ivy (chains IV)


A/N: very small apology for the pun in the title lol; it really is the 4th “chains” entry!

I was exchanging messages with my new friend last night, which brings to mind all kinds of feelings and thoughts…mostly good ones. After we bid each other goodnight, I went over to “talk” to the picture of Jesus I have, the painted image the little girl made of Our Lord that other children who’ve seen visions of heaven said was the exact face they saw there.

I was soon bent over crying. I was so glad I didn’t die last month, or any point before this. I was so grateful that I survived all those bad things for so long, and stayed at my job even as the stress of having to accept money from my abusers grew unbearable.

If I didn’t, I would never have met him, or rather start to see what we could share together, as I am starting to see.

The message chain started as him just answering a question I posed at the end of the work day: why does he like me? The words he wrote to me, they were like words I heard in the past from bad people, but different. It was like my confessor, on Father’s Day; some words were the same, but I had that same sense that he said those things to give me something rather than take something. One thing my confessor often says is that lust is about taking, and love is about giving. Alternatively, it’s accurate to say love is about sharing, as giving involves both the giver and the receiver.

All of my abusers, including the ones who didn’t abuse me sexually or romantically (e.g. emotional/covert incest), took from me, oftentimes in the guise of giving. My parents sending money is most likely another way they’re trying to take from me by giving (which, I realize, is a kind of financial abuse; it explains why my doctor, confessor, mentor-friend, and even the police told me to accept it without accepting their abuse).*

A/N: I just realized that part of the reason that my parents started giving money in the first place was because they got word from my paternal aunt (not the one married to my uncle) has given me money. I can remember now how mother wrote me to not ask my aunt for money anymore, and shortly afterwards, started sending me money. Makes me remember how she tried to isolate me from other family members, including this aunt, who I thought would be a neutral party until it became evident that she wasn’t (and was on their side with just about everyone else whom I share blood with). Reminds me too how anxious she got when that image she made of herself was threatened with the truth, strengthening the theory that this is more out of what my confessor called “selfish love”.
I’ve had some more thoughts on that, though, that makes it hurt less, found more ivy among the chains so to speak; more on that soon.

Even that came up in our conversation; he mentioned knowing other people who’s in the same situation as me. Our area being a rich area, he told me how he has friends whose parents messed them up, and that those parents send them money to kind of make up (or cover up) the bad they did. I was flabbergasted; I felt like I was the only one in the world who’s having this happen. As sad as it made me to realize others have felt the confusion and fear that I do, I felt so much relief that I wasn’t the only, isolated case.

Also, one of the things that struck me in our conversation was how his “texting voice” sounds just like who he is in person. I observed this to be true in my confessor, and my doctor, both of whom are people I readily say I trust. I therefore reason that he also seems trustworthy. There’s some fear on both sides, the both of us having been hurt so badly, but in a way, that’s a good thing. As it is, with how I am as a result of my abuse, he’s going to have to have a lot of patience and integrity with me. As of now, he’s willing to do it.

Another thing that was striking was… remember how I prayed to God that He make us into the right person for each other if He wanted us together, and either way to help him be the man he wants to be, his best self? It was like this guy was reading my prayer back to me; he said that I make him want to be the very best version of himself. He wants to be a better man…because he met me. I don’t remember if I cried at that point, too, but it certainly touched me from the bottom of my heart, both that someone says I inspire them to be their best self and that God answered my prayer so precisely. It gives me hope. It encourages me to keep praying.

That’s something else; again, he’s not Christian, but he still had the sense of this happening at the right time for us, in spite of his plans, in spite of my fears. We’re in synch on that, even if he used the word “fate” while I used the word “providence”. It makes me think all the more that he has more of a Christian heart than even some Christians/Catholics I know.

When I did say goodnight, I wanted to tell him that I was really glad I met him, and that he gave me hope. I even shared that wish I had of (ever since he shared how his ex abused him) wanting to showing him that girls aren’t all like that, whether as a friend or something else. That made him very happy, and so it made me happy, too.

I now have confirmation that neither or us know where this is going, but that either way, we do want to know more about each other. He does offer to see me outside of work (i.e. date), and while it made me sad to tell him I wasn’t ready (and I told him so), he respected it. This may end up being a close friendship, we both know that…though we also know that maybe it can be something else in time.

It’s a very slow dance, but I’m not having as bad a time as I thought I would. Part of me still has fears of if it’s going too fast as prudent, or too slow that he would eventually lose patience with me. He hasn’t given me reason to believe either, though; only the contrary. Both fears come from outside this situation, too, and therefore may or may not be relevant.

In any case, I guess it’s a good sign that in his words, I hear things I’ve heard God tell my heart; “Let me show you I’m as good as you think Me to be. I promise I’m trustworthy. I’ll keep working to establish more trust. Surprises can be wonderful. I look forward to the next time I see you.

So…why is this unofficially the next “chains” entry, when the last three were so negative/abuse-focused?

Well, I’ve been thinking how those chains my abusers shackled me with, that drag me down into their reality and in the past, are in conflict with the bonds I formed with friends on earth and in heaven, ones that bring me out of that stuff and into the present. One set of chains take, hurt, and imprison, and the other set of chains give, heal, and free me.

As an example, I woke up in the wee hours earlier, and quite suddenly felt that familiar temptation when the memories of abuse ensnares and twists my otherwise natural feelings, feelings that have been growing in me since I met this guy. I got scared, as I always do…but this time, my confessor’s words came to mind: “Lust takes, Love gives“.

I wondered how I could “give” in my state. I decided to pray for him, my new friend; I grabbed the closest rosary I had, and started praying. This one was one of those rose-scented rosaries I kept in my “holy objects” drawer; since I moved in, I was given many holy objects that I just couldn’t find a place for among all the other ones I have around here.

This rosary has definitely earned a spot on my nightstand; feeling the wooden beads, smelling the gentle rose, and hearing that repetitive prayer in my head all brought me back to the present. The rosary has often been a chain that supported and grounded me when reality starts to slip. I’d only recently remembered (more on that later).

As I prayed, I offered the prayers as thanksgiving for meeting this guy; even if it stays as a friendship, having a real, breathing example of someone who I share such feelings with makes it easier to reach for prayer in those moments instead of getting lost in the trauma. After I was done, I was sleepy again; I wrapped the rosary around my right hand (which now smells like roses hehe), matching the chain from my sister’s bracelet on my left hand, and the chain around my neck with Jesus and St. Raphael. I think this is when I recalled the thought how some chains mean slavery, and others mean love.

In flower language, ivy is the flower/plant meaning “friendship”. Makes sense; it’s a climbing plant that embraces even harsh steel or stone, and makes it beautiful. It’s part of my safe place, and even part of my decor (if artificial, twining up the curtain frame separating the “rooms”, and up my floor lamp that lights my otherwise dim apartment). I’ve also learned it’s popular to grow ivy over chain-link fences, and isn’t that just the visual metaphor for what I’m talking about? On their own, chain-link fences bring to mind that biting metal that would sometimes be rusted and sharp, but ivy softens it visually and physically.

The ivy doesn’t erase the existence of the chains that bind, and of course, ivy can die. Love is the same. Doesn’t take away from my hope, that the ivy can overcome the chains. The bonds I make with others, the ones they make with me…these are important things.

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