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Go Women, Go Sisters! March, March, March!

21 Jan

No matter what happens
We won’t take a lie
But when others go low,
We will go high.

Go women, go sisters,
March, march, march
Go women, go sisters
Rise, rise, rise.

Rise Ezer Kenegdos
Rise women of strength
Rise women of color
Walk every length.

Go women, go sisters,
March, march, march
Go women, go sisters
Rise, rise rise.

ezer-kenegdo-rising-1000

Ezer Kenegdo Still Rising

19 Jan

The situation of women’s rights is coming to a head. It’s time to stand up for women everywhere. As we say goodbye to a president who affirms and supports strong women, we are now going to be under a man who uses women. It appears the crowds for the Women’s March will far out number the inauguration. This is an indicator that men will not always have the last word about women. I am proud for all of my sisters who are marching.

This brings me to spiritual women’s issue at hand. The Seventh-day Adventist General Conference President (the church I grew up in and feel ashamed of since Wilson took over as president) summoned the North American Division to discuss what some believe is the GC President’s way of seeking to punish some for ordaining women.

Punishing people for treating women with equality should never be an issue in God’s church, my friends. Never. I will say it again because it’s true. The subjugation of women, the mistreatments of women, the unfair promotional track for women is sometimes expected in the world, but this should never be the case in a church which claims to represent God’s character.

If you have a disagreement about Women’s Rights, please don’t take it up with me—I’ve heard all the stale arguments against it that don’t hold water. Take it up with Jesus. Fortunately we are under the headship of one man–Jesus. There is ample evidence in the gospels of how Jesus treats women. If our leaders claim to be Christian and do not reflect this mindset, we can be sure they have gone off course.

Ezer Kenegdo Rising, Cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/493033330/ezer-kenegdo-rising-print-boho-home?ref=shop_home_active_1

Prints Available in Etsy Shop

So women all around our country and world are waiting, praying and marching. There are many Adventist women marching this weekend.  They are doing this on the Sabbath and they are more concerned about the Spirit of the Sabbath than they are about the legal ramifications of breaking a holy day. In the words of Jesus paraphrased by me: “Woman was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for Woman.”

Where do we get such gall? God said let us make humankind our image. Eve was made in the image of God just as much as Adam.  Not only was she made in God’s image, she was made from Adam’s rib which gave her equality as in Adam’s own words flesh of his flesh.

While some say man should have headship over women because he was created first and had more time with God. But God put Adam to sleep while he created Eve, so Eve had her own thing going on with God before she met Adam. This is a reminder to all of us women that we do not need a man to be our priest, we can go directly to our heavenly Father and Jesus.

Woman is meant to be part of Man, but she is the feminine image of God. Many scholars like to remind us that Woman was made as the crowning act of creation. All of creation gets better and better each day. Eve was the climax. And when we say Eve was the climax, we are not putting down men, we are simply stating God’s natural order of creation according the Genesis poem.

What is even more important than the creation order is the name God gave for Eve. Many times the name given to Eve by God Ezer Kenegdo (Gen 2:18) is mis-translated “help mate” as if she was only there to carry his water bucket or cook dinner for him. This false assumption has led to the subjugation and abuse of women for centuries. I have copied someone else’s words because I am not a scholar:

“The original text does not denote a subordinate helper or assistant. It is most often God Himself who is called ēzer (“helper”) (Exod 18:4; Deut 33:7, 26; Ps 33:20; 70:5; 115:9, 10, 11). The phrase ēzerk’negdô in Gen 2 means no less than an equal counterpart, a “partner” (Gen 2:18, 22 NEB) (see Jacques Doukhan, The Genesis Creation Story [Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1978], 46-47). Adam does not name Eve till after the Fall (Gen 3:20).”

There are some who say we should not opt for women to be treated equally but keep this as an administrative issue and allow conferences around the world to continue subjugating women wherever it is a matter of culture, but does this represent the true character of the God we serve? I think not.

Within the churches, across our country and around the world, women as Ezer Kenegdos are still rising. They are rising to take the original place God gave Women and intended for them to have all along. We know we are wrestling in this broken world, but it would be nice if we didn’t have to wrestle within the church.

