Red Flags... Want To Learn From My Experiences?
A while ago I had some people in my life that were not willing to listen to what I had to say. They tried to get me to do things I wasnt comfortable doing because it was too similar to an abusive situation I was in several years ago. On top of that the person who lives downstairs in my current situation is also an abuser, though not as easily picked up on. After some of the things happened that I am going to write about I wanted to write about red flags so that others may learn from my experiences.
I don't wish anyone to go through things I have and so I'm hoping that by sharing bits and pieces of red flags I've seen and experienced in people that perhaps you can also start recognizing them in your life and take steps to protect yourself from those who would do you harm or treat you in less than a respectful way like the individual you are. Each person is worthy of respect and kindness but not everyone is treated that way, especially when you don't go along with what another individual wants.
Several months ago I switched jobs and I did not expect things to go the way they did.
I do enjoy my job and it is everything I've wanted my job to be. You see, I have had an abusive employer several years ago and I was a prime target because of coming from the dysfunctional background I grew up in and it has scarred me deeply spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
When I applied for this job it was for a new job at a new store that was opening. I had to wait about 2 months or so before I could actually start training for my position. Leading up to and during that time I began to spend time scrolling on my phone during church services because the things being said during the sermons was triggering painful memories. It took me several months till I was able to figure out why.
It all came to a head one Sunday morning when I chose to sit beside someone the second half of the service because I know what it's like to be alone and sit alone and I wanted to be company for her which she seemed to appreciate. As I was sitting there scrolling on my phone during the sermon, the person on the other side of me kept glancing over and I felt like I was being a distraction which was not my intention. I was only trying to cope. By now I was realizing that there's an underlying issue I need to deal with. So I forced myself to turn my phone off and actually listen to what was being said. I don't know how I stayed seated because as the pastor was talking he would talk about doing things in our relationship with God such as reading the Bible and praying every day. As I listened; intense guilt, fear, and shame washed over me because I was not "measuring up".
It had been almost a year since I had stopped reading the Bible, because I could get nothing out of it. Everytime I opened it to read my heart shut down and I read with my mind. There was no connection. It was like hitting a wall. There had been one day that it just hit me that it is not helping me at all in my relationship with God. It is not meeting the spiritual needs I have. It was as dry as the desert.
It was a very hard decision to stop. I felt so guilty. All I could hear in the back of my mind was all the many times I'd been told about how important it was to read the Scriptures every day. For the life of me, when I really started to look at the issue squarely, face to face, I saw no reason to continue doing something that was not helping me grow in my relationship with God. When I weighed the pros and cons there were more cons than pros.
I prayed about it. I told God exactly how I felt. I told him I just can't do it anymore and asked him to heal me so I can read because I was so scared of what would happen if I didn't because all my life it had been so impressed on me that it is the most important thing next to prayer that is what a relationship with God looks like.
Getting back to the sermon predicament...that Sunday I finally was able to put into words why I was having such an incredibly hard time listening to the sermon. I finally realized why I keep gravitating towards my phone during church services.
That week I did some serious thinking about the situation. I talked to my counselor about it. I talked to God about it. I considered the pros and cons of it. I looked my fears in the face to see what they really were. I looked my painful memories in the face to see what they were telling me and I realized that it stems back to all my church experiences and most of all, the painful memories of my former employer who had also been a spiritual leader in my life at the time.
I had been burned out spiritually from the church before this one and sitting in services where acts and things to do were highly encouraged as well as being told that I would be so good with helping in the nursery was too much. I was burnt out spiritually, emotionally and mentally. I had nothing to give anymore and the pressure I felt to measure up was just too much. I knew then that I had to make a choice.
I realized that the only reason I was going to church was because I had a need for connection with other fellow believers. I didn't think that that was a good reason for going to church or definitely not the main thing. So I was faced squarely with the decision of which was the least painful thing: staying at home or going to church. I didn't feel I had the right reason to continue going to church so I decided the next best thing was staying home, but I dreaded people's reactions.
