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Unraveled

I have always struggled with a sense that I did not have a place in this world, that I belonged no where, a sense of being dirty, shameful, unwanted and broken beyond repair. Now I knew in my brain that Jesus died for me, that he loves me, that he rose again so I can be free from these horrible and debilitating bad beliefs about myself. Any group of which I was a member, seemed to, after being a part of it for a short time, not want me. I moved from friendship to friendship, hurt, lonely, confused and angry. Only instead of being angry with those who hurt me I would be angry with myself for not being good enough to be accepted. It would just roll around inside my head for hours, days and years, eating away at anything productive or any relationship I began or group I became a part of. The depths of despair to which I sank were a drain on my family and a constant impedance to anything productive long term.


In early 2005 I was driving home on the freeway in Everett Washington. Anxiety was roiling in the pit of my stomach. I was plagued once again by fears that somehow I would lose it soon, mentally. I feared for decades that somehow people would see through the facade of confidence I held up and they would see that I was a fake, a fraud. I feared that I really didn’t know what I was doing and really shouldn’t be trusted or relied upon. Fear ate at me like acid. Fear of men, especially people that reminded me of my dad or other abusive men in my past , my ex-husband. I was afraid of being embarrassed, publicly. I was afraid of not knowing the answer to a question. I feared being put on the spot. I was terrified of dogs (frozen), swimming pool drains, swimming in lakes, (couldn’t see the bottom), absolute water churning, and splashing panic, big guys with big beards terrified me.


On the freeway, that day, I told God, I absolutely HAD to conquer this. I begged him to set me free! I cried out to him to deliver me, (like the zedekah; the cry of the Israelites in their bondage; Exodus 2:23) change me! Nothing happened at that moment, but I see now that events began to transpire that brought about his will and my desire for my life. (And also like in verse 2:24, 25, for the Israelites, God heard my cry!)


I spent time in mental hospitals, years of trauma therapy, exposure therapy, DBT, ACT and CBT groups. Medicines and prayer, much prayer. Humbling myself under the hand of God; deliberately asking him to sift and purge and prune; knowing in my head that he can be trusted but agonizingly timid outwardly as I determined to live vulnerably and battle: suicidal ideation, dissociation, despair, self-pity, intentional isolation and self-harm.


The song “No Longer a Slave”, talks about how God unraveled someone and how they can stand freely and sing about being a child of God! With a healthy thought life comes freedom and confidence if our creator! My life was knotted in to a tightly would mess of knots and snarls. God truly did unravel the mess of my past and my physical and emotional and social response to that trauma.


17 years later, I know I am free. Free enough, at least to work through difficult situations and come out having taken the negative thoughts about myself and compared them to what I know about God and his word, and on the other side be filled with joy and stay put in groups, relationships.


Now there is still a battle at times that needs to be fought to get to that point as I move through the hours and days of the situation. I give this as an example of a battle in the war for my thoughts that I go through time after time:


I attend a group situation and have expectations for connecting with people, sharing meals, walks, conversations etc. However, because of past trauma, quite often, in group situations, I experience intense anxiety and sometimes panic. At times I will retreat into my thoughts because I get overwhelmed by the experience (dissociation). I struggle greatly with physical contact and with feeling at ease with strangers; almost mute and frozen to my spot.


In the past this kind of situation would have caused me great anguish. I would dwell on every little thing I did and what I could have done differently or better to make myself likable. I would have beat my self up with extremely negative self talk. “Stupid”, “it’s your own fault,” “this proves it”, “there will never be a place for me”, “I wish this pain would end,” even, “I wish I would end”, “I can’t take this loneliness anymore.”


Now I challenge myself relentlessly and seriously to trust God, to change those negative beliefs, and to respond to others with grace. I firmly believe God will do the same for you as he has done for me when you trust him with your pain, anguish, fear and grief.


