Biblical Response to Cutting/Self-Injury

I gave myself a rare treat tonight; a nice hot bath. As a mother of 4 (and counting) taking a bath is an indulgance I don’t often get to enjoy. I was listening to an audio book of the gospel of John, when I noticed the marks all over my body.

First, I looked at my tattoos. I tend to not see my tattoos, really see them, because I have had them for so long since a young age. They kind of just look like my skin to me. But tonight I noticed them and thought about the journey I have been on, each one meant something to me at the time. I used to hide my tattoos with long sleeves and high collared shirts after becoming a Christian, but now I usually don’t hide them. It’s not something I can change, and it brings up conversations with people who might otherwise not have talked to me. Many of my tattoos represent a previous belief system.

Similar to a previous belief system, my scars represent a previous way of life and thinking as well. My eyes moved from my tattoos to the countless white scars covering my left forearm, all around it, every inch.

They used to be bright red, but have now faded into a pale white. They form ridges and valleys, layer upon layer upon layer; 10 years of self injury. I looked at the tiny white dots surrounding some of them, scars from the stitches I was given for the worst of them. I turned my arm over and recalled being 14 years old, 16 years old; I still remember the places and the objects I used. Burns and cuts alter my body forever.

My heart felt sorrowful. I felt compassion and sadness towards my former self. I was only 11 years old the first time I took something sharp and used it against myself for relief. I was 21 the last time I did it.

Now, I can’t fathom hurting myself intentionally. The very idea is horrifying, but this was far from the case when I was younger. The pain was so deep, so profound, and I lacked the ability to cope with it.

I began to think of the reasons why I once found it acceptable, even irresistible, to hurt myself; and then God gave me words against those reasons. Truth sets us free. I want to expose the twisted thinking behind my self-injury to the light of the gospel. I hope it helps those still struggling, and gives insight to those who have not.

1.) I self-injured because I preferred the physical pain over the emotional pain. I didn’t think I could handle the severity of my depression. I ran from the emotions that hurt me by deflecting it.

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds”

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…

He is with us in our pain. He does not leave us alone in it. Even in the valley of death, we can find his comfort and love with us. He may not remove the suffering or circumstance, but he never makes us walk it alone. We have his help!

2 Cor 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Yeshua Messiah), the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we may comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God”

When we are comforted by God, we can then extend that comfort to those who find themselves in the same situations we once faced. I can talk to people who have endured mental illness and addiction and abuse, because I have been there. I have experienced his comfort in that, and help others with it now. This is part of how God uses what was meant as evil for good.

2.) I self-injured because I believed that I deserved to be hurt. I hated myself, and I punished myself.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”

Romans 5:8 “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”

Zeph 3:17 “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing”

Romans 8: 37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Yeshua Messiah)”

1 John 4:9 “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him”

There are SO many bible verses about God’s love for us that I could not possibly list them all. We have been saved by grace, there is NO reason to punish yourself for real or imagined sins. We are called his children, do we want our children to hate or hurt themselves? Of course not! In fact it would grieve us terribly if they did, just as it grieves our Father in heaven when we do. Knowing and accepting and believing in His LOVE for us heals self-hate. How can we hate ourselves when we are made in His image and loved so very much by him?

3.) I felt at times like I was detached from reality, and hurting my body felt like a reminder of what was real

Phil 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”

The scriptures point us to the greater reality, beyond the things of this world. We are not merely flesh and blood, but also spirit. We can focus our mind on the things above, on what is true. That is the reality that I seek to remember now.

Finally, what can we tell people who believe but are hurting themselves? First of all, start with compassion and understanding. Gal 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ(Messiah)” 

Remind them of how loved they are. Remind them that they will never be forsaken. Remind them that they are forgiven. Remind them that our Savior himself is very familiar with pain, he can relate to those who are suffering because he suffered so much. Isaiah 53:3 “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain…”

Explain that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are not our own. Our body and our life is a gift from God to be cherished. Weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn. Do not let your brother or sister be in pain all alone. Come alongside them, and don’t minimize their pain.

