Although my journey of abuse began as far back as I can remember, my journey of recovery began with a wake-up call in my 30’s.  But first a little background…

I’d made up my mind at a very young age not to ever be like my parents.  I vowed never to be addicted to anything and to never be intimidating like my dad.  Little did I know the very things we despise in our parents are woven into our beings like a tapestry of tightly spun wool.  We do what we know until we know something different.  Some things are easier to know than others.

No Anger Problems Here!

I’d always prided myself on being strong and independent.  I was completely unaware I had an anger problem and how destructive it was.  If anyone would have suggested this was so, my response probably would have been a stony glare followed by a hostile “I’m opinionated; I do not have an anger problem!” 

In hindsight, I can see my anger had been building for many years.  Holding in all the abuse that happened to me made the anger leak out in ways I never realized.  I thought if I didn’t talk about my past maybe it just didn’t exist.  But like a hungry cancer, it was silently destroying me and taking my family down too.  Anger and control had become my addictions.  They were borne of self-preservation, but now were self-destructive.

One fateful day, I yelled at one of my kids and the sad, scared look in their eyes hit me hard.  It was like looking in a mirror as I was reminded of the feeling I always got when my dad said something so cruel it crushed my spirit.  How could I not have noticed before?  In that moment, I saw the obvious.   I was verbally abusive.  It snuck up on me and I was devastated.

I Needed Help, But I Was Scared

I knew I needed help (I could NOT be like my dad!), so nervously went to see a therapist.  It occurred to me she would probably tell me I was crazy or beyond hope.  I really didn’t want to hear the bad news; but ultimately I felt like the bad news at home was already worse than anything she could tell me.  With God’s grace, I was determined to do my part to stop the cycle of anger.

 She didn’t tell me I was crazy.  In fact, she told me there was indeed hope and that I could change.  There were many things to learn about myself before I began to make changes, though.  I had to learn that my idea of normal was definitely not normal.  I also had to learn that relationship problems weren’t just caused by the other person; that I actually had a part in them, too.  (ouch!)  Probably one of the most important lessons I learned is this:  “We are hurt in relationships, and we heal in relationships.”  We can’t figure ourselves out or fix ourselves.  All the untrue relational things we were taught must be re-learned in emotionally healthy relationships.

I’ll never forget that hurt look in my child’s eyes.  While I regret it ever came to that, I will also be forever grateful God gave me a wake-up call and the strength to answer it.

How about you?  Have you had a wake-up call?  Did you or will you answer it?