Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Story of Libby Exline, Installment 8 - The End...But Not Really

And here, we continue on from Installment 7, where Libby's mother passed away, and see what comes of her life.  This is the final installment.

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OY!! After she [mom] died, any buffer between my dad and I was gone.  My dad had quit with the sexual abuse several years prior, but I was still afraid of him, and of dealing with what had happened.  With mom around, it was easier to not deal.  The day we buried her, I had terrible flash backs and was literally stuck reliving things.

My solution was to go back to school.  Because they had proven how good they were in cases like this, right?  I went, but it just didn't work.  I had panic attacks.  I'd never had them before; they were the scariest things I'd lived through.  I contemplated suicide again, and even ran my car off roads a couple times.  In the mean time, I talked a little to the pastor of the church at school.  He was...not as bad as the evil pastor I'd had at home, but when it came to rules, he was adamant.  They were good!  Keep 'em!  Those weren't the topics of our conversations, though.  We talked about me, my past with dad, and I saw a sweeter side to him.  He helped me through many a dark day.  He came to love me as a daughter.  Couldn't love me more if I had been his daughter, he said.
Finally, I just could not go on. I wasn't attending classes, I was having panic attacks regularly, and the urge to kill myself was growing. Around this time, my boyfriend broke up with me, devastating me more. Even though I knew I didn't love him...  I finally went to see my doctor back home, who had me admitted to the psych ward.  The church was aghast.  THIS WAS AGAINST THE RULES!!!!  And this was one of the more important rules, too.  The pastor who couldn't love me more if I were his own daughter came to see me for 5 minutes and prayed for deliverance. I never saw him again.  The current pastor at my church came with his wife, and she cried like I'd been diagnosed with cancer.  (Evil pastor had finally been voted out). In fact, the only person who showed any interest in visiting me was my dad!!

I was in the hospital a month.  The first time.  I spent a lot of time there for awhile.  I just didn't think I had anything to live for.  My spiritual fate had been decided; what else was there?  It took a lot of therapy and medication just to get me to not want to die. 

My sister-in-law ultimately saved me. When it became obvious I wasn't going back to school, she said I could not live with dad, so invited me to live with my brother and her. I got into long term therapy, and today--wow!  I'm a totally different person.  I like me.  There's a lot to like, turns out!  I'm living a good, full, and most of all, peace-filled life.  I'm - dare I say it? - happy.  I've discovered joy.  Not through the church, or god or the bible, but because I made it through my early life, and made it big!  I am so much more than the person I was raised to be! So much better, deeper, fuller, loving.  I don't thank god for what I went through in his name. ( In fact, I'm angry with him for allowing it.  Over the years, my anger has lessened, but it's still there).  Instead, I thank myself for the way I handled it, dealt with it, and didn't give up.  I had hit bottom so hard I knocked myself out for a bit.  But I got up, brushed myself off, and here I am today.

I wish I could definitively say what I've done with god.  I read blogs of people with pasts similar to mine who are atheists, and I envy them that.  I think I lean in that direction, but wow! kinda scary!  Then I read blogs of people who have a great, loving relationship with god, and I envy them that.  I just don't see that happening for me.  As an adult, I've been to churches that were all about love and grace, and did well at first.  Then, not so much.  Seems I'm only comfortable for a little while accepting god as loving me.  Then I tie myself up in knots with rules and condemnation again.  It's a knee-jerk reaction. So for now, I leave god alone, thank him for leaving me alone, and think that maybe, eventually, I'll know what I believe.  I know that whatever happens, I have myself. How empowering is that!  And so, here I am on this path, learning and loving, and being oh- so -patient with me as I work this out.  Or don't, whatever the case may be.  Life just can't get much better than this.  And I'm thankful, to my marrow, for the things I've learned, the things I've unlearned, and the strength and understanding I've gained, and the loving people in my life that I have today as a result of my healing.

*****

And that ends Libby Exline's story.  The good came quite fast in the end but after eight installments of misery, it was worth it.  Thank you for reading.

