Oooff, here we go.
Maybe you have heard rumors about the girls, about the family, about what has been happening. Maybe you hold enough insight to understand how to pray, or enough peripheral knowledge over the past two decades to sense that the story is dark and complex and mostly not available for public consumption. Maybe you are insatiably curious or fearful about your own children and think you just need to know (that’s ok, maybe message me privately). Maybe you simply love our girls or us or others in the situation and just wish it could all finally end (so do we).
I have only shared bits and pieces here over the years, and usually either the best news or the most urgent prayer request. A small group of close friends has prayed with us over time, and my parents and sisters have helped carry much of the emotional burden, knowing only some of what’s going on. Mom and Dad bravely walked alongside us through the final chapter in Colorado. But no one knows it all, not even us, except God.
Even now, a few years after reuniting with Jessica and several years after Jocelyn’s first homecoming, I continue to learn more and more of the horrific truth.
Here is what I know, the high points of what is difficult to accept:
Both Jocelyn and Jessica were abused mentally and physically for years, and they were isolated away from me and my family and, gradually, from anyone who might threaten to shed light on the truth. They were spoon-fed lies and held up as lifestyle ornaments and used as tools to hurt us, all the while being viscously mistreated and hidden in the dark. Both of my girls were young children when it started, and I look back now on the red flags I saw then and want to scream for people to see those with me, as if seeing them in hindsight gives us a second chance to prevent what followed.
The years we were alienated were a particular kind of torture for me as a mother, but I had no idea what my girls were enduring. The circle of people who exacted and allowed the abuse on them is unbelievable, and the lies that were told and psychological games that were played to cover it up are even more elaborate and twisted than I suspected.
As adults in the summer of 2020, they both were just beginning to emerge from their own horrifically dark chapters, just beginning to heal, when their dad closed a long chapter of addiction and committed suicide. The months since that event have been bizarre and excruciating for everyone, but especially for them.
Here is more of what I know, the root and the truth and what I cling to:
God, the God of Love and truth and absolute light, still reigns over all this darkness. Even as we peel back more and more layers of depravity and pain, of sickness and addiction and narcissism, God is in control. He offers not only safety and relief but also transformation. He offers perfect healing and redemption. By trusting in Him (which also means trusting in and obeying His ways, however tempted I am to seek revenge on my own), we have the gift of wholeness, wholeness as people and wholeness as a family. By choosing to trust in Him we deliberately extract ourselves from the cycle of evil and the systemic poison of human vengeance. Maybe I cannot undo what has been done to my babies, who are now women, but I can guarantee I never play a part in it or throw gasoline on an already consuming fire.
And yes, to be clear and honest, I have fought for months against the urge to make a few effective phone calls, to injure two women in particular and to humiliate those who have spread lies or gossiped about my children (what kind of person gossips about a child in trauma?). I even sometimes want to hurt people who didn’t believe me when I sought help all those years ago, because I have felt that their unwillingness to get involved perpetuated so much pain. I have taken great pains to bite my tongue and edit conversation about people who still bear an influence over my girls, because for two decades we have lived by the belief that badmouthing other family members is not how we want to operate. At ages 24 and 26, they now can decide for themselves. They both are free enough to make their own choices (even when those choices hurt), draw their own boundaries, and eventually see for themselves why I have made my choices the way I have.
Something else I know, something I have learned through lots of weak moments:
I can easily make the mistake of surrendering my hard earned freedom from that kind of reality, from that poisoned community, by allowing too much anger to simmer in my heart. I can squander away the hours of my beautiful, warm, glittering life by dwelling on a few pointless daydreams: What might have been had the abuse never started, how things might have been different in Colorado had I known more then (Jocelyn was so protective of her little sister while Jessica still lived in that household), and how good it would feel to publicly and legally seek vengeance. These, and maybe a few others, are useless fantasies. They waste my energy, too, and trespass on God’s territory.
What matters now is moving forward in Love, every step of the way, and trusting that all our prayers, through all these years, are still alive. Believing that addiction is absolutely overcomable. Affirming to each other that these relationships are founded in blood and bedrock, and they may be shaken but are not destroyed. What matters now is being strong and healthy and ready for anything, prepared physically and emotionally for Jocelyn’s next homecoming. Remaining stable and lively for Jessica, as she continues to heal and build her own beautiful, warm, glittering life with Alex.
