Victoria S. Hardy

Victoria S. Hardy

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Other Ten Commandments


Life is funny, isn’t it? For months now I’ve been praying for the world, the people in the world, and especially for the children, lost, abused, broken, and alone. I have asked God to shine the light on the ugliness so the good people on earth can truly see what hides in the dark crevices that is so easily overlooked. And as God moves in mysterious ways, he answered my prayer by saying, “You first”.


I am used to God answering my prayers in this manner, all the way back to the days of my cynical teens and twenties when I knew I had seen it all, and could no longer be surprised by the darkness or the actions of people. Even then, God would first show me the things I didn’t want to see, but needed to understand, and now with my faith stronger, He pulled back the veil in my own life. Ugly things hide in the dark, secret, destructive, things happen behind closed doors, and as I’ve prayed for the light to shine, He’d been giving me hints, but I was blind, or was simply too afraid to look.


My health has not been great this year, and as I try to live naturally I’ve cut out some things, added others, but that pain in my gut just wouldn’t go away. I was beginning to think it was the beginning of the end for me, and after my life it really wasn’t that bad of a thought, we all crave that sense of home, don’t we? But recently when I decided to cut someone out of my life, the pain stopped instantly, just stopped. It didn’t ease up and slowly get better; it just stopped when I told this person not to call me any more. Amazing.


I had noticed that the pain would ease up on the weekends, when I was not obligated to talk to this person, but the weekdays I was drained and in pain, and spending a scary amount of time in the bathroom, and often rushing to the bathroom the moment the call ended. Day after day I was getting sicker, and it simply didn’t occur to me that one simple, non-food, change could improve my health.


There are certain statements I’ve heard describe and define me since I was a little girl, I heard them so often that they became my own inner voice. The statements to me were often relayed with violence, with hair pulling and hits to the head, and after years I no longer fought against the words or questioned them. My mind just repeated them back to me as fact, constantly, and most especially when bad things happened, or when I was struggling to improve any aspect of my life.


The words told me I didn’t deserve a good life, that I was a terrible person, a person without conscience or soul. An ugly, selfish person, with no real worth, certainly no moral worth, and completely undeserving of any goodness in life. I was mean, ugly, awful, and nothing I could do or achieve could change this person’s words, still being repeated, or their voice inside my head that echoed their dark image of me. I was a dirty, crazy, whore, and no decent man would ever want a thing to do with me. I was dumb, slow, fat, ugly, without compassion or empathy, had no sense of humor, no one liked me, and I was impossible to love.


And for a very long time I believed those words, I lived those words.


Despite all the information and all the interactions with other people that showed me I was none of those things, I still, deep down, believed. I was told if I did something nice for another, that I had ulterior motives, and I learned to question my actions and myself at every turn. Why did I help that old person with their groceries? I’m such an awful person, I must be trying to get something out of it. Why didn’t I help that old person with their groceries? I’m such an awful, selfish, person…


I was trapped in a brutal war with myself and with my thoughts that surely didn’t come from God, but a far darker place where little girls are abused, shamed, and broken.


I’ve spent a long time being broken; I’ve spent too many years under the thumb of horrid definitions that were never true. I’ve spent too many years supporting lies that our family abuse only came from one source. And lately I’ve spent time pondering exactly what the word honor means.


In the Greek language honor means value or worth, in a literal sense. Honor was a culturally constructed evaluation of a person’s actions, which determined a person’s worth, as in their price, or value to the community. In Hebrew the word honor means to give weight to. And in English the word is defined as honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions.


I believe that I have met the obligation of that very important commandment, and I know that God doesn’t want me to hate His creation – me. I will now be honest, because these lies, secrets, and ugly dark words have no place in a God focused life. I asked God to shine the light into the dark places, and as often happens, God has answered my prayers a little bit differently than how I expected.


I also know that by going against the old, ingrained, rules and airing the family secrets, a different commandment from a darker place, I may lose a lot more than an abuser, and ugly words, but I’m going to trust God on this one. I’m going to trust that God will replace the darkness with light. I’m going to trust that God didn’t make a mistake with me, and I certainly know that He has saved this life of mine more times than I can count.


If God sees value in my existence, then my biggest sin has been in not believing Him. My prayers have changed a bit in recent weeks, and now I am asking for forgiveness for hating myself (His creation) for so many years.


There is a different set of commandments in abusive families, and I’m flipping the table on those evil, destructive, rules, and I will be turning my back on anyone who tries to enforce those rules on me. Here are the rules that no longer fit into my life:


1)      Image, and what other people think, is the most important thing

2)      Do not air the dirty laundry

3)      Everything you say and do will be held against you

4)      Your suffering is meaningless

5)      You must serve the king or queen

6)      Hypocrisy and gossip is the family language

7)      Direct communication is off limits, all information is disseminated by the king/queen

8)      It is always someone else’s fault

9)      You have no right to boundaries, feelings, choice, or individuality

10)  Do not think of leaving or you will be dragged through the mud and slandered



And I will close with a few bits of wisdom; insults are still insults even if you laugh when saying them. Gossip and slander are very destructive sins, even when spoken under the guise of concern. If you didn’t see it or experience it yourself, you really have no idea what the truth is, and to speak of and share secondhand and third hand “truths” makes you either deceived or a liar or both.


