When one has been in solitude for a long time as a coping mechanism, it takes insurmountable courage to express themselves; the thought of putting yourself out there, makes one feel very vulnerable. Your mind tells you solitude is safe. However, what I have learnt in my journey towards healing is that fear for the unknown can be quite paralyzing.
Whereas we cannot be ignorant of a harsh world that considers trolling a ‘thing’, healing actually begins when you take up courage to speak and rise above the shame, (*shaming the shame). The pain that has crippled us for years; the pain of childhood traumas that we have suppressed for years, cycles of rejection, betrayal, emotional abuse, physical abuse, death, grief, deep sorrow, struggling to find your sense of belonging, the awareness that you need to express yourself, but the very thought squeezes life out of you, when you remember how many times you’ve been misunderstood.
All this feels like being buried in a heap of garbage. Yes, I visualize it like gold or treasure buried in a heap of garbage with no one willing to reach out and pull it out. But it reaches a point where you get so exhausted of the weight on your shoulders, it becomes suffocating. That’s when it starts feeling like groping around in total darkness trying to find a switch, or being in a bottomless pit, trying to find a reed to hold on to and crawl out. This is the critical point where you really need support system to literally pull you out of the pit.
At this point, you’re so tired that you imagine death as so peaceful… You want to live but it all feels like unbearable pain. The most unfortunate thing is that the people around you seem to have no clue about what’s going on with you, they think you are just being petty or seeking sympathy. They don’t realize you are on survival mode; every waking moment comes with excruciating pain; a dagger like wound in the chest. At this point you have probably exhibited some irrational behavior as your brain tries a coping mechanism to suppress the pain. The sad irony of life is that, when you need help, that’s when no one wants to be associated with you. No one wants to help this gold crawl out of the dirt or the heap of garbage they are buried in, and unless God in his love and mercies awakens and burdens people towards helping you, you are pretty much on your own. Sad, right? Yes. Depression is a very lonely place.
When people wrestling with depression, suicidal thoughts and death wishes attempt to open up, it’s not something they can adequately put into words; It is a whole mess on the inside, a storm, a hurricane, a whirlwind of thoughts, emotions and desires beyond human expression. So when they try to explain themselves, they are often viewed as needy, conniving, attention seeking, demanding, ill-intentioned or manipulative. In truth, they are quickly running out of their internal coping strategies and are desperately groping about for someone, something called hope they can hold on to, so they can crawl out of the pit.
When they are not able to find that someone, or if they are pushed away and ignored for long enough, they now completely isolate themselves and end it. I know that because I have been there.
After years of bottling up emotional and psychological wounds from childhood traumas, loss of my father prematurely and later the loss of my mum, I then developed a lower back problem that affected my legs and nerves, hence subsequently affecting my daily life, (which I have been dealing with for the last three years). I thought I had just had enough of my own shares in life, but Nooo…; In my struggle to find healing, last year(2020), I fell in very wrong hands, camouflaged as “A man of God”. That did it! It cut off the last hold I had in life. The deceit, betrayal and the manipulation that I suffered through this man(who was a narcissist) , drove me over the edge and incapacitated me; psychologically, physically and emotionally. I went into severe depression; struggling with the mere basics of getting off the bed, or taking a shower. I really wanted to die, I went to bed every night, asking God to take me. Mornings were the most horrible, as I wondered why another day of pain had come. I groped in this darkness for four months until God by His mercies sent angels in form of humans, who extended a hand of compassion and I started my therapy sessions.
I will forever be grateful to God, and I am so humbled by His mercies and love; He touched the hearts of people who bore my pain, saw my condition as it was, and without judgement came to my rescue to walk this journey with me. As I said before; many whom I thought would understand, actually left, avoiding any association. God sent me angels in form of strangers.
Unfortunately, 22 years ago, my father didn’t get such a chance; Instead of enjoying the joy of a little girl having a healthy bond with her father, I watched him dealing with the aftermath of rejection, his struggles with a sense of belonging and self-worth, sent him spiraling down to depression, then alcohol. Now I know that’s the only way he knew as a coping mechanism, I still remember when he was not drunk, how he would take a wooden seat and go to the same spot, just sit there, his arms crossed. He had this faraway look in his eyes and a sad face.
