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Let’s talk about the hard stuff….

10/30/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

It’s hard to know what to write, how things will be perceived or even if in a few months/years from now when I look back to read what I have written if I will be disgusted over what my life has or has not produced, joyful over the memories I have preserved or frustrated with the honesty/openness/ or transparency I try to show. I don’t know, but I do know that when I go weeks or months without writing I feel like something is missing, that a sense of processing, healing, growing and hopefully encouraging others in some way…just isn’t there. This is a hard one to write…I am not an expert, others have had it way worse than I….I don’t have any insights other than my own personal ones into this matter…so they are skewed a little bit. They are skewed to my mind and how I perceive things….that being said I will try to be as open and honest as I can.

One of the hardest things about emotional/mental/ or psychological abuse is how to handle it…how to explain it isn’t in your head, that it isn’t made up, and it isn’t embellished…that it isn’t a lie. The other thing about it is to those around you it kinda comes out of left field when you start the healing process…the sharing process. The thing is, when you are living in it, you want to protect those closest to you. It isn’t like its something so obvious as getting beaten, pushed down the stairs, or any other form of physical abuse. It comes in subtly…it comes like a thief in the night. The comments start harmless at first, so harmless even though they might offend…they get brushed off and you tell yourself to grow some thick skin. You convince yourself that there are already too many pansies and people that get offended by every little thing so “its no big deal and that you can toughen up a little.” It grows from there…instead of complaints of laundry being folded wrong or dishes not being put away….it goes to attacks on things you love, then from there its the people you love….people you thought the other person loved too, then it goes to attacks on behavior of you and finally it gets to the point where you are told ‘you are worthless’ or ‘you should have never been born’ or even…’how stupid can you be’, ‘you are a filthy’, and so, so, so much more. Those are just the words…the silence treatment is a whole different ball game. The thing is when you are going through it you don’t want to tell the people you love about it…for one thing you have been told so many times that ‘you are crazy’ that you actually start believing it and only a ‘crazy’ person would actually tell people about it. You also don’t want to poison those you love against your significant other because in some backwards way you still love them, you still think that ‘well, maybe I provoked it”, “maybe there was too much alcohol involved”, “they really didn’t mean what they said” or “they are just having a bad day”. You excuse the behavior yourself and you use those you love as your crutch, as your excuse for still accepting being treated the way you are because if you told those closest to you….they would want you out of that situation, they might actually stand up for you, they might actually support you and then YOU will have to make a decision. The other part is you don’t want to poison those closest to you because you know you will be doing life still with the ‘offender’ because of possible children involved and you don’t want those you love to be filled with hate, to be filled with images of frustration and disgust. It’s a slippery slope. One that when you decide to take a stand it isn’t understood, and it isn’t often accepted. Bruises you can see….what happen mentally and in ones heart you can’t so it doesn’t seem real…the struggles you might be having by taking a stand, the fear, the tears after text messages, the shaking because you just can’t breathe through it….it all seem like dramatics to those that haven’t lived it, to those that haven’t seen it or experienced it. Then there is the very real realization that you yourself HAVE made mistakes, that you HAVE hurt and betrayed the other person as well. After I left last year in December I entered into an emotional affair via texting. It wasn’t right, it was a betrayal of our marriage vows, it was a betrayal to the love I had for my husband at that time, it was inappropriate and wrong. When he found out he was understandably angry and hurt. I was ashamed and hurt for him, I literally hated myself and couldn’t believe what I did…even though it was all via text words hurt and I am someone who knew just how much words hurt. He asked me to tell his parents, his siblings and my parents…he said that there would be a base to work with if I did that and then…after I did what he requested he went and filed for divorce on our anniversary. He was able to say how ‘filthy’ I was, how “disgusting” I was and how I ruined our marriage…in part he was right, I was so emotionally beat down at that point that I couldn’t see completely how backwards things were for us.

I truly don’t say these things for anyone to hate, for anyone to wish ill-will against the person who caused my emotional/mental/ or psychological abuse. I say it because it isn’t understood. And now…even now…when things are said I still try to protect and when I am told I don’t need to protect but then the truth is called a lie, or embellished….it hurts…it needs to be talked about. I do believe people take offense over the slightest thing, that there are too many people crying out for attention over words that were taken out of context and that people get offended over things that aren’t meant offensively. However I am not talking about the occasional unkind word or typical marital disagreements….I am talking about a daily struggle to know, to process, to prepare of what might be said or what might be done if I did or did not do something. I am talking about attacks made on extended family that were vile and meant to hurt.

