This is Me, survivor, becoming yourself, narcissistic abuse, littleredsurvivor.com

Being Ourselves After Religious and Narcissistic Abuse

If you have yet to be called an incorrigible,
defiant woman, don’t worry, there is still time.
-Clarissa Pinkola Estes

This is Me, survivor, religious abuse, narcissistic abuse, littleredsurvivor.com
Photo by Anter Blackbird on Unsplash

It’s good to be incorrigible if the powers that be are from the good ol’ boys club. It’s right to be defiant if that defiance is based on love for other people who’ve been shut out of the inner circle. I will even go so far as to say if you have a church that tells you who to love, it’s time to rebel. We are called to love–not judge others.

For those who grew up oppressed, a good song is a catalyst for healing and empowerment. The song “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman is an inspiring song that’s touched me profoundly. Many people resonate with this song because it’s the type of song that reminds us to rise up from the abuse of our past and claim our freedom.

We’ve been talking about Religious Narcia this week–that toxic place where ego combines with religion and merges with narcissism. Christians are often told it’s selfish to focus on self, thus self is treated as a dirty word, but it’s not self in and of itself that is the problem, but what we do with it that’s the dividing line between selfishness and self-care. Self at the expense of others is toxic and at the heart of narcissistic abuse, but focus on self-growth and understanding is healing.

The work of redemption is to become our true selves–the selves that God ordained us to be. As Adult Children of Narcissists or ACoNs we were often expected to serve our families and the church at the expense of becoming our true selves, but now that we are the grownups, we can discover who we are and become who God designed us to be.

“I’m not a stranger to the dark”

Most survivors have had to struggle to find the light which includes realizing the truth about our parents, ourselves and God, but we can take comfort that we were never out of God’s sight because darkness isn’t dark to him (Psalm 139).

“Hide away,” they say
“’Cause we don’t want your broken parts”

I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
“Run away,” they say
“No one will love you as you are”

Narcissistic abuse has been called hidden abuse for a reason. How many survivors have been told to be quiet and hide their wounds because no one wants to see them?

I have a friend who was molested and when she told her father about it as a teenager, he said, “Many women have gone through that, just don’t tell anyone.” Why would he make such a callous remark to a young girl in the deepest pain of her life? Narcissistic parents care more about their reputation than the hearts of their children, but God is not a narcissistic parent.

This is what the Lord says:
‘Your wound is incurable,
Your injury is beyond healing.
There is no one to plead your cause,
no remedy for your sore,
no healing for you.
All your allies have forgotten you;
And they care nothing for you…
But I will restore you to health
and heal your wounds…’
-Jeremiah 30:12-14, 17

The Bible tells us to, “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it” (Romans 12:9). This gives us permission to be authentic. There is no shame in telling our stories. There is no shame in telling the truth. There is no shame in disagreeing with the narcissist. There is no shame in sharing our pain with others–the only danger is in sharing with unsafe and unhealthy people, so use caution who you tell your story too.  The bottom line is God gave you freedom and you don’t need to be ashamed to be whoever God has made you.

Be yourself everyone else is taken. -Oscar Wilde

As a survivor, I know what it’s like to be shamed and scapegoated by my family, but Jesus never sends us away. Despite our wounds and scars, there is always healing to be found in Jesus. We are so wanted by God that He even sings over us (Zeph. 3:17). Jesus tells us, “As the Father has loved me, I have loved you” (John 15:9).

But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious

It took years to figure out what I was dealing with both in my family and in the church. When I realized I’m an empath dealing with people who would rather use me than love me, I was set free. I don’t need to pretend anymore. I’m not who my family wants me to be, I’m not who the church wants me to be, but God created me to be myself–not an extension of my parents or the church leaders.

I’ve stopped hiding. I’ve begun telling my stories. I’ve made this website to be a place where other survivors can come and discover they are not alone. There is a place for all of us. A lot of healing has come to me and others who have discovered we are each glorious in our own way.

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out

I have no hate toward those who lied about me or put me down, I will send a flood of love and if they catch it, great, but if they don’t, I’m not holding my breath, others will catch that wave of love and it will echo on and we will continue to light each other’s candles as the wave continues.

I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me

Yes, it takes courage and vulnerability to stand up and let our voices be heard and it’s embarrassing to show our scars, but we are each loved just as we are. Despite the bruises and pain, it feels good to be ourselves. When we find our identity in Christ, we can walk away from the shame and accusations of narcissistic people. We can embrace who we are and become more fully who we were designed to be.

Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

The hardest part was for me to stop apologizing for being myself. This is true of many adult children of narcissists. I think it’s because the narcissistic mind is very judgmental and critical. Now I realize there is no shame in being ourselves–we were all meant to shine in our own way.

Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today,
I won’t let the shame sink in

When I heard this line, I immediately thought of flying monkeys. As soon as we begin to move beyond the narcissist, we are often hit where we least expect it. This is no coincidence when a narcissist can’t reach their target anymore, they act like the victim, frame the scapegoat and call in the flying monkeys to do their bidding. Flying monkeys often don’t even realize what they’re talking about. But even in the face of flying monkeys, we can stay grounded in who we are and refuse to wear the shame.

Recently the church I grew up in has been on a witch hunt of sorts to punish those who are ordaining women pastors. They also want to make everyone agree on all points so those who question origins or embrace queer people are suspect. But that’s not all, even a ministry about Jesus and only Jesus has been spoken about as though they too are suspect of some dirty deeds.

Jesus calls all of us to be authentic and compassionate. To walk in the footsteps of Jesus is not about a long list of doctrines, but showing unconditional love to all. Without love, those doctrines are worthless. Without love, those who cling to these doctrines are missing the point of Jesus and why he came–to love everyone. When I see love omitted from the denominational agenda, I have to question the leadership. I won’t allow such a church to define me.

