This is for all of those who are writing for tomorrow or wrote for yesterday’s Spiritual Abuse Awareness synchroblog, who are fighting through the old hurts and lies to tell their stories.

Take some time tonight to read Caleigh’s wonderful post here on how she practices self-care, and make sure you’re being gentle with yourself tonight. Thanks, Caleigh!

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My hands have been quiet since writing my post for Elora’s Rebel Diaries yesterday. I didn’t expect to be so emotionally and mentally wiped out since writing it, but I should have expected it due to the very nature of what I revealed. I have recognized a pattern with my writing, and I know I am not alone in this pattern. It’s this pattern of being mentally numb after writing something big, something that you have never shared before, something that shows everyone the tears you have cried.I haven’t been able to write anything since writing that post, and it’s been like a piece of me has been broken and I have yet to put it back together.

When it comes to writing difficult stories, there is almost always a crash of emotional and mental stability upon finishing the story. It’s like you were holding your breath, tiptoeing around a fragile pyramid of champagne glasses, and as soon as you write that last paragraph, sentence, word, you let your breath out and the whole pile comes crashing down. It’s this sometimes overwhelming feeling of “I did good” and with a quickly following sense of “my emotions and heart are bleeding.” It’s this release of an unstoppable flood, and the only thing to do is to let the waters run their course. Writing about your story is difficult for anyone, but it is especially difficult for those of us who have faced hell. This written retelling is not the same as speaking a story. It is a permanent, almost etched in stone, kind of deal, and that’s scary to a lot of us. We can’t take back what we write, and in the age of internet, once something is out there, it is very difficult for it to be taken back.

There is this fear of being laughed at, not being taken seriously, scorned, and being told you are just being bitter and aren’t forgiving your oppressor. It is a fear of being vulnerable, letting the world see the cracks and brokenness in your heart of hearts. It’s giving the world the keys to hurt you deeply by sharing what has already hurt you. There is an openness and willingness to be hurt in the sharing of your life’s story and the tears it often accompanies.

I am still learning to feel the pain of my past. I subconsciously tell myself that I don’t feel anything over this, it’s just the facts, it’s just my story. But it isn’t. It has never been JUST the facts, my story, or anything. It is horrific, it is painful, it is heart wrenching. It makes others cry, and it makes me cry, when I am honest with myself and am willing to feel the heart wrenching, breath taking pain all over again. I have beaten myself up in the past for needing to break away from people because I felt overwhelmed, or needing to sleep in because I had had a bad night, or for losing myself in a favorite book because reality was too much for me. I felt like I was being weak, I wasn’t strong enough and that no one would be proud of me. I felt like I was despicable and disgusting for needing space from my family, my siblings, my friends, and I felt like I wasn’t being a good daughter. I have felt severely guilty for calling in sick to work when I know that I can’t physically function that day, or when I had to call off a social get together because I didn’t have the mental energy to interact with anyone.

Self care is still something I am not always good at, and I still push myself too far. I remember feeling confused the first time a friend told me it was okay to need space, that that was healthy, and recommended. How was it okay to let people see how broken and weary I was and still am? I had taught myself how to be rigid emotionally, and to guard very closely the beatings my heart took. Learning to let that control go and admitting that spending the day catching up on an almost entire season of Psych, or Bones, is okay is still very hard for me. Letting myself sleep in till 10 because of still feeling the emotional withdrawal of a hard post is okay, but I still kick myself over it. Letting go and being the broken vessel I am is important because through that letting go, I am healing. Through eating pretzels dipped in Nutella, through the watching of episodes of favorite TV shows, through the reading of favorite books, self care gives a gentle place where healing can start.

Self care for each person can, and should, look very different. Each person has a very unique way of healing, and that is the beauty of all of our stories. We are all so individual, that it makes so much sense that self care is individual as well. I often look for the thing that makes me feel most safe, the thing that I can rely on and I know it is not going to surprise me. That is the thing that I will look to for when I need self care. For me, as I have listed a little bit already, self care looks like drawing back from people except for my husband and one or two of my closest friends. It looks like watching my favorite TV shows on Netflix, and in case no one has figured it out yet, I love crime shows. Crime shows make me think in the way that is very natural for me; logically and factually. I don’t have to deal with emotions, and that helps alot. Self care also looks like giving my brain a break. Whether that looks like a romance novel that is cheesy, happy, and short, reading through Ender’s Game in a day, or taking a week to fly through Harry Potter, losing myself in those books, it’s something that I know I can count on and that it will always be the same no matter how many times I read it. I don’t have to wait to find out the outcome, I can go straight to the last page, and it will never be something I have to rethink, or be surprised over.

