Insights & Revelations By Fire
By: Michele Neil
My body was scarred, yes, but I could see that it was a female body. Since the initial burns I saw myself as ugly, a hideous beast much like the elephant man. But there it was, a recognizable female body. I was exhilarated by learning that I was human and that I was a female, but I felt sadness for the loss of my unscarred and
youthful, child's body. And, I grieved that loss which should have been worked through at the time of the loss. I was able to accept the reality that my body was now 32 years old. To know that I was a female, something other than an "it" was exhilarating. The whole process of grieving the loss of my body image and accepting the altered body image brought about a miraculous and powerful change.
It was as if by ethereal threads, my mind and body was sewn back together. A roller coaster ride of intense emotions accompanied the process. I felt my body come alive and although the emotional pain was extreme I could finally feel and the feelings were overwhelming. I became less afraid to speak my mind. I began
to wear colourful, feminine, flattering clothes but I was still shy about revealing my scars. Since the accident, I had tremendous fear about others seeing my scars. The scars, I thought were the reason why I was despised by my father and why rejection would come from my peers. Now I wanted to be around people and get out into the public more often. I was energized and excited about what was ahead for me in my life. I felt all new and that life would be different now.
I felt like a teenager with hormones out of control. I reminded myself that I was a married woman with children but I did not feel loved by my husband. He was someone I tolerated and was forced to please. I had been robbed of the years of my youth and now I was bound in an unhappy marriage. I had issues with my father to resolve but I was trying to resolve them through other men, including my husband. I looked to God to help me understand what the hurricane of emotions was all about. I wanted real love in my marriage and real communication and trust. I wanted my husband to participate in the
good changes that were happening in me. And, I wanted changes for us both.
My husband didn't want the changes. I was coming alive and becoming my own person and that threatened him. I wanted to be free of fears, anxiety and depression. I wanted to be truly happy. I couldn't share with him or get his support during months of deep motional upheaval. He was as distant as always and ultimately our marriage ended in divorce.
The separation from my husband and home, and for a while, from my children, triggered debilitating pain of profound isolation and the old feeling of
disconnectedness from significant others. I had learned to associate being alone with being in pain, whether physical or emotional, with no comfort and
without help from others. And, at a deeper level I believed that I couldn't help myself. In a surreal world of lifelessness and anxiety, deep sadness and
depression clouded my mind and emotions. I lost initiative to do things.
I didn't want to read, write, do artwork, play the piano, study, or work. There was no inner spirit or energy to do the things I wanted to do. In my marriage I had been a workaholic and generally depressed. On my own my days were unproductive empty and frightening. Going for a drive or walk did not diminish the emptiness. I'd run to my friends to escape the fog.
Most of the time friends were not available for a visit, confirming my feeling of abandonment and that I was truly alone in the world. I would drive through town hoping to "be found" but unless I met with a good friend the sadness and despair in that surreal state would not lift. Having my children around did not alleviate this grievous state of mind. Although I struggled to get control of my life I could not overcome the mental and emotional fog of
deep despair and hopelessness. Sleeping through the hours of the day was an escape. There were so many things I wanted to do and accomplish in my life but I gave up trying because the surreal state always came over me and rendered me incapable of doing anything.
As I continued to seek God for help and understanding, changes came slowly. In my early forties I went back to College and picked up a diploma. Within six months I was working at a job for which I had trained. I continued to struggle with debilitating fears and anxieties about finances and being unable to look
after myself and sons. I asked God to increase my trust in Him.
One July morning in 2003 I was facing another day under the influence of that terrible feeling of deep aloneness. I was angry about it and I told God I didn't want to face one more day under the influence of the horrible sense of abandonment and hopelessness. At that moment I understood that I had been angry for years about being abandoned in the hospital. I had been angry at God and that had closed me off to better communication with Him. I asked God's forgiveness. Instantly a familiar sensation and power moved through my whole body. I knew I was being freed. The fog was gone, the pain was gone and the sense of isolation was gone and I knew at that moment it was gone forever. In situations that would guarantee feelings of loss and aloneness there was now a tremendous enjoyment in spending time alone. Instead of looking for company and companionship, I was finally happy with being by myself. My energy increased and I had hope and plans for the future.
Later that same summer I planned a move to Calgary, Alberta. Two of my sons where already residents of Calgary and my youngest and I wanted to join them. If it hadn't been for the healing miracle earlier that summer, I could not have moved onward in my life. And, because I had learned to put trust in God I was able to follow His lead to a new life. There are other remains of the burn trauma and from growing up in an abusive and dysfunctional family that make life a struggle, but not as in the past. My hope is in the Lord and in Him do I trust and that is the safest and happiest place in which to live.
Since I moved to Calgary, my life is so very different. I am truly happy and I experience the feelings of hope and joy every day. I treasure the insights that I have gained through the painful life I had lived. I have learned what this life is really about. Not only do I understand why things were they way they were but that because of my experiences I have gained infinitely more than I would have had my life been any different.
My father wanted to help my grandmother but he became angry when she refused to let him use the fuel he had brought back from the garage. Dad's feelings of inferiority were easily tormented. He'd become almost insanely irrational.
I believe that Dad threw the can at me deliberately. If he was angry or hurting, emotionally and physically he would lash out with physical violence at others. Dad had created the dilemma against someone else's better judgement.
Now that he was suffering as a consequence he had to "get even." It was just too humiliating. I happened to be the closet target. This was often the case and this is why I tried to stay hidden from my father. I never knew when he'd strike me or for what I might be whipped. I think that being the eldest child,
and more threatening than my younger sister, he'd use me to vent his rage.
I was terrified of my father. We never spoke one sentence to each other until I was in my early 20ies. I thought I would never be free of my fear of him.In my early 30ies, however, there was a dramatic change. (Same time as the many otherchanges were happening.) The fear left and I was able to sit in my father's presence and carry on a conversation without any fear. I visited him from time to time and actually enjoyed the short visits.
Before I moved to Alberta, Canada in October 2003, I took Dad out of the nursing facility he is living in and we went for a long drive and lunch. When I left him that day we hugged and he gave me a kiss on my cheek. It was the second hug I ever remember receiving from my Dad and the first hug I ever gave him. He said he loved me and I said the same.
I was almost certain it would be the last time I'd see him alive. I feel very sad about that as I would have liked to learn more about my dad and about how he felt during his times of difficulty in his life. Dad is dying a slow and painful death and he doesn't know who I am when I call. Even if I could visit
him he is not well enough to talk about the past.
Hope this helps.
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