In the church, in the Christian faith we need to start recognizing and supporting those who have been through this. Who have experienced or are experiencing hurt like this. I think its hard no matter if you are rooted in the bible or not…but when your faith is what you hope defines you…it is even harder to take a stand against something like this. Everyone is redeemable in Christ. Everyone is a sinner and everyone deserves grace and forgiveness. When that is part of your own make-up…you don’t want people to hate, you don’t want to skew their image of a person, and you don’t want them to struggle like you struggle on a daily basis of being kind and not reactionary. You don’t know how to stand up and say…”this is/was wrong but I can’t tell you about it because you don’t need to know everything.” Because when you say that, when you don’t say everything and then you start you know you have to deal with people not believing you. You have to be strong enough to handle people telling you that you are lying, that you are trying to destroy an image…you have to deal with people looking at you with pity (which lets face it, no one wants), you have to deal with people hanging up on you and telling you that you don’t need to protect them but when you tell them the truth they can’t handle that either. As Christians, as women, we need to support, we need to pray alongside the other person and we need to build them up.

4 Comments - Categories: The Journey

I just had to say it…

01/08/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

In my life I can see specific moments of growth and moments of destruction. I feel often like if my life were laid out for everyone to see they would see 3 steps forward and 5 steps backwards often times in the same day. I don’t know if its like that for anyone else but even in adulthood I see many of the same frustrations in myself as others saw in me when I was a teenager and I can’t help but wonder if it is because of an unwillingness to grow, to evolve, to change or if its because the other person has stayed put…stuck in this image of who I was instead of seeing who I think I have become. I think it is easy to look at another person and assume they have their life together and instead they are falling apart at the seams. Every little sudden move might result in the stitches being torn wide open and their flaws and insecurities are right there…BAM…for all the world to see. I have been struggling all day with how to write this post. I know it has to be written but I am so drained right now I don’t want to go deep enough to write it.  I don’t want to admit to myself that I feel like the world is crashing down around me…that the breaths I take are almost impossible and that every moment I am questioning my every move. Should I send this text or should I not? Should I write these words or is that too harsh or direct? Can I say what my heart is screaming or will I be judged? Is it okay to want something different than what you think others want for you or is it selfish? Am I screwing my kids up or are they going to be okay?

One of my weaknesses in life has often been being in having a relationship with the wrong guy. Doesn’t mean that they weren’t great it just means they were wrong for me. If I were to write out a list of my indiscretions with relationships it would provide a pretty good look into may of the issues and insecurities I had/have. It was easy for me to fall for those that needed help themselves, that needed someone to care for them, that needed ‘fixing’ if you will. Probably in part because if I wasn’t with someone more messed up than me then I wouldn’t have to look inside myself and say, “Lord…what the heck is my problem. I need you and I need you to fix me.” No, if I was with someone a bigger wreck than I then it justified my behavior. Don’t get me wrong…I have loved and been loved deeply it wasn’t like these guys or relationships were the worst things in the world. But, each one took another piece of me. Each failed one was yet another failure and when Boyd was in the picture it was another way that I had let him down. That I had possibly ‘messed’ him up for years down the road. I am not writing any of this for you to feel sorry for me, or think of someway to console me…I am writing these things for me to get rid of them. For me to stop harboring them and to forgive myself. I’ve made countless mistakes and an obvious one is my relationship path…that is the thing about grace though. I think that we can be walking outside of the path that has been designed for us, but when we are ready to cry out, when we are ready to humble ourselves before the throne there is a love extended unlike any we have ever known or can experience any other way. That love, that grace is extended and He pulls us close and says…’okay, I am not going to punish you…there are consequences that you will have to live with and work through but no my child, I am ready to walk beside you, to carry you and to lift you to greater heights than you have ever known’. Right now I am in a very dark place in my marriage…right now I don’t see how things are going to work out, going to right themselves and going to improve. Maybe they won’t. There is a part of me that doesn’t want them to. I mean I want them to for the sake of my kids but not because I REALLY want it. I don’t want to go back to a place I questioned my every move, my every thought and what would be said to me if I did something he doesn’t like or agree with. How do I process all of that? How do I make the best decision and how do I move forward? I don’t know…but I do know that I have someone, the most HIGH KING,  who is taking my hand, who is walking next to me and who has carried me at many points over the last few years and especially this past month when I could hardly stand. We all have those silent demons that eat away at us, the crushing weight of the world and as mothers I think we feel it on a greater scale. Probably because we are exhausted with trying to make sure we get through every day. We have laundry, groceries, kids homework, all the running, accounting, bills to deal with and so much more. Satan come into our lives and disrupts our kids, darkens our view and takes our joy. We are so busy trying to survive that we forget to ask for help from the One who can carry our burdens with us. Christ wants to have a relationship with us, He wants to love us with an agape kind of love, He wants to carry our burdens, He wants to forgive and give grace…I am trying to live in that place right now. The place where He is my all, where He is the one I turn to and where He is the one who is carrying me.