Lastly, I want to remind Christians that mental illness is a serious thing. We are physical, emotional, and spiritual beings. Some people will take medication to help them on their path of healing, some will not. Too often well meaning believers encourage others to stop taking their medication, this can be a dangerous thing to do. The withdrawal process alone can cause serious psychological and physical issues. Please do not offer advice on these matters unless you are very knowledgeable on the subject, and only when the person themselves wants that help. There are varied ways to health and healing, taking medication does not mean one doesn’t have faith in God anymore than using a wheelchair means you don’t believe you can be healed.

I hope my experience can be helpful, and I am open to other suggestions from those of you are in recovery or helping people in recovery.

Shalom.

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Why I Had to End My Suboxone Detox; And The Physical Effects of Being so Sick

Hey everyone. I spent a week in bed, unable to move without help a few feet to the bathroom. At times I laid in bed so thirsty, but I couldn’t move my arm to grab the water next to me in bed. I wanted so badly to continue, but my body couldn’t do it. The first time I attempted to get off suboxone, it was my mind that was the issue. I had cravings, depression, mood swings. I went back on it to avoid relapse. This time, I am happy to report, I experienced no cravings whatsoever and I was in generally good spirits (despite being so sick).

The major complicating factor; I am pregnant. It was very early, and I had hoped to have a pregnancy off suboxone. In the end, it felt dangerous to continue. I said from the start, “I will not risk the baby’s life”. My husband was so busy with the children, he simply could not help me to the degree that I needed help. I need someone to essentially be my nurse for weeks if I do this again.

Now, I am still feeling very weak. My muscles have not recovered, and my dose is whacky. My body was shocked by having this drug withdrawn and now it has it back, but I have not found an equilibrium again. I was also hit with morning sickness (all day, and at night) which made my dehydration and inability to eat even worse. Thankfully, the nausea has  mostly gone and I am eating very healthy whole foods again.

I am very disappointed to still be on suboxone. I am dreading the cycle of doctor visits, scripts, etc. That said, what can I do? I gave it my very best, but my body being pregnant could not do it.

So, will I try again? Absolutely. Especially now that I know I can do it without cravings or mental health issues resulting. I just need more help. My body has been reliant on this drug for nearly a decade now, that is a long time. I am on lower dose that usual which is nice, but detox is no joke after being on it this long. Obviously, next time I will do it when I am not pregnant. But, I have to honest that I do not know HOW this will work out. Not only is it weeks of sickness, but then perhaps months of recovery. I will have five children, who I homeschool, needing me.

My thoughts at this point are focused on the following; get healthy and strong again during this pregnancy, find a good addiction specialist, and try a very slow detox process instead.

I would love to hear from anyone who has been able to successfully detox from long-term opiate dependence.

With just me, it may be impossible. With Yahweh, all things are possible.

Shalom.

P.s I plan on writing about pregnancy, and breastfeeding on suboxone/subutex. It is happening much more often now, yet many moms do not have much information. I have a lot of experience, and thankfully all of my babies were very healthy and needed no treatment. Many doctors still recommend methadone to moms, whereas suboxone has a much better track record with neonatal withdrawal.

Suboxone Taper/detox- week 3 .5mg

Well, it’s 4:30am and I can’t sleep. I slept from 1-2am but my son woke up crying and wanting nurse. I had my husband bring the baby to me because I didn’t feel like moving from the recliner chair in our living room.
I’ve been on suboxone, which is a synthetic opiate medication used. I have been on it for 9 years which is a long time. I started my addiction to heroin ar 14 years old, went on methadone at 19, and then started suboxone after an unsuccessful attempt at methadone withdrawal. I turn 30 next month, so I’ve been opiate dependent for half my life.

Half my life!

So asking my body to function without any opiate is difficult. But you know what? I really feel ready this time.

My biggest complaint is the muscle aches and creepy crawly jumpy feelings. Very restless, yet exhuasted. Not fun.

So far the stomach pains and “bathroom” issues have been minimal. I felt worse when I went from 2mg down for 1mg as far as the stomach issues, but now the muscles and insomnia have taken over.

