I became numb maybe even before I knew how to feel what God intended for me to feel.
On those nights when I turned over on my side after abuse occurred, I wondered in confusion what was happening to me. The things I’d felt were bad things. I knew it deep inside. They caused me to feel sick and disgusting, but at the same time pleasure.
I believed there was something really bad in me when I felt things, because of what happened those nights in the dark.
But lately God has been speaking to my heart. He says I was meant to feel love. He’s created each of us to feel it from the time we were little babies until the time we die. We need love to live and thrive.
My biological mother gave me up for adoption and bonding never occurred with her. For three months I lived with stranger in a foster home. Then I was adopted and went to live with my abusive adopted father. I do love my adopted Mom. We aren’t incredibly close, but we both know that if one needs the other that we will be there. I don’t believe she had any idea what evil he was capable of. She tried to protect me as best she could. He did a really good job of being so kind on the outside. He could smile and seem so friendly and sincere. The years he was vice president of the bank he was well liked. Person after person walked up to me at his funeral telling me what a fine man he was, how he’d helped so many. I left the funeral home feeling so confused. Why hadn’t I seen in him what all these people were saying about him?
Somewhere deep inside I think I believed that maybe he was good except when he was around me.
This self contempt has lived inside of me for as long as I can remember, eating away at the life God intended for me to have. Taking the blame for everything going wrong in my life keeps me constantly trying to keep everyone else happy and wondering if I’m doing enough. Whenever I allow myself to feel or want something deep inside I feel guilty, because it’s easy to conclude I’m bad and my desires are bad.
Dan Allendar talks about bonding between parents and children and the “happy” chemicals the brain produces, dopamine and oxytocin, that result from those relationships. He says the same chemicals are produced when a man and woman are intimate.
It is clear that God created us to experience love and bonding in our relationships with our parents. This relationship is crucial to our development as a healthy human being. Bonding with our parents teaches us how to bond with others. What God created us for in our relationships with others is beautiful and enjoyable. He created us to feel the pleasure of love and connection with others and for these relationships to be the examples of our ultimate love relationship with Him.
But what happens when the pure love and connection that a parent was intended to give a child becomes sexual?
The child is very confused.
The dopamine and oxytocin are produced in the child through a sexual act intended only for a relationship with a spouse. The child’s God given desire for healthy love and connection is met in a sick and unhealthy way. The child feels desire because the brain produces those chemicals that God created our bodies to produce, but the child also knows in the depths of their souls that something is very, very wrong. Ambivalence is inevitable. It is impossible for a child brought up in these conditions to be emotionally healthy.
As adults, we seek those things in relationships that we learned as children. God’s plan is for us to bond with our parents, experience love and acceptance in an environment where it is safe to be ourselves, and where the person God created us to be can develop and reflect His beauty.
The enemies plan is to destroy this.
As an adult victim of incest, I have a distorted view of the love and bonding God intended me to experience. It’s ingrained at a subconscious level in me that deep love and bonding is usually sexual. However, because God created me with an innate sense of right and wrong, whenever I start to feel love and connection and it triggers the sexual part of my brain then I feel there is something wrong with me. Therefore it seems safer to not develop deep relationships where that sense of connection happens. It’s easier not to feel and to allow myself to only have relationships where I’m trying to keep them happy. Because I perceive my desires as bad, it’s easier to numb myself.
Because God created us for love and connection in our relationships, when we don’t have it there is an intense longing for it. Often times we look in the wrong places for it.
The abusive relationship with my former pastor only reiterated the lie to me that it wasn’t safe to feel.
My tendency is to want to numb my feelings in an effort to protect myself from another abusive relationship, but the Holy Spirit is teaching me this isn’t what He desires for me.
I thank God for my counselor who is helping me to see these truths and for what Dan Allender is teaching on his podcast. Finally, things in my life are starting to make sense.
And with every bit of truth God reveals to me it’s like I’ve found another piece of the puzzle of the wholeness and healing God wants me to have. It also diminishes the shame that causes me to want to hide from everyone.
I’m finding compassion for the little girl who just wanted the love God intended her to have, and who was victimized in the worst possible ways.
I’m also recognizing what a miracle God has done in my life. I shouldn’t be as stable as I am, but He has given me strength despite my weaknesses.
The truth that encourages me the most is that I know He doesn’t want me to go on hating myself, feeling ashamed, and being numb. He wants me to live, breath, and desire His good gifts.
He has made me clean, given me His righteousness, as well as a new heart and life.
At my core, because of Him, I am good.
I can love.
I can have relationships with people.
I don’t have to be afraid.
He is with me and He doesn’t want me to spend another day numb or in self- condemnation.
Thank God, because of Him I am free to feel.