6 things you should never say to someone who has experienced relationship trauma

1. “Why did you put up with that?”

This question demands a simple answer when there isn’t one to give. There is no easy way for someone to explain why they didn’t walk away sooner and/or the confusion, fear, or hope that caused them to stay. Simply put, it is never as easy as this question makes it sound.

2. “We all go through hard things.”

Please never ever say this to someone who has just shared their heart with you regardless of their situation. Just because we all go through hard things does not give you the right to dismiss or belittle something that has hurt someone. I heard it put this way once: “someone who drowns in 7 feet of water is just as dead as someone who drowns in 20 feet of water.” This is not a comparison competition of who’s had it worse.

3. “I tried to warn you.”

While this may be 110% valid, it doesn’t help. It’s basically saying, “I wouldn’t have made that mistake.” And maybe that’s true, but maybe it’s not. It is often easy to see things objectively when you’re looking in as a third party, but to the person in the middle of the situation, it’s not so easy.

4. “You shouldn’t let it bother you.”

Sure, maybe that’s true, but panic and anxiety don’t exactly come knocking before they break down your door. When someone walks away from an unhealthy relationship they don’t often get to walk away completely unscathed. Especially when abuse (of any kind) is part of the picture. There is a healing process that extends far beyond the extent of what you can see. Entire mentalities and thought processes have to heal and shift, and it’s not always a matter of “not letting it bother you”.

5. “It didn’t seem that bad.”

Relationships look a lot different on the inside than on the outside. While social media may have painted a pretty picture, the reality is that no one knows what truly happens between two people but those two people. Victims of abuse often try to hide and cover up what’s actually going on. Please don’t assume that what you saw was all that there was.

6. “I would never let someone treat me like that.”

This is the one that I want to stress the most. I’ve heard variations of this countless times. Here’s the truth: you. don’t. know. that.

It’s easy to assume that you would walk away the second a significant other treated you poorly. It’s easy to think that you would stand up for yourself and never allow it to happen again. I did. Was the situation that simple when it happened? No, and it never is.

Abuse walks hand in hand with manipulation and control. When you are terrified, confused, and clinging to hope, it’s not always so easy to walk away. No one ever begins a relationship thinking that they’ll be the victim of abuse. Sometimes you don’t even realize that’s what it is until after you’re free of it. Saying things like this only adds to the shame that’s already present for that person.

So what should you say?

“I’m so sorry this happened. You are so strong.”

“If you ever need to talk, I’m here to listen.”

“You deserve so much better, and I promise you will find it.”

“It is not your fault and this does not define you.”

Be supportive. Extend understanding. Show love.

It’s a lot harder than it seems.

If you’re the girl holding on by a thread right now, read this

365 days ago I sat in the middle of the floor in my bedroom completely overwhelmed and emotionally overdrawn.

Tears were an every day occurrence. I slept with my Bible because I wanted to feel close to God yet I was terrified to talk to Him. Peace was nonexistent and panic became my norm.

Can I tell you the worst part?

No one knew.

I did everything I could to cover up what was actually going on. When questions were asked I brushed them off and assured everyone that I was fine. I told them I was happy.

I was neither.

A year ago today I wrote this down in my journal: “Today was really hard. I’m sad and not sure what the best thing to do is. I can’t wait to meet forever people.” And on February 6th just one year later I can honestly tell you that I am genuinely happy and have found those forever people. I have met girls who will stand with me on my wedding day and hold my hand through the trials and heartbreak.

A year ago I felt alone. Today I feel loved.

365 days. One year. Exponential growth.

If you’re the girl that’s holding on by a thread right now, keep holding. It will get better. But hear me sis, if you need to move some things around in your life in order for that better change to come, then MOVE THEM.

You have to love yourself enough to make hard decisions for the betterment of your emotional, mental, and physical health.

PLEASE talk to someone who loves you about what’s going on. There is a way out and you don’t have to find it alone. My inbox is always open.

And lastly, God sees you. Please don’t hide from Him. He can redeem whatever it is that is hurting you right now if you simply lay it all  down at His feet. Listen for His voice and when you find it, please be brave.

An unfortunate story about my underwear

In fourth grade I took a ferry ride to Mackinac Island. I had a bag full of clothes and while attempting to retrieve my sunglasses, my underwear flew out and landed on the guy behind me.

Yeah girl, it was every bit as awkward and horrifying as it sounds.

I then had to turn around and pick them up off of his lap after assuring him that they were clean. Single most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me.

But hey, I lived to tell the story and so did he. I think.

As humiliating as this unfortunate turn of events was at the time, I now tell it with a laugh and a smile and always get some in return. Life is full of moments like these, and if you’re anything like me, full is an understatement. I basically live my life from one embarrassing moment to the next.

I’m slowly learning to embrace those awkward parts of myself (college will do that for ya) because life is just a giant combination of moments and there’s no way to slow it down or speed it up. The seconds, minutes, hours, and days often slip by and are forgotten.

But let’s be real, how much do you wanna bet that guy still hasn’t forgotten the time a pair of underwear whacked him in the face on what was supposed to be an enjoyable ferry ride? I doubt it.

