When I first met Lisa, she came across as a sweet lady who smiled all the time, but I wasn’t fooled. I could feel that she had erected massive barriers to keep everyone at a distance. She let no one really know her and would never open up to reveal her real thoughts or feelings. What caused such withdrawal?
Lisa had been raised by a very abusive father. He was physically, verbally, and emotionally destructive. He ruled the family with an iron fist that he was far too ready to use. To escape her life, Lisa married. She was very young, but he seemed perfect. He was young, intelligent, caring…until after the marriage.
The kind, caring man rapidly gave way to an abuser. Just as her father had done, he was physically, verbally, and emotionally destructive. The signs had been there, but she married the hoped-for dream.
What made her life worse were three things. First, her father had also been the minister of her church. Second, her husband was the young minister brought in to eventually take over the church so that her father could retire. Finally, the husband let the father continue abusing her.
Her life was hell until she got the courage to escape with her life, although it was a close thing. When I met her she was fragile, damaged, and terrified. I knew that her healing would not happen overnight, the damage had taken years and it would take time to repair, but I also knew that she was worth every effort. Slowly, she began to heal. She opened up. She came to trust others. She let herself live again.