Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Black Hole

People who have been abused as kids develop a whole lot of coping mechanisms to just keep going in our lives. Part of the reason we do this is because we have to. If we dealt with all our pain all of the time we might just explode! So we develop ways of getting a little respite, of getting a little peace, and of almost completely disengaging sometimes as a method of staying sane.

But for those of us who carry our abuse into our adult lives, without healing, we now carry the terror and abuse of our childhoods into our work lives, our marriages, our parenting, and our everyday worlds. If I could have my wish it would be for every person on the planet to have the healing I have had from my abuse. Because it has changed my life. But part of why I write this blog is the hope that some of my healing process will give you the courage to fight for your healing process. Because you matter. God wants to unshackle you from the bondage of what abuse has done to your heart and your psyche.

Perhaps if you victims or family members or therapists or physicians or anyone reading this can relate to what I am writing in this particular blog, it will allow you to help someone take steps into their own healing journey.

This is a short writing describing some of my feelings and thoughts during my healing work. It’s my attempt to describe the dark place I would go into, a place of despair, at the worst times in my suffering from what abuse had done to me. The place I continued to fall into I called ‘The Black Hole.’ I seldom have any of these feelings in my present life but these feelings and thoughts permeated my heart before, during and for several years following the formal healing work I completed.

As you read this I invite you to imagine two things.

1.Imagine what it might have been like for my wife who lived with me all through the years I had these feelings and its impact on her.

2.Imagine the power at work, by my Creator and God that must have been at work to heal and restore the heart of the person I was, with these feelings being very real and dominant in my life.

Here is a little window into what it felt like to be in ‘The Black Hole’:

As a little tiny baby boy I was brutalized physically and psychologically by my father and abandoned emotionally and physically by my mother. This is the black hole.

I am broken on the inside. My heart is broken.

As an adult I have learned to function in the world but don’t ask me to trust you. DO NOT ASK ME TO TRUST YOU! Don’t ask me to depend on you. Don’t expect me to relax or rest peacefully . . . EVER! Don’t expect me to accept what you tell me as the truth. I know better.

What I know is you will lie to me. You will leave me. At the point when I most need you, you will be too weak or too busy or completely absent and I will be alone again with this monster, my father.

I don’t want to hear about your faith or your God. I know more than I ever wanted to know about your God . . . way more! I do not want to hear your words! If knowing your God makes you act the way you do toward me, why would I EVER want to know him?

I easily see your hypocrisy. I see your lies. I see your manipulation of circumstances to make them fit your blind prejudices. I see your deceit. I watch you and see where you don’t measure up. I know better than to ever believe what you tell me.

I know that things will never be different. You have made that clear to me. I have come to accept the fact that I will always be alone deep inside to face this frantic desperation all by myself.

Don’t ask me to have faith. I’m not that stupid. You hide all your hate and prejudice and evil and viciousness behind some belief in some invisible entity then you use this invisible entity to destroy me, your son. Are you kidding? Have faith in someone who gets people to hurt their children?

So now I want lots of facts that I can touch and verify on my own. So I can protect myself. So I am able to see and to know you are not lying to me, whoever you are. It doesn’t matter WHO you are. I’m too smart to fall for your blind faith. Show me the facts, sir. Show me the facts, ma’am. If I can’t see it, it’s not real. If I can’t control it I want nothing to do with it. If I can’t prove it with cold hard facts I will reject it. You will never be able to prove to me that there is a God who loves me so DON’T EVEN TRY! I have been terrified for years by your God . . . keep your God away from me!!

I may look like I am alive, but I’m really dead. You may see my body in the room, but you will never see my heart. That is still mine, however stomped on. I will appear to be kind to you and compassionate when I am able to because I know what it feels like to be treated with cold cruelty and I would never want you to feel what I have felt. But don’t expect me to show you my heart. Don’t expect me to give you my heart! Don’t expect me to be vulnerable with my feelings. Nobody will ever know how I really feel. And if you leave me it won’t hurt me because I won’t have really connected with you or attached to you from my heart. You will probably learn it would have been better if you had never met me!

I have become a master at living without living. I am a cynic. I am a doubter. I live in despair. My hope was taken from me within the first few days of my life. I will go through the motions of living but I am not truly alive.

The rage stored up in my heart from my abuse now gets used in destroying myself. It is too terrifying to show my rage to anyone because it feels like I might cease to exist. Can you normal people understand this? So I will try to keep my rage within but in doing that I am destroying my own body. I know my rage leaks out at times in little ways but there is nothing I can do about that. You will just have to live with it, sorry! I lived my father’s rage for years and now it is my default mode. So it will inevitably leak out on some of you.