Since I didn't want to keep explaining myself or share things I wasn't comfortable with, I had a hard time knowing how to word my response when some people checked up on me. The first person I over explained myself because I wanted to be understood but they couldn't seem to get past the fact that Christian fellowship can happen outside of a church building. They told me to be careful that its not Satan keeping me out of church. They tried to convince me to go to church and offered to try to support me.
It just deepened the wound because I DIDN'T want to stop going to church. I DIDN'T want to lose all the relationships I had been trying to build. But I knew I had to do something to save my sanity and mental health. Their insistence on the importance of going to a church building in order for fellowship to happen bothered me so bad that out of desperation I grabbed my Bible and was determined to study this subject out for myself which is how I usually did in the past when I was tired of people's opinions and wanted to know what God thinks about it because that is where I base my convictions: what God shows me in his Word.
I sat down with my Bible out of desperation, (remember that I hadn't been reading my Bible for quite some time) and looked up the verse about fellowship on my phone. As I opened the Bible it was as though my brain hit a wall and I started sobbing. I couldn't figure out why I felt so. I told God I want to study. I was determined to study this out because I really wanted to know if fellowship really only happened during church services like the individual was telling me. I told him I don't understand why I'm hitting this wall and I hate it. As I took a breathe through my sobbing, the still small voice said to me:
"It is too much for you. You cannot handle it right now."
I thought about it. The tears stopped. The pressure to understand the whole fellowship subject lifted. I closed the Bible with a sigh of relief and wiped my tears. To the center of my being I knew that God accepted me right where I was. I knew that he understood the depth of my struggles and desires. And I felt loved. Those words carried me through the rest of the interactions I had to deal with with church folk who did not think I was doing the right thing or tried to pressure me to get back to church.
So not feeling right to not at least let my pastor know what was going on I sent him an email. This conversation is copied and pasted so that I can mark out the names to hide identity but I'm sure that there's going to be those who read this who will know who I'm talking about.
Just remember that the way you treat someone in secret will eventually come to the light.
Here is the conversation:(I had commented on one of his posts in answer to another commenter that there was a need for churches to be trauma-informed and it would definitely be helpful for trauma survivors because I had recently connected with an online community of other women who also for the most part no longer were able to attend religious institutions because of spiritual abuse and lack of support with domestic violence and abuse issues causing so many to fall through the cracks of religious communities. In response he showed me he was totally against what I said as well as not even open to consider things from my experience and perspective. My effort to email was the last ditch effort to try to see if there's not any care or concern for me or others who are abuse survivors. )
In response to your comment on Instagram the other day...
It implied to me that there doesn't seem to be any compassion or desire to understand like I can sense from Jesus's examples in Scripture of how He treated the hurting people that came to Him. He didn't just slap Scripture on or tell them to go to church or read Gods Word but rather He listened, He cared and He met their needs. I remember I sent you an email a while ago about how hard you come down on the LGBTQ community. I know that for so many in that community abuse and trauma has a part in it. And to hear you lump everyone together both for the deconstructors and the LGBTQ community grieves me. Do you have any compassion for the individual? Do you have any compassion for those who have gone through trauma and abuse? You say Scripture is all that is necessary for counsel and you don't seem to approve of most of the psychology and therapy world according to what you have said in your sermons. That leaves me feeling guilty for even seeing a counselor etc and yet from past experiences I know that the church has never been able to help me get very far in my healing journey and instead has often times deepened the very wounds that I've been trying to heal from because the individuals trying to counsel me have no understanding of how trauma and abuse affects a person in every area of their life. It is very painful to me to hear you lump most deconstructors together because to me that implies I'm one of them and I don't sense any compassion for any of them including myself. It seems that you see them all as stubborn wretches going their own way and none of them have any desire for truth. It also implies to me that I'm wrong for struggling with any questions about Christianity brought on by spiritual and emotional abuse. You mentioned in your past email that when other churches became open to those[LGBTQ](added for readers' comprehension of who I meant)communities then they went off the path of truth. It seems like you're afraid of that happening to your church. From my understanding, people can't be shamed or pressured into the Kingdom. Maybe that's why churches are so full of hypocrites. Jesus said that outsiders will know us by our love for each other. The thing that draws and points me towards Jesus is love, compassion and care and I have an extremely hard time sensing that in the sermons and how you preach. It seems in the last year your preaching has changed from more of a "let's keep going forward" to a more fear based what's going on in the world and almost like we will lose our salvation if we don't read the Bible every day. Maybe I'm wrong but something seems to have changed in the last year.