I could tell he was hurting, I wanted to go sit at his feet and give him company, but it looked like he wanted to be left alone. When he was drunk he was a very jovial man; would put on this worship tape cassette and tell us to join him and sing along; his favorite song was “Momîrîirie, mûno marute andů, njîra ya muoyo ni mûtharaba”. Translated to mean that the disciples endured a lot of suffering, to teach us that the only way to everlasting life, is through the cross.
Yes, this man was gold, a treasure hidden in pain. And through it all, he remained a very responsible father. Sadly, I lost him prematurely at 40, where life, apparently begins. If only someone had seen the gold in him and help him out of the garbage pit, but unfortunately, the ones who could have done that, were probably the first to put him back in that garbage pit, every time he tried to crawl out.
One of the reasons why people with deep emotional and psychological wounds take too long to heal, sometimes is because the people they meet in life or the people around them, do not know how to handle a flickering wick or a weak reed. They lack the heart of Christ, who will never break a weak reed or put out a flickering light. (Isaiah 42:3, Matthew 12:20).
So instead of shielding and nurturing them in an environment full of gentleness and protection, they push them, rough them up, mock them for being ‘weak,’ and dismiss them. They meet people who count their wounded hearts as burdens they would rather not be associated with. They meet people who break them when they are weak, and tread all over them when they are broken. They meet people who rubbish their pain and sarcastically tell them directly or indirectly to ‘man up,’ ‘get over it,’ or ‘grow up.’
People take physical wounds and sicknesses seriously, and one with an evident physical disease may be handled with some level of empathy and understanding. But when a person who’s battling emotional and psychological wounds and trauma tries to open up, they are treated as ‘attention seekers’ or people looking for a ‘pity party.’ Yet, their pain is valid and the internal, unseen damage is very real. More real than anyone can imagine.
And as we draw closer to the end, with the love of many growing cold, (Mat. 24;10-12,) such wounded hearts are closing up more and more. When a heart has been dismissed and mishandled for being wounded long enough, it shuts down.
And when a heart shuts down, unless God intervenes in His mercy, it begins to desire death. Thus the increased suicidal cases, even in the Church around the world, and so many people are struggling silently with the desire to end their lives. It’s only that they don’t have the guts, or at least that’s how they reason. But in reality, it is God who is holding them together. (As God held me together). It is God who is keeping them from falling apart.
If you are in that place right now, I pray with everything in me for healers to be sent to you. For gifted hands, gifted with compassion and tenderness to access you and hold you, graced by God to access the depths of your soul and heal you. Most of all, I pray that the healing power of God will access the very core of who you are and uproot the very source of your incessant pain. May you be made every bit whole. And for everyone else out there, who probably have no idea what it’s like to handle someone who is struggling with deep emotional traumas and depression. Maybe you don’t even have any idea how to recognize one, just normalize kindness and love. Avoid using harsh words and mockery. Extend grace even to those people you were about to write off based on their behavior, you never know the root cause of what they are dealing with. And believe you me, maybe what you consider irrational ‘behavior’ or even addictions, is a desperate out cry for help.
Pastor Gakwandi; Founder of Hope Mentorship Program.
Thank you for walking this journey with me. Tears are rolling as I remember where we are coming from…Thank you for the night calls, the questions nobody else would ask “how are you feeling today”, “how are your emotions “. For giving me hope and telling me what you saw in me that I couldn’t see when I was in so much pain… For your patience. May God bless your kind heart.
David, Asha & Liz Mwende (My support system); Thank you for being the angels that have held my hand. And for allowing me to break down during those calls.
James Wetu, words fail me…May God bless you for your kindness and support. Meeting you was divine.
About the Writer and the owner of the story
Virginia Muthoni Ngugi is a woman after God’s own heart. Given a second chance in life, and is passionately pursuing her purpose in the Kingdom; To give hope to the hopeless and encourage the broken hearted.