Return to my journey with Dad…
When I started working through the abuse, I immediately grieved what I had lost. I grieved the years of confusion that I had never understood. I grieved the memories that would never return, and the memories that were never made because of the dysfunction.
But in the weight of that grief I thanked God for standing in for my Dad, and asked Him to fill me where Dad had left me empty, to make me whole where I had been stripped and robbed.
Until that time, following my encounter with the real Jesus at age 18, I saw God as a Saviour, the knight in shining armour who rides in on a white stallion, whisking us away from danger’s grip. I saw Him as a Father. The one who instructs and disciplines when we need it.
In my earlier years I vacillated between seeing God as holy, just and loving–because He died for us–and the contrast of being a harsh, distant judge. Mostly I thought He was a cosmic, raging, warrior, disinterested in our well-being, but One who was out for blood, for revenge, for ‘pay back’ for sinning against Him after what He had done for us. Sort of a schizophrenic force to be reckoned with.
But when I started working through the abuse saw Him as a kind, loving Daddy. My Abba Father. Intimate. One who holds us, protects us and shelters us. The one who, like Jesus when Lazarus died and the crowd didn’t have faith, weeps with us and for us. I would not trade those days of feeling Him near me, of knowing His incredible grace, for anything in the world.
Whatever suffering I had to experience to know God this way, I thank Him for it. Where I struggled to bond with human beings, with family, I bonded with God. And that bond carries me still.
Seeing Him differently in that place of pain created that bond, and feeling Him so powerfully made Him real to me, to my experience. And that helped me see Dad as the broken shell of humanity he was. I felt compelled to forgive Dad and break the dark soul ties between us.
The forgiveness was a choice, not a feeling. And it didn’t erase what had happened. It only broke the power it held in my life.
That all sounds noble and good. And it is. Any time one human forgives another, regardless of the sin or crime committed, it is noble and good. But the journey of ongoing forgiveness, into releasing and ultimately blessing the person who wronged us is a long process. There are many ups and downs on that path, and the more complex the dynamics of the relationship, the more hurdles to overcome.
While it broke the power, forgiving my dad did not put an immediate end to my struggles. Nor did trusting God as my ‘Daddy’ Father.
Following my brave trip to the hospital, I thought everything was good. Nightmares had ended. Memories were dealt with. I was at peace.
And then I married Tim…
Getting married was a good thing. And the honeymoon pregnancy was pretty cool too. But the hormone change… well, that wasn’t so fun. The hardest part was the silent fears it triggered. I started to have nightmares like I had in childhood, and worse.
Night after night, I would relive childhood trauma in the form of nightmares. They were not terribly realistic, as most nightmares are not, but they were so real to me, that I would wake up crying out or soaking my pillow with tears. I would lie awake, trembling and unable to settle. With the worst ones I would wake Tim, curl up on his shoulder and he would hold me until I fell asleep again.
After our first daughter Alicia was born, these nightmares turned into ‘daymares’. Okay, I know that’s not a word… But it felt like nightmares in broad daylight, as I spent my days fearing that Dad would show up and kill us both.
In hindsight I realize how vulnerable the hormone changes left me. But at the time, it was all very rational. I took every necessary precaution, often checking and double-checking my front door throughout the day to make sure it was locked so, if he came, Dad would not get in.
Because of my fragile mind, I had to constantly release the past, forgive again and again, and reach out to God for stability. If I had not, I think I would have lost my head completely.
It was in those years that I knew one day I would tell my story, that I would fight, and win. The past would not get the better of me.
On the good days I actually believed myself. On the bad days…. well, I thought I was blowing a lot of smoke and had nothing to offer the world.
Why would the world believe the daughter of a child molester? The daughter of a man who was in every way a failure, by the world’s standards and the church’s. Who was I that I would have anything at all to give?
And so I fought the demons, the darkness and the nightmares through every season and every phase of my life. Hoping against hope that God had a good plan in it all.
To Be Continued…
© Trudy Metzger
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