This piece by Mercy Survivor Grace opens up about how Mercy Ministries stole her voice, and her process of regaining it. This piece was originally published on her personal blog and can be viewed at To The Light.
Just to get back in the swing of things, I thought I’d try and write rather frequently right from the get-go. We’ll see if I can keep it up. Besides being busy with schoolwork, choir, and handbells, I find that it’s very easy for me to get overwhelmed.
I have a hard time writing and talking about the subjects I plan to explore here. I can write or say what I want to, but afterwards I start freaking out. This is an effect of emotional abuse in my life: I was consistently made to feel as though I talked too much. I was often told by family members, while I was speaking, “You know what? I really don’t care.” (That was mostly my brothers – my parents said it a little nicer. “I think we’ve heard this before.” or “I know, I just heard you telling [dad/mom/brothers].”) Or they just flat-out ignored me. So I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut, believing I have nothing to say worth hearing, and nobody wants to listen to me talk. My views and opinions don’t count for anything, what I want is not important. If I’m going to say anything, it has to be on other people’s terms, such as answering when they ask me a question. Otherwise I’m just bothering them.
Obviously, Mercy did not help in this area at all! Like I said in my paper, when telling my story I often say that Mercy stole my voice. Which was really rough, coming right off of an amazing year at college. It was a very close-knit community, and my “family” there – the other students and staff – were so great. I made so much progress while I was there. Learning to open up and trust people. Actually feeling like I belonged and was accepted and liked! Realizing that I didn’t have to prove anything to them…they liked me for me, not for what I did or did not do, whether I was struggling or doing well. WWC (the college) taught me how to speak again…and then Mercy stole my voice.
It’s a long road, recovering from all that. I think in some ways it’s been harder after Mercy – remembering what I had at WWC but not being able to get back to it. Someday maybe, but not yet. It’s going to take a long time, a lot of work, and some caring friends who won’t give up on me to get there. The growth that happened while I was at WWC, the lessons I learned, were not learned because someone simply told me. I learned those things because they told me and they showed me. Just kept loving and supporting me through it all. And refusing to see me as my problems, but seeing me for me.
I think that can be hard for people to do sometimes. I know it’s hard for me. It’s so easy to let my issues define me, to look at myself and see “problems” instead of Grace. I think with other people as well, my issues can get in the way. If I don’t talk to them, don’t hang out with them without being invited…basically, close myself off from them…it’s awfully hard to see me behind all that. Over the course of that year, my WWC family did, though. And because they saw me for me, it was easier for me to let go of hiding behind my problems and see me for me, and be me.
Okay, so talking about WWC always tends to get me off on tangents…good tangents, but tangents nonetheless.
So, talking….oh yes, I was saying that recovery is a long road. It is. And it’s hard. But I am trying. I’ve told quite a few people about Mercy in the last few months. I joined the choir and the handbell group at my church – both fairly small and close-knit groups, so it is a way for me to have fun, serve God, and find that fellowship and community that I long for. I’m finding it easier to get close to people there than at school. Maybe because I know they won’t leave in a few years? Anyway, I am making progress, although it may be frustratingly slow at times. Well, most of the time!
In any case, I’m hoping that I will be able to keep up with this blog now. Hoping I won’t get too overwhelmed. Hoping that I won’t get scared and run and hide because I’m afraid I’ve said too much, or said things I shouldn’t have said. It’s a scary thing…but hopefully I will be able to press on through it.