53 years ago I was born in Dusseldorf, Germany....
...to a struggling young couple who had just lost a baby girl. There were already 2 older brothers and life after World War 2 was not easy. The shame of the war, the pain of memories, often pushed down and ignored... covered with business or alcohol. Everyone trying to restart their lives.
When my mother ended up with Polio life took another turn. By now with 4 children and pregnant with twins she was put on an iron lung to survive. 4 years of struggles for everyone. Kids got shuffled around to different homes, father started drinking (very functioning alcoholic)... and all tried to survive. I remember when we moved into the new house together... the kids all sitting on a rolled up rug in the living room and... as I wondered who all these people were.
I don't know if psychopaths are born or develop, all I know we had one in the house, and life was not safe. Rape, abuse, guns, violence, fear all were integral parts of my life and so my main focus was survival. It is amazing how people learn to cope with trauma. It amazes me how some people ever survive it in the first place!
But I know that by 8th grade I was done with school and disengaged from the family at 13...it often was safer on the streets then at home.
For a long time I blamed family, angered by the lack of help I (we) received, the lack of protection... but as I am getting older I realize that we are all faced with issues that nobody else can comprehend.
How does a young women deal with paralyzes? Unable to ever walk again, unable to go places, be independent, or use the bathroom on her own? How does a young dad raise a family and deal with the pain of POW, the loss of a healthy wife and 6 (later 7) kids to feed? How does one deal with a psychopath that reigns terror on the family?
I think we never grew together as a family. We all learned coping skills to make life workable for us. We all survived! But not all thrived!
But how does one thrive after pain and brokenness?
Grace, mercy and justice!
For me the turning point came when God became a vital part of my life. When I realized that I did not have the carry the shame and pain alone. When I realized that I am as broken as my brother, just in other ways. When I realized that I need grace and mercy as much as my brother did. When I realized that justice will happen (but probably not on my terms).
Rereading this I realize it sounds so simple.... well it is not! It is a daily struggle, a daily recommitment to look at the good and not the bad, a daily decision to see the gifts and skills and not the brokenness.
Maybe that is why I love to work with LifeLine CDC. To realize that we all have a story, to realize that we don't know each other's brokeness until we have a deep relationship with each other, to realize that out of the brokenness comes something beautiful: resilience, compassion, strength.
Like a diamond being formed through pressure so my life (and that of many others) is formed through the pain of childhood and the consequences it has on my (our) life... but if you look beyond the exterior, if you dig down a little, it you spend the time to polish... you might find a diamond!
So I build long-term relationships with people, hear their stories, find the diamonds in people and be amazed at the beauty!