"The icon does not make clear which side of the fence Christ is on.
Is he imprisoned or are we?"
Sometimes we carry our prisons around with us. The barbed wire in that icon always reminded me of the barbed words and the ripping pain of trying to live free while still bound to being responsible in a very painful situation. Not free to leave, but free to know that if I did not stay, who would bring help? And who would I be if I left to comfort myself?
I'm still watching therapy videos online, last weekend was intense and cathartic. It is very rough, almost like some sort of deep tissue massage, to listen to a stranger speak of phenomena that always disturbed me, but I could not place. Why would she say that? How is it that these things happened, yet we were supposed to be a very average family? Why did this one respond this way, but he went that way?
No one therapist has my family framed, no pat answers are forthcoming, but the festering wounds are being relieved of their mystery as the patterns of abuse are uncovered and filth of deception is washed away. I was always, Always asking myself why did things have to be this way, how did they get this way, and why can't it just get better? No matter what anyone did, nothing ever got better. Well, the spring of bitterness has to stop contaminating everyone else - either by becoming sweet or drying up.
I'm discovering things like "no contact," which is a technique all of us tried in our own way, and "observe, don't absorb," which was my primary technique for the last 30 years. The basic NPD character and motivation of things like objectification, complete lack of compassion, and the NPD thinking of him/herself in the third person like watching a movie - all these things I knew, but I had no framework in which to place them. It takes time and review to pull this stuff up and work it out - going over the memories and making personal history rational instead of chaotic.
There's a response video to one SpartanLifeCoach put out, the response video being in favor of more therapy being required even after a root cause of trauma is discovered, that knowing why isn't enough. For someone dealing with Complex PTSD, (resulting from a lifetime of abuse at the hands of someone with a personality disorder versus short term or single event PTSD,) long term recovery, compassion, and deliberately cultivating new growth in your soul in all those areas that were stunted by the abuse is really the only way. Long term abuse takes up the years of your life, the world you could have had in the short term is gone, never to be seen again. It isn't enough to know what happened, you have to find new ways of living.
I was talking to my Dad on the phone about my brother, who is Very Much like my mother, and is trying his bullying, accusatory best to cause legal trouble in regards to the Estate. The thing I found myself saying, in trying to reassure Dad that this would all turn out alright eventually and please don't worry, is that in having to go thru all the difficulties with Mother and then again having delays and unpleasantness in closing that portion of my life, I've become a different person. I would not be learning who I really am and what I can do and what kind of relationships I deserve if I did not go thru the terrific workout that is closing these relationships with kindness, forbearance, and with respect to the kind of effort God requires of His own.
If I had run off to Florida, I would still be the woman I was when I ran away. If I shot my mouth off and responded in kind to my brother, I would take a step towards becoming like him. If I stay and persist, then I am still in the fire and can be changed into someone I've never been before...and perhaps have been seeking to be for a very long time.
Years ago, I received a word from a prayer ministry about God restoring the joy that was taken away from me. It spoke about a little girl in red shoes that was just happy and joyful, without burdens. Of course we all are that way to some extent as children, but the only place I could think of with red shoes was here.
A few months after this picture was taken, things happened. Offenses, pride, confusion, stupidity, separation, grudges, a whole host of bad decisions - all things precipitated out of a narcissistic wound - and really, our family never recovered. I became a parentified child immediately, charged with taking care of my mother.
Now that's over and I'm free to be again. Just free. To be. To trust my own heart again, openly this time. To follow my own heart, without the endless second guessing that NPDs and their codependents layer on top to maintain control and satisfy their own interests. Free to be happy, which is an extremely weird feeling after all this time! I mean, I question myself every time I feel "happy" lest I've forgotten something important I'm supposed to be doing instead. It's just ...odd. But I really like it!
The best bit is trusting my own heart, not just about life decisions or such, but trusting that the things I hear in my heart and the desires that flow out of my heart are true and trustworthy. I still have to consciously turn to listen and accept as is what is going on in there, and NOT layer it over with second guessing in my brain. That isn't to say my brain or my flesh aren't always chiming in with their own opinions on HOW I should follow my heart! They are still quite perky, thank you very much, and I rather expect them to stay that way, but I'm relaxing into letting my heart go first, feeding it more, and letting it set the agenda for where I'm going altogether.
That brings us back around full circle to being set free - thru the image of Christ. Second Corinthians 3:17-18 puts it this way:
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom). And all of us as with unveiled face, because we continued to behold in the Word of God as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another: for this comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit."
I was lead back yesterday directly from the secular therapists' discussion on long term recovery to a teaching tape by Lynne Hammond that I've listened to over and over again for probably 20 years now. It's the first in this series, called the Mirror of the Word. If you are secular, that's alright, there's quite a bit of very good observation in it about how our thoughts multiply like mice and get out of control, and then we don't want to be honest with ourselves and even look at what we've been thinking - we just close the door and pretend that stuff isn't in there. But we have to come back to the Truth and take every thought captive, exposing it in the full light of day, and then do something about every lie that wants to hang around by demolishing it with the Truth and our own words - spoken out loud.
You'll never win a battle with a thought by trying to think about something else, you have to talk back to it.
If you are a Christian, as I am, then you might have caught on to the linkage in my being free to trust my heart without interference and the joy of a rediscovering fresh again a teaching series on prayer. If you are born again, the Holy Spirit and your spirit are joined, He has come to make His home in you, never to depart. If your mind can be corralled to let your heart have His way in you, then you are free to ask for whatsoever you want, and be confident that He is moving in that request. For you, for your friends and loved ones, for the nations, for the world, for anyone anywhere anytime.
The door may have always been open, but the crappy bit is that we don't always know that in our heads. Living this life here is messy, but freedom in Christ Jesus is glorious!