All jokes aside, I tell you this because we all have stories like these. And if you say you don’t, you’re either lying or have a very selective memory.

The Bible says God sits on His throne and laughs, and sometimes girl, we just need to laugh it off too. None of it matters in the grand scheme of things and I promise you’ll look back and have one heck of a story to tell. Speaking of which, I’d love to hear your most embarrassing story!

Tell me about it in the comments below! Do you have mine beat?

I am angry that I will never be the girl that I was

It was never meant to be this hard.

I wasn’t supposed to be carrying this burden around with me everywhere I go. I wasn’t supposed to be battling fear, panic, and anxiety. I wasn’t supposed to struggle with trusting every person that gets close to me. I wasn’t supposed to feel this way.

But I do, and I’d be lying to you if I pretended that I don’t. The truth is, I don’t have everything figured out. I am not yet the healed, capable woman that I intend on being. And if I’m being honest with you, I often feel a mingling of fear, anger, and shame resting in the pit of my stomach.

I am angry that I will never be the girl that I was.

And sometimes, on the days that God whispers to me, I remember that I don’t want to be that girl anymore.

But there are parts of her that I miss. She was trusting. She saw the very best in everyone. She had an entire, untarnished, unbroken heart to give; and she gave it.

She also had a lot to learn. And maybe this part of her will never change, but she is learning and has learned a lot. She is wiser, stronger, and closer to her savior. She is finding the road to bravery and she will take it when she can. She will take it because God pulls her by the hand and takes every first step.

And although it was never meant to be this hard and I wasn’t supposed to feel this way, I do. And this mended, tarnished heart with cracks turned to seams is held in hands that bear their own scars.

And I will love again because He first loved me.

And sweet friend, I promise so will you.

We’ve become okay with degrading men in the process of lifting women up and it is not okay

We’ve become a society that pushes terms like “toxic masculinity” and “mansplaining” while saying such things with utter hypocrisy. Women rally together to march through Washington D.C. in vulgar costumes while holding signs dripping with profanity and call it a social justice movement. The feminist agenda is one that pushes for abortion “rights” up to 40 weeks into pregnancy. This culture labels men as monsters and women as oppressed and any other narrative that doesn’t fall in line with that is offensive.

Bottom line: we’ve become okay with degrading men in the process of lifting women up and it is not okay. Equality is a two way street, not a tightrope balancing act where one party makes it to the other end okay and the other is pushed off while the crowd cheers.

Ladies, if we want respect, we need to give it.

We need to stop making jokes about all men being trash and assuming that there’s actually truth behind such a statement. We need to stop labeling liberation as demanding respect while doing all things unworthy of it. We need to stop praising ourselves while beating down the opposite gender. Just because society says that it’s okay to speak this way does not mean it actually is.

Girls, hear me out. We need to respect ourselves enough to understand the true meaning of class, dignity, and maturity and we need to demonstrate those things. We are not better simply because we have two x chromosomes.

We have gender specific abilities and gifts that allow us to do some truly incredible things, and so do men. We are different because that was God’s beautiful and perfect design. He created man and woman equal, not interchangeable.

And guess what-

Gentlemen are as rare as ladies are.

Good friends are hard to come by

Good friends are hard to come by.

When I say this, please know that I mean good friends. Kind friends. The friend that offers to help when she has zero obligation to. The friend that encourages, uplifts, and acknowledges your successes. The friend that genuinely loves and cares for you. The friend that prays for your heart.

Girl, if you are lucky enough to find a friend like this, keep her close.

But I also encourage you to be that friend. Offer to help her when she doesn’t ask, and if she says no, ask again. Encourage her, uplift her, and throw a party when she has something to be excited about. Love her, care for her, and understand that, like you, she isn’t perfect either.

Good friends are hard to come by. Perfect friends don’t exist.

Extend understanding if she disappoints you. Ask for clarification if something upsets you, and do it with grace. Be willing to hear her side. Be willing to overlook a misunderstanding. Be willing to listen if something is heavy on her heart.

Ladies, if you find a friend that loves you, keep her close. Thank God for her. Pray for her.

She is a blessing.

“There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other,
    but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”

Proverbs 18:24

I am equal, but not better than.

I am a woman.
I am strong, capable, and able but will graciously accept help when it’s needed and say thank you when a door is held for me.
I will encourage and uplift the women in my life but will also encourage and uplift the men in my life.
I have God-given attributes that allow me to make an impact on the world in a unique way and I will celebrate that without lessening the value of abilities that are different than mine.
My body and mind are capable of incredible things and I will not cheapen that by believing that sameness is a synonym for equality.
I am empowered and proud of who I am, but will not place womanhood above manhood.
I am equal, but not better than.
I refuse to degrade due to differences and I refuse to listen to a society that sells self worship and labels it liberation.
My God is the creator of equality and the establisher of perfect design. 
He molded me in His image.
He died for me.
He loves me.
And thankfully, those three facts stand true for everyone, regardless of any difference.
Let’s live like it and let’s love like it.