Here are some things that I do: The actual footwork of mind renewal. Dialectical Behavior Therapy; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; Acceptance/Commitment Therapy. Mindfulness Skills, emotional grounding, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, value reflection are all taught as part of these therapy modes. And they are completely biblically based regardless of what the secular, medical and psychology world claim. They are skills stolen right from God’s word.


  1. You can learn skills to gauge the truthfulness of your thoughts by writing a thought record. This is done by writing down the actual thought or thoughts as they arise. Write down the evidence you feel supports the truth of that thought. Then the percentage of emotional investment in that thought, (do believe it 50%, are you all in, 100% faith in the validity of the “hot”thought). How and where is it affecting you physically; (sensations, urges). Then write down a thought that is healthier about yourself or the situation. (I would think and talk to my husband and therapist or a mentor to really get to the basic thought that I wanted to dwell on and believe about myself. I would also choose a scripture reference to support it. I wrote it down and posted it all over my house.) Dwell on that thought. Write down what is the evidence for the validity of the “healthy” thought. Then write down the percentage of faith you have in the truth of that healthier thought. Do this EVERY TIME a situation comes up that targets your core belief and brings up intense emotional responses. The object is self examination and honesty so be honest with the wording of the “hot” thought and the percentages about your belief in them.

  2. You can quell the intense bodily sensations that come with emotions by grounding yourself. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Grab on to something solid, like the arms or u serenata of your chair. Breathe slowly in to the count of 5 and then slowly out to the count of seven. Tell yourself you are safe and rub the texture of the part of the chair or surrounding objects. Talk about what is in the room. Run through an ABC list, of animals, movie characters etc. all theses things help redirect your thoughts and slow you system while engaging your parasympathetic nervous system to calm your physical sensations. Ice also helps to ground you to the present moment. I keep a water bottle in the freezer so I can or someone else can grab it for me.I hold it against my face, roll it on my neck, hold it in my hands and talk to myself about being safe right now in that moment.

  3. You can meditate…on a scripture verse or verses that are opposite to the judgmental nature of your thoughts and self talk. Read the section or verse out loud, think about how it applies to your situation, think about the evidence from positive experience cues that prove the scripture is accurate. This should as much as possible be done ahead of time and carried with you for reference. I wrote skills and mottos and verses on blank business cards and punched a hole through them and carried them around my neck on a lanyard and key ring. This made it much more likely that I would remember to use what I’d had written on them when I needed it.

  4. You can ask questions for clarification about confusing behavior from others toward you. This is important but requires a great deal of vulnerability and willingness on your part to approach the person(s) involved and ask them what they were intending to communicate. It is an extremely important part of renewal because those of us that have had deep, prolonged and varied trauma need to develop social skills that we can use with our safe community.

  5. You can pray, vulnerably to God and ask him seriously to help you change the way you think. Be honest about what you really want in that situation. As you become healthier emotionally you will need less clarification and therapeutic insight as you face these situations. You will be able to walk through the process on your own. James 1:5 says to ask God for wisdom when dealing with temptation and suffering and God will give it too you.

  6. You can find a lot of this on the web at:





This last website is my personal website. On it you will find videos I have created explaining my journey and my blog as well, which is in the form of a devotional of which this is one. I will also be posting links to some awesome books on the subjects about which I write and speak.


When I figured out the depth of trauma and disorder in my brain I began to treat therapy like any medical procedure therapy. If you have cancer, you get chemo-therapy, if you have a physical injury, you have physical-therapy. I became serious and studious about skills and treatment. I want to live free! I want to thrive! I want to be a positive presence in the lives of others.


I know these things work and that if you take it seriously and allow yourself to become vulnerable with Jesus; and to your therapist, psychiatrist, pastor, mentor, spouse, friend; whomever it is that will come alongside in addition to Jesus to help you learn skills and understand how God’s word applies in various situations then you can also live free and thrive! In understanding your brokenness in the light of Jesus’ brokenness at the cross, and his triumph in rising from the dead; then you can help other broken people!


I love you!


Mechelle


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