What self care looks like for you will probably be different than what it looks like for me. Guess what though, that is very much okay.  I have been wanting to write for this week’s synchroblogs, but through these guest posts, this is my way of contributing when I can’t find words for anything else. Take care of yourself, run that bubble bath, light those candles, crack the cover of your favorite book, pull out those paint brushes. Self care is very important for everyone, especially for those who have been hurt.

Breathe, relax, cry, and heal.

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Caleigh blogs over at The Profligate Truth.


This year, because of our tiny apartment space, we can’t have a Christmas tree. It’s not really a big deal, but we’re just babies at this marriage thing, and we don’t own Christmas decorations or a good Christmas music collection, and I haven’t even gotten around to buying cookie cutters for Christmas cookie exchanges. Last year, our bitty little fake tree on the end table was our sole Christmas decoration, and I loved it for existing and proving to me that we are indeed our own little family, and that our apartment counted as a home, etc. Those silly newlywed sentiments really mean a lot when you’re away from your hometown and family for Christmas and have to create that reverent, beautiful atmosphere for yourself.

So, it’s silly, but I feel so blah in general this season, and I think I’m in denial about even trying to make our little place cheery or festive. And I’ll admit, I’m mostly excusing it because there’s no space to put even a miniature, child-sized tree anywhere in our apartment. (Until we get a dresser, I’m lucky if there’s a place for me to sit on the floor to stretch, even! I’m really going through a laundry basket phase in my decorating. Books are out, folks. Laundry is in.)

We’re less exhausted this year–Kevin’s job with normal hours makes me thankful, especially now that he’s passed the initial probation period and is a full-fledged employee! But other circumstances are colliding and some nights I feel really happy with myself if I manage to have cheese and crackers for dinner and write or read for an hour before succumbing to exhaustion and watching Doctor Who until one or both of us dozes off.

I’ve been in this season of “deconstruction” for about three years now. I’ve been processing my experiences in a spiritually abusive church, working through my turbulent transition from assuming courtship was The Way To Go to realizing how unhealthy and harmful that whole mindset is,  and trying to reorient myself with a healthier understanding of key doctrines relating to grace and works, sanctification, personal holiness, fellowship, the purpose of church, gender roles, etc. It’s been a nonstop freight-train ride of uncovering stifled emotions and memories and questioning many, many things.

But I think I’m starting to burn out. Recovery is hard, and processing the sheer volume of assumptions that I needed to re-evaluated and reconstruct has been exhausting. I’ve been highly analytical, and have ended up neglecting the emotional healing I needed just as badly.

I’m broken [there is a tender Savior who walks with me].
I’m emotionally stunted [he sends his Spirit to fill and renew].

I’m starting to come to a place where I think I’ve got a good understanding of what went wrong and why there are so many of us hurting in these same ways. But it’s exhausting to keep up with the constant critique of materials put out by the teachers and writers who influenced and hurt me, who hurt so many like me. It’s worth it, still, for those just starting to see hope and who are coming into grace and freedom in Jesus from legalism and manipulation and fear. But it can be too much to constantly wallow in it all.

So I’m going to admit that I can’t and shouldn’t do it all. That I need to step away and breathe deep and look around me. That I need to concentrate on finding and making beauty, rather than constantly analyzing.

I’m going to try to enjoy my little home, not avoid or deny that it is where I live this Christmas. I’m going to try to rest and enjoy being with my husband, rather than letting myself be overwhelmed and OCD about our time and money and relationships. I’m going to pull out my sketch book again. I’m going to listen to music again. I’m going to cook if I feel like it.

This is my Advent fast: I’m going to stop reading blogs and articles and essays and books. I’m going to rest my mind. I might read fairy tales or short stories or poetry, but that’s it. Nothing analytical. I’m not going to indulge in a Thomas Kinkade fantasy world, but I have been persuaded that my mind and heart need a break from thinking overtime.

Tonight I went for a walk with my sister-in-law, had pho with my brother, and went to church and made an Advent wreath. We lit the first candle and Kevin read the collect for the first Sunday in Advent. I hid all the wonderful deep-thinking books I’ve been working on reading, and I’m going to take this holy season to acknowledge my humanness and frailty and re-learn how to rest, to appreciate people and beauty, and worship by quieting my mind.

For Jesus is coming, and this is a holy time.