In the long run, it won’t really matter what either of the current presidents think–no matter how dysfunctional they are–whether leading the country or the church, Jesus will ultimately have the last word. And we can rest assured Jesus is a God who loves women, who always treats them with respect.

Giving Women Wings

17 Nov

Girlfriends we are in a war. Not the kind you read about in the news feed, but a private and personal war. It’s an attack on woman-kind. And the enemy is not cut and dried like one sports team against the other where the color of the uniform informs. It’s a war of men against woman–but not all men. It’s hidden abuse behind closed doors with men who view women as less than themselves. The battle is real for a mother who can’t sleep at night because the man she married and the father of her child is an abusive narcissist.

In a world where people are fighting over whether it’s PC to wear safety pins, God calls Women and there are true Ezer Kenegdos who are rising and making a difference with their hands and feet. I’d like to introduce you to a ministry called, “Give Her Wings.” Their goal is to help women get on their feet and find their wings.

Many times women are shamed by the church and accused of being codependent, but the truth is many victims of narcissistic abuse are stuck in a trauma bond. This means they have been abused to the point they can’t find themselves anymore. These women are in a fight for survival and any little crumb of kindness thrown at them by the narcissist–while it might seem like nourishment to to them—is actually a part of the poison. These lies are part of the abuse cycle to reel women in with kindness and then berate them with abuse. Such treatment could wear down the strongest of women if she is gas-lighted on a daily basis.

Give Her Wings is making a difference one woman, one family at a time. We know narcs rarely change. When these women wait for their abusers to change, it erodes their self-worth and damages their children who are growing up with fighting in the home. The only solution to such horrible abuse is to go no contact, but because so many Christians are ignorant about narcissistic abuse, these women often fall through the cracks because they feel ashamed to ask for help.

This is where Give Her Wings not only offers financial support, but spiritual and emotional support to help women remember who they were created to be in order to regain their wings of independence. Here is some of their philosophy in their own words:

“We do not encourage our mamas to look back at their old life with their abusive ex-husbands; we do not link them to those men. That is over and done with. We encourage them to move forward and press on to the new life Jesus is giving them. And we do everything we can to help with that.” -David

“We love our mamas, we do not try to help anyone “reconcile” with an abuser, knowing that this is impossible. We meet vulnerability with even more dignity and we give mercy right where they are and where we are.” –Megan

I was recently honored when Give Her Wings purchased some of my art and I decided to look into their platform and I was amazed what a small group of people can do when they serve one woman at a time. It literally brought tears to my eyes.

Ezer Angel, cherilynclough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/23882013-ezer-kenegdo-angel

Prints and Pillows Available Here

I’ve thought a lot about women–how God created us as Ezer Kenegdos to reflect Herself–the feminine side of God. That God Herself also is called Ezer several times when the crisis is great and people need a lifesaver. The women (and men) at Give Her Wings are acting as true lifesavers, true Ezer Kenegdos helping God restore women by helping them rediscover their original Ezer glory and freedom in their Creator. This is the way to healing—to know who created us and who we were meant to be–I believe this is the only way any of us can find our true healing.

So I was just playing around with my paper and glue and this angel showed up to remind me we can all be Ezer Kenegdos–we can all be lifesavers who come alongside–this is who we were designed to be. When I am painting, I never know how the art will emerge. As I prayed for this ministry called Give Her Wings, I was reminded of so many ways we can all be angels to give other women wings and I added a few ideas at the bottom.

As Christmas approaches Give Her Wings has raised gifts for twenty two mothers and over forty children this Christmas. That’s amazing, but they continue to work all year round to free women from the chains of abuse. Their website and facebook page offer articles to help women support others and realize what narcissism is so they can get on with their lives and fly.

Bravo to Give Her Wings! I can’t imagine a more powerful work! Let’s follow the example of Give Her Wings and look for opportunities to serve the women and children around us.

PS If you are looking for a worthy cause to donate to before the end of the year, I highly recommend Give Her Wings.

Don’t forget to check out their links:

About Give Her Wings

Give Her Wings Website

Give Her Wings on Facebook

A Great Article About Trauma Bonds

Ezer Kenegdo Rising

11 Nov

In the beginning God created Man, but he was not all that–because even though God created Man with perfection, something was missing–Man wasn’t whole. We know this because God looked at him and said, “It’s not good for Man to be alone.”