This song is one of the many that are encouraging me these days.

 

 

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Forgiveness – New thoughts today

01/07/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

As I have pondered my questions from yesterday on forgiveness and have been wrestling with it today a few things have struck me. Now whether or not these things are true, grounded in some deep understanding of scripture or words…these are the things on my heart.

Can I forgive and still stand up and not accept a certain behavior or behaviors? I believe the simple answer is yes. BUT, it is hard to do. Growing up we were taught a distinct understanding of right and wrong. We knew that if we said a bad word, were mean to each other,disrespectful or didn’t do our chores there would be a consequence…usually in the form of a spanking or, in my case, often Tabasco sauce…Go figure. 🙂 I don’t think that was easy for my parents to do…to be the referee between so many of us. I can remember more than one instance where something happened and my parents forgave us kids for what we had done. I also remember a time, a very pivotal time in my life about age 14. We were attending a church and had been for some time at this point that was comprised primarily of other families similar to ours…homeschooling families that had the goal to raise sound, character filled and godly men and women. It was one of the first times I felt like I belonged somewhere other than home. It wasn’t because I was forced to go either…in our house it was expected we go to church and participate and while my parents taught the scripture and the way of Christ…we were all allowed to make our own decision on our beliefs. No…I felt like I belonged because there were other girls there that ‘got’ me. We were all sewing machine fanatics…yes, we made our own clothes, we all baked our own bread (multiple times a week in our case), we all were familiar with gardening and the tasks that come with it from the care to the canning, animals…especially gathering eggs and milking goats or cows was second nature, and there was an understanding of how to care for younger siblings. Here I wasn’t looked at as odd, unusual, or plain weird…no I was accepted for who I was. It was such an amazing thing. Little did I know or understand the underlining issues my parents were having. To this day I do not completely understand what happened or everything that led up to that fateful morning when I came downstairs and was told we were not going to church…something that NEVER happened. I remember getting a sick feeling a couple days later when one of the couples from the church showed up and us kids were told to go upstairs and not come down until called. The tears on my parents face only solidified the knots in my stomach when we descended a few hours later. We were told we were never going back and that we would probably never see or be able to talk to those people again. Now, understand that I am writing this from a child’s perspective. A perspective that is skewed in ideology, friendships and not having the big picture of what was happening. I do remember though being utterly devastated. Crying tears upon tears for my friendships that were lost and a serious crush I was never going to see again. I anguished in the next months…what had happened…what was going to happen…why was mom crying all the time and was my world ever going to right itself? A few months later we…my siblings and I…were at a competition, sort of like a speech/music/science/math all rolled together. We could enter into different categories and then were judged and placed depending on how good we were. I was in the speech and piano. Anyway, I remember feeling the excitement and dread all rolled together the day of the competition but not because of what I was reciting that day but because my very best friend, in the whole world whom I hadn’t spoken to for four months was going to be there. I felt like Anne of green gables getting to meet her bosom friend, Diana….it was unbelievable. I remember walking into that gym looking everywhere for her and then I saw her and she saw me….we screamed and were in each others arms in seconds. There were so many tears that day, hugs, and promises to figure out how to talk no matter what. I never had blamed her for what had happened but I did blame her parents and the hosts of other adults that had been involved. That day she asked forgiveness for what had been done…even though neither of us really new and it was easy to forgive her. When we parted ways later that day I had a heart full of joy that quickly turned to sorrow and bitterness. In a matter of minutes I went from walking on air to hating everything around me and blaming every single person in that church…well the adults anyway. That anger grew and grew…it lasted months…even after many of the couples involved came to my parents and apologized. No one ever said sorry to me and owned up to the pain I had felt, the betrayal and the loneliness. It wasn’t until almost 2 years later at a revival of sorts that the teacher was talking about forgiveness and it hit me. I had to be able to forgive…even though I was wronged, my parents and family were wronged. The bitterness and anger I had inside was eating me alive…my attitude had changed towards people, toward friendships and towards the meeting of believers. So…I forgave…without being asked or apologized to, but…to this day I do not accept or agree with the treatment of my family. Over the years more information has come out and for me to say what happened was what God would have wanted…well that is foolish. It wasn’t in accordance to His scripture or resembling love at all.