Prayers going out to all who grew up like I did, please know you are not alone, and that there is hope and goodness in the world for you. 





Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Child abuse, Sobriety, and Triggers


 In January of 2019 I made the decision to quit drinking, it wasn’t the first time I made that decision, and with the exception of one stressful, temptation-filled, night a few weeks later, I have been sober since then. Sobriety is an interesting place to be after my life, a slice of happiness, calmness, contentment, and innocence that I have never really experienced. 

    My problem with alcohol didn’t develop until my only child died, and I was severely injured by a surgical mistake a few months later, and while before that I was just a social drinker, after those losses it changed, alcohol because more of a need than a want. Something inside me changed, perhaps chemically, or perhaps emotionally, but for whatever reason, alcohol became my crutch to get through the days. 

    I didn’t tell anyone that I had quit drinking, I didn’t post a sober day count on the social medias, as I had seen how that works… sometimes announcing your intentions to the world brings all manner of chaos around, like a light turned on the in dark, the moths will come. So I quietly, secretively even, went about getting myself sober. 

    It was easier this time than the others, it was almost like God reached down personally to take all the longing, pain, and angst away, and I was doing an awful lot of praying. I felt light, clean, inspired, and uplifted, completely foreign to what I referred to as my depressed normal. And thankfully, after a lot of hard work, my life, and lifestyle, is set up to maintain and support a sober, healthy, life. I’m sure my way is not the way for most, but for me living simply, with nature and prayer, has given me a new perspective and a new life. 

    The thing about being given a new life, though, is that the old one is still there, it still exists whether I am participating or not, people gotta people, after all. 

    What never really dawned on me was that the alcohol was just another symptom of a deeper issue. They say addiction is a disease, and I do think there are some genetic components to it, but I feel it is mostly just a symptom, one of many used to avoid a deeper pain. 

    I realize now that I had been full on running since I left home at seventeen, running to avoid feeling some uncomfortable and ugly truths. Running like the devil was on my heels, piling fresh traumas onto the old. There was literally no calm oasis from ages seventeen to thirty-six, no time for my body and mind to relax, but going into a deeper level of thought, running was the only way to escape the deeply ingrained fear, shame, and hatred of myself. The pain all abused kids feel, I imagine.    

    When my son, Steven, died, I hit a wall. I couldn’t function, and then the surgery threw me so low there was nothing but the bed, my thoughts, and me, and that was a terrifying place to live. When I recovered physically, Chardonnay and Merlot were my new best friends. I had successfully gotten up on my running feet again without looking down into the deep abyss inside, I had simply shoved some more stuff down in the hole, and took off in a new direction. I am nothing if not resilient. 

    You can only run so long, though, you can only stay so busy, and I know how to stay busy… Thankfully God has been quite gentle with me this time, no bruises, no concussions, no open wounds, no terrible tragic events, just a strong, loving, man, gardens, flowers, trees, water, and animals. And you know what? I still didn’t look; I buried the abyss under a hundred things to accomplish everyday, and knew I was healing and on the right path, still blind, but not self-injurious besides a few pulled muscles. 

    I always thought the word “triggered” referred to some entitled kid who became offended by a flag or a sign or a statue, it was never a part of my vocabulary, but then a text came, and I looked at the word triggered in a new way. It’s funny how your body reacts sometimes, long before your mind or emotions catch up, and I suppose that visceral physical reaction has saved my ass more than a few times in my life, but it’s different when there is no real, physical, threat. 

     I had an anxiety attack, followed by what can only be described as a complex posttraumatic syndrome event. There was nothing to fight, nowhere to run, but my body sure reacted, and I’ve learned that the word triggered is more of a psychological term to describe the reawakening of repressed traumas. Suddenly the rug was pulled out from under me, and I wasn’t just peeking down into the abyss, I was swimming in it. 

     Repressed memories are not forgotten memories, it’s more like the memories are all there, you just don’t look at them all at the same time, you look at one, occasionally, if you have to, and avoid the others. You compartmentalize them; you divide them into smaller, manageable, pieces, and set them back in the furthest corners, out of sight, out of mind. And once they are placed on the shelves, way in the back room of your mind, you slam the door, lock it, and turn forward while putting on your running shoes. 

     For the last weeks those memories, all of them, have made themselves known, in what could be described as vibrant flashbacks, or what is definitely known as nightmares. I’ve not been tempted to drink them away, though, which is a real blessing. Suddenly, it seems, God has given me the strength to face them head on, and deal with the issues that have kept me in self-destruct mode for all of my life. 

    What I am finding is that a lot of the definitions I’ve used to describe myself are not my words, and are not the truth. I feel like I’m unburying the person I was meant to be, and burying the person created through violence, brain injury, dissociation, trauma, and fear. 

     I also know that the world doesn’t accept personal change well, those flapping butterfly wings disturb the darkness in the universe and in people, and I know by speaking openly I will be inviting chaos, and I pray that I am indeed strong enough, but it is time… It is past time for me to start the healing process. 

    My life seems to have been divided into sections, eighteen years a child, eighteen years a mother, eighteen years a grieving, suicidal, self-destructive, mess, and I am really beginning to look forward to the next eighteen years. Things are looking up, but first I just need to turn on the lights and trudge through the abyss for awhile.