So God put Man to sleep and took a rib out of him to form Woman. This rib was to remind Man that Woman was not a separate entity, but an actual part of him. Man recognized this when he saw her and declared, “She is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh!” This caused Man to love and care for Woman’s body and soul as much as his own.

But God didn’t create Woman to be an extension of Man. Woman was designed with a mind of her own to test and strengthen Man though the experiences of life. When God named Woman, She declared her an “Ezer Kenegdo” which means, the “Lifesaver who comes alongside.” God Herself is called Ezer just a few times in the Bible and every time, God is referenced as coming through to save the day when everything looks hopeless and lost.

Woman, as the crowning act of creation, was given a God-like role to serve and provide hope and love to save Man’s life. Of course this was not a one way transaction–Man would be blessed by the experience to love Woman and she would be blessed by the experience of loving Man. As long as they continued to serve each other, they would enjoy a beautiful symbiotic relationship of equality where neither controlled, nor manipulated the other. For a while this worked and all was well in Paradise.

Ezer Kenegdo Rising, Cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/493033330/ezer-kenegdo-rising-print-boho-home?ref=shop_home_active_1
Then one day Man decided to do his thing while Woman did hers. Instead of working together, Woman ended up vulnerable and alone and deceived by a charmer. This resulted in Man choosing to protect self and before they knew it, they discovered they were both naked and ashamed. Instead of Man owning his junk and Woman owning hers, they blamed each other, the charmer and ultimately God.

God hadn’t changed. She was the same. She called for Man and Woman and found them both hiding in the bushes trying on fig leaves as if God couldn’t see through Her own creation. God had created this beautiful unity between two versatile parts who were two, yet one, but now their unity was broken and it grieved Her.

It was time to tell them the truth. Because they had fractured their unity, the struggle was harsh. Man was stronger and he would lord over Woman. Woman would now pine for their lost intimacy and use all sorts of manipulation to get Man’s love back. Their own insecurities and shame began to block the connection between them.

Man figured if one Woman could save his life, perhaps he could become immortal if he had more Women. Woman, heartbroken sought ways to manipulate Man to regain her status. Woman’s plans backfired. Man’s love of power grew greater than Man’s love for Woman and their connection faded.

This broken pattern has been passed down from our first parents to us today. Woman, who was once the crowning act of creation and created in the shape of God Herself, was altered by her own scheming and manipulations. Man used his power over Woman and downgraded her title to “help-mate.” He now expected her to carry his water bucket and quench his thirst–only to thrown Woman into the ditch whenever he was in a bad mood.

No one has seen God except what humans have seen in the face of the God/Man Jesus. Yet Man is only half of the image of God because Male and Female were both made in God’s image. We have seen the masculine face of God in Jesus, but the feminine face is more obscure. God could have just as easily come to us as a Woman, but perhaps God came as a Man because Man had stolen all the power from Woman.

In order to meet broken humans where they were. God had to manifest Herself/Himself as a Man to lead because Woman, the Ezer Kenegdo–the one who was meant to be a lifesaver for Man, was now broken down and infertile by Man’s desire to rule over her. So God entered human history as a Man in order to lead both sexes back to health and equality. Thus it would be said “In Christ there are no males or females.”

After this happened, Woman began to get her power back because of the God/Man Jesus.

Woman, who had slept with men to gain back her love, now found her value restored through the God/Man Jesus.

Woman, who had demons in her soul, was now set free by the God/Man Jesus.

Woman, who was once forced outside the temple, was now beckoned inside by the God/Man Jesus.

Woman, long shut out of educational pursuits and status by Man, was now being restored by sitting at the feet of the God/Man Jesus.

Woman who was once shut out and overwhelmed with grief, was healed and restored by the God/Man Jesus. And so out of gratitude, Woman spent all she had to show her appreciation by washing the feet of the God/Man Jesus.