Oh and don’t bother caring about me because it really won’t make any difference. There is nothing you can do. I learned in the first few days of my life not to trust you and I learned this lesson extremely well and have never forgotten it. Trust leads to others hurting you and then the inevitable betrayal and pain and I know I will always be alone in my pain. So I learned not to trust and I learned not to feel any hope.

Please don’t tell me God loves me because I know you are lying to me. If my father and mother don’t love me why would you expect me to believe that your invisible entity loves me! Can’t you see how ugly and worthless I am? What’s wrong with you!?

Once upon a time a little hope stirred somewhere deep inside me, and I think I may have seen just a little glimpse of light. But it was gone before I knew it. Darkness returned and darkness and anger and anguish remain deep in my soul. I will never trust what I can’t prove and what I can’t control. The pain is too overwhelming. The pain burns in my body and I do everything I can to avoid more pain and I stuff this pain down as far into my subconscious as possible because I can barely live with the pain I feel now.

Now let’s fast forward to the next phase of my life, after I left my family’s cult.

After I left my father and the sick things he taught me about how worthless and unlovable I was I still had to figure out the human race. I had no choice but to figure out how to get along with people. What a difficult world to figure out! I remember what an odd feeling it was when I first met a few kind hearted people who actually did not try to hurt me or destroy. How on earth was I to navigate that mine field?

It is an odd feeling to have the walls of my heart 10 feet tall and 10 feet thick and yet meet the occasional person who stirred something in my heart. In spite of those well-constructed walls I was allowed to see into some of the goodness of mankind. And what did I see in this process? Well, little glimmers. Of kindness. Of thoughtfulness. Of reasonableness. Of the spirit of an occasional person who seemed not to want anything from me but to say hello and ask what I wanted on my burger…Oh, how very strange to begin to realize there are some people who really are loving and caring people. How could I have been prepared for these folks with what I was taught in my hate-filled home!

When you are making a massive paradigm shift in your life it feels like you are in free fall. I was moving forward very slowly in my life from a world that had been defined by hate. What I was given a daily fare of in my home was God’s hatred toward his helpless creatures, my parent’s hatred of society and yes, even hated of their own children, and that society was evil at its core. But we in my family’s church were all the “good” folks, the only “okay” people regardless of how we behaved. So, yes, I began to gain some new data points from interacting with the world and learning there were some seemingly nice people, but my little kid core self kept arguing back and saying “Don’t trust this person! He could turn out to be like your father!”

Remember I asked you to imagine what my wife had to go through living with me during this process? Well sometimes she saw me taking a baby step forward in my trust of people, but she also got to witness me falling back into the black hole and believing that no one was trustworthy. And on some days it probably felt to her like I didn’t even trust her. One of the truly good people I had ever known. And whose love for me was profound and had been borne out in her daily patience and love that I still marvel to understand.

I also asked you to imagine the power of my Creator and God to help me heal and to restore my heart. Even when it was permeated by the poison of hate.

The Bible says “God is love.” And if true, that means God can only do what is loving. Ever! The chasm I had to cross was from a home filled with hate and the fruits of hate to trust the best, most trustworthy being in the universe. This was going to take a God who was a master at understanding the human heart and how to remove the poison of hate from it.

Our early childhood teaching is very hard to overcome. It comes in in the most formative years of our lives where the basis of all we are happens. And the core of what I was taught and understood was the core principle of life was hatred. How on earth was God going to help me extract that poison out of my system, my head and my heart? And how was I to maintain my relationship with my very tenderhearted wife and those who were around me in those years?

That journey is the journey this blog has tried to unfold. To say I marvel at the process of God’s mercy and help to me in this journey would be an understatement. But as I worked through to the other side of that process it has brought tremendous freedom . . . to love people, to love God, to love myself, my wife, and my girls . . . to love even the unloving. God has graciously modeled all of that for me and He has walked with me in each step.

The single thing that stunned me the most, and took my breath away, was when I realized that God desires for me to love Him from my heart, on my own, without Him forcing me to love Him. God desires a relationship with me. With me! He gave the life of His precious Son for me because He loves me. And He wants me to love Him from my heart. He wants me to love Him! This is the amazing truth that broke into my darkness, took away my fear and changed my life forever.

Thank you, God. Thank you, amazing therapists. Thank you, my darling wife. Thank you my brother Nathan. You all are the best. Without you I would not be the man I am today. Thank you!

Mark Phelps

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