Disclaimer: This is a sketch to help people understand what it feels like to go through an emotionally/mentally abusive relationship(s). It is not a description of where I am currently, but where I was several years ago. We focus, so much, on physical battering but many of our constituents suffer in a deeper, under-the-surface and very soul-killing way. May this open the eyes of those God chooses to bring to our community.
My soul is bruised . . . the deep, core, very real, eternal part of me has been crushed. I feel destroyed but I am not. Crushed but not destroyed. That vulnerable and guttural piece of my heart that trusts God loves me has been ripped out of me and exposed to lies. Oh, how I wish it would heal like a broken bone heals! How I long for hands of salve to come and to put me back together. But, no one can see. They don’t understand that I am so afraid . . . so afraid to look anyone in the eye; so afraid to speak; so afraid to raise my voice, to make a decision, to celebrate anything. I have been pushed down so incredibly far by people who tell me they love me. The confusion is astounding.
My soul feels small . . . I feel small. When my voice finally speaks, it angers those who are bent of my smallness and they dig in even deeper. “How dare she speak out? Who does she think she is?” The risk I took in opening my mouth results in even more pain. I took a daring, tiny step and they knocked the wind out of me and put me back into my place.
My soul is hiding . . . No one understands how difficult it is for me to be with people. What if they discover that maybe I really DID deserve the pain inflicted upon me? What if there is something about me that I do not see? What if I really AM all that they say I am? Each gathering is a victory. Every time I laugh, it is a song of mirth I put into my treasure box. Each time my children laugh, it is a cool drink of water to my soul that is oh-so-thirsty . . . a reminder of the decision I made to help them to be healthy.
My soul is grey and colorless. I remember, with longing, the desire of my youth. The music, art and beauty I had planned for my future. I remember the hopes of home and family . . . all used against me. Every vulnerable thought I shared in the early days of courtship . . . used against me in my darkest hours. Every need that I had . . . used against me as a weapon of control. Every physical weakness . . . used against me in my exhaustion.
My soul has lost its dignity. I do not feel like a person but an extension of those who feel entitled to hurt me. I am no longer seen. How I long to be seen! I once had dreams and desires! I am an empty vessel, giving up her body and her hopes to those around her. Serve, serve, serve . . . it is seen as “noble” for me to be used. I am used. I am used up. I have lost my beauty, my youth, my dresses, my femininity, my hair, my body. I am no longer “happy day”; I am no longer the girl with the “pretty pretty smile”; I am no longer “guileless”. All those who were kind to me are gone. So long gone and I am left with their words and memories to fight against the hateful voices that pierce this black-and-blue soul. I tell myself, “You are worthy because you are human.”
And I remember that He is El-Roi — the God who sees me.
They could beat my body but it would not have the same affect as the beating my soul has taken. I would rather have physical scars to show. If it were not for the white-knuckled grip that my Lord has always had on my heart, I would not have wanted to live. Rejection is invisible. I cannot show you the scars but you will sense the scars, if you spend time with me. You will sense them. My soul is scarred. My heart is cracked all over . . . but the oil of gladness was poured over to bring those tender parts together. Tissue has built up and my heart is well-loved, but no longer picture-perfect-pretty.
And, oh . . . how my soul has grown. Grown to love and grown to pour more into those around me, now . . . those around me who know how to love, also. And we grow together. And we heal together. And all I can do is be who I am. Broken, beautiful, aching-for-eternity, Jesus-loving, bad-ass-Christian, mothering, wifing, fighting, artsy, a-little-bit-crazy, often-weeping, expressive, full-of-mercy, honest Megan. My soul was beaten, yes. But, my soul is also loved by the One who said He would never leave my side. And, now, I am ready to walk through the Valley and call to those very ones who wanted to break my soul . . . calling to them, “Let the Shepherd take you to the High Places!”
I am ready to walk beside those whose souls are bruised.
I am ready.