It was two o’clock in the morning and I was locked into mortal combat with Jane’s electric typewriter. My English assignment was due in class at ten o’clock and the longer I looked at the watermark of the blank 100% cotton paper with wove finish, the more I felt like I lost the ability to think, write, or speak in English. On top of the paper was the weight of an abusive boyfriend. I hated life and the one thing I knew I could do was jump out my seventh floor window of Taylor Tower.
Instead of jumping out of the window, I went to our bathroom and got my razor blade from our medicine cabinet. I held the razor against my left arm and made a slit. I watched the red blood creep out of the one-inch line. I don’t recall any strong emotion, other than it felt good to feel something. I carefully, did this again until I ran out of room on my left arm and switched to my right arm. Same thing. Same emotion. Actually, better said, no emotion.
Realizing that I was out of my mind I went into our two bunk bed sleeping room and quietly told Jane that I was calling home and would see her later. I called my dad and told him what I was doing. He listened and answered, “I will be right there.”
I got dressed and put bandages on my arms before putting on a long sleeved blouse. I took the elevator down to the lobby and watched for the Buick’s headlights. I think we drove home in silence. I remember when we got into the kitchen that my dad handed me two pills and said that I would be able to sleep.
Before I knew it, he was shaking my arm and said, “Here, take this pill, it will help you wake up.” He dropped me off at my dorm in time for me to type my paper. Too many of my friends, including my boyfriend, had recently been admitted to psychiatric hospitals. I think this was my dad’s way of saying, “Sorry, but our family doesn’t do things like this.”
Jane and I survived one roommate’s depression and departure and another roommate who envied Jane and drove us nuts. The following year we chose to lessen our drama with roommates and move to South Campus and live together in Baker Hall. I was with the same boyfriend who had just finished his second stay at a different psychiatric hospital.
Realizing that I would never be able to leave this abusive boyfriend, I transferred my junior year to a school out West. His letters and roses kept coming and I almost returned to what I had left to get away from. I didn’t and it was a “rescue” of wild proportion.
The following year I transferred back to Ohio State and became a “townie” which meant I was living off campus. I remember a cold morning with my father shouting, “Come quick!! Hurry!!” I ran to my parents’ bedroom and on the morning news were scenes of a burning apartment building near campus. The reporter was speaking words that landed in jumbles at the pit of my stomach. My former boyfriend had died in the fire.
Weeks before his death I began a relationship with Jesus Christ. No wonder the book of James was my favorite! “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2,3) I easily can recall those years of loneliness and fear before and after this boyfriend’s death. I can only begin to imagine if my older self could have said something to my younger eighteen–year-old self what I might have heard. Possibly, “One day you will be loved and cared for and so many of your hopes and dreams will come true.”
If only I knew then what I know now, would I have been so desperate?
And what if my glorified self, who will one day be in heaven, could speak to me right now at age sixty-six? What might I be told? I suppose, both voices might echo together saying, “You have no idea what you will have to go through to get to where you will one day be!” And you have no idea of the wonder and glory that is yours that has risen in the midst of your darkest moments.”
If you only knew now, a small portion, of what you will one day know, you’d hold your suffering with far more exquisite kindness and awe.
Listen well. Your life depends on it.
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of almost 40 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living! bs
Becky, this is such a powerful piece of writing. Wow….it blew me away. The abusive boyfriend, the other suffering students, your own suffering and how your parents handled it, you moving away and coming back – finding Christ – but the line that struck me the most was, “And you have no idea of the wonder and glory that is yours that has risen in the midst of your darkest moments.” It gives me hope. I’m walking through dark moments that feel like they are never going to end. God uses our suffering – I know He does. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your reflective insights with us, your readers.
Barbara, thank you for your words. I hope that your walking through dark moments will not last too long. It is so easy to not see any good in our suffering. May every tear drop me a holy reminder that you are seen and held dearly by our savior.
