Love, only love, can fix the fractured identity

by Craig on July 8, 2011


It was the best of times. It was the worst of times…

the only words from War and Peace I’ve ever read.

Have you seen how thick that book is!!??

My school years were those times – alternately blissful and abysmal – and left me with all the ability, skill, and yearning to connect with others, but a conflicting drive to remain disconnected.

Grades K-6 of the quirkiest school years ever were yesterday’s post – the rest are today.


•    7th grade: a decision was made by the parent who always destroyed me far more than anything else, that I was too “in” in 6th grade. I was shipped out to a new school to fix that – a Catholic School. I had traveled this difficult terrain before – unsuccessfully. And I had now learned well from home that in a really dangerous situation the best thing to do was to hide. The year after being top banana I was so far at the bottom of the social dumpster that I was underneath it – bewildering and devastating. It was becoming impossible to tell which end was up.

•    8th grade: 7th grade was so miserable that my mom couldn’t take it any longer. Oh, how moms feel the pains of their babies – always – I heart that! Anyway, she put me back in public school. The old rules applied again. I came out of hiding, and the year after being a social pariah, I was top of the hill – again. I was so, so, so, “in”. I was the kid. But it didn’t last long.

•    Freshman Year: another ill-timed move across the country – and an abjectly heartbroken kid took a new plunge to the bottom of the social ladder. I got started on the wrong foot – and as fast as lightning splits the sky I was so “out” I disappeared. Home, regardless of the awesome love of my mom, was a constant place of fear – and school, a place of daily ridicule. All this left a confused kid more dazed than ever.

•    Sophomore Year: a new school – same thing. I was so far “out” by this time I couldn’t even see myself. School and home were both spent in hiding. A disconnected world was the only safe one.

•    Junior and Senior Years: another move across country – and out of hell. But how does a kid with so many different faces painted on decide which is real. I ran for student Council VP, the charm came in handy, and I won. I was uber popular – but didn’t know it. And I had made enemies by winning – and didn’t know that either. I was center stage but couldn’t stop hiding.  Looking back it was a predictable response.


And this confused – wanting to connect – but unable to do so me…

that became the me I was…

all the way up to this year…

the year I’ve named “connect”…

and now you know how this year offers up for me…

both certain promise…

and a little uncertain dread.

I shared this because it links in with the Love War on the negative voices.

All of our negative inner voices place and time of birth.

As Cora said in the comments yesterday – it’s time to put both a date of birth and expiration date on them.

Next time…

comes the next step…

in the Love War on the negative voices…

please come back.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Cora July 8, 2011 at 9:11 am

“How does a kid with so many different faces painted on decide which is real.” Craig, I think you summed up the lifelong struggle of my soul — finding the face that is real. Mine centered around the home face (the one that would show no emotion, feeling, etc), the school face (“the bottom of the dumpster”), and the church face (the one that tried desparately to be the good girl). The “real” face got left in the closet somewhere, and I’m not sure that even if I found it again, I’d know how to wear it. What an amazing discovery it was for me to date the negative voices! Some even have the names of people on them, as I remembered who planted them there. I had tears in my eyes when I looked at that first picture. I need to save that one, if only to remind me to NEVER use a word or sentence that will do this to a child. As I have been taking this journey with you, Craig, I just had to do something positive as I was finding myself back in that dumpster! I’m making a quilt for myself: 48 blocks — each one embroidered with a verse that tells me what God thinks of me.

I saw the neatest thing this week: A jar of nails. Each nail was wrapped with a verse about God’s love and what He thinks of us, the nails representing what it cost Him. I’d really like to transfer my “corral” to a wooden board and hammer those nails right through each of those stinkin’ voices!!!

I live out in the country and I have a dumpster. I share it with three other families. It gets emptied on Wednesdays. When I saw that truck come this week, pick up that dumpster and unload it, I thought, “There goes a week’s worth of everyone’s crap!” Gone forever. And I wished my “corral” was in with it!


Craig July 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm

your quilt idea is awesome Cora (sorry Dawn) – and from what I’ve read about the voices we need to find their source – the dating is pinpointing the source really well. And don’t hammer the voices that – remember – there’s another step – the next one is retraining them – I think we have to replace them with better voices – and I think it’ll be easier than any of us think – or at least easier than I think. So next week – remember there’s a whole training section added to the corral – and a “good” corral – for the retrained voices. Thank you for journeying along with me Cora – I heart that. And thank you for your really, really kind words – I heart them too. God bless.


Dawn July 8, 2011 at 9:58 am

Dear Cora, (sorry Craig)

I’m so happy to hear you are going to make the quilt. I think that will be revolutionary for you to hang it up and see it every day. If someone told me to make a quilt or I’d die, I would have to get ready for my final days. I hope you send a picture to me when the quilt is done.

I was wondering if you would place all your negative voices in that dumpster when your done with them and get rid of a lifetime’s worth of crap when Wednesday roles around.

Craig, if you’re reading, I, also, found the picture at the beginning meaningful. I am sure I have fractured some children like that. This picture will be helpful in my hopes of never doing it again.

Have a blessed day,


Cora July 8, 2011 at 11:29 am

Thank you, Dawn! (also, sorry, Craig!)
I do smile when I’m stitching on that quilt. And it will be a miracle if it gets finished. The quilt top is finished, and I’m doing the embroidery now. My sister in law is a quilter, so maybe she will finish it for me.

And I do believe Wednesday will be “get rid of the crap” day here!!!! I find it amazing that I have spent a lifetime encouraging others, picking up fallen people, always finding the good, the talents, and the future in others, and never did it for myself. It’s like this 8-track tape player (remember those?) that just keeps on playing like background music with the same whispering voices over and over and over. I think it’s time to chuck the tape and get a new one, don’t you?

Craig, I really want to thank you for this, and for all your openness and honesty and willingness to show us your soul. It’s so amazing how it strengthens others to look, to listen, and to change things!!!!!

Cora (again!!!!)


Craig July 8, 2011 at 5:20 pm

that first picture, Dawn, is so true. Almost all the emotional damage that happens to us happens when we’re children – we are a wide-open canvas and the paint splatters never go away without a fight. We just have to be so careful with kids – the memory of their brain, and their heart, long outlives what they can actually remember. I hope you have a blessed day too – and no apologies necessary – I heart it when we talk to each other down in this comment section!


A. July 8, 2011 at 11:07 am

It is heartbreaking to read of the pain that you have had to suffer, Craig, and you, too, Cora. I am grateful for this process to unearth, identify, and dispose of the voices that some of us have been influenced by for so long. It is liberating though I am not finding it to be instantaneous. Some voices keep popping their heads up. Yet, I am finding that progress is slowly-very slowly-being made. Is it that way for you, too?


Craig July 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm

the more I get reveal-y with my life – more I understand how much damage was done. But I’m not complaining really – I’m no different than anybody – we all have damage done. That’s why it’s so good – SO GOOD – to have a perfect God who never does any damage – because we people do such damage to each other. One day no more damage from anybody forever (◠‿◠). and about progress on the voices – there really isn’t supposed to be too much progress yet – all we’ve done so far is to corral them – and begun to understand maybe were some of them come from. We actually haven’t done any work on them yet – next week is about working on them – taking them out of the corral – and putting them into the training area off of the corral – and breaking them like wild horses – and giving them a better – more positive voice – analyzing them a little bit – learning to speak to ourselves as supportively as we speak to other people – lots of work to do next week – so if you’ve just had slowed progress right now – you are one WAY ahead of the game. First we understand – then we do (◠‿◠)


Katie July 9, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Masks and negative voices do begin when we are so young. Realizing lies and the negative voices has been a continuing battle for me. Realizing the TRUTH from God has been like being set free. One day the battle really will be won and the battle won’t have to be fought anymore.


Craig July 10, 2011 at 6:26 am

Katie, for me the masks began the day I sat on the bed and answered my mom’s question, “what do you think about calling (future stepdad) dad” he had already beaten me more than once – and once with a wire hanger – I knew it would make her happy – at that moment I chose to put on the face that said okay – and added the words – and also decided to put on the face “target” – doing everything I could you to make sure all of the anger was directed toward me – in the logic of a six-year-old child that seemed the best option. The masks start early – and so do the negative voices. Thankful we have the huge – great advantage of having a Heavenly Father, and knowing he will never abuse – and never has – and the effects of the battle that is already one will be here – now – and forever. Amen. And thank you for your kind comments. And God bless and keep you.


Bethany Ann July 9, 2011 at 9:24 pm

i yelled at my kid last night. then said sorry, then cried myself to sleep. he hasn’t shown one hint of bitterness. MERCY!!!!


Craig July 10, 2011 at 7:22 am

Bethany Ann, take it from someone who was yelled at nearly every day, for all of my childhood. There is a huge difference between “yelled at” by am mom that you know loves you without condition – and someone who only goes through the motions of parenthood. Why was there no bitterness? To me it’s simple? Because of your love. God Bless you, and God bless and keep all of yours!


Debbie July 10, 2011 at 1:14 am

Thank you , Craig, for sharing and being real. I never would’ve made it in your shoes. How did you survive? How do other kids survive? It makes me think of a friend who fostered and adopted an abused boy. It was always, always . . .difficult with him. They tried and tried. He had RAD . . .reactive attachment disorder . . .and wouldn’t/couldn’t let anyone close, wouldn’t/couldn’t tell the truth, not steal, etc. etc. It impacted me, knowing all they were going through, because this young boy didn’t have the love and care he needed as a baby and little boy.
You talking about training the voices next week intrigues me. I had wondered if some of the voice did have some redeeming value. You know, like sometimes we do need to hear constructive criticism. Just not the destructive stuff.
God bless you!


Craig July 10, 2011 at 7:29 am

Debbie, I look at my life with the knowledge that years bring and I can see how and why I made a lot of decisions that really weren’t the right ones – but came as a result of the damage – I learned to lie, I learned to hide, I learned to rely too much on charm and not enough on substance, I learned an awful lot of ways – but I didn’t know God. If I had, I think things would have been different. It would have given me something other than my own mind with which to come up with a way to cope. But it’s not me only – everybody has stuff – EVERYBODY. I have Our Lord now – and have had him now for as long as I didn’t – I always wondered if it would take as long to undo the damage as it did to create it. I think maybe that’s so – it seems to be in my case. And do the negative voices have redeeming value? I think some of them really do have truth – and almost all have a seed of truth (the best lies do) but maybe not all negative is destructive – and I guess not all positive is helpful. I’ll find out – and let you know next week (◠‿◠)


Debra July 10, 2011 at 2:39 pm

It was the worst of times for me too Craig – school, that it. You are not alone in your assessments.
First grade – Sometimes I’d pretend I was Dorothy held captive in the witch’s castle. And the other children were mean flying monkeys. Our teacher, of course, was the witch. I guess this best sums up how I felt about being imprisoned for the duration of my 12 years in the institution.
Your message today really connected with me – and I’d venture to say, most everyone else. Unless one’s home situation is just horrendous, I can’t imagine anyone liking being under constant surveillance by strangers. And the ups and downs you experienced all during your stint at the mercy of others’ acceptance and approval resonate strong. School is the only place we are always on trial by a jury of our peers. And it can be the cruelest place on earth. It sounds like the continual uprooting and transplanting fractured your identity even more, all the moves from one splintered society to another. For school is a splintered system that is “of the world.” Submission to this authority is not submission to the Shepherd’s authority.
The god of this world is a master at fracturing identities. But, praise God, his love is all about making us whole.
Bless you my dear friend.


Craig July 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm

actually Debra, the thing was – sometimes school was amazing – it was the constant switching from the top to the bottom – that was quirky, and really confusing part. The moving from one place to another wasn’t so bad – it was that, added to the decision to “move” me constantly from where I wanted – to the domains of flying monkeys – that was the bad thing. And between home and school – by far the most damaging place was home. This regardless of a mom who loved as good as any mom could. In terms of the way you put it – I had alternately friendly – and hanging juries at school (◠‿◠). and Amen – the bottom line is – the past forms us – the present informs us as we form it – the future, if I remain with Our Lord, is formed by him.

That’s really good! I think I might steal that from myself (◠‿◠)

God Bless you Debra, and thank you.


Michelle July 11, 2011 at 6:02 am

School – the source of so much …… pain ….. joy ……. friends ……… enemies/those who chose not to like because you don’t think/look/act like them ……. so much ……STUFF!!!

But, I do remember the good times. The rest of the time?….not so much. And I won’t ever go to a primary school reunion, and might go to a high school reunion (though I didn’t go this year to our 25th), but there are too many memories.

And I am no longer that person. But I don’t think I have the strength (and I do know God is my strength in my weakness) to go back. (Also, it was A Tale of Two Cities….It was the best of times. It was the worst of times….)


Craig July 11, 2011 at 4:34 pm

best of times – worst of times. Seriously the only bit of that story that I read – and probably sums up school for a lot of people. When were young we think everything is life-and-death – that is until we get older – and we encounter real life and death. God bless you Michelle! And thank you.


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