So, I went down from 1mg to .5mg, it’s been a full 24 hours. I just took my next .5mg dose and won’t take another until 4am tomorrow. Then, I’m going down to .25mg for a few days before jumping off.

This is a much quicker taper than is usually recommended. However, I am in early pregnancy and I do not want to drag this out for that reason. The baby will eventually be more sensitive to withdrawal, which could even lead to miscarriage in the worst case. I’m keeping a close eye on how I feel, but so far so good. I’d rather get it over with now than give birth on suboxone again (even though my babies were fine).

I feel like a long, long chapter is closing. Despite the physical trials, I truly feel great mentally and spiritually. This is the first time I’ve gone this low and had NO cravings at all! HalleluYah!

I am not being given more than I can handle, and I am grateful for the support system I have in place as I go through this process.

5 Ways Anxiety Makes Me Look Like a Jerk (and I’m sorry!)

There are some things that only anxious people can truly understand. To my fellow anxious wrecks, you are not alone. To those of you who may walk away from meeting me thinking I was a big ol’ meanie head (as my daughter says), I’m sorry, and let me explain.

1.)  I won’t answer your phone calls, and sometimes texts.

This is a big one. Nothing sends my heart into a flutter like a bird in a snakes den than my phone ringing. GASP! Someone wants to…ta..ta..talk to me?! I cannot do it. I’m sorry, I realize it makes no sense to panic at the thought of using the phone for it’s original (and barbaric) purpose of speaking to other human beings, but I simply can’t help it.

Then, because I ignored your phone calls I feel awkward answering your text messages.

THEN, because I ignored your text messages I feel even more awkward ever answering them again.

Do I tell you my phone was eaten by a crocodile? Flushed down the toilet? Sigh, maybe I have to just move to another country so I never have to see you again.

Don’t call me.

2.)  I’m late to your party. 

First of all, the fact that I’m even at your party at all shows that I am really, really trying to be nice and I genuinely consider you a friend. However, besides getting four little humans dressed, outside, into the van, and into carseats, I was also sitting in my van down your street for 10 minutes while I gathered my composure and readied myself for actual human interaction (humans above the age of 7, who I did not squeeze out of my own body).

3.) I find the most isolated spot at your party (or at cheerleading, dance, etc) and avoid conversation.

Does she think she is better than us? Is she disinterested? No, and no. Does she dislike us? No, again. Actually I am worrying over what you think of me, and I like you very much (which is why I left my cave to come to your party). I prefer to be the wallflower, watch what is going on and have one to one conversations. I avoid the noisy areas with lots of people, but please don’t feel like you need to convince me to join in. I am perfectly happy watching the action from over here.

4) I say something totally awkward to you.

Uh-oh, someone spotted me off in the corner and decided to come over and communicate with me. Help! I start sweating and have a pained “smile” as I ask you about your dead dog or bowl movements. I’m sorry, I have no idea what I’m talking about. In addition to being totally weird or unintentionally offensive, I will lay awake in bed later that night meticulously going over our conversation. Not good.

5) I wont stay for coffee and dessert because I really have to go…and sit in my home. I had nice time with you and the kids, but my social interaction barometer has reached its maximum and it is time for me to run home to my sweet little bubble away from everyone who is not my child or husband (no matter how much I really like you!). Please don’t feel offended if I cannot stay longer, I appreciate being at your home but my anxiety level has reached the point where I have to go back to introverted heaven (home).

Are you an introvert? Anxious? How do you deal with social situations?

 

 

Coping with PTSD and the Larry Nassar Case

I frequently check the news. I like to stay up to date on national and international news. Lately, sexual assault has been a common news topic. The #metoo movement and now #timesup have brought attention to this once taboo subject and new stories of abuse seem to arrive each day. This is good, but it can be difficult for those of us who are survivors. Sometimes, a story may be a little too much like our own story. Finding people who understand can be healing, but reading about similar abuse can also be triggering and difficult.