I believe we can and have the ability to forgive but that we also have to stand for what is right, what is true and what is pure. Whether or not that translates into how another person treats you, the words they say, the names they may call you and the constant tearing down of who you are. I believe we can forgive when we don’t agree, when we know what is going on is wrong and that it may separate a friendship or relationship forever, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. We have to forgive, we have to give grace…why? Because the bitterness, the edges of evil, the discontent and grumbling heart can take hold if we do not. I do believe though…that just because we forgive doesn’t mean that all is repaired or forgotten. If a person does not ask for forgiveness there can be no repair made. Reconciliation can not happen and fences can not be mended. If a person or persons have done something that I need to forgive and can not see it themselves, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I can forgive but that doesn’t mean that I have to forget or act like nothing is wrong…but I CAN NOT let the seeds of anger take root…because that, my friend…leads to more problems.

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Forgiveness – the constant struggle

01/05/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I think, in my life anyway, one of the things I have the hardest time with is forgiveness. Forgiving myself, forgiving others and for forgiving situations. The really sad part is that I seem to be able to forgive a stranger easier and faster than I can forgive those who love me.

This started many years ago when I was probably about 6 or 7. I remember standing outside of the bathroom in the house we lived in talking to my mom. I forget what it was that had happened that was a punishable offense…but what I do remember is that it was both my sister and I getting sternly talked to and asking to own up to whatever this offence was. At that stage of my life I had a tendency to tell stories…something otherwise known as a lie…a punishable offense that I perfected well into my early 20’s. Anyway, I am getting sidetracked.  It should be known that I lied at that age because I also did not like displeasing anyone, not because I was afraid of the punishment…that came later. So here we were, my sister Micah, 18 months my junior and myself answering mom about something one of us did that was going to be punished by a spanking. It is also important to note that, while my younger sister has always been a ‘better’ person, more faithful or more understanding than me…she is my best friend, my confidant, my warrior and she liked to bite me when we were younger. She would pick on me mercilessly…I honestly don’t remember it, but have heard stories…but she didn’t lie either, she was good…she was bouncy, a klutz and a mess but she was good. So here we were being asked who did this punishable offense and I emphatically denied it. I denied it because in this one instance…I truly did not do it. My mom then looked at my sister and asked her if she did to which Micah replied, “no I didn’t. Tasha did.” No matter my pleadings in that moment or explanations or cries to Micah to tell the truth my mom believed her and not me. I received the punishment…a swift pain brought on by the end of a wooden spoon. I think my tears and crushed spirit about did my sister in because she ended up owning up to whatever the error was that had been committed and then she too was disciplined. However, in that moment, when i felt so betrayed I didn’t know if I could forgive her and when she asked I didn’t right away. Thus began my struggle of forgiveness.

I couldn’t at that point understand that because of my tendency to story telling it was hard for my mother to believe me. Now being a mother, watching my own children with their personalities and differences, as a mother I take that into account. It is a hard thing to admit…that I struggle with forgiving others. I am often faced with the reality that I can say i forgive…but do I truly? I hardly every forget. Of course I have totally forgiven Micah for that unimaginable offense that happened so many years ago but that isn’t what I am talking about. I am mostly talking about in my marriage or adult friendships. When I feel so wrongly accused or slighted or mis-judged (because we aren’t supposed to judge right?!), or mis-treated. Sometimes I feel justified in not forgiving, in not moving on, in not growing. Other times I wonder if it is okay to forgive but not to forget, or, if its okay to forgive but not to accept the way I am being treated and to stand up for myself…for my kids…for my family. When is it okay and when isn’t it okay? Christ came as a baby, died on the cross so that we may all have the opportunity to live with Him in paradise…HE forgave the sins that had been committed and those that would be committed…even by me. He FORGAVE those that killed Him pleading with His Father to also forgive them “for they know not what they are doing”. How do I as a human forgive on that level? How do I love with that kind of love? And is it okay for me to stand up and say I love you, I forgive you but I do not accept this? What does that look like?

2 Comments - Categories: The Journey