By Dorothy Husen, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist: submitted by Karen Garst ~
These are my greatest hopes and desires for you today as I write this letter:
For you to love and accept yourselves;
For you to feel comfortable with who you are; and
For you to trust your intuition to be your inner guide through life.
These desires are quite different from when I was a Christian.
When I was your Christian mom, my greatest desires for you were:
For you to recognize your need for God;
For you to believe in Jesus to save you from hell; and
For you to find your purpose and guidance through faith in Christ.
I don’t think that any of these desires has anything to do with my love for you. I love you now and I loved you then. What HAS changed is my love for myself.
Over the last six years, I’ve been healing in therapy from my childhood trauma of emotional and sexual abuse and at the same time I’ve been deconverting from Christianity to Atheism.
I know you’ve felt the change. Both of you have mentioned it to me. 😉
Remember in the movie, The Matrix, when Neo was given a choice to either take the red pill and awaken to the reality of how his brain was being hijacked? Or he could take the blue pill to remain in the fake dream world of the matrix?
Six years ago my therapist held out a red pill to me. If I chose to take it, I would awaken to the reality of my childhood experiences and face my fears. If I choose the blue pill, I would retreat back to where I had been living for the past 25 years…into the Jesus Wonderland Matrix.
I chose the red pill. Guess what I found? …the truth has set me free. [ok I’ll concede the bible has some gems of wisdom].
So you might be asking why this is important for you? I hope that when you read some of my story, you will come to understand yourselves better.
I know that you both struggle with hearing critical and insecure voices in your head. Let me tell you where those voices come from. Those critical voices come from me [and your traumatized dad]. We put those in your head when you were little because at that time we believed that at your core, you were sinful, bad, and rebellious. We were so WRONG. You were normal good kids.
Where did this wrong belief come from you might ask. Well, partly these critical voices were put into our heads from our parents. And partly from our Christian belief in original sin. Here’s a little formula to remember…
Childhood Trauma + Christian Faith = Parents who pass on their trauma unto their children, from generation to generation to generation. [From grandma and grandpa to mom and dad to Emma and Dustin].
You see, that shame that I felt from my childhood, I misunderstood as sin. For most of my life I felt bad, perverted, sinful, scared, anxious, empty and unworthy of love because of the shame that I carried within me from sexual abuse when I was a child.
Christianity taught me how to manage those bad feelings through spiritual practices like praying and reading my bible. The bible taught me to deny myself [and my past], pick up my cross, and follow Jesus. I also prayed A LOT as a way to escape the pain of inadequacy that I felt. Remember how I used to sleep a lot and take a lot of naps? Yup, I know we reframed it as a family quirk, but this was another way I escaped.
These icky feelings increased over time so that by the time you were children, I was expending alot of energy managing these yucky feelings. I had PTSD but misdiagnosed it and misinterpreted it as my wicked, sinful, warped, evil nature.
The only coping tools I had were my spiritual practices of prayer, bible study, and church which at least helped me feel good about myself some of the time. As you can see, this didn’t leave much energy for being your mom. So you naturally felt insecure, confused, and alone.
The ONLY solution that I knew of was for you to take the blue pill. Your dad and I were both living in the Jesus wonderland of the matrix desperately pulling at you and screaming at you, “Take the blue pill!, PLEASE take the blue pill!”
You forced us to step out of the matrix once in a while [just by being normal kids], but we really did not like stepping out. So we yelled at you and argued with you and became very angry with you. We felt hurt that you didn’t want to join us. This was not your fault even though we made you feel like it was your fault. It wasn’t.
But because we had the advantage of being your parents, we used every parental trick we could think of to get you to join us into the Jesus Wonderland matrix.
We used our whole arsenal of spiritual weapons…
We prayed, we recruited our family’s prayers, we dragged you to church, we forced you to go to Christian youth camp, we sent you to Christian counselors, we sent you to Christian behavioral modification programs, we shamed you, we sent you into therapy [not us, just you]…
Emma and Dustin, I am so so sorry. It was I who was broken and needed help, not you. I know your dad feels the same. Does this help you to understand yourselves better? I hope so.
I can see you clearly now the pain of the past is gone.
I can love you for who you are because I can love myself.
I can accept you because I can accept myself.
I’d like to leave you with some things I know for sure…(yeah, I know this is an Oprah interview question)…
~Love covers over a multitude of fear.
~You and I are good enough just the way we are.
~All life here on earth IS the miracle, so Live YOUR Life and BE the miracle.
~Human beings are born good.
~Choosing the red pill was not easy, but it DEFINITELY was worth it!
I love you,
Dorothy Husen, Guest Author
October 13, 2017