Posts Tagged ‘healing’

Not My Face, Not My Mirror

IMG_0483 (2)I looked in the mirror and was shocked by what I saw.  I had lost my balance when my foot hit a pine cone and down I went in the soft grass.  Although I seemed to be in one piece, I knew my face had taken much of the impact when I’d landed.  Expecting minor scrapes, I was shocked to see small cuts, blood streaked down my face, and a bruise already forming on my left cheek.  But while my friends expressed their concern and ran to get ice and first aid, I was seeing something else they couldn’t see in that mirror.

I was seeing the face of my mother.  My mother, sitting across the breakfast table from her ten year-old daughter, with a bruised cheek and blackened eye.  She’d claimed to have fallen out of bed, but I’d heard the argument the night before, the yelling, the slap.  Worst, perhaps, was that I thought she was to blame for it.  “If she’d just leave him alone when he came home late, this wouldn’t happen,” I’d thought.

This was the family secret.  The middle-class neighborhood, the sales executive father who never missed a day of work, Sunday morning mass each week, the outward appearance of a happy family–all hiding the deeper secrets of alcoholism, abuse, denial and infidelity.  I didn’t know any different.  I thought this happened behind everyone’s closed doors.

I was almost in tears, looking at my own face in the mirror years later, a face that was closer to the age of my mother’s then. No.  I never wanted to see this, I thought.  This wasn’t going to happen to me.  Forgotten emotions started to build inside me.  But then I realized it hadn’t happened to me.  What had happened to me truly was an accident.  I truly had fallen. In that moment I realized once again how far God has brought me.

Domestic violence becomes a learned behavior, both on the part of the abuser and the victim.  It is a pattern that often is repeated from generation to generation. Hand-in-hand with other addictive behaviors, it is part of a seemingly continuous cycle.  So what happened in my life that caused the difference?  What broke the cycle?

I credit my older sister, who became a recovering alcoholic, and who took me to Al-Anon and Recovery, Inc. meetings, where I began to understand that the family dynamics in my house weren’t healthy.  I read books such as David Seamens’ Healing for Damaged Emotions and Healing of Memories.  Then I sought the miraculous, transforming power of God’s Holy Spirit, who healed me from the inside out and replaced the pattern of abuse with a heart full of His peace. It took years to fully understand and accept the unconditional love my Heavenly Father has for me. He showed me families who truly lived out the grace of God in their lives together, with no secrets and nothing to hide. In answer to the deepest prayer of my heart, God gave me a kind and loving husband, with whom I have shared 37 years, and who has never once raised a hand to me in anger, or even spoken abusively.  I am truly blessed.  I am truly thankful.

Seeing my face in the mirror that day was shocking. Even after 50 years, the memories stung.  But through my tears, I realized I could sing with joy, “My chains are gone!  I’ve been set free!  My God, my Savior has rescued me! And like a flood, His mercy reigns. Unending love, Amazing Grace!” *

*”Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” refrain written by Chris Tomlin and Louis Giglio  (c) copyright 2006 Sixsteps Music

***October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.  If you need help, please, don’t hesitate.  Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline or your local law enforcement.

Copyright 2015 by Mary Egidio. Permission is granted to share, but with attribution and not for profit.

Do You Want to See My Scar?

As a young girl, I can remember when U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson lifted his shirt for the cameras and showed off his scar from a recent surgery.  Although his staff claimed he was just trying to reassure the public that he was okay, critics saw it as unprofessional and crass — a gesture somehow beneath his status as president.

I recently heard Jan, a breast cancer survivor, speak at our church’s Mothers Day tea.  She told us that shortly after she received her diagnosis, a friend who was a breast cancer survivor took her under her wing and told her what she could expect.  A few days before Jan’s surgery, her friend took her aside and asked, “Do you want to see my scar?”  After seeing it, Jan found herself saying, “Is that all?  That’s not so bad. I can handle that.”

I was struck by the beauty and sacrifice of this single act.  Jan’s friend was willing to share the results of this extremely private and emotionally painful experience — all so that Jan could feel less fear and anxiety going into the surgery.  She understood that many times the fear and anticipation of the unknown is worse than the actual experience.  Or perhaps some other breast cancer patient had done the same for Jan’s friend before her surgery.  Sharing the scars gave strength, and ultimately healing — I believe to both parties.

We all walk around with scars, visible and invisible, that are the results of our life experiences.  We keep some hidden because the stories behind them are too painful to share.  Sometimes just thinking of the experience reopens those old wounds. We may feel guilt, embarrassment, shame.  But if, in God’s timing and with His help, we can bring them out in the open, expose them to the light and fresh air, a miraculous healing can begin.  We’re admitting to those around us that we are real people with imperfections and problems just like everyone else.  As a result, we can help in the healing process for others who share the same pain, and we can both gain strength for our own individual journeys.

After all, it is Jesus who is our ‘wounded healer’, and through whom we will finally come to complete healing and wholeness.  Isaiah prophesied, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)

Whether a president or a pauper, we all have scars…and it’s okay to share them.

Copyright  2010 Mary E. Egidio  – Permission is granted to share this article, but with attribution, and not for commercial purposes.  (Yes, you can share this, but tell who wrote it, where you found it, and don’t try to sell it)