And God, knowing what had been stolen from Woman by Man’s greed and desire to lord it over Woman, gave Woman the greatest tasks of all–to carry the God/Man Jesus in her body, to nurture the God/Man Jesus’s human mind and body and to be the first person to announce to the world that the God/Man Jesus had accomplished His mission when He arose from the grave.

Yet even with such proof and the fact that both Man and Woman were created in God’s image, Man still assumes God is male and Man continues to deny Woman her status as the Ezer Kenegdo. Man continues to use Woman and exalt himself above her, but Woman will not be subjected to Man for eternity. Man has taken very little thought of the feminine face of God, but what a surprise he will have when he looks into the eyes of the Ezer, the God whose image Woman bears.

Meanwhile Woman is rising!  Thanks to Man, Woman had nowhere else to go but up. And thanks to the God/Man Jesus, Woman is being restored to her original glory of Ezer Kenegdo.

Have you seen Ezer Kenegdo?

Ezer Kenegdo is rising as the brightest star of kindness and grace shining against the darkest night of oppression and misogyny.

Ezer Kenegdo is rising as a comforter who sponges the fevered brow of society’s many diseases even as she wipes away her own tears.

Ezer Kenegdo is rising as the baker of the Bread and pourer of the Wine–even while she is told to stand at the back of the line.

Ezer Kenegdo is rising even as she continues to endure her shame and pain because Man is often too vile to recognize the image of the most high God within her.

Ezer Kenegdo is rising as she risks her own life to call out truth and demand justice for those who are marginalized.

Ezer Kenegdo is rising as she leads the way in love for all people and points out where human judgments fall far short of God’s grace.

Ezer Kenegdo has been beaten and bruised and give her own crown of thorns, but because of the love of the God/Man Jesus, Ezer Kenegdo is carrying the cross too heavy for past centuries, but today she is finding her identity and worth through the face of the God/Man Jesus. Ezer Kenegdo rises higher than ever because now she knows her joy will come in the morning, when the dawn breaks in the garden on that final resurrection day.

Ezer Kenegdo is rising. Trained eyes can see her in Woman now, but she will finally be seen in all her glory when she is standing next to the God who formed Woman in Her image.

But  until then, Man, who has failed to recognize the feminine face of God, is shocked to hear Ezer/God’s voice crying out, “Man, Man, why are you persecuting Me?”

How to Survive Spiritual Abuse

5 Nov

In my early twenties, I was part of a Christian music ministry and for nine months we sang at a different church every night. We were told to respect the authority of our leaders because they were set in place by God. One day at training camp, I was slapped in the face for leaving a three hour meeting to run to the bathroom. Some might wonder why I allowed someone to treat me this way, but I was conditioned to accept this spiritual and physical abuse because I was belted until the day I left home at nineteen.

As we traveled slowly across America singing cheerfully, the interpersonal relationships were fun and not so fun at times. Our leader turned out to be a control freak who got mad because we went to McDonald’s for breakfast, so he forced us sit in circle on the floor and demanded that every one of us say we respected him.

Knowing he was abusive and knowing we had done nothing wrong, I refused to say I respected him. This made him more angry so we sat for hours until it was time to leave for the next church. Since he couldn’t force me to say I respected him, he told me to sit in the audience that night instead of singing in the concert. As I sat among strangers trying to hold back the tears, I felt very alone, but God had already provided a gift to encourage me.

After the concert, my host family for the night was a middle aged couple who immediately noticed my red eyes and tear streaked face and threw their arms around me. They were a married couple who were both counselors. When we got to their home, they pulled out a delicious chocolate cake and said, “Let’s talk.”

There is a unique intimacy between strangers which allowed me to be free to tell my story because I knew I would never see them again. I stayed up half the night telling them about my childhood and what was going on in the group. The tools given to me that night have stayed with me through many encounters with abusive people.

1. Never Trust Any One Who Claims to be the Voice of God
The myth of a church leader speaking for God, has done untold damage to millions. Cult leaders often ask people to forgo their conscience to obey their rules as if God has spoken through them. No person is capable of looking inside human hearts and no one will ever be as gracious as God.

If God wanted a person to be his spokesman, Jesus would have told us, but like Brian Zahnd says, “Jesus is what God has to say.” Jesus and his life and teachings is our only safeguard. If someone claims to speak for God and they don’t match up to what Jesus taught, there is no light in them.