Somehow I can't handle coming to church anymore and it's not because I'm losing my salvation either. But rather Jesus is my Friend walking with me day by day. He understands even when no one else does. I don't wish for anyone to have to go through trauma or abuse , whether it's physically, spiritually, mentally or emotionally;( they're all real and do harm)so that they understand what survivors have to deal with. But openness and willingness to learn go a long way... Are you open and willing to learn and try to understand? That's why I mentioned being trauma informed, even if it's just to better understand how the body responds to trauma and triggers(proven in studies scientifically). Do you realize that preaching the truth without love and compassion will not only weed out the ones who want to promote wrong doctrine but also the hurting? Do you know that truth without compassion will drive away the hurting ones? Life is so much more complicated than just finding a Bible verse to slap on a problem or to just pray about a struggle or read the Bible. There also needs to be active steps, understanding, and support. The reason I haven't been in church is not because I don't want to be but because the things you say in your sermons cause all kinds of guilt, fear and shame that overwhelm me to the point that I can't handle it. It is not because I don't want the truth but because of the painful and twisted things that have been done to me that I'm trying to sort through and heal from. If prayer, Bible reading and the counsel of Scripture would be enough to help an abuse survivor heal then I think I would have been content to stay in my last church. I would think that church is supposed to be a safe place for the hurting and a place of healing. But sadly I've not found it to be so. For an abuse survivor, if they don't sense care and compassion for where they are in their journey then truth only makes the wound deeper. You preach the truth and I love that. I have not found anything wrong with anything you teach. But what I seem to have found missing is compassion for the hurting who are trying to heal. I don't want more abuse survivors to come to your church for truth and then leave because they don't sense compassion for where they're at in their life. I didn't want to leave. I miss hanging out after church and the relationships that were being built but I had to make the hard choice as to whether it be less painful to stay home or go to church.
I did not reply to his response. I was too scared to read it. My therapist read it for me to see if it was positive or negative. It was negative and so I asked her to delete it because I didn't want to be triggered by it if I happened to read it later out of curiosity.
About a week later I got another email from him: (he couldn't handle the silence)
I’ll take it that since you haven’t responded to my invitation you are not interested in getting together to talk. Because of that,(🚩notice the conditions, this is manipulation and gaslighting🚩), I don’t have time to respond to everything you said in your email but I will respond to a couple of things you brought up.
First, your claim of a lack of compassion was an inappropriate comment to make as in doing so you are claiming to know my heart and my motives. ( 🚩Defensiveness🚩)You couldn’t be more wrong. When I’ve addressed the LGBTQ issue, it has always been in the context of movements and organizations that are promoting what the bible clearly denotes as sin. It is not to denigrate the individual who is struggling with that sin or any other sin. Whenever Jesus was confronted with an individual that was struggling or in some sort of sin, if they approached Jesus with an attitude of humility, Jesus would respond with compassion. If they had a prideful, obstinate attitude, he would respond quite harshly.
The LGBTQ movement is one of the most prideful and obstinate movements out there today and are leading many who are hurting and vulnerable down a wrong path. They function, ironically, much like a cult that preys on the week and vulnerable. That makes me angry which is I believe how Jesus would respond as well because it’s actually born of a heart of love and compassion for those that are vulnerable to being deceived and led down a very destructive path.(🚩the need to quote Scripture to prove his point🚩) Jesus said, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matthew 18:6
Also, I’m not completely against modern psychology as long as it is line with scripture. I do believe that scripture is sufficient for life and practice but there are times when modern psychology works in a harmonious manner with scripture.
