Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Divine Appointment



 By Belinda

I arrived early at the writers conference, turning into the curving, tree shaded driveway, with a sense of anticipation. What lay ahead over the next three days was known only to God. I knew that there would be many connections made; networking opportunities; chance encounters—I  prefer to think of them as “Divine appointments,” connections in which God has a hand.


After dropping off my luggage in my room, I reported to the volunteer coordinator’s post to pick up a bundle of signs. My first job of the day would be putting them up around the conference grounds.

I found that I had a helper named Nikki Rosen. Soon we were busy with our assignment and chatting at the same time. It turned out that Nikki wasn’t attending the conference but lived nearby and had volunteered to come help set up.

She was small and neatly built, with short, auburn hair and brightly intelligent brown eyes. Her conversation was as engaging as the person she projected and as parts of her story emerged, I was fascinated. I had recently returned from a trip to Israel and she said that she grew up in an orthodox Jewish family that was, behind closed doors, viciously abusive, physically and verbally—and yet she was a social worker, helping other women—how did she make the transition from abused child to whole person?  

I wanted to know the whole story. To my enormous relief she told me that she had written it down and that the book would be on sale in the bookstore. Did I mention Divine appointments? This was my first of the conference.

I bought two copies of Nikki’s book, A True Story—In the Eye of Deception. One to keep and one to share with someone else.

It wasn’t long before one of the books was in circulation. My daughter spotted it and said that she had a friend that might find it interesting and helpful. I began to read my own copy and was quickly gripped anew by Nikki’s story of survival.

Nikki told a difficult tale, describing graphically the brutality and violence she endured as a young child; the coping mechanisms she learned, including detachment, bulimia, drugs and cutting; laying down a pattern of victimization and abuse as she later lived a life of survival on the streets of Vancouver.

She was lured into a cult by the illusion of family and peace, and when she realized that she was entrapped in a web of abuse, being repeatedly raped; subjected to brain-washing, and deprived of nourishment, she managed to escape, only to climb back into captivity over the black wrought iron fence that surrounded the cult’s compound after short hours of freedom.

Nikki takes the reader inside her head, so that you understand why she returned to such violence and why cutting was a release. Terrible as life was, she remained with the cult until she endured a beating that ruptured her spleen and resulted in hospitalization to repair it.

A life of addiction, prison and psychiatric institutionalization followed—a downward spiral. It was in living side by side with other people in similar torment that Nikki developed the compassion that made her want to help and repugnance at some of the methods staff used to maintain order.
     
While sitting on a park bench one summer day, Nikki was approached by a young woman who shared her faith in Christ. Nikki began a long, sometimes torturous journey to freedom and wholeness with many painful years of slowly moving through a process of gaining insight and healing while still leaning into the destructive patterns that had been her survival for so long.

There was no “quick fix.” Eventually Nikki connected with a Christian counsellor who gently and patiently led her through steps of healing. Nikki describes this in such detail that the reader can understand the process that resulted in the freedom she eventually walked into.
     
Although there were many people who personified evil in Nikki’s life, there were many people who by simple acts of kindness and generosity, made a difference and Nikki brings them to life in the pages of her book.

Reading the Bible, meditating on it and replacing lies with its truth until it became part of her was a powerful step of healing for Nikki, eventually completely setting her free from  her bondages and addictions.
     
Still, few people knew of all that Nikki had endured. She was ashamed of her past and also tended to minimize the abuse. She began running in the woods near her home and there found peace, and the courage to begin to tell her story, starting by writing it down, no longer held captive by fear. In the woods she sensed God’s presence and touch, encouraging her to face the pain and to tell the truth.

I could hardly believe that the confident social worker with whom I had put up the signs for the conference was the same Nikki in the book. But of course I met the whole Nikki, the one who lives with gratitude for all that God has done in her life. Her life is a testimony to the goodness of God and triumph over darkness and evil.

Although my own childhood struggles cannot compare in the degree of heartache that Nikki lived through, reading the book was helpful to me.  I saw clearly for the first time, patterns that are old and no longer necessary coping mechanisms and how we can subconsciously recreate the dance of relationship learned in childhood.  
      
Until recently Nikki worked as a social worker in a hospital but now works privately, primarily with women with similar backgrounds of abuse.

You can visit Nikki's website Gentle Recovery (No Hope? Know Hope!)  at www.gentlerecovery.webs.com

Her book won The Word Guild Award and received Honourable Mention for the Grace Irwin Award

4 comments:

violet said...

Interesting! I read segments of Nikki's story when I was active in ReVision and she was posting it for critique. Before she set us straight, I thought it was fiction. I'm thrilled that the book and Nikki, are doing so well.

Belinda said...

Violet--how nice to hear from you! I should be in bed--I hope it is much earlier in your neck of the woods.:)

I can certainly see why you would have been shocked that this was a true story. Thank you for the part you played in ReVision in birthing this powerful book.

sarah said...

Hey Belinda...thank you soo much for writing this. You're the best!!! Hope you're having an awesome summer and staying cool. Nikki

Belinda said...

Nikki, I felt that it had to be shared as widely as possible. Our assignment at our writers group this month was "biography" and one of the ladies said, "Why don't you write about the woman who wrote the book you mentioned in your earlier blog post." I read it last night. People were stunned at your story.