Jesus is all. He’s the only one who gets to define me. Like Mary who washed Jesus’s feet, I’ve found my identity in Christ and what others say no longer matters.

I am a woman–an Ezer, and I understand that women were created in the image of God. I now realize to ask for women to be treated with equality is not satanic, but a holy calling ordained by God herself. And yes, if women are made in the image of God, there must be some part of God that is SHE.

I am a hetero-woman who embraces LGBTQ people because I believe God loves all people and I am no position to judge. I don’t think God worships hetero-sexuality like many evangelicals seem to, I believe when Jesus said, “Come to me ALL who are thirsty” he actually meant ALL.

I am going to embrace all people whether they look like me or not, whether they are citizens of my country or not, whether they have a home or not. God has asked us to welcome the strangers within our gates.

A few years ago I was part of a church that defined Religious Narcia. We had a racist pastor and child predator for a school teacher. The racist pastor covered for the predator teacher and the predator teacher covered for the racist pastor. Obviously, it was a game I could never win between them. Both accused me of gossip for talking to them about each other, but I had no one else to go to until I finally called the conference. The picture was ugly but the truth never really came out until years later when the teacher was sued for holding little girls on his lap. I’d already moved away and hadn’t seen this teacher for over a decade when he and his wife walked up to my local church last year. I was friendly and shook their hands, but they mostly stared. They always wore this air of piety that made me nauseous. When I told my friend, she said, “Oh you are just too weird for them.” She said it like it was a compliment.

I like that she called me weird. I am glad to be weird if weird means I tell the truth when that teacher is playing with an eleven-year-old girl’s bra strap. I want to be weird if it means I will stand up against a racist pastor. I don’t even care about the conference Pharisee who said I had a “history of conflict” due to these stories. I am done with Religious Narcia. Wake up church! We can’t have this kind of crap going on and still say we’ve been with Jesus.

We can’t judge people for their orientation, calling, color or stories about where they’ve been abused, because of Jesus. Jesus. Let go of the man-made creeds and embrace Jesus. There is zero relevance to any doctrine without the love of Jesus.

I love this movie The Greatest Showman because it’s about a circus and it has all kinds of people who are unique and weird. Aren’t we all weird in our own way?

In the book of Revelation there’s a description of a mighty throng:

I saw a vast crowd, too great to count,
from every nation and tribe and people and language,
standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.
-Rev. 7:9

This crowd is not made up of Pharisees and they are not defined by doctrines because when Jesus separates the sheep from the goats, he doesn’t compare fundamental beliefs, he judges them by how they love other people–the least of these. This crowd in Revelation is defined by their relationship with Jesus and their stories–and maybe their weirdness.

Out beyond the ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
-Rumi 

That field is where grace abounds. It’s where Jesus has a giant tent and there’s a sign with a cross on it that says ALL are welcome here. In this place, there is no judging or scapegoating. If your church doesn’t embrace all people, they are outside of the Jesus tent and I don’t wanna go there. Inside that tent with the vast throng of all kinds of weird, this is the crowd I want to be with because Jesus is there and we welcome all who wish to join us.

We’re all just walking each other home. -Ram Dass

*This Is Me lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Songwriters: Justin Paul / Benj Pasek

10 comments

  1. another great message Cherilynn….thanks for all you do…. this hits home to me in so many ways….my family…and also being involved with the Herbert W. Armstrong Cult…splitoff from 7th day adventism

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is my favorite of your blogs so far. And we, too, loved the movie and had to buy the soundtrack and listen to it a ridiculous amount of times. Love your heart. Don’t stop writing, ministering and being weird. All of the rest of us warriors will be right there, being weird with you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Marti!

    It is surprising how much many people are controlled by their religion/denomination. I guess the devil is in the details.

    Blessings to you!

    Peace and freedom to you!

    Cherilyn

    Like

  4. Thank you MeganC,

    Your support and friendship is important to me! Thank you! I can’t wait until we all do get home someday and can get to know each other in person.

    Blessings and peace and freedom to you and yours!

    Cherilyn

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! There is so much here that resonates with me.But, I will keep this comment short.
    You’re absolutely right about the Religious Narcia in the church. Some of my greatest pain has been caused, perhaps indirectly, by the church. And, the things I have heard from the pulpit…definitely NOT the love message that Jesus preached.
    I love, LOVE the song THIS IS ME. I want it on a continuous loop in my head for a while. It is so empowering. Thank you for sharing!
    As for being weird, I’ve always been the misfit. It feels so good to know that there are others out there who share my life experiences and views.
    Sending love and gratitude to you.

    …now, off to the movies…I’ve got to see this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Barbara,

    Hope you enjoyed the movie, but even more I hope you know you are glorious in your own way as we all are!

    I think one of the most damaging thing about Religious Narcia is the boxes we are expected to fit in. Instead of loving people, Religious Narcia tries to turn out robots and clones which goes directly against the way nature and creation reveal the handiwork of God. If every snowflake and star and flower is unique, why can’t we allow people to be themselves?

    The other song I love on that track is “Rewrite the Stars.” It’s about making our own way and setting our own criteria. My husband and I really relate to that one too.

    Thanks for stopping by to share your heart!

    Peace and freedom Friend!

    Cherilyn

    Like

  7. There’s also a subsection of us who experienced everything you did in the church at a less obvious level, which makes it so much harder to recognize and escape. Thanks for shining light on the worst aspects so we can see the subtle forms more clearly.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Keep on telling it how it is – you do it with such flair! 🙂 This blog is a brilliant resource to anyone who’s been there.

    Liked by 1 person

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