As a child, Angie was subjected to years of ongoing abuse. No-one stood up for her; no-one protected her; the main abuser was a 'beloved uncle', and Angie's parents simply wouldn't hear a word against him.
Angie got no validation, no support and certainly no acknowledgement of what she was going through.
Fast-forward a few decades, and the now grown-up Angie got sent a number of very difficult circumstances that made her realize she had to go back and deal with what had happened to her as a child.
She did all the right things: she found a counsellor; she enrolled in group therapy; she stuck with the program for a couple of years, waiting for the magic moment when the 'breakthrough' would come, and she'd at last be free of her onerous past.
But that didn't happen.
What happened instead, is that Angie found herself constantly reliving her trauma, and her sense of helplessness, worthlessness and shame, with her therapists constantly telling her that 'once she found her voice, and started to stand up for herself', her problems would disappear and life would be great.
So Angie did as she was told, and tried to 'find her voice'. She started angrily bossing her children around; she started aggressively demanding things from her husband; she set some very big standards of behaviour for the people around her - and slowly, slowly, she started to alienate everybody.
Let's be clear that firm boundaries and reasonable expectations are a wonderful thing. The problem was not that Angie was starting to recognize her own needs and to express them; the problem was that she was looking for the solution to 'having no voice' in the wrong place.
The only person who was ever going to truly enable Angie to get her voice back was…Angie herself.
But before that could happen, a few things had to change. The first, and main, change is that Angie had to put God back in the picture. Practically speaking, that meant that instead of viewing herself purely as being a 'victim', Angie had to somehow come to the understanding that the fact that she'd endured such a huge test actually showed her spiritual strength.
God never sends a person a challenge they can't stand up in, even though at the time you're sure it's going to break you into pieces. And the truth is that if you don't have God in the picture, your challenges can break you very easily.
Angie started working on developing an honest relationship with God, where she spoke to Him regularly, and told Him everything on her mind - including how angry she was at Him, for giving her such a terrible childhood.
Once she'd reconnected back to God, the next part of the equation was for Angie to start reconnecting back to her true self. And I'll tell you more about that in the next post.
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