Filthy pits and prison cells…

There was a time in my life when my attitude was putrid and rotten. When living under a cloud of depression and remaining a prisoner to the fear and anxiety related to post-traumatic stress, it was hard for me to perceive any sense of the light. I saw everything through a dirty, old filter and it governed much of my thoughts and attitudes. Because of that, it was next to impossible for me to walk in an attitude of thankfulness and love. Without even realizing the emotional and spiritual damage of those attitudes, I was bearing an awful lot of dead, rotting fruit.

I have experienced a lifetime of dissociation and hyper-vigilance. My husband has had to walk carefully at times, because my startle reflex has been so intense that the slightest movement could send me clinging to the ceiling in a state of fright. I cannot count how many times I have clawed at the ceiling, with bug eyes surveying the scene! I was constantly watching the periphery, waiting for the slightest threat.  It is very stressful for the body to live in a constant state of “flight or fight” and the hormonal state of that affects the brain, the reproductive system, the heart, the lungs, and other important bodily functions. It is as if the entire physical body is saturated in a chemical called “fear”.  There were days when even moving my limbs to carry out the normal activities of daily living felt impossible. The energy required to even brush my teeth was, at times, too burdensome to comprehend. There were also days when walking through a parking lot or making it through the grocery story successfully felt like a full on battle of the mind.

Through therapy, counsel, prayer, and studying scripture, I have been able to peel back those layers of dissociation and hyper-vigilance in order to walk more soundly and live in the present moment without being bound up in fear. Dissociation, to me, has felt like living life on autopilot and from a distance; like being on an airplane and looking down at the tiny world below. I could be walking and talking like everyone else, yet not even present to enjoy what I was doing or who I was with. My head has been floating tied to balloon strings with a cloud surrounding my vision that I began to refer to as my “gauzy layer of protection”.

Sometimes, the need to dissociate drove my ‘need’ to self-medicate in order to make that gauzy layer of protection even more gauzy.  There was a time when I just wanted my mind to be bubble wrapped and separated from my surroundings entirely. At the slightest perception of threat, my mind was on point at being able to retreat from my surroundings completely. Just the threat of judgment, abandonment, and rejection could have my mind living on an entire bouquet of balloon strings for weeks at a time.

I finally began to write about and talk about some of the most disturbing of memories. I don’t want to run the risk of this blog becoming nothing more than a trip down the bad memory lane, but I do believe sharing parts of this journey are important. There are others out there who are living with trauma, fear, and anxiety and are feeling completely trapped in a state of hopelessness.

While I am not likely to go into the fine details here, perhaps bits and pieces are appropriate in order to explain some of the roots of the ‘fight or flight’ and how deeply trauma can actually affect someone. When I was thirteen years old and had gone missing, I began to find myself in strange places, having no clue how I got there or who all of those scary grown-ups were. There were some people who kept me drugged up with a plethora of hardcore chemicals that I had absolutely no understanding of at the time.  So, the bits and pieces of some memories have been haunting to the core. I don’t care to take my mind on that journey today, but I remember enough. I have vocalized some of these memories in therapy, to my husband, to a few others, and to my mother. I don’t know that they want a repeat of that, because they read this blog and pray for these words along with me. A lot of those old memories go completely dark and void, save for the haunting sound of my voice screaming.

Years ago, I used to find myself driving in my car, having no idea where I was going or doing, and listening to myself screaming. I would even scream at God to make it all stop and why was He letting me scream like this, anyway? Didn’t He hear me screaming for help? Where was He? Did He not see what was happening to that little girl? A long time ago, in an insane state of fight or flight, I have tried to attack my mother and my two brothers. Others have witnessed these states as well, having no idea what was going on, left to walk away believing I was a lost cause or completely off my rocker.

I still have nightmares about screaming and seeing faces I do not want to see, but Jesus started showing up in those dreams and shouting, “Leave her!”  I wake up with a start when that happens, feeling flooded with peace and love.  My night terrors and nightmares have come under His authority and I praise Him for that one, tiny miracle.  There was a time when I would keep myself up all night long after a nightmare, sitting with a blanket and pillow, watching the room in case someone or something was going to get me. It was brutal. That small miracle of peaceful sleep opened up for me when I began praying Psalm 4:8 every night before laying my head on the pillow:

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Granted, what I have been through is not even as awful as what others are forced to live through each and every day. But, I have asked myself this question many times: how does a God of love even let such atrocities happen in this world?