Spiritual abuse is the violation of our trust in God
by someone who claims to speak for Him.

2. Recognize the Limits of Their Power Over You
When an abusive leader discovers he/she can no longer control through manipulation and coercion, they will frame dissenters as the scapegoat so others will attack them too. This eventually breaks down relationships and causes schisms within the group.

You might gain some progress by breaking through barriers and befriending those who are trying to shut you out, but if this doesn’t work, look for new family and friends who are open to healthier ways of thinking and living.

Tears are a river that takes you somewhere…
Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off dry ground,
carrying it downriver to someplace better.
–Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Humans can fire you or exclude you, but they have no real power over your life in the long run. Trust God, stay loyal to him and he will eventually come through for you. No matter what someone does to you, God will ultimately have the last say. It’s easy to feel alone, but greater is He who is within you, than he who is in the world.

3. Realize It’s Okay to be Angry
Beware the Pharisees and flying monkeys who will try to shame you for being angry. Anger in response to poor treatment simply means you have had to confront evil. Whether it’s because of rude behavior or lies or someone trying tarnish your good name, there will be times you feel angry when confronted with injustice and that is really okay as long as you don’t harm anyone with your anger.

God never condones the violation of a person’s freedom–whether it’s physical or emotional or spiritual abuse. Jesus got angry when he overturned the tables in the temple to drive out those who stood between the people and God. But his anger was not vengeful or destructive. The Bible reminds us to not to sin in our anger and to not to go to bed angry. It’s important to vent and find a plan to deal with our anger in a constructive manner.

You should be angry. You must not be bitter.
Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host.
It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure.
So use that anger. You write it. You paint it.
You dance it. You march it. You vote it.
You do everything about it. You talk it.
Never stop talking it.
–Maya Angelou

4. Give Yourself Time and Space Away From Toxic People to Heal
Sometimes you need space and distance from toxic people to restore your soul. If you find toxic people at church, take a break from your local church or go to a different class. If you feel sick when you walk through the door, find a safer church. This goes for social media too. If arguing with strangers makes you sick, stay away from those groups. Block toxic people from your page. Let your life be filled with opportunities to serve others, but don’t allow others to shame and control you.

The Twenty Third Psalm is a great comfort to many people. One of my favorite verses came to life during one of my darkest times. Some people in my family were angry because I didn’t join them in excluding someone. To this day we barely talk. During this time, God provided a smorgasbord of better understanding about His character. One day I was reading the twenty-third Psalm and I realized this reality in my spiritual life:

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
-Psalm 23:5

My soul was fed and my mind opened up to many good things and I experienced great peace despite a huge family split. I longed to share my new insights to all of them, but they were more interested in punishing me for not doing what they wanted, than learning anything new. During this time, I literally was given a spiritual banquet—one which any of them could also have experienced, but they refused to partake of it.

5. Stay Connected to God
I have heard from a lot of people who have put up with lots of crap in the name of God. When spiritually abusive leaders lead, it’s important to not let them rob our joy. A few years ago, my husband and I once again had to deal with an abusive leader. We were targeted by a pastor who didn’t like my skits for the youth or my husband’s music. To keep us from doing anything he didn’t agree with, he lied about us. When we found out and tried to speak the truth, he got even more angry and tried to disfellowship us without giving the members any reason. Before it was over, we became very discouraged.

Spirit of God is Liberty, CherilynClough.com,http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/15989067-hummingbird-liberty?asc=u&c=541259-soul-sanctuary

Prints and Accessories Available Here

One day we were walking on the beach and I began to cry, I wondered what would happen if we were disfellowshipped. My husband took my hand and said, “They might take our names out of human books, but no one can take our names out of God’s book of life.”

Something shifted for me that day. Our membership was never taken because there were no grounds for it, but the weird thing was we no longer cared about positions in church or membership to the point it would control what we believe and how we serve.

When it comes to abusive leaders, church structure is irrelevant because they will twist the rules to meet their agendas, but let them play their games. We know where to place our faith and it’s not a denomination, but in Jesus himself.

