So I (Jesus) say to you:
Ask and it will be given to you;
Seek and you will find;
Knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives;
The one who seeks finds;
And to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Luke 11, 9-10
I wanted to live…, live differently
My search for God and justice…
I had spent my whole life looking for the reasons for my “problems”. It was not until I hit a serious low at the age of 52 that the pieces of the puzzle slowly started coming together to form a complete picture… and I had to come to terms with “the whole truth” for the first time.
The welcome after my birth was not particularly warm. I was a disappointment for our “Christian family”… because I was “only” a girl – and that as the first born! (“Girls are simply ONLY girls” – is what my mother said at that time).
My home was not exactly “a comforting heaven”. The atmosphere was strict, harsh, cold, and indifferent. As a child I felt the strained atmosphere. My mother often took things out on me… (because she didn’t love me). This made me afraid of her, the fear made me clumsy, and I kept dropping everything; I became more and more hectic….
I only felt really happy with my friends, and I did have friends. I really loved my friends… and our adventures, playing and talking together, our laughter…
I didn’t tell anyone about what I experienced at home. I felt ashamed. I felt like a “second-class person”. I blocked it all out – as I said, I wanted to live “differently”… but I didn’t have any role models to help me.
Aleksander is born
Aleksander was born shortly after me. He just “fell out of the sky”. One day he was simply there. No one “prepared” me for the arrival of my brother. That I was not thrilled at first is rather understandable from a little girl’s point of view. Suddenly I had a rival. Apparently, I cried and whined a lot (no wonder!). Instead of taking me in her arms and making me feel that I too was loved, I often heard: “go away, can’t you see that I’m holding Alex?”, “you’re being so impossible, as always”, “I don’t like you” (how could I not cry)!
Since my mother – as already mentioned – did not love me, I tried to get love and attention from my father… also in vain. My father was an “obedient husband”, he never disagreed with his wife who told lies about me.
I was also sexually abused…
I suffered terribly, was afraid and had feelings of guilt and shame. Out of fear of my “abuser” I kept silent… and at some point, I blocked the abuse completely out of my mind. At the time, my “tormentor” threatened me, saying: “You will burn in hell if you say anything to anyone, because you are to blame”. Shortly before he died, the “perpetrator” admitted these atrocities… with no sign of remorse or an apology.
I was treated as if I did not exist
One day, we were invited to my older cousin’s wedding. “A family celebration – at last, something different!!!” – I thought.
The day of the wedding came. My mother “dressed us all up”. Everything always had to look “perfect” to the outside world. I was looking forward to seeing my cousins. I got on particularly well with one of them.
But as soon as the taxi arrived, the happy day turned into a problem.
There was one person too many. The taxi driver could only take four people and there were five of us. My mum looked at me and said, “Kaja, you’ll have to wait because we can’t all fit in the car. There will be another taxi in a minute.” “Can’t Alex or Slawek (my second brother) wait just for once? Why me again?” – the thought flashed through my mind. I was sad and angry at the same time. So, I waited for two hours, but the car did not come. I would have ordered a taxi myself if I had had any money….
I waited, got impatient and felt I was being treated unfairly. But then… after more than 2 hours of waiting, a taxi came after all. My aunt – as she later told me – missed me and asked my mother: “Where is Kaja? I can’t see her anywhere.” My mother answered: “I don’t know”, but shortly afterwards she added: “Oh, she must be at home. There wasn’t enough room for her in the taxi”. Well. No one else in my family had noticed that I was missing. How could I not be disappointed!
I almost became ill with anorexia.
When I was about 14 years old, my mother said to me one day: “Do something, I can’t stand the sight of you anymore.” (But I wasn’t fat at all). That hurt! But what wouldn’t I have done to be accepted and loved by my mother? I resolved to lose weight, thinking, “If I lose weight, she will love me!” So, I lost weight, visibly lost weight! No one at home noticed. The first person to notice my weight loss was our GP. I had gone to her, as usual, to get a prescription for a medicine for my grandma. When the doctor saw me, she asked me to come into the consulting room for a one-to-one talk. That helped! I came home and my dieting days were over. To this day, I still don’t like diets.
My first and last attempt to ask for help….
One day I was listening to music on the radio, when suddenly a presenter mentioned an SOS programme “Help for young people”. I plucked up all my courage for the first time ever and wrote a letter asking for help – I couldn’t stand it at home anymore.
When the letter was finished and I wanted to take it to the post office, I suddenly felt like a “traitor” – and carried the letter around with me for a few more days. But then I did send it off. In my naivety, I didn’t think to ask the radio station to send the reply to my friend’s address. One day I came home from school and immediately sensed an angry mood. My mother stood in front of me and pointed to the opened envelope: “What is this? Are you really stupid enough to think someone could help you?” She threw the letter into the oven and burned it, right in front of me. There was no end to this and other bullying, but perhaps this is enough for you to understand why these childhood experiences had an influence on my whole life….
The consequences of my life without love…
One day I met the man who then later became my husband. Then my daughter was born. We moved into our own flat. I was proud. At that time in Poland (where I come from) it was not commonplace to have your own flat so soon after getting married. “At last, I’m away from my family,” – I thought – “now everything will be better.” That was very naïve thinking.
