SMIDGEN of HOPE
What is your definition of hope? Do you even believe in the concept of hope? I know of people who have no belief in hope. Hope to them is foolish.
Hope has kept me alive in certain periods of my life. It may also have contributed to my staying in situations for too long.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word as:
“A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.
A person or thing that may help or save someone.
Grounds for believing that something good may happen.
archaic A feeling of trust.”
As a child, I hoped the abuse would stop. My goal was to become perfect. Maybe that would prevent the abuse from occurring ever again. I had fantasies of someone saving me … a Prince Charming. The idea of hoping could be considered foolish. Yet fantasies and hope (however childish) of a better life kept me alive through terrible times.
As a young adult, the Prince Charming did not come. I fell into a relationship of domestic violence with torture once I left my mother’s house. Leaving the abusive family of origin and moving into a DV (domestic violence) relationship is unfortunately quite common.
In my relationship with my former husband, I hoped things would improve. That hope did not last long. I became numb and robot-like. One can only be a psychological captive for so long without giving up in some fashion. Life was merely survival.
Once my daughter, Megan, was born I began to feel again in small ways. Where I did not have much hope for myself, the protective mom within me awoke. I had hope for my daughter, for her to have a better life. Even though I was still in denial and not facing the abuse in my present life or during the previous decades, I knew my daughter needed protection and love. Hope … as small as a mustard seed … began to enter my life again.
Without a smidgen of hope, how could I have …
Faced the abuse that occurred in my family of origin, the human trafficking, the clergy abuse?
Faced the extreme abuse in my marriage?
Become a protective parent in order to keep my daughter safe?
Dealt with the court systems in two countries?
Grieved for time loss with Megan?
Started my life over in a new and different location?
Kept my integrity as I dealt with disbelievers?
Entered into therapy to heal further from Complex PTSD?
Continued to reach out for a spiritual relationship with my Higher Power, God, Divine Love?
Found a job that would sustain me during the years of healing and rebuilding my life?
Made the decision to become a life coach for survivors of abuse (or any trauma or any one in need), to serve others, to let others benefit from my past, to support those on their healing journeys?
When I separated from my former husband, I eventually rented an apartment. Megan and I experienced a freedom we did not have when we lived with the abuser (perpetrator). We also dealt with the extreme challenges at the time of reporting the abuse, the disbelief, psych evaluations and the courts. In my bedroom, there was a poster on the wall. If memory serves me, the words written on the poster were, “There is hope.” The picture was of a lighthouse. I truly liked that poster. It comes to mind more than one would think!
Long ago, when I was attended a Catholic high school, I enjoyed learning about world literature and other religions. I think it is interesting and thought-provoking to read what others believe on the subject of hope. The following are different people’s ideas. Each of us may agree with one or none of the below readings on the subject.
“But less known is the realization that Judaism may have made one of its greatest contributions when it actualized a dormant human feature that hides shyly in everyone’s heart: Hope. Hope is the sheer will to live on in the face of despair, to picture a better future, to spark a rise to success and an end to suffering. The Jewish people survived pogroms and holocausts because of this one quality.
Think of it: there is virtually no forward movement in life, no projecting and no planning, unless it is preceded by a robust Hope that craves some distant goal. Hope performs remarkable calisthenics. If you lose hope in something, you instinctively hope for a different objective. Hope changes itself in tandem with your personal development – if you are successful your hope leaps ahead to goals out-of-reach; if you are young, your Hopes are probably ecstatic; as you get older the worn mind looks for other pastures. What are the hidden mechanisms that trigger this Hope that drives us into the future? What enables this boldness, this resilience, this “impossible” vision? “
– Maurice Lamm, National Institute for Jewish Hospice
(See article titled, “The Invention of Hope”. http://nijh.org/?page_id=10)
“ABANDON HOPE (AND FEAR)
Hope and fear is a feeling with two sides. As long as there’s one, there’s always the other. This is the root of our pain. In the world of hope and fear, we always have to change the channel, change the temperature, change the music, because something is getting uneasy, something is getting restless, something is beginning to hurt, and we keep looking for alternatives.
In a nontheistic state of mind, abandoning hope is an affirmation, the beginning of the beginning. You could even put “Abandon hope” on your refrigerator door instead of more conventional aspirations like “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better.”
– Pema Chodron, Buddhist
Christian hope “is the expectation of something that has already been accomplished; there is a door there, and I hope to arrive at the door. What must I do? Walk towards the door! I am sure that I will arrive at the door. Such is Christian hope: to be sure that I am journeying to something that is, not what I want it to be.”
“Even our resurrection, and that of the faithful departed, then, is not something which may or may not happen; rather, it is a certain reality, as it is rooted in the event of the Resurrection of Christ,” Pope Francis said.
“There is more than anger, there is more than sadness, more than terror. There is hope.”
— Laura Davis and Ellen Bass, “The Courage to Heal”
“In fact hope is more than a faculty or a quality, hope may be called the substance of life. Wise and foolish, rich and poor, all live in some hope. Hope can prolong life and lack of hope can shorten it. The joy that one gets from hope is greater than the joy that comes from the possession of the object hoped for. Therefore there is a Sanskrit saying that Brahma in the creation took honey from all the flowers and that this honey was hope. The interpretation is that out of all things that are beautiful and that give joy and happiness the essence is taken and that essence is hope.”
– Hazrat Inayat Khan
Once again, I ask if you believe in the concept of hope. Does hope make sense to you? Is hope the opposite of despair?
I believe in hope. It has sustained me through moments and years of abuse and torture. A smidgen of hope saved me in bleak periods of despair.
Tulips are a sign of spring … of new beginnings … of hope of better experiences in the future …