This world is full of beautiful scenes, loving people and animals, intoxicating flowers and delicious fruit. God graces our views with warm sunshine and inspiring mountains and warm fires—all mere sentiments of his great love for each of us. Look at the reminders in nature all around you. Soak in God’s promises of unconditional love. Abusive leaders will come and go, but God’s government is not based on policies or control, but on freedom. His love is steadfast and will remain so forever.

How to Thrive After Narcissistic Abuse

7 Sep

It’s been three years since a friend invited me to join a private group on Facebook. I didn’t believe the group was for me so I ignored the first request. After a second offer, I joined to be polite. Within an hour I found the answer to a puzzle that had been plaguing me for most of my life. I discovered the traits of narcissistic personality disorder and on the eve of my fiftieth birthday, God gave me the great gift of understanding and peace.

I’d been writing a blog about God and my own questions and doubts, but this understanding of NPD healed my struggles on a new level because it helped me realize it wasn’t God who had abandoned me, it was my parents.

If you are new to understanding Narcissism, here are three tips that have saved my life:

  1. Find Community and Support for Your Dreams

No one can face life alone. We were created for community, but many of our narc parents didn’t stay in community. We were forced into isolation because we grew up moving a lot or had to avoid people to keep the family secrets behind closed doors.

Finding a good therapist and group of healthy friends is your most important job. No one can survive alone and by making you the scapegoat, the narcissist wants you to feel you have no one to turn to, but the good news is the world really is full of loving people.

  1. Don’t Let Others Define You

The Narc can try to put you in a box or send you out from the camp as the scapegoat, but this says more about the narc and flying monkeys than it does about you.

There is a line the Narc likes to use: “If everyone else has a problem with you, then you must be the problem.” This is a narc fantasy and only works for the narc in their limited world. Think about it. How many friends does the narc have? I’m not talking about Facebook connections which are mostly acquaintances. I’m talking about real friends who live in community with them for years. Most narcs don’t have many friends because they are judgmental and litigious. They either can’t stand people who don’t meet their needs or they sue them.

The Narc might think of you as the scapegoat, but what does this say about them? They are cowards who use group think to control others? They are so ashamed of their own choices they would rather lie about you than let you speak the truth about them?

What does it say about you that you have been used as their scapegoat? You must’ve been courageous enough to speak the truth or taken a stand that defied their plans. This means you stood out in the crowd by thinking for yourself.

  1. Re-Parent Your Child Inside

Every person will need to decide for themselves what they missed as a child and what they need today. I believe it’s possible to be re-parented by God. God showed me what Narcissism is on the eve of my fiftieth birthday. It was a painful blessing, but this road led to peace because now I have a name for this hidden abuse.

Keep your eyes open and read the gospels because as time goes by, you will find little signs from Abba that you are his beloved! We are all his beloved, but only a few seem to grasp this concept.

As I began my recovery from narcissistic abuse, I began to paint and write about what I discovered. This has helped a lot of people and I really can’t take credit for it because I’m just passing on what has been given to me. I have dedicated this year to writing my memoir and writing my stories has brought a lot of healing and peace too.

Memoir Elephant, cherilynclough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/23081518-memoir-elephant?asc=u&c=541752-inner-child

Prints, Cards, Pillows and Accessories Available Here

I’ve had flying monkeys question me about my blog and upcoming book as though I am writing to hurt my parents. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love my parents no matter what they’ve done or not done for me. I simply wish to have an open and honest relationship with my family because the dysfunction and lies were making me sick and I was forced to take the road less traveled if I wanted to be true to myself and God.

After years of combing through my memories and writing about it, I want to paraphrase my own version of that famous quote by Eric Lidell: God gives me insights from my life and despite the pain, when I write, I feel his pleasure.

In writing this memoir, I have learned a secret:

Memoir is not about the mean things that happened–it’s finding meaning in the things that happened.

Why You Need to Talk with Your Younger Self

25 Aug

Have you ever met a stranger who reminds you of your Grandma? Or reminds you of a mean aunt who verbally abused you? When we react to other people and various stimuli, we are often reacting to our past experiences. These clues might seem like nothing at first, but consider how the triggers of the past influence the decisions and relationships we have today. This is why you need to have a talk with your younger self.