Although there are other things you said that I’d like to respond to, I’ll wrap it up with this last point about deconstruction. This is another area where a movement is causing those that are vulnerable to be led down a wrong path. Whenever using terms like this, one should properly define the terms. This is something I have done while preaching and also with the guy on Instagram. By and large it has become a movement in the last couple of years of those who would have once defined themselves as orthodox, bible believing Christians with a wide influence now departing from the faith and making sure as many as possible know. Because of their popularity, many who are vulnerable followed suit. (🚩Trying to justify his stance🚩)This is a sensitive issue in our family because this is what happened to my brother in law and has been very painful for his family. It has also had a very detrimental effect on his children because not only did he depart from the faith, he divorced his wife. I also said while preaching and to the guy on Instagram that there is a form of deconstruction that is good. That is when we deconstruct from cultural or a heretical form of Christianity to biblical Christianity. I have been very clear on that and have made that statement on at least two occasions.
Finally,(🚩twisting my words of my previous email, remember i had said that I didn't want to leave and I miss the connections🚩)I know you think you’re ok walking with Jesus outside of the church but the bible teaches that we should not to forsake assembling together. Sheep that are wondering alone will get picked off by the wolves. (🚩No interest in whether I'm being fed or taken care of,just assuming that I want to be outside of the church🚩)I understand if you don’t want to come back to R********, but you should (🚩putting pressure on for me to perform and do what he thinks I should without taking consideration for my situation and the things that brought me to this place🚩) be in fellowship and under good teaching, so I would highly recommend getting into a good bible teaching church. Also, being in fellowship is good for being encouraged in the faith but it’s also good for accountability. (🚩Implying that fellowship only happens by going regularly to a religious institution🚩)In other words, there are times when a brother or sister in the Lord will come along side and give a word of encouragement. There are also times though that we need to hear things we don’t necessarily want to hear but it’s for our best. This is why in 2 Timothy 3:16 it says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
That’s all for now. I hope that you will prayerfully consider what I’ve shared with an attitude of humility. Also, I still think it would be good to meet up at some point with either J******* and myself or another woman from the church you may be more comfortable with.(🚩Making me look like the bad person🚩)
In the meantime, my prayers will be with you that the Lord will guide and direct your path and that He will grant you wisdom and peace.
Blessings to you,
This was so out of the blue and unexpected that it took me for a loop and made my mind almost go crazy. I reached out to a friend as well as my counselor and therapist for support. There were some things that didn't make sense and as I talked about it and thought about it the more I began to see red flags.
🚩In the first paragraph he says,"Because of that " which comes across as "because you refuse to do what I say then I refuse to answer your questions " which is manipulation.
🚩In the second paragraph he starts out by telling me that I'm misunderstanding his heart behind his words and that I'm wrong for doing so. As an abuse survivor I am very sensitive to people's body language and tone of voice. As for the LGBTQ community, I had contacted him earlier about after a friend visited and mentioned how he comes down so hard on them and told him that because of the way he preaches against LGBTQ people would make it very hard for me to see them as a human being worthy of respect and I'd rather have compassion instead. His response, what I remember of it was that churches who allowed such people into the church soon fell away from orthodox Christianity and he was determined to not let that happen while he is a pastor.
🚩He goes on to try to defend himself and never once throughout the conversation has he taken an interest in my life or the pain I'm dealing with neither does he offer any help or concern for my current situation. It's all about him and his stand for truth. And then throws in comments like lone sheep get picked off by the wolves as though in leaving a religious institution I have left the body of Christ. Never once does he ask if my needs are met or if I'm doing ok. What he doesn't know is that God has been opening doors for fellowship as well as quite a few new friends as well.
🚩He also used a lot of Bible verses as though it would justify and support his reasoning.
