In Deep

Domestic violence awareness month is hard on me. I feel like I’m in the proverbial crossfire of high alert and survivor’s guilt. My loyalties firmly planted on the side of survivor’s guilt, I still remember being a soldier for the other side— battling for my life while being someone else’s target practice. It’s the pits. I read all the survivor stories and I listen to all the grim statistics and I retreat into my post-war PTSD. Studying all of the survival tactics and maneuver manuals, I sit down to my rations and overeat from the mess hall. I’m a mess.


Then, I gather the only weapon that’s been with me through it all — my pen— and write my way out of the bunker. Sometimes wielding it as a sword; sometimes using my words as a tourniquet for those just coming off the battlefield.


Today, I hope it’s a tourniquet.


‘There is no pit so deep that He (God) is not deeper still.’ Betsie ten Boom

The first full feature movie I ever remember seeing on a big screen was The Hiding Place -the true story of Corrie ten Boom, the Dutch Resistance watchmaker during World War II, and the time she spent at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp with her sister, Betsie. They were age 52 and 59, respectively.


Bestie died in the ‘hospital’ of the Nazi hell hole. Because of a clerical error, Corrie walked out of the Camp just days before all women her age were walked into gas chambers. These images flashed across the screen of my first movie ever—

Then Betsie whispered these words to Corrie just before she died,


“There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. “


Shortly after the film ended, an old dowdy lady with gray hair and glasses and a heavy Dutch accent spoke on the screen. She reminded me of my Grandma. Her message was love and forgiveness. She was an ordinary woman living an ordinary life for extraordinary causes and one of my heroes was born. Corrie ten Boom, reminding the world that no pit is deeper than God’s love, changed my life.


‘Pit’ in the Hebrew Scriptures often refers to a grave. A place we go to die. The most famous Bible story account is that of Joseph whose 10 older half brothers threw him into a pit, left him to die, then thought better of it and sold him into slavery instead. His story is one of suffering - spending years in captivity and prison. It is also one of overcoming and forgiveness, surely fueled by the love of God. The same God who had rescued him from the pit.


We all have been ‘in the pits’ emotionally. We have all walked down dark roads. We have all gone to grave places in our mind - the places where dreams and bucket lists go to die and where traumatic memories and triggers are alive and well. I’m guessing every person has a place they find difficult to crawl out of— a deep well of rising water on either side— and the rope just out of grasp.


Not all of us have been Nazi concentration camp survivors or sold into slavery. Not all of us have faced domestic violence or sexual assault. But some of you have equally harrowing stories—writing horrific true tales of abuse that no person should have to survive. Deep caverns of violence and violation leaving you at the bottom of the quarry. The deep, deep pit.


The shared experience of life is that dysfunction is rampant. Abuse happens at a rate far too common and healing nips at it’s heels rather uncommonly. Not everyone experiences hardcore combat where you have to bring in the big guns and special ops. Some of our emotional battles and 'lesser' abuses are skirmishes for the infantry and the common every day foot soldier.


My abusers began war against my heart shortly after I watched a dying Betsie proclaim God’s love was deeper than even a flea-ridden, rat-infested, death-applauding, violence-encouraging concentration camp that literally and figuratively killed her. I watched the major motion picture with eyes wide open, soaking in such a truth - not ever imagining how much I would need this quote tucked into my journal.


My writing of poetry directly coincides with Mr. Magoo swearing me to secrecy and my awakening to the realization that things were way off base. Off base, wrong, insidiously manipulative, creepy, uncomfortable — ew, gross— not sure how many euphemisms it takes to get my point across. He had thrown me into the pit at an already vulnerable time for a young teenage girl.