I wish I had easy answers and could lay it all out in black and white like some profound expert of wisdom. There are no easy answers. But, I do know one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt; the Lord grieves over the things human beings are doing to each other. The Lord grieves over our losses, our wounds, our hurts, and our dirty, putrid attitudes. He grieves over these things because they separate us from Him.

God loves us so much, He gave up His Son as our ransom so that we could be freed from the prisons of the soul. I am taking that belief to the bank and cashing it in, because God Himself has woven all of the fine details of my life together so all I can see is Him when I am haunted by the worst of it.

If you are trapped in a prison of fear today, I want you to know that you are not alone.  There is hope. There is freedom. There is life after the darkest of days. If you or someone you know needs prayer, my inbox is open and available. I have resources galore that I have collected during my time in therapy and I love to share those resources with those who are seeking help and a way out of the slimy pits and prison cells of the mind and soul.

Psalm 40:2

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

This post appears in the book: Shattered in Him  © 2016 JD Mays

45 thoughts on “Filthy pits and prison cells…”

    1. I experience a lot of Jesus in my dreams and I love it. It is what has calmed so many fears!! When I go too long without seeing Him in my sleep, I start craving Him to pop back into my dreams again. I cannot count how many times He has appeared in my dreams to shout, “LEAVE HER!” I just got goosebumps again!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am so grateful you are allowing yourself and your past to be used for God’s glory. I am positive there are bruised and crushed people out there who are going to find hope from what you have been through and the journey you are making.
    May you be blessed and may you bless others.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My prayer tonight is that the Lord will do those little miracles to set people free from those painful prisons! My heart just goes out to the hurting and wounded so deeply. I’ve been one for far too long and I asked God to give me the strength to start sharing my story if it would mean helping at least one hurt sheep! Tonight, I am just so full of praise for what He has done in my life. It is truly a miracle in the deep down places.

      I am always so happy to visit your blog with the recipes and pictures. It feels like a cozy little home over there! It makes me smile! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. When my kids set the blog up for me they asked what I wanted it to be about. I told them it would probably be very random but I wanted to be an encourager and to give people hope. I wanted to make them smile and feel like it was a safe place to come visit…..where you feel like the best kind of family. I am so glad it makes you smile and feels cozy for you! You have made my day.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, thank you for sharing part of your story. My heart breaks for your past, but I am so thankful that Christ has brought peace, healing, and freedom to your life. My in-box is open as well. I’d love to be your friend. Many blessings.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. On this part of my journey, I am continually reminded of Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I am beginning to find how true that actually is, regardless of what is behind, the more I get to know God. It is awesome to see what God is doing in your life, as well. You are tackling a tough subject, but it is one that needs to be tackled.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with you that God grieves when he sees what humans are doing to one another. I too have often questioned, “why?” I don’t mean it out of disrespect, but rather my lack of understanding. There’s a verse that I often pull up at those times, “For your ways are not my ways and your thoughts are not my thoughts declares the Lord.” At times, this brings me some peace.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That verse is perfect for those questions! And, no, there is no disrespect in that. We truly do not understand and comprehend these things. I think God understands that and He is so merciful with us that He is willing to reveal those aspects of Himself if we are simply willing to set our own understand aside to accept His.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My heart is so touched to see your honesty, vulnerability, and strength. I too have PTSD, though my circumstances were not near as frightening as yours, they left scars. God uses scars and he uses our messes for ministries, if we allow Him to walk us through the pain and to the other side. Your light shines so bright dear girl. I’ve known a few other women who have been hugely traumatized, like you, and like you, Jesus comes to them too. I’ve concluded that because of the trauma, you girls get to ‘see’ the Savior. I know God is using you. Your writing is articulate and engaging. Your heart is strong, compassionate and loving. May God continue his mighty work in your life. Thanks for being you! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your encouragement is enormous to my heart right now! Thank you so much for so many smiles, Susan! I am sorry you have to deal with those four letters; I call them the “uglies” instead. Amazingly, though, my bad cases of the ‘uglies’ have muted greatly and His presence has been taking over where fear used to reside very loudly. I love the freedom and joy that I have been experiencing instead of all those ‘uglies’!

      I pray that God loves on you deeply and blesses you with Him strutting along your vision (like He did with Moses!). 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m so glad I can encourage you! I can picture your smiles and it is making me smile. 😉 My “uglies” are also greatly muted and God’s presence is near. He is the healer. He’s a good, good Father. Thank you for your very cool prayer, God Bless you always! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I praise the Lord that you allowed Him to be your Healer.. there are so many who remain in their own prison.. medicating the demons to stop the voices and inner pain.. Thank you for sharing your steps to recovery.. despite being difficult at times..
    God Bless You 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Medicating their demons…” I like the way you stated that. It is the truth! We can feed the lies and the brokenness without even realizing we are just allowing the beasts to grow. I am just glad Jesus has such a voice that even the raging sea has to obey Him! Thank you for the encouragement, Mary Ann!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Dear Shattered in Him, I do have an answer to your WHY! but first I would like to share my own Childhood with you, I will leave a link to save detail here, it is different than yours but the same in some of what you shared and yes we were both greatly abused.