🚩Lastly his "I hope you will prayerfully consider what I have shared with an attitude of humility." made me feel like I was the bad guy. That I was proud and stubborn. That I was refusing to do things that from his perspective weren't hard to do at all. He never once acknowledged anything I mentioned. I took a risk to be vulnerable and see if there wasn't some compassion aside from what I was sensing in the pulpit for my situation but to have it be made all about defending his stance was really not what I was expecting or rather I was hoping his response would prove me different. It was my last ditch effort to see if there was any hope for understanding from him. As the shepherd he has supposedly been called to be he has utterly failed me in my need.
The more I thought about it the more I began to see it for what it was: manipulation and gaslighting. It's no wonder that it made my mind feel crazy. I wrote a letter back because I felt as though I was being manipulated to do something I wasn't willing to do. I have been manipulated and gaslighted for so much of my life and now I'm sick of it and I was not about to let another spiritual leader abuse me as had been done in the past. At first I wasn't sure that I was going to send it but I decided to send it because I didn't want to get any more manipulative emails. This was my reply:
You are correct, I'm not interested in meeting with you and J******* because AS I MENTIONED BEFORE in an email, it would be too triggering and similar to an experience in the past that was traumatic.
I don't know why you felt the need to email me again but you have shown me that you are not a safe person by your words. You somehow feel the need to defend yourself. It seems that you are unable to grasp the depth of my words.
I said in my first email:
"I DIDN'T WANT to leave. I MISS hanging out after church and the relationships that were being built but I HAD to make the HARD choice as to whether it be LESS PAINFUL to stay home or go to church."
You have twisted it to say:
" I KNOW YOU THINK YOU'RE OK walking with Jesus outside of the church but the bible teaches that we should not to forsake assembling together. Sheep that are wondering alone will get picked off by the wolves. "
You have totally missed what I was trying to say or else you refused to mention it.
So far you have not given me any indication of trying to grasp or even a willingness to understand where I'm coming from or the painful experiences that I have gone through. You have not given me any indication of you having any desire to walk with me through my pain or any desire to help me find ways to heal. You have taken no interest in where I'm at or if my needs are being met instead you just tell me that lone sheep get picked off by the wolves. Your own pain from the past spills out in your sermons when you talk about your past and the things you went through and drains the life out of what truth you may be sharing...
What I see is you needing to defend your belief system. People who need to defend themselves are not safe for abuse survivors. That's why I said in the first place that I don't sense any compassion. It comes across as though you feel a need to control and manipulate me and I have no time for that. You have lost my respect as a pastor. For now our relationship is over and I will not be responding to any other emails you send on this subject.
It has been really sad for me to see it end like this. It was definitely not how I wanted it to end because I knew now that it was confirmed in my heart that I will probably not step foot inside that church ever again. That has caused me an untold amount of grief, especially for the friends I thought I had, which has only once again proven to me who my real friends were. Only a few texted me to check up on me but those I thought the most of I have not heard from to this day. Some tried to persuade me to come back and couldn't seem to grasp that fellowship can happen outside of a religious institution. An abuse survivor friend sent me a link to her pastor's sermons which I've been able to listen to without being triggered. Others only seem to be concerned about whether I am attending church. I have found that I am not important enough to any of them to stay in contact with.
The time I needed support, understanding and a listening ear the most there was no one who cared enough or knew how to be the friend I needed.
All the more reason to become trauma informed. Or at least get a basic understanding of what it is and how to help those who have been abused and traumatized in the past or perhaps in the present as well so that you can avoid adding more pain and hurt to the already hurting person.
Later I found this quote on Facebook and sent it to my counselor and asked if this is what he was doing to me and she said yes it is. Now I had words for it.
Just remember that the way you treat someone in secret will eventually come to the light. If you treat people with respect you have no need to fear but if you will try to manipulate and gaslight people to do what you think they should then don't be surprised if they talk about you and use you as an example to warn others. I don't intend to harm anyone's reputation. They ruin their own reputation when they abuse those under them, whether by gaslighting, manipulation or any other kind of abuse.