Thank you for sharing more of your wonder and glory with us here. I was with that eighteen year old woman in her pain and confusion and feeling of entrapment. It felt so close. What courage she had to make choices for herself as best as she knew, calling home, removing herself from toxic situations, not returning. What wild rescue and pursuit of her heart by the lover of her soul. I am still finding words of kindness for my own eighteen year old self. Thank you for providing some here with your perspective and reminder of the weight of glory. One day we will know in full and be fully known. Until then, thank you for the reminder to slow and listen. Every blessing to you.
Julie, I am grateful you are finding words of kindness for your eighteen year old self. Yes, one day “we all will know in full and be fully known.” I love that. Thank you for replying with your tender and wise words.
As I sat down to my morning coffee, Pete who is always the earlier riser said, „You‘ve got to read your Red Tent Living.“
This was such a heavy piece to read, yet with strong encouragement by the end. There was a thread that sounded familiar, but as I scrolled down to finish the final lines and saw your familiar, lovely face, a gasp of pain escaped my lips! „No, I cried!!! Thinking …not such deep pain in my freind‘s Heart! Becky, I haven’t seen you in years but I’m so grieved by all the hard things you’ve been through. I can only imagine the tears I’m crying now have been shed by our Savior in so much more unbelievable abundance!!! I know your insights are truths from Jesus, but the pain is still awful. I’m so sorry you’ve lived through it all. Your courage to share your pain with others is however awesome & sure to be used by God to help the many who today are not yet able to see what God is doing in their hearts. Loving you across the many miles sweet friend! But so glad that Jesus loves you more!
Dear Laura and Pete, wow. Little did we know that after forty some years that we would remember one another and remember loving Jesus together. Thank you for your kindness. How easy it is to not remember our journeys. I hope that bearing one another’s burdens allows for connection and love. I am grateful for the years that did not allow your family’s tender and strong love for Jesus.
Oh Becky… what a story of God’s redeeming love… how He never ever stops wooing us to Himself… and I love this… to hold our suffering with far more exquisite kindness and awe… isn’t this the beauty of age… and how you can now turn to those younger and gently help them reframe those moment of suffering!!! Thanks for you vulnerability here… sharing the guts and glory of your story!!!!
Thank you, Ro! I do hope that words of past suffering somehow help and encourage others.I am so grateful that being vulnerable seems easier and easier for the glory of the Gospel.
Thank you Becky. You never cease to amaze me. I am so grateful for you. Your story reminds me of Dr.Curt Thompson’s words (not an exact quote)..’we cannot look for healing in the presence of our abuser’. Your words today are timely in my own story. Please, never stop writing. You have a gift.
Marie, bless you. I pray that Jesus rescues you where you are right now. Thank you for your encouragement.
“One day you will be loved and cared for and so many of your hopes and dreams will come true.” “And you have no idea of the wonder and glory that is yours that has risen in the midst of your darkest moments.” Would to God my heart could believe these words would be true in my own life. Profoundly moving. Thank you, Becky.
May Jesus allow you to feel His love and presence. I am praying for you know His love and buoy your heart.
“…what if my glorified self, who will one day be in heaven, could speak to me right now at age sixty-six? What might I be told? I suppose, both voices might echo together saying, “You have no idea what you will have to go through to get to where you will one day be!” And you have no idea of the wonder and glory that is yours that has risen in the midst of your darkest moments.” Pause. Reread. Deep breath. Hope. Thank you Becky. This piece is stunningly transparent, incredibly wise, and beautifully written. <3
Thank you Susan.
Oh Becky, there is so much pain in this story! I could feel the hope rise in me when you talked about picking up the phone and calling your dad, only to feel it sink with the words “sorry but our family doesn’t do things like this.” How courageous you were to move yourself away, fearing you would return to an abusive relationship.
Your writing clearly shows the truth of your words about holding your suffering with exquisite kindness and awe – you are tenacious in seeking that kindness and awe both in your own story, and in others. Such beautiful redemption! Much love to you.
Thank you Janet! I wish I could have been kinder to myself so much sooner…Years sooner!!! I am grateful that so much of our past can be looked at through a different and kinder lens. Hallelujah! Much love to you back at ya!