Lisa Rene Delgado, 2021
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV).
One day while my ex-husband was pruning an overgrown bush on the house’s side, he noticed a trunk of a tree hidden in the middle of the dense brush. He continued cutting away; I was fearful he would ruin the bush, although I wouldn’t say I liked it; it was overgrown weeds nicely trimmed. Against my wishes, he continued cutting off branches until a beautiful tree came into view. In awe, I stood at a distance, amazed. Long-time neighbors came and looked at this masterpiece, as though my ex-husband had carved it himself; they never knew it was there. They said prior landscapers just followed the pattern.
Later, when he started a new job as a groundskeeper at a local community college, he took his shears and began pruning away dead limbs from the trees and bushes without first asking permission; he could have gotten himself into trouble. His co-workers questioned his motives and feared he would kill the trees and bushes. He explained that plants needed pruning, or they would not be healthy. They told him to follow the pattern as they have always done. The staffing well received him for his excellent job and gave him more areas to work on; he said he should have stuck to the pattern. He now has more work ahead of him.
I pondered on these, and I saw myself hidden from the mass and realized I, too, had a lot of work to do; however, I had no idea where to begin. I did not know the person God created me to be, and I felt an agency to make changes; I needed help. I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit for strength, courage, and guidance. He reminded me of a weed that was too strong for me to pull out—hidden from sight; its roots grew more potent and more in-depth, and because it was out of sight, I left it alone, unaware that it would raise even more potent. Moreover, by ignoring the root of my distress, it choked every bit of life from me until the little girl in me was dead; she needed a Redeemer. Jesus spoke this word to me, “Talitha cumi,” Little girl, I say to you, arise.”
However, the condition of my symptoms needed a name, and the name is “Co-dependant.”
Furthermore, I learned that co-dependency is the condition of “lost self” (Cloud & Beattle, 2019). Co-dependency is a learned condition from childhood neglect, dysfunction in the family unit, emotional, sexual, physical abuse, domestic violence, and the likes. Parents or caretakers also condition children to suppress their emotions because they, too, were taught to ignore their feelings.
I also discovered that adverse childhood experiences cause developmental trauma, negative core beliefs, and ACE (adverse childhood experiences; Morgan, 2019). These are the symptoms of my captivity roots. It was time to seek help from a professional to cut away from these roots.
As a child, I witnessed and experienced abuse. The men physically and emotionally abused women, and I saw women as slaves to their husbands’ cruel demands. Growing up in the Catholic Religion and its rules and regulations kept women stuck in abusive situations; I believe spiritual abuse is the worst kind of evil because they use God’s name in vain to control the weaker vessel. Furthermore, legalism is also a form of slavery used by the hierarchy in many cultures and denominations; therefore, evil comes in many states for selfish gain. Inforced by culture, religion, and tradition, children could not share their thoughts, feelings, or aspirations; children were seen, not heard. Protesting to the elders’ was considered disrespectful, and punishment was severe; children had no sense of autonomy. Eventually, I found that fighting back was exhausting, like the overgrown weed I tried pulling out myself. I succumbed to the victim-mindset and was on high alert even when I slept; following the pattern was how we kept ourselves physically safe. However, my inner child was dying a slow death from anxiety, depression, and chronic stress. I lost sight of childhood dreams, education, and goals. The elders’ expectations of children were to fulfill adult responsibilities; these distorted my childhood development. They taught me to hide my feelings at the end of the belt until I learned how to comply. Also, the adults conditioned children to adhere to sexual abuse by shaming the child with guilt and labeling.
Change is frightening, and I had no idea it would be the biggest challenge; however, it was inevitable. It was a matter of life or death for myself and the generations after me. If I continued hiding underneath the overgrown weeds of false beliefs, shame, depression, anxiety, and toxicity, my children and grandchildren would inherit my co-dependant behaviors.
Over the years, I realized mental health was not just talking to a counselor and getting fixed in a few sessions; there is much work to be done; stages must take place for complete healing. It is a long journey; however, the good news is healing, restoration, and redemption is possible. Growing up is not only physically growing up; growing up takes place in many facets, from rewiring your brain with CBT, understanding your brain’s neuroscience, and changing thought patterns ingrained from birth. We can rewrite our stories for good and not allow our past experiences to define us. After all, our experiences are just experiences.
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed. His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23).
Clark, David. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. 2018.
Cloud, Melody, and Henry Beattle. The Codependent Therapy. Melody Cloud, 2018.
Holy Bible, NIV, 1984; International Bible Society; Colorado Springs
Matthews, A. 2017; Gender Roles and the People of God, Rethinking What We Were Taught About Men And Women In The Church; Zondervan, Grand Rapids
Morgan, J. O., 2019; forwarded by Louis Cozolino, Ph.D., Series Editor, Addiction, Attachment, Trauma, and Recovery, The Power of Recovery; W.W. Norton & Company; New York
Stixrud, W., Ph.D. & Johnson, N. 2018; The Self-Driven Child; Penguin Books; Baskerville
Wright, H. N. 1985; Making Peace with Your Past; Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids