It’s been over 22 years since I buried my infant son in a cult – the reason was spiritual abuse- the effects were PTSD. Today I turned 54. Today, I begin to tell my story with the hope it will bring healing to someone else – that it will continue to bring healing to me, and to my family. A voice heard is a voice with power. I lost my voice to a traumatizing, power stealing demon called PTSD, who replaced my voice with rage, my heart with shards, and my love with fear; but slowly, little by little, the laryngitis is being healed by the power of a loving God.
It was an unassisted home-birth. My wonderfully competent midwife was not going to be invited to the birth – the why of that spiritually abusive reasoning is for another day.
It rises up without warning, and the intrusive images and voices are before me. The trigger has been pulled:
I am there in that room on December 10th, 1990, laboring to give birth for the sixth time.
I hear my voice in a desperate plea from a place beyond myself; a plea to save the life of my son. I hear her reply from across the room; the reply that brought death. I feel the searing pain in my body; the pain of a baby that needs to be born, right now, in a body that is powerless to do it. I am powerless. (He weighed 11 pounds, 12 ounces.) Then the pain is gone – replaced with a different kind of pain – a pain that would never leave me. I see my husbands slumped shoulders as he carries the lifeless body of our perfect baby boy to the waiting hearse. I hear a piercing scream; the cry of anguish, before I realize it’s my own.
It happened twenty-two years ago; it happened yesterday. Feelings of powerlessness overwhelm me, a loss of identity, and the loss of my voice. Can’t you hear me? Can’t you see what is happening? Do something. The loss of my voice means death.
It is always intriguing to me that we can throw around the word “ill” as a physical ailment like diabetes or heart disease, cancer or the common cold; but when ill refers to something mental, cognitive, or emotional like depression or anxiety, PTSD, or traumatic complicated grief – people flinch. All of a sudden we are thrown back to our child-hood with thoughts of “cooties,” or a biblical picture of a man wearing shackles living in the tombs with spit dribbling out of his mouth.
Only those of us who have or do suffer from the effects of a traumatic loss or PTSD, know the deep rooted darkness it can bring – the deep regrets, the loneliness, the isolation and fear. My life was ruled by fear – fear of loss, fear of failing again, fear of pain, fear of feeling the pain, again, and again, and again….all masquerading as anger in a mess of chaos and confusion. Who am I?
Those of us are at least 50% of the population now and as disasters and traumatic events increase, so do the effects of anxiety, depression and PTSD. Many times I would have chosen to have been delivered from this cold that I tend to catch several times a year to varying intensities, but most of the time I am actually thankful that I have been able to experience the darkest places of humanity. I am thankful that God uses it to mold me into His image. I am thankful that I can feel what others feel, and hurt when they hurt and can walk alongside others when they must enter into the dark places of humanity, the dark places of grief. It is a sacred place, this place of suffering. It is not for the faint of heart, or those without great faith in the knowledge and sovereignty of God.
Oh Christian, does that scare you? Does it bother you to think that deliverance does not always come to us? Or do you choose to believe it is sin in the life of the sufferer, or a lack of faith? Or do you think I am ill for choosing to embrace suffering instead of fleeing from it, that I choose to lean into it as I lean on a Cherished Friend?
I would rather choose one day in fellowship with Christ’s suffering than a lifetime of empty joy. PTSD brought me closer to God and to His healing power. The joy is all the sweeter for the knowledge of how great a price was paid to purchase it for me. Pure joy, reflected from pure pain.
The trigger is powerlessness and with eight children and nine grandchildren powerlessness is a common thread in my life; with a ministry and a calling, powerlessness is a common thread in my life. With breathing, powerlessness is a common thread in my life – a common thread in the life of humanity. As long as we are breathing we are powerless to control the future. We can’t control our children or their choices; we can’t control the drunk driver, the miscarriage, the cancer or the size of a baby. We can do our best with what we have – we can try to make wise choices, do the right thing, and prevent foolish losses, but none of us can control the outcome of life – only God can- and His outcome is often not the one we would choose for ourselves. It is however, the one that will bring about the most personal change if we let it. Sure we have choices in life, and those choices often dictate life or death, good or bad, but the ending belongs to God and God alone.
I clearly see David standing in the corner weeping silently as death covers the face of our child; but now, sometimes, I get a glimpse of Jesus moved with compassion weeping beside him. I still see my husband’s slumped shoulders as he carries our perfect baby away, only sometimes before PTSD gets its grip on my mind, I see Him. Jesus with his arms wrapped around Dave, gently cradling and carrying him – carrying both of them. I still hear a mother’s voice wailing in anguish, but sometimes, the wail turns to a cry of praise right before my eyes. In those moments, I know that I can make it, that real and lasting healing happens in the unseen places of our hearts where only God dwells. I know that He has given me a great purpose and calling in my life and a voice to make a difference.
Note: We were in the “Faith Message” a hyper faith, divine healing only movement founded by Hobart Freeman.
Please share this with others who have been involved in cults, suffered loss, trauma or spiritual abuse. Maybe, just maybe it will help them find their voice. And please stay with me on this journey of healing, your presence makes a difference.