Cringe

I had a small revelation while driving to work this morning.  One of those little flashes that sends a small jolt of electricity all over and through you.  Nothing major.  But a zing.  And it caused something that has mystified me for some time to click into place, which is always welcome.  Especially since there are so many pieces of the puzzle that don’t seem to fit and that still remain totally elusive.
 
I was praying, as it my habit while I’m driving.  I was thanking God that He has a plan for my life, that it’s a plan to prosper me and not to harm me.  A good plan.  For a hope and a future.  I cling to this scripture for dear life, frankly, and repeat it daily, hoping against hope that God will bring about a good outcome for me.  This particular morning, I said to myself after praying this scripture, “It’s going to be a good day.” After which, the bottom fell out of my stomach.  Which is when I got the revelation.
 
I grew up in an abusive environment.  Physical, emotional and sexual abuse abounded.  As best I can recall and determine, the sexual abuse (perpetrator:  my father) began when I was 4 or 5 and it ended when I was 14.  My parents were violently angry, so the physical abuse was just always there.  They were violent with each other and once I reached the age where they thought it was reasonable to spank me, they hit me, though I wouldn’t classify what they did as beating me.  Hard hits with a fist, open-handed slaps, smacks that knocked me down or propelled me across the room.  Discipline was also carried out with explosive anger.  And their words were almost always angry, hateful, spiteful, derogatory and rejecting.  I learned early that things could turn very quickly from kind of okay to nightmarish. 
 
Living in this environment, I realized there was no such thing as a good day.  It could start out being fairly sane, but all I had to do was give it a little time and everything would change.  Telling yourself that it was going to be a good day was a stupid and dangerous thing to do.  You might be lulled into a false sense of safety and security.  Let your defenses down.  Which could be deadly.   You might have a good moment during a really bad day.  But you didn’t have good days.  You set yourself up for major hurt and heartache if you ever dared to think otherwise.
 
I lived in a state of fear and cringing.  Waiting for the next bad thing to come along.  I never knew when it would happen or how it would strike, but I knew it was inevitable and that I had best be hunkered down and prepared.  So anticipating a good day was utterly stupid.
 
Any time I would have a hopeful thought, I immediately slapped myself mentally and told myself I was a fool.  Because every single time, without exception, when I anticipated something positive, the negative not only swept away all goodness and joy, it smashed me in the face, knocked me down and let me know to never do that again.  The consequences of believing in something wonderful was pain, humiliation, destruction and depression.
 
Good things did not come to those who waited.  Bad things always, always, always came.  I never knew which direction they would come from, but I KNEW the bad would come.  And it did.  Without fail.  The one thing I could count on was that the bad would come.
 
Realizing this, I can see why it is such a challenge for me to place hope in God.  To believe that He has something good for me.  A good plan.  For hope and a future.
 
The second I tell myself there are good things on the horizon, I cringe.  Waiting for the blow.  Because I know fate or destiny or whatever it is, is going to make a point to knock me back down and prove me wrong. To put me in my place.
 
For years, I had this message beaten into me in various ways.  As a result, I stopped expecting anything except the hard, the awful, the slaps, the harsh words, the rejection, the sexual abuse, the anger, the disappointment, the disgust.  I only anticipated the hurt, the pain, the demands, the hate, harshness and dismissal of me and my needs.  This was consistent.  Dependable.  Faithful. 
 
Once I left my parents and their abuse behind, I had a little bit of hope that things could be better.  But a marriage at 17, his rejection of me and the request for a divorce 2 weeks later, coupled with his infidelity from the honeymoon on, knocked me down again.  Let me know that destiny hadn’t forgotten me or relinquished its hold.  I escaped that relationship still a little hopeful of a good future.  But again, a marriage at 25, the rejection, being unwanted, unloved, unappreciated, but being stuck because, as a Christian, divorce wasn’t an option, I lost all but the last little remnant of hope.  And that hope centered in God someday healing the marriage.  Miraculously giving my husband a love for me.  It never happened.  Instead, though he tolerated me for years, he finally bailed when he fell in love with another woman.
 
I am ashamed to say that I didn’t respond well in many ways to his rejection and disdain.  I can honestly say that I tried to keep my soul alive, but I became profoundly numb inside and reached a point where I felt completely dead.  I lived in a state of fairly significant depression.  No highs at all and no debilitating lows, but the day to day mood was hopeless and dispirited.  I could blame him for this and I certainly believe he has some responsibility.  But I also believe it was my duty to respond the way a godly wife should.  I think I should have been able to find strength in God.  I should have been able to grow instead of die.  So I failed.
 
Living with a dead wife had to be awful.  Living with a dead soul was utterly horrible.
 
When you feel and experience the world as being totally against you, when it feels as if there is nothing you can do to change that or to affect the outcome of the path you are on, it’s hard to maintain a positive outlook.  Defeated before you even begin, it’s extremely challenging to embrace life as a gift that is worth living.  It’s hard to see the positive for the overwhelming negative that keeps hitting you up the side of the head. 
 
I am trying to change.  That’s why I keep praying.  That’s why I’m embracing positive scriptures that speak about experiences and emotions I’ve never yet known.  It helped just a little bit to understand why my reaction is what it is.  To realize why I immediately brace for the blow.  I’ve been hit again and again.  The reaction has become somewhat engrained.  Natural.  Because the swift result has always, always come.
 
So far today (it’s 2:25 p.m.), nothing massively horrible has happened.  But when I typed the previous sentence, my stomach lurched and the bottom dropped out of again.  Tempting fate.  And I’m feeling scared. 
 
I’ll let you know how it comes out.  For the moment, I’m still clinging to the scripture that says God has a plan for me…a good plan, to bless me, to give me a hope and a future.  I have a death grip on it.  Even if I’m cringing while waiting for the blow.                         
         

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