I have tried to believe in you. I really have. I desperately want you to be there. If you aren’t there, it would be difficult for me to have the hope I need to keep going, to push through the darkest days of recovery and life in general.
But I’m going to be honest with you. I haven’t had the kind of life which encourages undying faith. With inescapable trauma plaguing my entire childhood, creating painful patterns in my adulthood, it didn’t promote a general appreciation for the beauty that is life. I know I innately have it. But it is so marred in trauma, I can’t see it.
And I’ll be even more honest, the people didn’t help very much. When I was growing up, religion was used against me all the time. My abusers made it clear that I was to honor my father and mother. They used guilt, so much guilt, to keep me under their control. They let me know that God likes girls who fall in line, do as their told and never speak up. They let me know God believes men are more important than women, even that women are here for the benefit and pleasure of men. They quoted the Bible just to prove they were right. Honestly, I didn’t understand who wrote the Bible until I was older. I always thought you did. I didn’t know that men did.
And I’ll be honest again. Other people weren’t much better. They told me that I should just believe in you and everything would be okay. They told me to pray and things would work out. They told me prayer would fix everything. But it never fixed anything. And they never took any action. They never did anything to help me, save me or change my circumstances. So I thought I wasn’t praying right. Or maybe, even worse, you weren’t interested in what I had to say. Maybe it worked for everyone but me.
So when I grew up, I have to admit, I wasn’t too convinced you were on my side. I mean, I couldn’t see how you had been on my side. Maybe you were. Maybe you kept me alive. But honestly, that didn’t seem like a huge favor at the time. And when those abusive patterns continued, even after my desperate attempts to escape and live a better life, it didn’t help our relationship. Honestly, you were equated to my abusers in my unconscious mind. I just thought your goal was to continue the pain and punishment. It was the only way I could explain those patterns. At the time, I didn’t know what else could be causing them.
But then in recovery, things started to make more sense. The memories started coming back and I saw the source of the patterns. I started to understand you differently, and I desperately wanted to believe in you, in a different version of you than my abusers and religion had shown me. But honestly, there were still so many mixed messages. I felt hope, but my inner parts were sharing hopelessness. I felt empowered to change my life, but my inner parts were sharing powerlessness. I felt tiny snippets of joy, but the despair and grief from my inner parts was overwhelming. I could stand in nature on a beautiful day and feel suicidal. How could you do that? How could you be responsible for a world like that?
And honestly, the pain in the world is a little hard to cope with too. Even if I was healed completely from my trauma, walking through this place can take its toll. There is darkness around every corner. There is pain in everyone and many are acting directly from that pain. It is a struggle to have a relationship with you knowing about all the pain. And my awareness has been a blessing and a curse. I see the pain of others more clearly because of it.
But I keep trying to see you in the world, in my life, in me. You are a different God than the one used against me or preached at me. You are the one I have chosen. You are the one who meets my understanding and my expectations. Maybe it’s right. Maybe it’s not. I don’t know that answer. How could I know? But I do know it is my right to see you as I need to see you. It isn’t blasphemous. It isn’t sinful. It is the same personal choice I never knew I could have in my life. But I have extended it to you. Honestly, it is the only relationship I can have with you. It is the only one that will work. My understanding of you has to be on my terms.
And honestly, I think you get that. In my life, most haven’t. And maybe that is what keeps me going. Maybe it keeps me hoping that you really are there, that you really are different from the others. Of course, I don’t know anything for sure about you, or much else for that matter. But without some version of you, it is difficult to walk through this world seeing the pain in the human race. Without some version of you, it is difficult to see the good with so many bad experiences in the past. So I will commit to keep trying. And I have the strange feeling you are committed even when I hate you, yell at you and question your very existence.
And that will have to do for now.
We will have to make that work.
This letter is not intended to promote a particular spiritual or religious viewpoint. It is meant to promote the opposite. It is important that we embrace the unseen in whatever form helps us to heal. And this letter explains my personal experience.
Written By Elisabeth Corey, MSW
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