A few days ago I was lost in prayer for Jocelyn and Jessica, and something wonderful happened. I heard myself petitioning on their behalf, telling God all the amazing things I see in them, their talents and their beauty, their tenderheartedness, the way Jocelyn has always stood up for the underdog, for kids being bullied (all the while being bullied herself), for Jessica’s spiritual depth, for their passions and energy and love of nature, telling Him about their youth and potential and how much we want them to thrive and be free, just on and on, bragging about them. I was basically trying to convince the Creator of the Universe of the goodness of two of His own creations. Hoping to sway Him to help my babies, deliver them more quickly from this awfulness.
He stopped me mid-prayer and showed me in all capital letters, bold and in neon pink lights, “THEY WERE MINE BEFORE THEY WERE YOURS.”
Ooof. Wow! Ok, yes, yes I know, I know, I’m sorry! Ha!
It was a firm (all caps) but gentle (neon pink) reprimand. I may say I trust God, but me begging Him doesn’t demonstrate much trust. It reveals desperation.
God loves them more than I ever have and ever could. God has better understanding of what they have endured all these years, and no secrets are kept from Him. God has a wider, more spectacular vision for the future. He has all the resources for their healing and their new foundations. He can stream as much of that through me as He wishes, or through other people, but He is always the Source.
It’s always been Him. It’s always been Love.
Okay, friends, I hope that if you needed a boost that God is still omnipotent and omniscient, this helps you. I hope that you can laugh at yourself a bit, like I was invited to do, ha! And I certainly ask for your continued prayers. Knowing more of the truth has been hard. It has challenged me to really live by what I say is important, really tested my ability to be peaceful and calm. (Maternal rage is real.) It has also opened my heart, though, and helped me understand why some chapters have been so agonizing and lengthy. And learning more of the truth, slowly, has given me a chance to unravel for myself so many years of lies and manipulations, of brainwashing and psychological abuse. I have needed that, too.
One more thing:
Remember (and remind me if you think I need it) the story about hatching little peeps:
If the shell is cracked but the chick is struggling to emerge, resist the urge to open it by hand and free her quickly. Be patient and let her work, or else her legs won’t be strong enough to even walk, and she will perish. It is the act of rebelling, of kicking open her little eggshell, that gives her the strength to live.
Not enough words to express the feelings in my heart so… I will just say how much I love our little family. The splinters will heal. The hurt will subside. Love will win. Light will overtake the darkness.
One time, in a moment of worry and angst over my children, God shook me by the shoulders and said “Meredith, I’ve got this!” It was so clear and visceral. I was standing on the front porch and I laughed aloud. He laughed too.
The reminder of not helping the baby chick clearly illustrates our teenagers and young adults.
Your girls and all of my kiddos, grandkids, are always held in prayer here, and given to God, for we have certainly learned that we do not know best. Love all around, and healing to all.
Keri G. says
I’ve been struggling so hard. The break downs at odd times. The crying myself to sleep all to often. Then there’s the bad dreams. They just don’t leave. Even when I’m awake they are there. It not an emotional pain. It’s a physical pain. A spiritual pain. I feel it in my bones. When I was young and wanted to have babies I new it wouldn’t always be an easy road . But I never dreamed it would be this. Thank you for sharing words of encouragement. Thank you for reminding me to see God who is bigger than all of this. Thank you God for the gentle touch on my shoulder as I sat in Jonathan’s room for the last time.
Ashley Urke | Domestic Fashionista says
Thank you for sharing my sweet friend. Difficult painful stuff. But I so appreciate the reminder of God’s truth in it all. My babies are still babies but I’m sure one of these days I will also have to let go of my own grip and trust God with their lives. Good for me to tuck away these reminders. Love you friend! ❤️
Katie @ Dishin and Dishes says
I’ve been perusing your blog today and stumbled on this. Oh my word Marie. I knew there was a lot to pray for. I will stay pray diligently. I had to release a child as well and God told me a similar charge. You think you can fix him? Leave him to me. And it’s taken years. My kids too lived through a lot at their dad’s house (not abuse but major disfunction and anger). They still talk about it during get togethers and how it’s affected them. It’s been a healing that is happening over time. Thank you for this pouring out of your heart. God is the ultimate healer and more than just in body. Hugs.
I appreciate this specific and compassion and encouragement so much, Katie. Thank you!! It helps to hear that other families have the healing stories to celebrate.