuse?

Besides my theater background, I also have an eating disorder history as well. In college, I battled both anorexia and bulimia.

Indeed, during my sophomore year, desperate in my bulimic behavior, I began to dumpster dive…

“… I’d try to play it off, pretending everything was normal as people passed by me scrounging in the dumpster… in broad daylight… I couldn’t hide any longer from others what I was doing… people were noticing…”*
*Excerpt from Sheryle Cruse’s book, “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder”

This was an unwelcomed audience for me.

Nevertheless, people saw. And, no matter how I tried, I could not escape the Presence of the Most High.

For a long time, I fought God.