I decided to listen to the Larry Nassar accuser, Rachael DenHollander. She gave a very passionate and detailed speech. I could only listen to the first five minutes before I was overwhelmed with a sickening feeling in my gut. I am proud of DenHollander for her bravery, but it was impossible for me to hear her entire speech. She did the right thing in bringing Nassar to justice, and I am thankful that he had to listen to her and all of his victims share their pain (and their strength). But, as a victim myself, I just couldn’t handle it.

It is important for survivors to be in touch with how they are feeling when these news stories abound. I want to be knowledgeable of current events, and I want to support the brave women who are speaking out; but I also need to keep my own mental health in mind. I feel anxious and upset. I wish that I had not attempted to watch the video. Sometimes, I can go from feeling just fine to very anxious when triggered. PTSD is unpredictable at times.

I am glad that Larry Nassar is going behind bars, where he belongs, for the rest of his life. But I know that recovery is not over for many of his victims, and it is not over for me.

New Faith after Shavout

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Our Creator calls us to a life that is not always comfortable. It can be risky. It requires relinquishing a certain amount of control and doing what you know is right instead of what feels safe.

You could lose friends. You could cause family members to question your decisions, responsibility, and even your sanity.

Because living a life of faith doesn’t makes sense in this world.

The Apostle Paul tells us that faith in Messiah Yahushua (Jesus Christ) is foolishness to the gentiles. They think we are fools. We are pilgrims on this earth, yearning for our heavenly home.

Recently, Yahweh has been turning my world upside-down again. You see, I was baptized in a sparkling lake at the age of 21 and my life changed. I passed from death to new life. I became a child of the Most High. But I was still in many ways broken. I have had a walk that isn’t a straight line. I have had years of obedience pocketed by weeks or months of rebellion and confusion. But I am His, therefore he comes for me. I am that 100th sheep who went astray, but I was carried back on His shoulders.

The year of 2015 was a nightmare for me. My little life blew into pieces. My husband became very seriously mentally ill. There was so much pain. Abuse. Devastating loss. And then…

my relapse.

I relapsed mentally. I relapsed with addiction. I relapsed with my faith.

I was terrified. I went into PTSD mode. I lost control.

But in December of this year my husband and I came back to one another, after our own separate painful journey through relapse. My walls were up high. I was determined to take care of myself, and never allow myself to trust him again. I would do it all alone.

I went from a stay-at-home “quiverfull mom” to going to school 5 days a week while my children were in daycare. I missed them badly, and I gave up on my dream of homeschooling. I abandoned my faith community and set out by myself. I made money through my body like I did as a teenager. I convinced myself it was okay. I convinced myself I had to do this for the greater good of finical security. I had to provide for my children. I had to be strong and do it all myself. I told myself that it wasn’t wrong because I was doing what I had to do, given my circumstances.

But not of this was true. Not with Yahweh. I had other options, he always provides another way out. There is always the faithful and obedient choice. I was too scared. I was too damaged. I turned away.

Yet, slowly but surely those walls started to crack.

One day, I allowed myself to open myself up to new life. My husband and I have three little girls, and despite my mind yelling at me all the reasons why it would be horrible to get pregnant. Think of school! Money! Don’t trust anyone! I surrendered to that primal longing for life in my womb, a babe at my breast. And right away, a tiny being buried itself inside of my womb like a seed and blossomed.

Then, daycare didn’t work out my next semester because my work hours were not enough for financial help. I reluctantly and with great trepidation permitted my husband to watch the kids for me instead. I had to trust him. It was really hard.

I worked so hard during that semester, with my dream of becoming an R.N in sight. I did very well, but it cost a lot of time with my children. I could no longer take care of my home.

The Bible has many words of wisdom and commandment for mothers and wives. Many modern women bristle at the idea, but the Bible says we should be “keepers at home”. The famous Psalm 31 describes the wife whose worth is above rubies, and she cares for her home and family diligently.

I wasn’t at home very often, so I certainly couldn’t take care of it or my beloved family within its walls.

