Marja Bergen

author, mental health activist, follower of Christ

Abused

 

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

I’m telling you this story because I’ve been writing much about the pain I’ve undergone over the past couple of years. Today I feel I need to fill you in a bit more than I have. Doing so will help me cope and, hopefully, move on. I will keep it short, not going into details. Trying, if possible, to maintain some degree of forgiveness.

Spanning over the course of more than a year I was psychologically abused by someone I had thought highly of and would have least expected. When no one else was around this person said hurtful things and treated me in hurtful ways. Frequently. Ongoing throughout that period.

I had always been well thought of, so this treatment was unbelievable from this person I had admired and thought to be so good. I was bewildered. What had I done wrong? Is it my behaviour? I asked for forgiveness if that was to blame but received no answers. The person would not talk to me.

My mental health – never strong – suffered severely while it was happening and for the years following. Eventually, I could take no more and walked away. But by the time I left I had lost much of who I used to be. I had almost forgotten what it was to have respect.

What saved me was the hours I continued spending with God in the early mornings. Throughout, I never stopped talking to God and writing. I took a lot of pictures as well and created Highs and Lows gift books. The work distracted me from the pain.

Dear readers: I want you to realize how writing to you on a regular basis has helped – and continues to help – with my healing. Long ago I learned that when my writing helps me find hope, and I then share it with you, the writer and the reader both benefit. Having you out there reading my work encouraged me. I felt I was passing on the love God had given me. You helped keep me going. Even through the worst times I was able to keep writing. Thank you so much for being there!

After leaving, there was some communication with the abuser – some of my emails not so kind. But later – to find peace – I did try to follow what Jesus taught, treating the person with love. When I learned the abuser was going through hard times, I sent notes of encouragement and prayer. I offered forgiveness for what had happened. But forgiveness was refused, saying it would “undermine my integrity.” Though there’s an awareness of the pain caused to me, remorse has not been shown.

For the first year after leaving, memories of the abuse were intense. They came whenever I awoke from sleep, bringing excruciating emotional pain and a desire to die. I spent thousands on therapy – therapy that continues to this day. Today – a couple of years later – I still suffer from post traumatic distress.

Most of my life I had lived with bipolar disorder symptoms. The abuse brought on something much worse.  I developed the highly stigmatizing condition, BPD, bringing shame and frequent suicidality. My life and what I can cope with are not what they used to be.

The ugliness of what happened, through no fault of my own, keeps coming to mind. I often need to talk, but family and friends no longer want to hear.

There is one thing I can do though. Thanks be to God, I can write. And for that I’m grateful!

marja

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I was in an emotionally abusive marriage, thankfully only for three years, but that short time did a lot of damage to my already fragile self-esteem. It has been almost a decade since I left that relationship and I still have flashbacks and trouble coping with the things that were said and done to me. I am in a happy, healthy relationship now, but those psychological scars will always be there.

  2. Dear Marja,

    I wanted to Thank You for your open and transparent story. I enjoy your emails. You are a very gifted writer and I am so thankful you use your gift to bless me and others. May the God we love and serve continue to heal and restore all those broken areas.
    Much Love and Respect,
    Stephanie

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