Tonight, my spirit travels back to memories of home, to those beautiful scenes of summer in my home town of Thornbury, Ontario. Apple orchards with the aroma of the apples wafting through the air, the willow tree by our home as it dances with the wind, games played with my friends –the sights and sounds of home. Robins would come perching on the trees greeting me with their chirping conversation.
Those games of childhood, hide and seek, ring around the rosie, a boomerang that landed on the roof of our home. I am the smallest and skinniest, so it is unanimously decided that I will be the one to squeeze through that tiny attic window to retrieve the boomerang. My brother, Brian, and two sisters, Judy and Valerie, hold on to my legs. I grab the boomerang with both my hands. I am pulled back to safety.
Summers were the happiest time for my mother. She would give herself permission to be a child again, sometimes joining in on the fun of running through our water sprinkler. It was an escape for all of us from the living hell of the abuse we experienced from my schizophrenic father.
Summers gave us an opportunity to go into a different world filled with joy and the sounds of laughter. It was the escape we needed to see that life even in times of darkness, even in times of struggle can be beautiful, filled with those vacations of joy.
Can there be a brighter road for those who have survived their living hell of abuse? Perhaps, as I share something of those wonderful summers you will find a summer of hope coming alive in your spirit, a summer that lasts all year as God’s spirit speaks healing into your wounds, those soul-defeating, soul-crushing words from your abuser that haunt you and will not let go.
You are not nor will you ever be the lies your abuser has told you. You are an amazing and beautiful creation of God. Please never forget that.
Never accept abuse as something you deserve, that somehow you earned being beaten and ridiculed. Call the police. Have the courage to charge your abuser with assault causing bodily harm. Your abuser is sick in their mind and needs treatment. Your abuser needs to face consequences for their abuse. I urge you to have a zero tolerance for any form of abuse.
There are abuse shelters you can go to. The counsellors there can help you find your way out of the abuse to a new life filled with the peace of waking up in the morning and not being abused. That in itself will have its own liberating energy.
You can get training if lack of skills is the reason you are not leaving. My mother was abused for at least eleven years before she left my father. Mom stayed five more years because my grandmother said if Mom left, she would leave Thornbury and never speak to her again. For five more years there is no summer of hope, no continuous joy. There are fleeting moments of it here and there. Five years later my mother goes to my grandmother, showing her the physical scars of abuse as she takes off her blouse. My grandmother cries. Mom tells me when I am older that my grandmother said through her many tears,”June, please forgive me for not believing you! You need to leave Jim and take the children with you. You can stay in my home as long as you like. I will give you all the support you need.”
It was those wonderful summers that kept the spirit of hope alive in me. There were so many times I didn’t think I was going to survive those dark winters of my abuse, feeling cold, alone, confused, feeling I needed to protect myself from all those many assaults of my father to my body, mind and spirit. Yet, as I share these thoughts I praise my Lord and thank my counsellors, most recently Master Christian Life Coach, La Vonne Earl, my mentor, Father Heyward Ewart, who is guiding me in my graduate counselling studies at St. James the Elder Theological Seminary and the many friends and family who are taking time to listen to my hurt, my anger, my bitterness and my hate –that poisonous hate of my father that needed drawn out and healed. In that journey summer came alive in me, the summer when fears start to melt away into the dawning of a revived hope; it is a hope that helps us fight on, to not give in and somehow to use all that pain, all that anger, all that rage, all that hate, to walk a different road filled with a renewed sense of purpose, a new direction.
Please pray for me as I travel further on the road of my inner healing. It is my prayer that you too will journey from your pain to the summer of new beginnings, taking on new challenges as the child of summer joy comes alive in you.