Another thing to remember is that what helps you spiritually may not be helpful or effective for the next person. In my experience, it only added pressure to be somewhere or someone that I wasn't able to be and only added to my pain and distress. How much more fasting, praying and Bible reading can you do if you have already spent all your energy trying to do the "right" things to be the person you were supposed to be? To someone who had to measure up their entire life, this is devastating and isolates them even more from the very sources of help that they need and are trying to find when they share a problem or struggle with another individual. The best thing you can do is to listen, keep things confidential unless they are expressing suicidal ideations or harm to others, and if you are unable to help, then support them in exploring different avenues to find the right kind of help means so much.
You taking time to listen does so much more than you realize to a hurting, struggling individual.
And just a reminder...boundaries are very necessary too. I'm in the process of learning how to have good boundaries; something I never learned as a child, but wish I had because it would have made my life so much easier. Then again, now I can use my experiences to help others grow and be empowered hopefully...
Not long after all of this, I went downstairs to do my laundry. The lady that lives downstairs asked me if I still go to church. It made me so upset but I tried to give her an answer that satisfied her curiosity.
( In the past she has outrightly asked me questions like:Have you been sexually abused? just out of the blue, which is nobody's business unless a person chooses to disclose that information. I hadn't trusted her from the beginning because the very first time I came to the house to see it she had asked me if I was sexually abused and if that is why I wear my hair down.
Then when I moved in just her body language in helping unload some things made me feel as though my space was being invaded. When I mentioned to my pastor's wife that I am not sure about her, she tried to reassure me that she's a nice lady and I have such a beautiful place in the country to live(in a long lane and in the upstairs of an old house without a kitchen). I tried to believe her but now I see it for what it is: gaslighting. The other person is not willing to sit with your uncomfortable feelings and is trying to tell you everything will be ok when it's really not. Especially when there's red flags. )
I don't believe it is anyone's responsibility to know whether I go to church or not. I'm in my 30's and I would think I'm old enough to take care of myself. I just told her that even though I don't go to a religious institution I haven't left the body of Christ. She then told me that E**** would like if she did go to church more but she can't find caregivers (she takes care of a 95 yr old lady who's house it is). When she mentioned that I then feared what would happen if he found out and having overheard some of her phone conversations I was also afraid I'd become a piece of gossip as well which then resulted in this conversation:
I then left for an errand but because I wasn't interested this was my response.
I had a therapy appointment between the 2:37 and 4:48 messages in which most of the topic was this lady. I had been trying to be nice but as this lady kept insisting and walking right over what boundaries I was trying to make with my words the more it upset me.
After I said I would be down I was thinking about it and I realized that I really don't want to face her after the way the whole day has been going and the way she was disrespecting all the boundaries I was trying to put in place. Do you get a glimpse of how crazy it is? Her answers make no sense to me at all.
As you saw earlier in my text to her that I had asked her to just set the item on the steps and I'd get it later. I was just finishing the first message when she came upstairs and me not trusting her in the first place had locked the door when I had come upstairs after getting something to eat. She asked to be let in and I refused. She tried to convince me to open the door by saying, I don't get upset with you so you don't need to get upset with me. I was just silent and then she said that she just wanted to tell me her story and I said, No I don't want to hear it which seemed to make her almost cry. She then proceeded to tell me her story from outside the door after I had specifically told her I didn't want to hear it. After she was done she said I'm putting the package on the floor and I also included a book that helped me a lot(it was about forgiveness). Then before she walked away she said that I said she didn't care that maybe I would have some tips for her which explains the next message I sent her. By the time when she went downstairs, I was so enraged that if there hadn't been a locked door between us I'm afraid I would have hit her because of her blatant disrespect for my boundaries. (Apparently the neighbor lady had brought flowers up for me.)