Do you love the smell of crayons and hate the smell of dodge ball rubber? This could be your seven year old self sending you messages about how fun it is to make art and how dangerous it is to get hit with an ugly red ball. Do you love certain songs and hate others? Perhaps this is your teenage self feeling nostalgic or remembering a sad episode of your younger life.

There is meme circulating through social media telling us to stop looking in the rear-view mirror. It reasons looking back is wrong because that’s not where we’re headed. It seems like sound advice until we remember there’s a very important reason for the rear-view mirror–to protect us from backing up into places we don’t want to go.

The rear-view mirror could even save your life by avoiding an accident. If we ignore the rear-view mirror we might crash, but a smart driver understands when to look in forward and when to look in the mirror. It’s the same way with remembering the past and planning the future.

Your body and character might have changed, but deep in your mind, there is still a place where that little child resides in fear or joy and longs for love. You can’t ignore that voice because it influences your life today.

I’m all the ages I’ve ever been.
-Anne Lamott

Life is mostly going forward, but sometimes we run into situations that require looking in the rear-view mirror. To refuse to listen to your younger self is like backing up without looking in the mirror.

Elephant Girl, cherilynclough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/13518803-elephant-girl-inner-child?asc=u&c=541752-inner-child

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One reason we need to remember our past is to make wrongs right. If you have a narc parent, they won’t help you do this. As a matter of fact they will do everything they can to discourage you from remembering the past. Their behavior is not about you, but about them because they aren’t proud of the way they treated you. They will say why can’t you forgive and forget? Why do you have to live in the past? They will talk about you to other people because they would rather lie about you than hear the truth about themselves. They will send in the flying monkeys to shame you for remembering the past.

(I’ve been accused of living in the past but I am a seven on the enneagram.  If anybody knows anything about an enneagram seven, they realize we love to think about the future and care very little about the past.) It doesn’t really matter what others say, remembering the past is a gift we can give ourselves.

For one thing it’s impossible to completely forget the past, because the body remembers what the mind forgets. There is a place in the brain that stores our memories and sometimes without even trying, a memory comes back and slaps us in the face. This is body memory.

Those of us who were belted can feel it all over again whenever we see or hear a belt slapping against something. My body has never forgotten the stinging on the back of my legs or the bruises as they formed. To even see the belt section on a department store as a middle aged woman has freaked me out.

One conversation I’ve had with my younger self is to explain how the belt was wrong. I didn’t deserve to be belted over and over in anger. This was not based on a true understanding of scripture. When the twenty-third Psalm states “Thy rod comforts me,” it’s not talking about a beating. Shepherds don’t beat their sheep.

It’s important for you to remind your little girl or boy inside they are no longer in danger and no one can harm them now. It’s okay to speak your truth and it’s okay to tell your stories. People who are angry or shun you because you choose truth don’t deserve to be in your life.

As I am writing a childhood memoir, I’ve enjoyed connecting with my younger self. I’ve learned I can love this little girl inside and protect her. I’ve had to teach her a few things like the fact she can’t eat all the junk food she wants. I’ve had to teach her to exercise more and that self-care is not selfish. I’ve had to teach her it’s totally okay to say no to projects she’s not interested in and it’s always right to avoid unsafe people.

I’m also teaching her it’s okay to put on nice perfume and get your hair done and dance with your husband and go on a road trip and take time to smell the flowers. The lessons I’m teaching my little girl are endless. I care for her like I would a real child because I’m giving her the love and freedom she didn’t get years ago.

What about you? How are you talking to your hidden child?

Here are some ideas you might want to try:

Have you reminded her how Jesus cares about her heart?

Have you helped her accept the apology she never got?

Have you discovered how she was asked to play a game she could never win?

Did one of her parents or both use her as a mirror?

What are the rules she grew up with that need to be rewritten?

Remember to make this fun, give your child the freedom to dance, rock out, make art, vote as she likes, dress to express herself and tell her stories.

It is never too late to give yourself the childhood you’ve always wanted.

Restoration from Narcissistic Abuse

29 Jul

When I was eleven, I had a tabby cat I loved dearly. When we moved, I had to start school late and to make it worse I had to take the fifth grade for a second time due to all of our moving. I was worried I’d never have any friends. But one thing cheered me, I had a little cat to sleep with me and sometimes she even put her paws up next to my cheek. I went to school for two months before we had to move again.

