(Author’s note: I write and talk a lot against the happy-ness doctrine of the modern church so, of course, this is exactly where my mind took me at this prompt. However, two meetings today, one planned and one impromptu, took my thoughts in an entirely different direction. I hope this post will help anyone recovering from an abusive relationship, or those who desire to help them.)
Sam Wilson: What makes you happy?
Steve Rogers: I don’t know.
From Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Ask a woman whose been in an abusive relationship for a long period of time what makes her happy and you’re likely to stump her. Abuse strips away the human being God created leaving a shell in its place. Outside the church I’ve heard people describe abusers as vampires and soul eaters. They are not entirely wrong.
When you leave an abusive relationship you can be depressed, anxious, fearful, etc. And the recovery time is commensurate to the time you spent in the abuse. Some people spend their whole lives in abuse and then they come out. When their eyes are opened, they wake in a world they no longer recognize. The facade their abuser built up is torn down and the ground shifts violently. It’s difficult to remain standing.
From the rubble of their lives they are required to build something new. But everyone around them has gone on while they were trying to save their relationship. Without people coming alongside they can drift for the rest of their lives.
Abuse victims don’t know who they are. They have been told who they are. They’ve been told what they want. Everything has been dictated either overtly or covertly. Sadly, the church helps this along by telling women they were only made for men (complimentarian beliefs). A woman’s identity is bound up in her abuser. She has nothing that is her own.
It takes a long time to discover yourself. Again, commensurate to the years of abuse. If the abuse victim was also abused as a child, there’s a good chance she has no idea of anything about herself.
I am fortunate that I have been able to educate myself so I can help my recovery. Not every woman can do that. They are often told that they are bitter if they continue to talk about the abuse. They are told they are hindering their recovery by trying to learn more about and understand what happened to them. In short, their feelings and actions are again dictated to them. This is detrimental and is what actual hinders their progress.
Discovering what makes you happy will take many years. Your personality, your being, was destroyed. Finding that person God intended you to be will take time. Give yourself the Grace the “dictators” refuse to.
What makes me happy?
I don’t know, but I’m not going to let anyone stop me from finding out.
(Linking up with Five Minute Friday.)