I want to pause the DBT button for a moment and talk about something ontologically significant–our right to be here.
Let me explain.
Many people who follow this blog have experienced abuse. Someone from war-torn Africa once commented. Abuse doesn’t have to be overt to be powerful. Sometimes it can be subtle like long-term exposure to passive-aggressive behavior. Sometimes it can be living in a marriage where your spouse withholds affection and sex to punish, which is an example of passive-aggressive behavior. Sometimes it’s as simple as the silent treatment from a friend or parent. What message gets communicated after years or even months of enduring neglect and hurtful treatment?
I can’t speak for others, but I know what I might feel. I would feel like I don’t deserve to be here. I would feel like somehow I had done something wrong. I had not tried hard enough. I would start to go to the darker places in my mind. I would wish to quietly disappear. Why? Because I’ve actually been told that it would have been better had I never been born over and over again. Some abuse isn’t covert at all. Some is just in your face. And, some abuse leaves scars. No matter how much work we do, those scars are there. When we face even the most subtle of mistreatment years later, we remember because the present pain feels familiar. It sort of feels like that pain all those years ago, and that’s how a trigger works. Very old, deep pain that has nothing to do with the present is activated because, to our brains, it feels just familiar enough to be the same. And then, we are spinning out.
I’m in a situation now that is activating old pain, and I don’t like it. I am trying to find my footing and keep my clarity. I’m doing okay. I have noticed, however, that I feel nothing. I’m just numb. This morning, I got an urge to read a daily blessing from a book I’ve had sitting around, Blessing Your Soul. I hadn’t even opened the book since it arrived. It’s just been gathering dust. I don’t often agree with a lot of what this author says, but my curiosity got the better of me. With my morning coffee in hand, I opened it to Part 1: Healing the Wounded Soul. Huh. Okay. Good enough place to start, I thought. The blessings seem to have two parts; first there is a brief story, and then there is a blessing. The title of Day One’s story was “Anger Over Your Existence: Ishmael”.
The author recounted the history of Ishmael, and it does read like a soap opera. Abraham and Sarah were married with no children. Sarah really wanted a child so she decided to use her personal slave, Hagar, as a surrogate. Hagar did indeed get pregnant and gave birth to Ishmael. Sarah was then overtaken with jealousy over the entire situation even though it was her idea. Sarah was supposed to adopt Ishmael and be his mother, but she refused. Ishmael was raised in this conflicted environment–loved by Abraham and yet a slave, loathed by Sarah. The Genesis text amuses me at times because God is in the background here tapping his fingers. This was so not His idea. He did intervene and command Abraham to stop fooling around and fix it. He had to emancipate Hagar and Ishmael so that they could leave and get on with leading their own lives, and Ishmael did go on to father twelve nations.
See? The dynamics read like any other blended family really. My stepmother hated me. I know of other families that functioned a lot like this. So, what’s the principle here according to the author?
You can choose to come into agreement with God’s plan for your life, no matter how fiercely people resent your existence.
This is the point at which I started crying this morning, and I couldn’t stop. It’s the first time that I’ve cried in months. I don’t share this moment to gain anything from anyone. I share it because I know I’m not the only one struggling. I know I’m not the only one feeling like they have to fight just to earn the right to be at times. I’m certain that’s not in the Grand Plan, but, boy, does it feel hard sometimes.
So, what’s the blessing? I shall leave you with this in hopes that it will breathe some life into you and empower you in the places where life and circumstances may have robbed you of your strength to fight another day.
Most of your life, someone will not like you. Often a lot of people will not like you. Sometimes a person will violently wish you would cease to exist or never did. These situations are very ugly and quite painful. But the fact that they are intense does not change the reality that God created you for a purpose. I bless you with being able to endure years of overt, in-your-face rejection and opposition, if that is what it takes, without ever coming into agreement with them that you should not exist. I bless you, soul, with defiantly coming into agreement with God that it is good that you exist, even if no one else can see that.
God created you for a purpose.
(taken from Blessing Your Soul by Arthur Burk, p. 12 and 13)
For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Jeremiah 29:11