From birth, each of us sets out to discover who we really are. But, when trauma occurs, we create ways to survive. Often we split into pieces and abandon the most vulnerable parts of ourselves; boxing them up in tidy packages and tossing them away. Later, we spend our lives looking for these parcels, hoping to meet someone who can help us find these lost, splintered pieces of ourselves.
This resonated with me on a deep level. Even before addiction had taken over my entire life, I was abandoning my vulnerabilities to a rougher, tougher exterior. I was still mush on the inside and I still felt pain on many levels, but I would try to crush those pieces of myself and bury them away to survive. When I first started being able to put words to what had become of my soul (or rather, what I thought was my soul), I would describe it as an orb amidst swirling black smoke. Inside the orb was a darker smoke, that held all the demons within me. I couldn’t see them clearly but I could see and feel they were there. There was a lock on the orb and it was unbreakable. I would try to get in in order to purge the darkness, but I couldn’t. Maybe it was fear that held me back and the orb wasn’t unbreakable after all. Either way, what would happen if I even got it open?
I spent years hoping to meet someone who could love me better; who could fix me and see through what I struggled to cope with. I thought I found someone once, but it was this darkness and desperate need for acceptance that ultimately drove us apart. He couldn’t fix me, I couldn’t fix me, things couldn’t fix me and my addictions made everything so much worse. I was so very lost. The splinters stuck in my sides and chest, painfully, and there were times I did not think I could go on.
I am here to tell you now that I have survived. God has made me a warrior of sorts, and today I am grateful for it. It may have taken me time to realize the following, but now I bask in the grace and glory of the truth the Song of Solomon declares: I have found the one whom my soul loves.
Yes, this passage is about marriage, but it does reflect the marriage of Christ to his sinful bride (us) and Christ to the Church.
I came to understand that the only one who could help me find and fix those splintered pieces of myself was Jesus. He was with me all along, I had simply resisted fully acknowledging His presence, holding His hand, and submitting to Him as my Savior. He helped me to release the demons from that locked orb inside me and expel them, covering me in His grace. He showed me how vulnerability, though absolutely terrifying at times, is a powerful thing and makes us stronger, not weaker (as often the world portrays it as). He alone blessed me with true forgiveness, allowing me to learn how to forgive myself and not shrink away from the fear but to face it; to give it over to Him.
This has been a process for me. For some, it happens more easily, to which I attribute my process to my pure strength of will and stubbornness. These two character traits can be both a blessing and a sin – it is how I use them that defines them. I also believe that my path was and continues to be for a purpose. The Lord told me once, very clearly, in the midst of my absolute bottom, that I am to use my experiences to help others know they are not alone. Your trauma and experiences do not define you! They are tools you can use for the grace of God. They are gifts to enable you to be that much more relatable to the next person struggling. If you have made it through this far, all is not lost. At the end of most of my prayers, I ask God to use me to maximum use to Him and my fellows. Another human can’t fix us, we can’t fix ourselves, but God does use us in one another’s lives to be in community and point us back to Christ.
If my experiences can help one person know they aren’t unfixable, unlovable and not alone, pointing them to the love of Jesus, it was all worth it. For what I have found in His love is better than worldly bandaids: it is redemption and salvation.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering. (Mark 5:34)
He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 143:7)
“My graces is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Go forth this week and gently, lovingly, and gracefully point the hurting towards the love of Christ. Pray that He will put the words in your mouth that another will be able to hear, and not your own words. Ask Him to speak through you and use you, for maximum use to Him and your fellows. In these things, self-seeking will slip away.