When I was a young girl, I had a father who was both abusive and an alcoholic. like you, I had to learn how self pity can hurt you and how to let it go. I had to learn resilience in order to survive. Here is my story. I hope it will help you in your current struggle.
I remember sitting on the edge of my bed many, many nights with my hands over my ears and praying that God would make it all stop. I prayed for the abuse to end; I prayed for the yelling to end. But despite my prayers, things never got better. I remember one day, after years of the abuse, my mother left him. I was so relieved to be free; so glad to be out of that house. But although I begged her to not go back, my mom returned to my father, and the abuse continued.
The Pain of Abuse
Very few people knew what happened in that house; a few relatives knew and my best friend. Others would comment on “how nice your father is” or other comments like “he is such a kindhearted person”. I used to wonder: “How do they not see the anger, bitterness, and hurt he causes?” “How do they not see he is an alcoholic?” “How can they not see my pain?” I didn’t understand this at my young age, but I was learning to be self-sufficient, and take control of my own situation, even before I reached adulthood. It was also at this early age that I lost my ability to trust others. Thankfully I would learn to trust again as I got older, and my relationship to Christ grew stronger. If you would like to have your own relationship with Christ, we invite you to watch this video.
Broken Lost and Confused
I felt broken, lost, confused, often overwhelmed. I married young, to a very loving and kind man, but he couldn’t erase the pains of my past. He couldn’t rescue me, although I would say he did his very best. I would cry myself to sleep more times than I can remember. If my husband put his arms around me, I would recoil; expecting the abuse to return, even though I had zero reason to fear; zero reason to recoil from him. He was always patient, always kind, and he taught me what true love really looks like. He wasn’t perfect, but he was always loving.
Self Doubt, Self Pity, Self Worth
I wish I could say I handled everything perfectly and I never stressed about my past. I would love to say I never dealt with any self-doubt, self-pity, or questioned my self-worth. Instead, I must admit that I spiraled out of control. I knew God; I had accepted Christ as a teenager. But I didn’t understand that my relationship with Christ wasn’t going to magically “fix everything”. God wasn’t a genie in the bottle that could make all my wishes come true and being a Christian didn’t mean that I was immune to a difficult childhood or that I was going to have a “perfect” life going forward. You can read about letting go of the pain in your life here.
Anger and Self-Pity
I spent years, as a young adult, not understanding how to deal with my pain. I had a lot of anger, and a lot of self-pity. I wasn’t a happy person. Oh, I had moments of happiness: days, weeks, even months. But overall, I can’t say I was very happy during this period in my life. I was letting my past control me. I felt the world owed me for my pain, and it took me awhile to learn that my self-pity was doing nothing but making me more bitter and less lovable.
I knew I didn’t want to remain an unhappy person all my life. I had to do something. Then the self-control kicked in that I had learned when I was so young, and I started searching for answers. I read a lot of self-help books in those days, but I can honestly say the book that gave me my answers was the Bible.
How to Overcome Self-Pity
I would read and read some more when I was feeling low. I didn’t know where to turn or what verses to find; I just searched. I didn’t have someone guiding me on “how to recover from abuse” or “how to overcome self-pity” or “how to let go of the past”. I just read the Bible, book after book, Verse after verse. And I would pray to my Jesus to help me. I asked God for guidance; I asked Him to heal me from my past; I asked Jesus to help me get past my pain and allow me to move forward in happiness with my loving husband. And one night as I was reading, I found this verse:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I read that verse, and suddenly, the crying stopped. The words jumped off the page towards me. I knew, somehow, this was written just for me. I felt the weight of my past lift from my shoulders. I finally understood! No matter what I went through in my life (past or future) God was with me! I didn’t need to be scared, anxious, or carry the burdens of my past: God would strengthen me and help me deal with anything life threw my way! My God, whom I accepted as my Lord and Savior years before, was going to hold me up. HE would care for me, and lift me up, with His perfect, free from guilt and sin, right hand.
Leaving the Past Behind
It was in that moment that I learned to turn it over to God. My past was my past, and I could do nothing to change it. But I could ask my loving Savior to rise me above the pain, to give me peace and comfort, and to learn to live with it, rather than letting it control my life. I began to learn to trust again, although I still had a lot to learn about fully trusting in my adult years to come.
I still had difficult days where I slid back into my old “poor me” attitude. But I learned to rely on the one person who would keep His promise to give me strength and hold me up when I was weak. I learned that I could trust my Heavenly Father; that He would never be anything but loving, gracious, and forgiving. Even when I made mistakes, He still forgave me. Unlike my earthly father, he didn’t raise His voice when I was less than perfect. Even when I was unlovable, He showed me nothing but love. God became my rock; the one and only one whom I could trust for my strength. I taped the words to Isaiah
Slowly, over time, I was able to let go of my past.
I was even able to forgive my father for the abuse he caused. And I was able to learn to love and be loved. My husband and I had over 31 wonderful years together before Jesus called him home, and I believe to this day, that he was put in my life to help me learn what unconditional love looked like. I carried way too much of my abusive father in me. But despite my imperfections, my husband loved me unconditionally. Read more about how to forgive someone who has hurt you here.
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
And Ephesians 4:32
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
I will continue to “run the race” called life and I will press on, teaching others about my Lord, whose love never fails me, until I reach Heaven. And I will let go of the past, the self-pity, and the pride, and let God lead me wherever He wants me to go.
We invite you to find out more about Jesus by watching the GREAT NEWS FOR YOU video on this page.