That hurt my heart, but still I heard that voice telling me “just push through school” and “you have to do it” and especially “don’t trust your husband, don’t trust Yahweh, trust only yourself”.

Yet, I completed that semester and I was in awe at how joyful it was to be home on break. I started to remember. I remembered what it felt like to take time and put all that effort into making our house and home. Teaching the children. Changing my focus from outside to right here, with my husband and children.

My heart began to soften. Those walls began to really crumble down.

Shavout/Pentacost came, and that longing inside of me grew to epic proportions. Unbeknownst to me my husband was also feeling called back to the walk of faith. We came together, and marveled at how Yahweh had been speaking the same things to us separately.

My husband had a terrible falling out with another man in our faith community while he was sick in 2015. I felt strongly that my husband should talk to him and fix that relationship. I never thought he would do it, because he was still so angry about what he perceived as this brother overstepping his boundaries of his friendship with me while he was gone. Nothing ever happened, but all of the pain from different experiences was put onto this brother.

Amazingly, my husband told me on the very day that I was considering these things that he wanted to call this brother and ask his forgiveness. I was in shock. I was blown away. This was such a major step of faith and we both thought of it at the same exact time. My husband called this brother and they immediately reconciled. All was forgiven. Love prevailed and they could move on.

I cried because it was so beautiful. I was such a revealing moment to me. I could trust Yahweh. He was speaking to us. He was making us into the people we are supposed to be.
Shavout/Pentacost is a time to remember, among other things, how the Israelites agreed to follow Torah and join in covenant relationship with Yahweh. It was when they heard all he had to say and they said “YES”.

YES, we believe.

Yes, we will follow you.

Yes, make us your people,

and you will be our God.

I said that along with them. I decided to let go of the pain. I let go of the FEAR. I let go of the mistrust. I am opening myself again. It is so freeing. The truth sets us free.

Freedom and safety doesn’t come through money, education, or saving for the future. Those things are not wrong or bad, but they can be if they cause us to sacrifice the most important thing; faith and the life we are called for.

I will be a mother of 4 in October of 2016. I will continue to dedicate myself to husband. I will be a better wife. I will stay clean and sober. I will leave fear and mistrust behind. I will live that foolish and peculiar life, in freedom and the shalom/peace that passes all understanding.

Shalom to you all.

Related Scripture Verses

Exodus 19:8 And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the YHWH has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the YHWH.

Titus 2:4,5 …and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled

Mountain – A Poem

20170406_182751Our love is a gentle breeze

I am a mountain, tall and solid

From my soil grows all types of fruit,

Warm and ripe from the summers sun

From my ground—sharp rocks, jagged edges

You cut your feet when you try to climb me

Your hands reach for the delicious fruit

Hanging there on branches like slender arms

Your blood soaks into the earth of me,

Wet and dark

The ground is fertile like the lining of a womb

The rocks are a boundary raised from

Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes; things that injure

And kill

And our love floats up to me,

Where the white snow covers my highest peaks

It sings to me, asks me to allow you inside

Every crevice and cave

Allow you to pick any fruit you desire

Taste its sweetness

But I shake my earth like a quivering woman

In rage, in shame, in storm clouds and rain

Red fire engulfs the trees, the birds, all things

Alive and beautiful

I am covered in ashes, black as onyx stone

I cannot accept your bleeding feet, your outstretched arm,

Your longing song you sang to me

And yet, beneath the ashes of my rage and pain

The tiniest of sprigs pushes itself stubbornly

Through the hot earth

Its leaves are the newest green, soft and supple

Like the breasts of a young woman

And then it stands taller, grows wider, takes up more space

Soon I am covered in these proud plants

Then trees, and their strong branches

Where birds come to nest and raise their young

I am alive again

The mountain breathing

My lover comes again, here you are

Your feet have healed and my rocks

Don’t

Cut you

You are patient in your climbing,

Holding onto earth and tree

You find me in the quiet solace of

My highest peaks

We rest together in the comforting snow

I hear the song you sing to me

And I begin to sing it too

We live together

And the blood-soil you gave me

Has become a sign for

New things

To come and grow here