In my distress I called to the Lord; He answered me and set me free. Psalm 118:5 GNB
There are many kinds of freedom. Here in the United States, we have a Democratic Republic and we have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights (10 amendments). We have many specific civil liberties. We can say and do things that people in other countries cannot. I am thankful for these things.
Tomorrow is veterans day. It’s the day reserved to say thank you to those who have served to keep us free. So today, I start with a thank you to those who have served in any capacity. Thank you.
There are other types of freedom that I have experienced. Freedom from captivity and abuse. Freedom from the shame and guilt associated with the abuse that I suffered. Freedom from the slavery that is sin.
It has not been so long that I have forgotten my captivity. It has not been so long that I have forgotten my pain. It has not been so long that I have forgotten my anguish. It has not been long since I have been freed from my abuse. This verse speaks to me in a place deep within my being.
In the next couple months, I will publish a book called Fierce. I have spent the last three years writing it. It is a labor of love for those who are still held captive. It is for those who want to be set free.
I was a prisoner in my past life. I was prisoner to my desires. I was a slave to a warped version of love. I was beaten and bruised. I was often distressed and I cried out to God to save me during those years. He came swiftly to my rescue. He set me free, he changed my life, and he gave me a new name.
That sounds very dramatic. I am not a woman predisposed to the theatrical and yet sometimes reality is just that. I spent many years as a victim being beaten. When I got free, I wasn’t really free. I was held captive by the training in abuse and victimization that I had lived in for so long. So, when I got free, I wasn’t really free.
Until I changed my mind which changed my life. I decided that I wanted a better life. You see, when we break free from our abusers, whoever they are, there are lasting scars on our psyche that we can’t see. We have spent many years in an high-anxiety environments. The psychologist-type people call it walking on eggshells. We become acclimated to this higher level of fear.
Think of it like this – most people walk around at a level 2 anxiety, on a scale of 10, on a regular day. Eggshell walkers’ anxiety level is about an 8 while we are in our abusive life. When we leave we only drop down to maybe a 6. So we’re still walking around an elevated anxiety level.
When I was a kid, I was afraid a lot. Then when I went out on my own, I was maintaining that level of fear. So when I entered into my abusive relationship, the increased fear I felt seemed normal. I noticed the increased anxiety level, but I didn’t realize that it signaled danger because fear and anxiety were my normal. Having those levels increased didn’t set off alarm bells for me.
A person who doesn’t have my history would notice those increased fear levels. A person who was different from me would notice the behaviors that triggered the fear, question them, and likely leave the abuse before it began. These are called red flags and regular people notice them. I did not. I stayed.
As I began to operate at this higher level during my abuse, it became a new normal. I just walked around afraid all the time. When that became normal, the only thing that would set off my alarm bells was full on emergency level fear. Only things that signaled coming abuse would set my nerves off. Otherwise, fear was normal.
When I left, I took that ingrained fear with me. This was how I operated in my life for a few years after I left my abuser. I just went along on a somewhat decreased level of anxiety, but not at the so-called normal level.
When people in my life told me things were not as okay as they appeared to me, I noticed that I was angry and afraid. So, I embarked on a method of changing those things. I changed my mind, I worked through the 12 steps, and later I began trusting God for all the things. I took a circuitous route which is why it took so long for me to get here. But, I’ve considered the route and organized it into a more direct path.
That’s what the book is about. That’s what this blog is about. I call it Fierce because it’s a fierce fight to go from victim to survivor. It’s a fierce fight to reclaim your life. You’re a fierce woman to overcome abuse and live a regular life. There are a thousand more reasons we are fierce, so the book is called Fierce.
My recovery began twelve years ago with a simple decision to be happy. My recovery course changed dramatically eight years ago when I cried out to God in my distress and he answered me. I don’t remember what I said to him. I do know he answered me. He set me free.
For that freedom, I am forever grateful. Eight years, twelve years, twenty years seems like a long time. For the abused, things that happen twenty years ago can replay in their mind daily. It has not been so long that I have forgotten my distress, my anguish, my cry out to God. I will never forget my gratefulness for being set free.
My life is very different now than it was twelve years ago. I live at an anxiety level of about 2 most of the time. When I have increased fear, I notice it almost immediately. I am happy most of the time, although I am learning to be happier daily. Life is very different twelve years into Recovery. I look forward to continuing sharing it with you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, your prayer requests, and your successes. Please leave me a comment below. If you want these posts in your inbox type your email in the box above. Hope to see you there.