Breaking The Chains

By Christine H.


I believe each individual has a story, a story that some may never know. Some stories are much more heartbreaking than others. I don’t claim to have the worst story, nor do I want to. I do hope to encourage whoever may read this, to break free from your own chains and find the courage to do whatever it takes to heal the brokenness.

I was raised in a very strict home in the “Message,” from birth. This alone, made me feel different and somewhat isolated, even within the “Message.” I know my parents didn’t intentionally plan to leave scars on my life. They are human, and being a parent and having healthy relationships, is hard sometimes. My past has left me feeling broken and struggling to forgive for years, but also has made me a much stronger person.

My mother wasn’t supposed to be able to bare her own children, so when I was born, my family all felt that I was a living miracle. I felt that being the only child was a curse. My parents have always been very big on appearance and very conscious of what others think. Many awful disagreements happened behind closed doors: physical, verbal, and mental abuse. I felt I could never be good enough, especially for my mother. All I ever wanted was to make her proud, but it would usually be shattered by constant disapproval. I could never understand how I was such miracle to my family, and still unable to meet their standards of how I should be. I gave my all, still fault was found.

I could never know for sure if it was a medical problem driving the turmoil in our home, or a mechanism of control. Suicidal threats were a huge control mechanism, even into my adult life. My grandfather had committed suicide before I was born, knowing this made suicide a very real and scary thing for me. I always felt that I had to stop the threats, or it would be my fault. I wanted someone to lean on, but many times, I would be left alone to deal with the chaos. Guns, bullets, knives, were things I had to always be aware of, and how to hide them when necessary. The weight of it all seemed so heavy, especially with my young age and with no siblings to lean on. I would get in between physical altercations, trying my best to stop them. I felt unsafe, never knowing when a good day would turn into a bad one.

WORDS, I have been severely scarred by words. I can’t begin to scratch the surface to all the painful things I recall being said. Words that I wish I could forever erase from my memory. The hardest thing was that everything was never to be spoken about to anyone. No one was to see our family anything less than perfect “Message believers". Yet, I was left feeling the embarrassment of it all. If anything was to ever come out into the open, it would be when a very select few of my friends were around. I remember numerous times of being told to not be completely honest, to keep things from being known. This confused me with being raised in a home where I was also taught to never lie.

I married at a very young age (barely 17). It was expected that we marry young and not risk making “mistakes” before marriage. I went from being in a very controlling home, to being married and becoming a submissive wife. I was always raised with the idea that a man was to have the say in the home and that my place was to make him happy (in my mind, at all costs). This wasn’t how my childhood home worked, but it was what I was taught. I already had “pleaser” type of personality. This came from trying to please everyone in hopes of them being proud of me, and the dire need to be good enough. Both sides of the family were very controlling; my family would try to control what I wore and what I did even as a married woman. I never dreamed my life would turn out the way it did. It wasn’t long before the stress of life grabbed our young home, and I found myself in an abusive marriage. After almost 11 years and two children, we ended in a divorce. I felt destroyed, knowing I was committing the forbidden sin. Once again, more hurt and abuse by people that were supposed to love me the most. The pain felt unbearable. Why was I so unlovable? Why could people physically and mentally hurt me, knowing they were causing me pain, but still say they loved me?

The spiral began. My family could only see that their daughter was now divorced and how that was going to look to everyone in the “Message". I was told I had no rights, but no one wanted to know my story. I started to see the fakeness in what I had believed my whole life. The religion, I would have defended so strongly before, wasn’t going to have any grace. My anger took over. How could most of my family shun me? I wanted nothing to do with going to church anymore. I felt so lost and like my identity had been ripped away from me! I gave it my all for so long, where had it gotten me? Where were all the people that I had hidden sins for? I started spiraling down a very dark hole, one that would lead to an attempt of ending my own life.

When I reached the end of my rope, I remember thinking of my two sons. I cried out for help to somehow find my way out of the depression and confusion. I even tried to run 900 miles away from my problems. Years have passed; some things remain the same, things that I don’t have the power to change. I still continue to struggle with the chains of my past, but I make a choice every day to continue to find my worth in the messiness. I refuse to keep living in the bondage of my past. Instead, I choose to find freedom by letting go of my chains of abuse, and feelings of not being good enough. I try to forgive a little more each day, to see the beauty in others, and to help others that are hurting. I will NEVER trust a religion again. I now rely only on a true God that loves me unconditionally. Broken and scarred, I am still worthy!