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Bringing Home the Exiles

*I do not own the rights to this photo.


Hello everyone! I will have to admit I never thought I'd write about personal exiles. Exiles are the parts of us we hate; so we dismiss them, lock them away in our hearts and minds, or banish them to our own personal deserts (the equivalent of fracturing yourself into pieces and banishing those pieces from your conscious mind). Why do we do such things? The answer is quite simple – we long to be free from pain. I found it easier to banish the parts of me that were hurt at various times in my life than to look at, and process their pain. The problem with a fractured self is you start thinking not only are the banished parts of you bad, you are bad as a whole person. Once you believe you are bad a well as parts of you are bad, you get stuck – stuck in the proverbial desert. You get stuck in the desert because you are lost and you can't find your way out. You don't know who you are anymore or where you are going so you wander over emotional, desert wastelands. You can't leave your fractured selves in the desert (even thought you don't like them and you want to), and you are not a whole person without accepting all of you. I have just come to this realization over the last six weeks. I have been wandering in my desert for far too long – going around in circles, hating myself for things that weren't my fault. Hating my body, my personality, my younger self, my married self – you name it – I hated it. This has been quite the revelation – painful as it is right now for me. Yet, I have never felt more alive. I have never felt more whole. For you see, I began my journey to find my exiles and bring them home just a few weeks ago – Jesus and I. The reality is I was never really alone in my desert, He was there the whole time (Zephaniah 3:17, Hosea 2:14). He knew where to find my exiles too but I had to want them back. He never does anything for us without our consent – that includes healing and reintegration of self. I want to tell you a short story of my healing and reintegration. I have not doubt we have more exiles to bring home but I believe by highlighting three that I have chosen to welcome back recently, I will give people hope that they too can be whole again – their whole, authentic, perfectly loved self. Let us leave our lonely deserts behind and learn to live and love abundantly, once again.

12 Year-Old Me

She was the first one I banished. She was too smart for her own good, or so they said. She was shunned by her peers because she was so smart, or so they said. She wasn't one of the prettiest or one of the most popular, or so they said. Her dad stayed gone for work over a long periods of time too so he must not have liked her either, or so I thought. She had definitely done something wrong. She wasn't good enough. I wasn't even sure she was a good person. She had to go!

Sometime between the age of 12 and 15, I sent her off into the desert. I wanted nothing to do with her anymore. She was a rejected, painful part of me. I hated her. I sent her off and I didn't look back. Fast forward 31 years to fractured, depressed, anxious me. She would sadly not be the only part of me I tore away. The story doesn't end there, thank God!

About two weeks ago, I made peace with 12 year old me. I even welcomed her home. She had done nothing wrong. She had simply interpreted the rejection of others has her problem, not their problem. She is (I am) smart because God made her (me) that way and she (me) can now be celebrated. She was good as I am good. I don't have any bad parts of me. Her dad traveled for work to provide for his family, not because she was unlovable or did something wrong. She (I) understand this now. She is absolutely loved, smart, beautiful, valuable, worthy, and accepted! She is home and I am at peace with her now – even with those braces! Oh the tears you will shed when you realize you hated a part of your young self! The good news is I can love her now. I can love who she is and the woman she has become. Welcome home baby girl, welcome home!

38 Year-Old Married Me

She couldn't even keep her marriage together, after all, that was her job – or so they said. She was a failure. Ignore the fact that she lived with an abusive man with serious, uncontrolled mental illness. She could not fix him, or so he believed. She was a failure. She was fat, or so he said. She could not do simple things, or so he said. She was beat down. She was a failure. She was once a strong woman. What happened to her? She had to go too!

I banished her into the desert about year after my husband died. I could not stand to look at her or her pictures. I never wanted to see her again. It seems strange to be writing these words now. I sincerely hated her more than 12 year old me. I was so angry at her for her failure and lack of strength!

Fast forward 8 years to fractured, depressed, anxious me. I needed to make peace with not only that time in my life, but with who I was at that time. Over the last two weeks I've started to make peace with her too. I have welcomed her home. She is good because I am good. She, like 12 year old me, is not a bad part of me. She, like 12 year old me, was hurting. The end of her marriage was not her fault. She didn't do anything wrong. She was not the horrible names he called her. She can do many things because she too is very smart. She could not take care of herself because she was busy trying to take care of someone who did not want to care for himself. She was loving someone who could not love her in return nor truly see her worth. She can't fix people, nor is it her responsibility to do so. Welcome home sweet lady! I don't hate you anymore! You are absolutely loved, smart, beautiful, valuable, worthy, and accepted! You can take care of yourself and your needs now. I love you for who you are, just like 12 year old me! Welcome home!

