Growing Up Without Hope

Having practiced medicine as an EMT and then as a PA for a total of 25 years, I’ve seen a lot of sickness. I also saw multiple physical and emotional illnesses that had roots in sickness of heart. I got so frustrated seeing the lack of hope and its aftermath.

Somehow, I never realized that my lack of hope was also an issue.hope sinking

I grew up with a dissociative disorder. About the only emotions I remember feeling consistently were pain and fear. I was always afraid of being wrong, of not being good enough. Does this sound familiar? I know a bunch of us feel the same way.

My hope was pretty much nonexistent. The only hope I did have was in myself. (Of course, it wasn’t really hope, it was wishful thinking.) If only I could be good enough, smart enough, educated enough, then maybe I could be independent and whole. Other people couldn’t understand me, anyway. Why did I even need them around?

It took a raging case of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder for me to slow down long enough to learn what was really happening in my life.

As I’ve written in previous blog posts, one summer my vocal cords developed the nasty habit of slamming shut in the middle of the night. I would awaken unable to move air in or out, afraid of choking to death on my own saliva. Terrified of dying alone in the dark.

My doctor referred me to a specialist who diagnosed the vocal cord dysfunction and PTSD and recommended counseling. My counselor discovered the dissociative disorder.

ID-10043648I finally had an answer. But did I have hope? You would think that having a counselor and a doctor who knew the issues would give me hope automatically. Well, it did – for a little while. It wasn’t long before the enormity of the problem enveloped me and my hope retreated to the furthest, darkest corner of my heart and mind.

Why the retreat? Because, no matter how much we trust a person and are able to take them at their word, hope isn’t something they can provide. Encouragement, yes. Sympathy, even empathy, absolutely. They can even share their strength and faith with us.

But only God can provide hope.

I remember a painful brush with suicidal ideation about halfway through my healing journey. We’re talking about four years after the diagnosis of PTSD and dissociation. Four years of absorbing the love, concern, and teaching of wise counselors (the first worked with me for about 2 ½ years, then the second took over). They helped me learn about the real me. The me that God intended. And it was progress.

But only God can provide hope. Only He can speak truth to the heart.cross in sunlight

As God spoke again and again to my heart, hope started growing. Oh, it flickered and sputtered time and again, but eventually, just like a campfire, enough parts of my heart took hold of it. Then the fire that is hope grew to where it is today.

Only God can provide hope.

And it has power, even when we feel powerless.

this is part 5 of a series on abuse recovery

Part 1| Am I Alone in my Pain?

Part 2| Do You Have Hope?

Part 3| Putting Your Hope in God is Safe

Part 4| How Do We Lose Our Hope?