Tag Archive | pain

All Pain Hurts – No Measuring Stick Required

When I first received an offering of hope and the opportunity to heal from sexual betrayal trauma, I desperately grasped the branch being held out to me, not knowing if it was strong enough to rescue me, or would snap from the weight of my despair. The answer didn’t really matter because I couldn’t imagine hurting more than I already was anyways.

Although I had experienced the soul crushing effects of my husband’s porn addiction and a sexless marriage for twenty five years, I was astoundingly ill informed about these topics. I was not in denial as much as I was ignorant and naïve. Which was not bliss. But did allow me to survive and function at a level that no one ever suspected the magnitude of emotional and sexual abuse occurring in my marriage. Not even me.

It’s not that I didn’t know something was very wrong with my marriage. It was just that I did nothing to gain a better understanding of the cause of the dysfunction. I lived with the symptoms without seeking a diagnosis until the pain became unbearable and numbing my emotions impossible.

And then wondrously, the mystery, the underlying cause of my shameful loneliness and sexual rejection was identified. My husband chose and preferred a fantasy world of pornography and masturbation over me. As hurtful as that revelation was, this new awareness was enlightening.

My husband met the criteria for both a sex addiction and intimacy anorexia. The intimacy disorder made sense. But I was confused that a man who intentionally shamed and berated his wife for having sexual needs and desires could be addicted to sex. I felt desperately alone.

Through counselling, reading recovery material, and attending a support group for partners of sex addicts, I received information that propelled me into a healing process. Although my pain was being validated, and the knowledge I gained was empowering, I still felt distressingly isolated in my abnormal situation.

The ache in my heart longed to find similarities to my story in the voices I read and heard. But it was rare. I needed to know that there was someone else like me. Someone who shared and understood that approximately 9,125 days of being sexually rejected by your husband was traumatic and a form of both sexual betrayal and sexual abuse. Someone who had found healing of her own damaged sexuality. But I couldn’t find her.

I began reading books written by women who had traversed the healing journey from the crippling effects of sexual betrayal trauma. I found encouragement, support and practical ways to navigate through the pain and chaos. I found beautiful testimonies of healing and restoration. I found evidence of God’s supernatural strength, love and guidance. But I didn’t find the details of their husband’s destructive behaviour and betrayal. I didn’t know what their husbands had specifically done. I didn’t find a way to compare and measure atrocities, to mark off behaviours on a checklist that would rate my experiences against anyone else’s. There was no ranking and winner in the pain department. All pain hurts.

I vowed that if I ever wrote my story, I would write with complete vulnerability and transparency. That every wound and scar would be open for the world to see. My motivation was not for sympathy, but rather to fight the darkness of isolation. There had to be another woman like me. And if I couldn’t find her, maybe she would find me.

And then I healed. And understood why the graphic details were missing. They weren’t important to the story. Or to my story. I have borne the consequences of the sinful behaviour inflicted upon me, but I did not cause it. Thus, the offenses are not mine to confess and recklessly proclaim to others. It is the journey from Point A to B that matters. The starting point need only provide a reference and introduction.

That doesn’t mean the many facets and layers of sexual betrayal are insignificant. For me, there were many specific words spoken and acting out behaviours from my husband that I needed to process to be able to heal from them. But the best place for that was with a counsellor or my husband. I chose to clean up the poison rather than spread it further.

There have been times, and will continue to be, when I share certain offenses of my husband’s betrayal and abuse with someone. When the generalities and vagueness just isn’t enough to break through the suffering. When one of us just needs the assurance that there is another person who “gets” it.  But I have found that those are the times God has connected two hurting women together with the purpose of bringing further healing and restoration to one or both of our hearts. When we are led by love, grace, forgiveness and compassion.

The most important part of my story isn’t what happened, but what I have learned from it, and how I allow God to use it to make me a better person.

I am learning to live my life with a new vulnerability and authenticity.  For me, that also includes this reminder from Neil T. Anderson – “Don’t forsake love in your eagerness to be honest.”

And in the words of Solomon:

“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9

Rest in Your Story….

“So my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving

and some coming home, some summer and some winter.”

 Donald Millerwk13_heart_mission-270x200

This morning I felt rather weepy, not sure exactly why. Was it hormones? Was it being in the midst of uncertainty? Was it the feeling of aloneness? Fear? Anxiety?

Was it one thing, or all of them? When I permitted myself a moment to dig a bit deeper, allowing myself to sit with my pain and face the fears, I heard His voice calling….I sensed Him walking towards me….and instead of running from all the uncertainty and unanswered questions which exposed the discomfort, it was in that moment when I chose to move towards them.

And then I checked my emails. What a gift when I received this post from one of my favorite authors, Bonnie Grey….she is a woman who speaks my language, who shares from an honest heart, a place where few dare to go. Her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace helped to me to heal and learn how to take time to rest.