38 Year Old Married, Trophy/Performing Me

I want to start this section with an explanation before I go into thoughts and feelings associated with this self. This self and the manager self that replaced her (I will explain) have been by far the toughest exile and part of me I've had to come to terms with of the three I have written about today. Her manager, a protective part of me that I have just recently come to understand, thanks to therapy, has been a fearful and protective part of me – and quite good at her job I might add. For those of you that have known me awhile, you may remember I cut my hair really short for a time. She was responsible for the inspiration for that haircut. She was trying to protect me from men who want me to be pretty for them and perform for them, just as my late husband did. She came about as a result of his behavior. I understand this now. The reality is I can wear my hair how I choose to. I'm not pretty for someone else. I am pretty for me and they get to reap the benefits of this from me. I wear my hair for me. I dress for me. I wear makeup or don't wear makeup for me. The next man will simply get to reap the benefits of such things.

Now to 38 year-old married me, the performer and trophy.

“You just stand there (sit there) and look pretty” he said. He said it all the time. Those words bounced around in my brain a long time and I hated her for letting him say them. She just stood or sat there and let those demeaning words just keep coming! She was so much more than a trophy or arm candy but she never spoke up! She just kept performing – in the bedroom, with household work, in conversations, in public, in private. He gladly let her. She just would not stop! I hated her! She never once stood up for herself! She never once asked for any reciprocation in their relationship. I wanted her gone long before I banished her. I was glad when she was gone. My new manager self took over after her departure and went into full protection mode. If my husband could not value and protect me, the manager Elizabeth could and would. I was done with trophy/performer Elizabeth! She was weak. Manager Elizabeth showed up about 2 years after he died. I was golden, or so I thought.

Fast forward 7 years to fractured, depressed, anxious me. Not so golden is it? Manager Elizabeth had become so afraid and protective that she started changing my appearance. From multiple tattoos to haircuts, I changed my appearance in an attempt to make myself seem less weak and more in control. Now don't get me wrong, I love my tattoos. They all have special meaning to me but honestly, I was addicted. I don't ever think any addiction is wise even if that addiction is relatively harmless. I cut off my hair and I don't even like short hair! As I have moved through more healing, I have let Manager Elizabeth control less and less. Only recently did I realize how afraid she had been for a long time. It was time to face these parts of myself. It was time to bring another one home!

A week ago, I brought trophy/performer Elizabeth home and I asked Manager Elizabeth to rest. You see trophy/performer Elizabeth has hope! I love her and Manager Elizabeth! She doesn't have to perform anymore. She isn't just arm candy or just a beautiful woman – she is smart, absolutely loved, beautiful for her, valuable, worthy, and accepted! She is good because I am good. She doesn't have to perform for love. You perform for prizes, not love. Manager Elizabeth, who is very strong, can now rest from all of her protecting. Not all men are like my late husband. He struggled with so many of his own demons, and I understand now why he could not relate to me from a place of love. He had been taught to perform all of his life – from his abusive father to his performance-based chosen field of occupation. He had never stopped performing. He did not know who he was for all of the performing. He had learned demeaning speech from his father. Both men put others down to make them feel better about themselves because their self esteem was very low. No one had ever taught them how to love – what that looked or sounded like at all. I understand this now. I can look at my late husband with much empathy now for the pain and burdens he carried unknown to me. He is safe now, I can let go. Manager Elizabeth can let go so that I have room in my heart to love another man who does love well.

Oh the freedom of these revelations - to let go of fear and control! To bring home my exiles and make peace with them – to become my whole, true, authentic self. I'm not sure I am done with this part of the journey yet. I believe I still have some work to do. I do know this though, there is nothing I can't do without Jesus! There is nothing about me he doesn't already know. I am safe with him and safe to continue this journey with him, my God-given therapist, and those he has placed around me on this journey. I have been changed. I am not afraid anymore. I finally know who (and Whose) I am. No one can change this or take it from me. I deserve good things and good relationships, so do you. I deserve to be at peace, so do you. I can enter into His rest, so can you. Freedom is on the horizon! It's time to go get it!



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2 opmerkingen

I am so proud of you!! I love this concept of welcoming home parts of ourselves in exile. Beautifully written and vulnerable. 💕

Reageren op

Thank you! ❤️

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