    Childhood – http://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/the-early-years-a-little-lost-girl/

    Below are wonderful Scriptures and a beautiful Song that the Lord gave me to hold onto during my Storms. I also found that listening to gentle uplifting Christian Songs of Praise and Worship before I went to sleep relaxed me and stopped the Nightmares. Today I sleep peacefully and without Nightmares but still listen to Christian Music before I go to sleep and in the Morning I often find myself talking to The Lord and Praising Him.

    Isaiah 43:1-3 – Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”

    Jeremiah 29 :11-12 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of Peace and not of evil, to give you a Future and a Hope.

    Lamentations 3:33 For God doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the Children of Men.

    Christian Love and Blessings – Anne.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am a little speechless right now. Every single scripture you just quoted me are scriptures that God has continued to bring to me all along this journey. In fact, you should go peek at the “Why I am Here” page: https://shatteredinhim.com/whyiamhere/ Seriously. The Jeremiah 29:11 is at the bottom of the “Help A Ministry” page. And, the Lamentations one? Well, let us just say I have turned to that to LAMENT!!! Wow. Wow. Wow. Thank YOU!!!

      And, that song? Yes, it has very significant meaning, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry Shattered in Him, I meant to respond to your question below personally but the answer is as I shared on my Post, which is below your question.

        ** I have asked myself this question many times: how does a God of love even let such atrocities happen in this world? **

        Please hold onto this Truth as confirmed in the Scriptures, God knows us before we are conceived and it is not His will we suffer but He knows that we will and strengthens us. Some ask why did He not stop our suffering but if He was to stop all evil He would have to end this World and many would be lost but He is patient not wanting anyone to perish, meaning to be Eternally separated from Him and so suffer without Hope forever, He is giving them time to come to their senses and repent, accepting the free gift of Salvation in Christ Jesus and not one of us whom He knows as His own will be lost.

        Blessings – Anne.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes I’m also a bit overwhelmed Shattered in Him, I feel so blessed that our paths crossed, you are such a beautiful, honest woman with heartfelt Love and Compassion.

    I’m about to leave for Church now but I will respond to your Comments and read your link when I come home. I will also be Thanking God that we met during Prayer time today and on the way to Church.

    Your in my Thoughts and in heart my dear Sister in Christ Jesus, Blessings – Anne.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your experience is truly daunting. What a blessing that now you are able to speak to others through this blog. What a lovely couple you both are, that he encourages you to work for the Lord with this blog. I’m so happy for the two of you. I don’t recollect how I came across this blog but most certainly glad I did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not sure how we crossed paths, either. My husband and I have been perusing your writing and enjoying your writing style. You have such a unique perspective and it has been very refreshing! Thank you so much for sharing and for all of the support you have shown.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am encouraged by this (you have said about my writing).
        I tend to write about things people don’t wish to see, because life has handed them roles to which they succumb to in mundanity.
        So my blog doesn’t get a lot of traffic. I knew that my mission would be a difficult one to convey. But thank God, I’m okay with that.
        I love what I do, and sometimes wish I were not an Obscurity Seeker in make up. But all is fully well on that respect.
        You guys rest assured, I do what I do as He leads. Thanks for the compliments regardless.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I tried a couple of messages. Is your email account full? I would look into it with Gmail. I bet they could help reconcile the issue. Just know that I have had a group of people praying over your website and all of the kids.


  9. The tough times you’ve been through, survived, and emerged stronger for whichever reason; goes to show your evolved strength, and that you are on this planet for a special reason.
    Your metal has survived the testy fires, and made you irreversibly strong and courageous. For an important reason! Enjoy your journey, as you walk towards a beautiful horizon, that will make every past experience look insignificant from that place. Best wishes always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I am hesitant to lay claim to any strength of my own. Rather, I think I am just willing to trust God and allow Him to give me the guts to hang on. If that makes sense. And, the end of your comment is just so lovely! I like that word picture. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your sweet reply, compliment, and follow! I look forward to the day, when you get past all hesitations, and lay claim to actions evolving of your own strength. And I have a wonderful feeling you will! Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

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