My childhood had consequences in my further life… I was always accompanied by the feeling that something was missing. I took care of my daughter, did the laundry, kept the flat clean, cooked, we often did things together as a family. Later, I also started working part-time to supplement the household budget. While I was at work, my husband was at home with our daughter or vice versa. But I was NOT HAPPY and could not be grateful for what I had. And yet I had every reason to be grateful:
For a healthy daughter, a caring husband, for understanding in-laws, for our beautiful new flat, my job, our “daily bread”….
But for me, something was always missing. I did not feel understood or loved. One day I moved out of the flat we shared, I convinced myself that my husband didn’t love me. He was angry of course, and couldn’t understand it at all… I met a new partner and seriously thought: “Now I will surely be loved”.
At first, it never occurred to me what I was doing to my family. That came later!
My “new dream” did not last long. Shortly after we met, I found out that my boyfriend was an alcoholic and unable to accept his problem.
A drama for me: “Why do things always go wrong for me?” – I thought. I decided to break up with him. It took a while, but I finally managed it and ended the relationship. Slowly I realised what I had done to my family, and quite logically felt terribly guilty.
I decided to stay on my own. “No more relationships!” – I thought. Life went on and one day – out of the blue – I left the Catholic Church I had been associated with for over 30 years. Once again, no one understood me – I didn’t really understand myself either! I lost almost everybody and at 52 my life started “vanishing into thin air”….
The consequences of my life without love – continued:
I would often wake up in the night “drenched in sweat”, with a blood pressure of 200/100. My pulse was also far too high. I didn’t know what was wrong and at some stage, I finally called an ambulance. When it arrived, the paramedic concluded that this was not a panic attack, but a huge strain on my body. I had to go to hospital. Once there, I lay hooked up to equipment that “monitored” me. My blood pressure only dropped very slowly, and the doctor said to me when he checked my vitals, “We don’t know what to do with you”. A short time later my daughter came to the hospital and fearfully asked, “What’s wrong with you mum?” “I don’t know.” Then the doctor came in again and asked me lots of questions – including about my childhood. He examined me, asked me where it hurt. That was when I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
My blood pressure slowly returned to normal, and the doctors could do nothing more for me. One of the doctors advised me to have trauma therapy to deal with the past. From then on, I suffered constant health problems, often had colds, and blocked ears. So, I went to see an ear, nose and throat specialist who cleared my blocked ears after each cold. But one day, when he was doing a hearing test, he suddenly became alarmed. He called the doctor’s assistant and asked me, with fear on his face, how long my ears had been blocked this time? I was surprised at his panicked reaction and told him: “Since yesterday, but they have been blocked before, this is not the first time.” The specialist then said to me, “This time it’s an acute hearing loss.” “But I didn’t notice anything…” The specialist replied, “Sometimes it goes unnoticed!” He gave me a prescription for a medicine that I had to pay for privately and said very seriously, “Please take all the tablets, it’s very, very important. Please take the first one as soon as you get it from the pharmacy!” I did as I was told. I suspected what was going on but didn’t dare to even think about it!!! (an unspectacular deliverance?)
During this time I also often had gastrointestinal problems and inflammations and the onset of osteoarthritis was detected. And I started trauma therapy. However, since everything came at me all of a sudden at that time, and it was all too much for me, the therapy did not bring the desired success. Again, I didn’t feel properly understood or that I was being taken seriously. I couldn’t really open up to the therapists and had very little trust (which is not unusual in my case). At some point I ended the therapy and thanked them for their help.
I prayed to God to help me. I put “everything” in God’s hands and felt ready to take a look at the pictures from the past. I knew that if I didn’t do this, it would all simply affect my body. And God did not abandon me in this most difficult time of my life (although I did not really know HIM at all). The memories came back, and with them, also the pain, the anger, the fear, the disappointment… and the dreams that I had had as a child… and the lies I had made for myself about life. I felt like someone drowning and desperately trying to swim to the shore, but it was so far away.
My blood pressure went “crazy”, I didn’t feel very well either… At some point, I didn’t even want to go on living. I told my good friend this in confidence. We both cried. However, I assured her there was nothing to worry about. I said to her, “I can do this, I want to choose life in spite of my history.” And from that point on, I kept experiencing “miracles” that I couldn’t explain at first. I just acknowledged everything that was happening and waited. I became more and more aware that someone (God) was saving my life… but I was not yet ready to talk about it. For fear that I would not be taken seriously “again”….
What really helped in the difficult situation:
As I said, not much helped until I was 52. I was always looking for God, I tried a few things… but those were short phases. When problems came, I forgot Him again and just lived the way I lived. It was not until the crisis (burnout) that I began to feel God’s closeness and I slowly became more and more aware that there was someone there who was saving my life and loving me (loving me!!)… I couldn’t believe it. I was always convinced that God had forgotten me as soon as I was born. And now … he is suddenly there!
– At a time when I hardly had the strength to get up: I was given strength… “a miracle”. I knew that without His help I would never have been able to get up. Never before had I been so aware that God was so close to me, 24 hours a day.
