Abuse Victims, God, and the Search for Love, Part 1

PBS recently re-aired “Divine Madness”. The Divine Miss M, circa 1980: Bette Midler in her younger years. A blast straight from my past.

I am, of course, dating myself. Maybe the New Year’s celebrations have me in a nostalgic mood. But I look back over the decades with some wonder at how I survived…how any of us survived.

Bette Midler strikes a chord for me, both musically and metaphorically. That voice – muscular and poignant. That manner – brash and vulnerable.

The first time I heard “The Rose” over the radio I had to pull the car to the side of the road for the tears in my eyes. The same thing happened the first time I heard “From a Distance”. I couldn’t help myself.

There is a profound connection here. “The Rose” is about the search for love, when love seems unattainable. “From a Distance” is about the search for brotherhood, which always seems beyond our reach.

“Some say love, it is a river that drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower and you its only seed.”

The Rose, Bette Midler

I think it’s fair to say that abuse victims are particularly desperate for love. We deserve but do not see ourselves as worthy of love. Having had so little of the real thing, we settle for poor imitations without even realizing our error.

It is a cliché – but nonetheless true – that love can be enormously redemptive, for victims and non-victims alike. The danger for victims lies in choosing partners who reinforce the negative opinion we have of ourselves.

This is not because we are undeserving or attract only critical partners. It is because we (like all other human beings) respond to the familiar.

Unfortunately, what resonates with us recalls the repeated harsh rejection we experienced in childhood. Not only do we look for love in “all the wrong places,” we have difficulty recognizing the real thing when we encounter it.

That does nothing to diminish our yearning for love.

Part 2 in this series is scheduled for next week



Filed under Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

4 responses to “Abuse Victims, God, and the Search for Love, Part 1

  1. Words of truth. And beautiful song.
    Thanks Anna.

  2. This song certainly describes survivors……….until Christ gets hold of us. Then we become that bloomed flower shining like a rose. 🙂

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