It doesn't even make sense what she's trying to say...the next morning I sent her the following message trying to be clear so that she understands what she did wrong because it certainly didn't seem as though she was getting it at all! I finally stopped replying because I felt like I was just hitting a wall, but read what comes next...she sent me this the next morning:
Does it even make any sense? There is no taking responsibility on her part. The blame is put on an attack from Satan. She feels "confident in the Lord" that it was ok to ask why I don't go to church. Everything is spiritualized. It made me so sick and has literally destroyed every ounce of trust or respect I may have had for her.
Even now, almost a week later I sit with my room door open but I can tell that I am extra nervous and I can't relax for fear that she will come upstairs again. Since I no longer feel able to talk peaceably with her when I go down to do laundry I am washing my clothes by hand in the bathtub.
I contacted a local ministry for help to find another place. I then asked in a neighboring town as well where I would like to move to but no one has been able to help me. So at the moment I am stuck where I am at which means I now keep my door locked most of the time because that's the only way I can half decently relax.
I've tried to stay connected to the people from church that I thought were my friends only to have them ghost me and not reply to my texts or if they do, they indirectly say that the only way we can be friends is if I come to church. They aren't interested in learning how I'm doing or really trying to understand why I can't come to church. All they seem to care about is whether I'm going to church and getting fed spiritually.
True friends will not hold you up to such a "criteria". I really expected better from this last church simply because they are all about not being legalistic. They have shown me that they are the same as the other "Christians" who in the past have abused, mistreated, and shunned me. Simply because I am no longer able to take part in religious activities due to past abuse it appears that most "Christians " will no longer want to be my friends because I don't meet the "Christian criteria". It is as though they are indirectly telling me that I am no longer a Christian and can't be associated with because of my choices to try to find healing. All my life I've been trying to meet the religious "criteria" and it almost always has left me feeling like a pole vaulter who has never quite been able to make it over the bar because as soon as I even remotely thought its possible the bar was actually higher than I thought it was.
Now I am exhausted. I am so done with life at this point. I am left with no support except for my counselor, my horse therapist, and 2 other friends. Plus one more friend who I go hiking with occasionally.
One couple from church who had been helping me with my car, when I reached out for some help they never got back to me. It was as though yet again help is conditional...and all based on whether I go to church or not. Another friend told me that they probably feel like they're being used, so not wanting them to feel that way I asked what I can do instead. He suggested thanking them for being a blessing and ask if there's some way I can be a blessing to them. I tried it, only to be told that they'd get back to me later but then I never heard from them. (Later out of the blue, this individual texted me to see if they could bring some cookies over. There is more to the story but in the end it only made the wound from their rejection even deeper and felt like they were doing it out of a need to make themselves feel better. )
I truly expected better from these people. I guess that was my first mistake. Second,
I never dreamed my life would take such a turn.
Third, to have people ghost me and reject me like this has wounded me even deeper on top of all the pain I am already dealing with from past abuse. Now I will somehow have to come up with the finances to take care of my car now that I can no longer expect any help from anyone else.
Back to the lady downstairs; there have been more conversations. She keeps messaging me about various things that are not her business since she is only the caregiver in an attempt to get me to talk to her. I've been getting sucked into replying until some of my friends told me directly that there is no reason why I keep talking to her because the things she talks about is not her responsibility. Here are the latest ones:
This is the last screenshot I got of the conversation so most of my message is cut off. She had replied something to the extent of saying that she knows of a girl who had a very hard time talking nice to people but when she got help for her problems she could be nicer and speak kindly to people. It seemed to imply that she didn't think I was talking very nice at all to her. After I read it I scrolled back to take screenshots but she then deleted the whole conversation, saying that she had to because what she sent was not what she wanted to send. It was a lie, because before she had deleted only a few messages but not the whole conversation and I knew that you could delete only one message so this added a shady twist to the whole thing.
At the same time she deleted the conversation I get a message on a different app from her saying, "you know what alcohol is its alcohol " which made me wonder if the person she was talking about in her last message had an alcohol problem and it seemed that she was implying that I may have an alcohol problem (I have never even bought any. The closest thing I have is kombucha in the fridge)
I didn't say anything more in the conversation because I felt like I was being taken advantage of and pursued by an unhealthy person who had no intention of listening to or respecting any of my boundaries.