10 comments:

  1. Oh, Libby, my heart bleeds for you. I'm so sorry for all you've been through! It's true, there is no place for depression, and I never took it seriously myself until I went to college and literally my first semester I suffered crippling panic attacks - as it would turn out, I would struggle with depression for the rest of my years there. I'm pretty sure the depression was due to intense guilt that I wasn't home emotionally supporting my mother - we had just discovered my stepfather had been sexually abusing my sister - and that the brunt of caring for all my younger siblings was on her shoulders - oldest child syndrome or something of that nature.

    Thanks for your story, and I hope with all my heart that your climb upwards continues.

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  2. Love to Libby Exline! I share your joy at your triumph over such a shi*** family experience.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocDlOD1Hw9k

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  3. Wow. That is a graphic and powerful video.

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  4. It also has a happy ending, which it seems Libby is busy making for herself. I hope it didn't offend.

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  5. Thanks for all the well-wishing! Seeing my story in print was powerful, at times hurtful, but it helped to see how far I've come. Thank you, IC, for writing it.

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  6. Libby, Thank you so much for sharing your story. Thank you for your courage in sharing, and all that you have added to the world by having the courage to live. I identified with so much in your story, and I haven't made my happy ending yet--mostly intense grieving right now--but I'm working on it. I sometimes feel so in awe that the spark of self didn't die through all the years of trying to get it to die with every weapon I could find--and I felt similarly about you. I so wanted that "self" that seemed so evil and dirty to die, but now I'm so grateful that it hung on. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  7. Blueorchid, I know exactly what you mean about that spark of self not dying. Hugs to you as you go through the rough parts of healing. It does end, eventually. I'm glad if my story helps anyone going through what you're going through.

    Good luck (hard work) in your journey.

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    1. Libby,
      Thank you so much for being open enough to share. I left the church WHEN THEY PUT a pastor on discipline for wearing a short sleeve chaplain uniform! As far as the standards, I am generally far from that world, and as you indicated there were degrees with that. My parents were very very loving kind people who were never as strict as the church in general, and were very ecumenical. Sadly, I think you experienced the worst. I am not making excuses, because many were hateful, exclusive, and demanding; however, there were many kind, gentle, understanding folks, and knowing some still today, mental health issues are dealt with diffently at least in general in that church then you were dealt with sadly. I am hurt that some friends consider me going to hell because we disagree, but I MUST BE FAIR AND SAY A SIGNFICANT NUMBER OF THEM i talked to recently know we disagree about alot of things, but simply look at it as a difference of opinion and have faith in my Christianity, though I live differently than them. I too heard alot of the fire and brimestone, but also heard many who showed me and taught me love and acceptance, I would have not made it through dealing with my abuse had it not been for a couple of those folks.

      i for, one value your questions, though I am a person of faith,I actually think God welcomes our questions. ..read the Psalms, or how about Jesus on the cross.. why have you forsaken me? As I deal with end of life issues in my work, I find very few who do not have faith or want faith at that time. Most often, they are open to me beocause I do not have an agenda. I call many of them the "dechurched' ..they really havr some faith inside, but have been so wounded they have not been connected in a long time. I ENCOURAGE you to keep exploring faith, and do not judge God by the idiots who sometimes represent him. When I came back from agnosticism, i do not feel like i have all the answers, except without God or faith life and purpose make no sense. And, there seems TO be too much intelligent design. My only real answer comes in the suffering death and resurrection of Jesus who cried "My god Why have you forsaken me" followed by the words it is finished and his resurrection that gives me hope. All suffering is answered, though not explained in that moment. Anyhow, good luCK in your journey, and if you ever want to talk ,coimnig from the same place perhaps we can connect offline, I am very interested in this subject especially with osomeone WILLING to be so honest.

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  8. Libby,

    Um, this is the forth or fifth attempt to say something, because it is so hard to say anything to a story like yours.

    Thank you for sharing what happened to you. I'm sad you had to go through it - no one should ever have to go through that. I'm glad you are healing.

    Hugs!

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