I am sharing a link at the bottom of this post, I hope you take the time to read it….let it encourage your heart today as it did mine.

As Bonnie says: “Our stories can rest in the open with him. Jesus doesn’t tell us to fix it. Get over it. He accepts our pain. He honors our brokenness. He says—

I want that. What nobody else wants. What nobody values.

Your story.

I love the real you.

I have called you by name. You are mine (Isa. 43:1).

I will carry you (46:4).

different from the voices that have hurt and deserted us.”


To know that our stories are safe with Him…that He wants to hear them…. and that He accepts us just as we are, brings peace, comfort and even joy amidst the pain of our story.


When fear drives us to run….


 I am a runner…….I wish I could say I was a jogger, but that isn’t the kind of runner I’m talking about. No, the kind I am talking about has to do with fear, and with feelings, that would cause me to run…from intimacy with people, relationships and from certain situations.

I know I am not alone. There are many who struggle with these same fears. My greatest fear was perhaps the fear of pain. Several years ago God began to dismantle the nice, little wall I had built around my heart regarding pain, or I should say the avoidance of pain…..Through counseling and through encouraging, life changing words from friends, my hardened heart was penetrated and my nice, little ” avoid pain at all costs”  life was shattered. It was time to face the fear of pain in my life….I could no longer settle for self-protection if I wanted to live in freedom.

For me this fear of life started in childhood because of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and the death of my mom. I believed the lie as a child that life was not safe anymore because those who were supposed to protect and provide for me were not there for me, in fact some of them were the very causes of my pain, wounds and fear.

As a child, I was quite defenseless because I could not physically defend myself, provide for myself, nor did I have a choice as to where or with whom I would live with. Even though I didn’t consciously do it I think I made a vow in my heart that when I grew up I would never let anyone hurt me or be in control of my life again. I would have to protect myself in any way and every way I could so that no one would hurt me again and I wouldn’t feel any pain. I grew up with the mentality of “avoid pain at all costs”…because cost me it did!!

Children who are abused are usually taught two things: we get punished for trying to defend ourselves, and we get punished for trying to express our negative emotions about the abuse taking place. I know this to be true.

And because of this I think we grow up believing that we cannot be protected as we would expect to be.

I remember as a child when a man, who was a social worker, came to our home.  He was visiting us because my aunt and uncle wanted to legally adopt me. I remember him being a very gentle, soft spoken man and I was quite taken with him. He wrote his name and address on a piece of paper and said if I ever needed someone to talk to that I could get in touch with him. I tucked this little piece of paper away in a safe place like it was a treasure.  At the time I didn’t know why it meant so much to me but I just knew I never wanted to loose it.

Then fast forward to a time when I was a teenager. It was after I had been raped and I needed to talk with someone that I found my little piece of paper, now creased with age and tattered around the edges, and wrote him. Pouring out my desperation and pain, never fully disclosing what had happened but basically telling him I wanted the pain to end. And then I waited….terrified and yet hopeful.

One day during school I was called into the hallway and met with a young woman from social services.  I was disappointed to hear that the gentleman to whom I’d written was had retired and she came in his place. She spent some time with me in a private classroom, just the two of us. Suffice to say that after a couple of hours I didn’t disclose to her the truth of my home life, the abuse and rape. I didn’t know her and I didn’t know if I could trust her.

What I didn’t know would happen is that she went to my aunt and uncle and informed them of my letter. My life got worse after that. My uncle, furious that an outsider knew anything, decided that all my incoming and outgoing mail was to be read first. I had many pen pals and family that I wrote to. No longer could I share my heart with them, most especially my sister with whom I wrote to regularly. Life felt like a prison, and it was my own doing, so I thought.

 So once more I believed that I could not be protected naturally in life by natural means through communication based on truth, or physically by either defending myself, or by calling in outside defense from family or the social system.

The lie continued to take root: “I am defenseless, and I need something more to be safe in life”

This I think is where we begin to gather addictions in order to feel protected and in control of our life. Whether the addiction be drugs, alcohol, food or anything else….the only problem is, the addiction ends up doing the very things to us that we think it is protecting us from. It is a lie.

I’ll leave off here for now and continue with this in the next post…..

How to Feel Pain

What should we do with pain?  I’ve tried repression and denial.  I’ve tried boxing it up and walling it off.  But ignored pain festers and grows stronger when I’m not looking.  I’ve tried honest acceptance.  I’ve tried knowing it and walking through it.  But like waves in the ocean there is a lurking undertow that can pull me down too deep.  

There is a third choice.  Between blindness and indulgence lies a place of safety.  I must be present with my pain.  I must experience it for what it is and allow it to pass through me.  Like lightening flashes down a rod on its way to the ground, pain is not meant to linger.  I must let the pain pass through me and go to God.  He stands waiting to receive it.  He stands ready to bring comfort.

God bless you!