On this moving day, my cat couldn’t find her litter box because it was lost in the hurry of moving before the landlord got there. My dad hated cat messes and he went into a rage and rubbed the cat’s face in her poop. She scratched him so he threw her against the brick fireplace wall. The cat yowled in pain and ran out the open door. With tears streaming down my face and scared to say very much lest my father belt me, I went outside and called for my cat for the next two hours, but she never came back. My parents packed the car and left while I crooked my head out the back window to look for any signs of my precious kitty while we drove away, but I never saw her again.

For adults on the run, one cat was a just a small loss, but for an eleven year old girl who had very few friends, it was devastating. This happened in winter and a few flakes of snow fell while we left. I cried and cried because I was worried about my kitty, I knew she was hurt and I feared she might die or starve.

This was one of the most traumatic moments of my life, but when you live in a family that’s on the run and hiding, there’s no time to discuss how you feel, so you just stuff it—usually with food. I cried and cried and my mom gave me some peanut M and Ms (my future drug of abuse.) I was holding a large table lamp, but my body had to move so I started to rock back and forth in the car.  That’s when my mom turned around and said, “Stop that, what are you? Retarded?” I tried to sit still, but like much of my childhood, I couldn’t stop rocking due to the things that happened.

For almost forty years after I lost that tabby cat, I’ve always had a cat, but never a tabby. When we went to the humane society to get a cat three years ago, my husband insisted on a half Maine Coon tabby kitten. I didn’t want her. I thought she was ugly, but he really liked her, so I agreed to take the little sprite and figured it would be his cat since we already had a black cat I loved dearly.

Can you imagine? I thought she was ugly? But only for five minutes, because I am a cat lover after all. Oh my word! She has stolen my heart like no cat I’ve ever had before! She sticks with me all day and all night long. Sleeps beside me with her paws around my arm and her face next to mine. She is the only cat who has ever slept as close to me with her paws on my cheek like that little tabby forty years ago. She sits at my feet while I write or wash dishes or paint. She is the most affectionate, smart and crazy cat I’ve ever had.  Here is a painting I made of her.

Kitteh Coon, cherilynclough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/13518170-kitteh-coon?asc=u&c=541259-soul-sanctuary

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One day I said to my husband, “I wonder why I’ve never liked a tabby cat before, then all of the pain came back to me. Once again, I felt like that helpless eleven year old girl watching her father throw her pet and friend against the brick wall. Then I remembered all the shame that came when I was discouraged from talking or mourning about it. I literally started to rock back and forth just like I did as a child when I remembered this loss.

To be fair, my dad is an old man now who has been known to make a hot water bottle for a stray cat on a cold winter night. But this blog is not about him, it is about me and my healing from the past. If my parents were healthy, they would recognize it’s okay to make mistakes and apologize to your grown children so you can have an authentic relationship with them.

When we are traumatized we either remember it very well or we block it out. I have always remembered this happened, but I tried to forget the details. And one way I dealt with it was to never have another tabby cat. This way I could forget about my painful loss as a child. My plan to avoid dark tabbys was mostly subconscious, but deep down inside my heart I think I always knew. How can we make up such losses that seem to follow us like dark riders for the rest of our lives?

Today I was reading a new book titled Healing from Hidden Abuse. The author Shannon Thomas is a Christian therapist who has written the best book I have ever read on healing from narcissistic abuse. This emotional moment came up for me today because I was reading through the healing part of her book where Shannon explains how we can find ways to give ourselves some of what we’ve lost.

We’ll never get our missing childhoods back, but we can find some restoration in things that have meaning for us. For me, this started when I got this tabby cat. And even as I read Shannon’s book, I realized my Father in heaven was working to restore this broken piece of my heart. My husband picked out this kitten five months before I realized what narcissism is on the eve of my fiftieth birthday. I’ve always felt like that knowledge was a gift from God and now I realize God was even leading in which cat my husband chose for me.

What sort of losses have you suffered?

How are you finding ways to bring restoration back into your life?