So far in this project I’ve written 4 mostly sad stories in 4 days. One of the reasons I kind of stopped writing the past few years is just because so much happens every day and I just couldn’t keep up.
Today is Father’s Day, so I could write about the dad who has been making progress in recovery but was arrested yesterday with 6 tablets of “ice” in his possession. He’ll get 2 1/2 years, we’re told. On the positive side, I could write about strides that one woman with a severe trauma background has been making lately in understanding God’s love and forgiveness. “I don’t feel shame anymore,” she told me yesterday.
But I’m still kind of teary from a phone call that just came this morning, so I’m going to write about this:
Probably a majority of women that we help have unhealthy mothers. We have cared for quite a few daughters of drug addicts, prostitutes and of course, both. A couple of those moms have passed away in the last few years, one while in prison in China for drug trafficking.
The call was from “Gade”, a pretty and personable 16-year-old we met earlier this year. Another teen friend brought her, and she ended up spending about 5 months at The Well before returning home to a distant province. Gade called to say that her mom had just totally rejected her. “Don’t try to call,” she was told. “I’m not going to talk to you any more.”
Of course this was not the first time, but it was the most emphatic. Gade grew up raised by others. But there is always that natural longing for Mom. Because we are wired to love and respect and our parents, a child only thinks one thing when abandoned or abused: “It’s my fault.” This sense of worthlessness can stay rooted in the mind well into adulthood.
In the “fight, flight or freeze” response of trauma victims, Gade is predominantly a fighter. All three types of responses are bridge burners, adding to the isolation, but fighters perhaps end up more blamed, including by parents such as Gade’s mom. The good news is that when we are able to see through the behavior to the heart, we can help heal.
We find this heart-focus in Jesus’ ministry, starting right out with the paralytic brought by his friends. “Your sins are forgiven” was an unexpected but powerful message of acceptance in a victim-blaming society. And certainly while physical healing is wonderful, no one who knows both would choose a healthy body over a sick soul. “You’re safe, you’re precious, you are loved,” we repeat to these broken hearts. It takes a long time to sink in.
Gade is smart, bright-eyed and gregarious. She loves to connect with people, and when I answer her video calls I know am usually going to be greeted with a wide happy smile. I have seen her fighting side too, but even then her desire simply to be understood and valued is obvious.
She wants to come back, and I told her we would pray and see if God would provide a way for us to care for her. Gade knows God’s love is real. “The Well is the only place with real love,” she says. “Everywhere else is just people using each other.”