– He was there when I was afraid and cried in despair, I felt it.
– In situations where I thought “it’s over”, that “I’m drowning” – HE pulled me “to dry land”.
– HE heard my lamentations and accusations and just kept silent. I was really angry and disappointed that God did not answer my questions.
– HE was there during the conversation with my employer, who had noticed my distress. My boss made a suggestion: I should work “only” two / three hours to start with (as much as I could manage). But I should at least try!!! If I had a “really bad” day, I was allowed to stay at home. I was surprised because my boss “bugged” me from time to time.
– God was there during my “short” working hours… I was given strength and managed to do my work. Of course, I was “exhausted” afterwards, but I always managed to do just as much as was necessary.
– HE was there when I started taking short walks, longer ones were not possible 5 years ago.
– When I tried to avoid people, HE helped me to summon up all my strength – and not to isolate myself.
At some point it was clear what I was going through and that this was a major crisis. I started searching for answers, for causes for “my misery”. I started listening to interesting lectures by specialists on the subject of trauma and its causes. You can find a lot on www.youtube.de or www.youtobe.pl (in Polish). I read interesting books about love, interpersonal problems, about faith. My favourite author in Polish is the Catholic priest Marek Dziewiecki, who is also a psychologist and spiritual counsellor. The books he has written are accessible in my mother language (Polish).
You can find lots of interesting lectures and retreats on the website www.opoka.pl or www.youtube.pl under “Marek Dziewiecki” (in Polish). His books and lectures have helped me to understand so much.
My favourite author in the German language was and is the Benedictine monk Anselm Grün. He, too, has written numerous books on interesting topics of life, which I enjoy reading to this day. Both “gentlemen” are Catholic, as I used to be. I was looking for good “Catholic role models”, wanted to understand the “Catholic faith” properly and find out why the image of God was so distorted in my childhood home. For the first time ever, I started thinking about the 10 Commandments and about the “Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:9-13. I started reflecting on what the prayer actually meant to me and why I had never thought about those spoken words in the past.
On www.youtube.de, Father Anselm Grün has recommended devotions and tips that can help people in every situation in life.
At www.Abtei.Münsterschwarzach.de you can find information about upcoming events with Father A. Grün. You can also find books via the “Vier Türme Verlag” publishing house.
I also like browsing the site www.bibel-online.net. Under the title “Auftanken” (the spiritual filling station on the internet) you can find plenty of good devotions in German. I can only recommend them!
There are so many good Christian books that I like rereading. I found most of them by browsing the internet.
Slowly I began to understand why my life had turned out so differently from what I would have liked… in a family that cannot love and forgive… taboos… family secrets… Little by little a picture emerged and gradually became more and more complete.
It was clear to me that my family had never known God. No one who knows God lives the way we did… and then call themselves “Christians”. At some point – despite the anger I first had towards God – I had to decide which way to go. That was my chance! I understood that what happened was not God’s fault, but that of my own family. It was a struggle. But at some point, I said in prayer, “OK God, I understand, there was no other option in my childhood. Please just remember that I didn’t have a choice. If someone had asked me then (when I was a child) where I wanted to go, I would ALWAYS have chosen You.” (For some Christians this statement may be too bold, but I have learned such language and God knows that…)
I then actually managed to forgive my parents for everything they had done to me, despite the “prophecy” that this would no longer be possible in “my case” (the wounds were too deep)!
I now know that God loves me and that He has forgiven me, just as I have forgiven “my debtors”. I did not want to go on living like this…
A person needs love in life. If you don’t get it, life is empty and meaningless. That was the case with me… I filled the “gap” with meaningless things….
Today God guides me through life….
– God didn’t make a mistake 57 years ago. HE wanted me… a girl and gave me life through His love….
– I was a gift to my parents but they weren’t able to accept it.
I am truly thankful for the “new time” God is giving me now through His love. I am on an adventure, but I am no longer alone!
Taking care of myself and planning my time well so that I don’t get too stressed is something I’m learning for the first time now. I am practising “the art of taking one small step at a time”.
I always have my goal in mind, because I have decided to live with Jesus, who is an example to me. I am also learning to enjoy each and every moment and not to expect too much. Whether it’s cycling, Nordic walking or just going for a walk, meeting up with friends… I’m “slowly” learning to enjoy myself… And that’s such a lot! Thank you, God, for everything!
You too can pour out your heart to Jesus. He is waiting for you too!
He will not disappoint you if you share your worries with Him!
He can be found if you seek Him with all your heart.
God can embrace and comfort so many people all at the same time!
I experience “little miracles” every day… not so long ago I could not even believe that life could go on!
God only wants the best for us….
Finally, here are the lyrics of a beautiful song that I love singing.
This song by Jürgen Werth gives me strength:
It was not your own idea that you should live / and that you breathe / was not your own decision
It was His idea that you should live / And that you breathe, His gift to you.
You are wanted, not a child of chance, / not a freak of nature
Wether you sing your life-song / In a minor or a major key.
Your are God’s own thought, / And a brilliant one of that.
You are you, that’s the clou, / Yes, the clou: you are you.
Song by Jürgen Werth
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this