The next evening she sent me this to which I didn't reply.
Two days later she sent me this:
I didn't reply, but do you see a pattern occurring? She seems so determined to talk to me.
Two days later she sent this:
Again I didn't answer. I have been sharing her messages on social media and my friends are very supportive and empowering, helping me process and know what to do as well as letting me vent. At least one of them was particularly upset saying she's a covert abuser, gaslighter, and manipulator. It also helped me to know that I'm not the crazy person.
Have you noticed how she keeps going in circles, trying to get me to respond? Do you notice how she acts reassuring and yet leaves a person hanging? One friend said it's like a big cup of sugar with ants in it and I agree with them. It sounds good on the surface but when you really stop and think about it, it's like bait or a trap.
Tonight I came home from work to find a note on the table downstairs:
As I read it, fear shot through me. My whole being screamed no. I messaged a friend and a counselor because I wasn't sure what to do because all my life I've been conditioned to be "nice" to people and so it seems the right thing to do is to be nice and see what she wants to say despite my whole person screaming the opposite.
Both of them told me I don't need to respond. My friend told me since I'm renting I can put up a private property sign and then call the cops on her if she moves it or steps past it without permission.
I told my counselor its like bait and I remembered the book the lady was saying I should read called "The Bait of Satan " and I referred to her note being the bait of Satan but said that's kinda mean of me🤭
I don't know what will happen next. So far she hasn't bothered me yet tonight.
When people show you who they really are, believe them.
I went no contact with my mom in April because I realized it was hindering me in my journey to heal and live the life God wants me to live. She has proceeded to disregard every single one of my boundaries. She even showed up to surprise me at work one day(she lives in another state) out of the blue; putting me in shock that took me weeks to get over. The hardest thing through it all is that I have to accept that she's showing me who she really is, something I've known for a long time but didn't want to accept. She is supposed to be my mom, a person I can look up to and respect, but that is not the case. She has proven to me that she has no respect to me as an adult and individual and all that matters to her is when something benefits her. I think the hardest thing for me is to accept that she is not willing to do her part in the relationship and get help and healing for her own stuff which puts us at opposite ends of the spectrum of life: her in denial and me doing my best to heal so I can be a healthy person and not continue generational trauma and abuse.(Boundaries are not part of the Mennonite language therefore they make no sense to my mom; I'm just seen as the mentally I'll person, it's all my fault and I'm the one that's "trampling Christ afresh because I left the Mennonite church; twisted Scripture from Hebrews 6)
I guess this article has gotten long enough. I haven't had my writer's urge for quite some time except for small pieces. I had started this a month ago and then put it aside not knowing if I'd ever publish it, but it's been so heavy on my mind that I decided it is time to finish this piece and publish it. I hope it helps at least one person.
You, as an individual,
are worthy of love and respect.
You have a voice. Use it to build others up. Use it to encourage.
You have ears.
Take time to listen to the hurting and the struggling. A lot of the time just talking helps a person process and help them move on and you can be honored to be trusted enough that someone would feel safe enough with you to entrust you with their vulnerable, wounded parts.
You have a heart.
Let it be touched by the interactions and connections of life. Connection is life giving. But only if you are connecting with your heart.
You have a life.
Don't let it get too filled with activities and work or you will burn out. Take time to enjoy the things and people who revive your spirit. We cannot give unless we first receive.
You have time.
Use it wisely. Learn to take care of yourself. Set boundaries to protect your time, space, and body and relationships. The Bible says that we are to guard our heart for out of it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
I don't mind comments and I like to hear other people's opinions, but please remember that this is my experience and what I have dealt with. It has been an extremely painful year and so I just ask for you to make sure you respond in a kind and compassionate manner whether you agree or not with my choices. Any inappropriate or unkind comments will be deleted and you may find yourself blocked.
Thanks for reading and let me know I'f you learned something new. Also please share if you know of someone that may benefit from my experiences...
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