Pain is difficult to understand and difficult to overcome. It can cause great anxiety and frustration within us to be experiencing pain – especially when that pain is not tangible to others. But it can be overcome and it can be healed.
Life took a strange turn for me as a teenager. What I had thought was an ordinary life that I was leading was actually filled with abuse, anger and a strange and impossible set of beliefs that I had lived with for years. Being raised in what is considered by most to be a doomsday cult was, for a long time, something I was proud of. It made me feel special, but the standards were set too high for any young girl to achieve. This religion, along with the abuse of a cold and mentally ill mother, made in necessary for me to find a way out.
I ran away from home when I was sixteen. It was a strange thing for a girl who received good grades; participated in band, clubs and service; and had many good friends, to do. I was taken in by a good family and then my Father began to play an active role in my life. For a time I thought I had moved on, but really I was in shock. I felt a great loyalty to the religion I had been raised in and to the mother that had raised me in it. I was torn, and several times considered, against the counsel of others, to return to her.
I was overwhelmed with guilt for the injustice I felt I had inflicted on my mother. I was bitterly angry at her, but had always been taught that emotions should never be expressed. So I began to cut myself. I did it because the pain of all the years of my mother’s abuse and neglect, and all the years of not quite reaching the standards set for me was a pain I did not know how to cope with. But the cuts I could feel and the blood could see, and then the emotional pain would dissipate. Afterward I would clean myself up and take care of myself, something I couldn’t do ordinarily. It didn’t have to make sense, it only had to make sense to me.
Then I learned something. Jesus Christ bled from every pore. He bled that much so that every living soul would not have to carry the weight of guilt and sin, should he repent. I had not sinned against my mother, but it was hard for me to accept that. I did have guilt, and that guilt was painful. It took a lot of time and a lot of prayer but I have learned to not feel guilty. I have learned to let go of the pain and turn it over to the Master Savior. I have been healed and I do not cut anymore.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.