Saturday, July 31, 2010

Church Saga continued - the backstory

My husband and I had belonged to this Church just a short while when I saw a scary sight from the choir loft where I was singing. Just that week before a client had come into my office and told me that his children had revealed that their mother and her new boyfriend had sexually abused them. I helped the client file for immediate custody and we made a report to Social Services. As I began to sing the choir anthem, my vision focused on a couple I had not seen in church before. It was my client's ex-wife and her boyfriend.

I sat there trying to decide how to react. This woman hated me. I had taken her children and got her fired from her job running a home daycare. I don't know why this couple stayed. But they did. And kept coming back.

I told the pastor and church officials they needed to go down and read a certain court file. I then got permission from my client to tell the church what they needed to know.

The pastor did not take the position that these folks were "innocent until proven guilty." He acted immediately. He and the Deacon Chairperson were wonderful. At one point there was a meeting and the male threatened the Deacon Chair saying "well anyone can make allegations and there might be some about you and your daughter this afternoon. See how you like DSS in your life." The Pastor and Deacon chair didn't act so Sunday-school-like at that moment.

This situation and how it was handled furthered my bond with my church. I was awestruck to see these men take a stand to protect those around them. I began to see the pastor as a fatherly figure. To see a pastor so committed to keeping children safe was reassuring.

Soon thereafter, I was asked to assist in drafting a set of policies which would govern activities with our children. The three-fold purpose was to protect children, volunteers and the staff. A committee and I set to work and I think, we did a great job. We have a comprehensive protections policy.

Fast forward a year or so and my father decided to make a brief reappearance in my life. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. This was pre-therapy and so my husband and I met with the pastor. He was really good. I didn't go into details of my childhood but I know he got the general theme. The pastor gave me the analogy of a healing wound. You need to be really careful before you rip the scab off a wound and expose it to the world again. The pastor told me I was not required to meet my father. I felt validated.

Fast forward to two years ago when my father died. Friends of ours, not knowing the funeral was out-of-state, offered to attend the service with me. Just to support me.

This church has supported my family. When Husband had knee surgery when Munchkin was just 8 months old, the church hired someone to take care of our yard work that summer. With each child we have had meals for weeks. Both of my children have been dedicated there. We went through a building campaign, and after much prayer, we gifted a large sum of money in furtherance of having a true sanctuary. We were a part of the building plans and were there the first Sunday in the beautiful new sanctuary. My Husband and I were both baptized as part of the first baptismal in the new sanctuary.

There are a lot of memories tied up in this church and in the people involved. Church is my family. When I'm happy, I share it with these people. When I'm sad, I call upon these people. When I need something, it is this group I call. My family is in this church every Wednesday and Sunday. Holidays are marked with special services at church. Our friends are from this church. My daughter doesn't know how to celebrate Halloween without the church fall festival, or Easter without the church egg hunt. She looks forward to vacation Bible school and the back-to-school bear hunt every year.

All of that is now changed.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Healing Begins

I heard this song on the way into work this morning. It would have fit perfectly with yesterday's post.

So you thought you had to keep this up
All the work that you do
So we think that you're good
And you can't believe it's not enough
All the walls you built up
Are just glass on the outside

So let 'em fall down
There's freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We're here now

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark

Afraid to let your secrets out
Everything that you hide
Can come crashing through the door now
But too scared to face all your fear
So you hide but you find
That the shame won't disappear

So let it fall down
There's freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We're here now
We're here now, oh

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark

Sparks will fly as grace collides
With the dark inside of us
So please don't fight
This coming light
Let this blood come cover us
His blood can cover us

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Child Abuse Screen

Before I began dealing with the abuse, I lived life separated from others by a thick wall. Very few people got through. I didn't talk about the abuse. I didn't acknowledge the abuse. I didn't admit it had any affect on me.

Life put a few cracks in my wall. I let people in, let life in, and suffered a few injuries. But I still was plenty protected.

Through the therapy process I began tearing down sections of the wall. I thought that this was the solution and I would live life free!

In the past year I have stopped counseing, come of medication, stopped blogging and moved on to the Post-Abuse world. I have talked in terms of healED instead of healING. I patted myself on the back for surviving and waited for life to change now that I had finished the race. And I waited....and waited...and waited......
I still process things through the filter of being an abused child. It's like there is an internal filter that all life experiences go through.
The filter has changed with therapy, for sure. Whereas before very few things got through, now more and more comes in. I feel emotions now and can deal with them somewhat. The stuff that is let in doesn't instantly and always produce level 10 earthquake-type panic attacks. I expected that to change with time, healing and therapy and it has.
What I, perhaps naively, expected was a post-abuse, it doesn't bother or affect me anymore, change. I'm learning that this is not going to happen, and perhaps isn't possible.
Abuse changed me. It shaped who I was then and who I am now. I will never trust people like I would have if I hadn't been abused. I will never recover from a breach of trust like I might have otherwise. I will never handle someone coming up behind me the same way. Abuse is no longer a brick wall, but it remains a screen.
I can see things and be seen. But there will always be that screen through which everything is filtered.
What I am learning is that everyone has screens. They are different shapes, sizes and colors, but they are there. Everyone sees the world differently, shaped and guided by their life experiences. I just have to learn that a large part of mine is my childhood experiences. They can't go away. They can become less of a hinderance but they will always be there.
The next step -- figuring out what to do with this realization. How do I get others to acknowledge my screen, respect it, and see their own screens?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Coping - how I survived

I have written about how I survived the abuse. Or at least I've tried to write about it and describe it. The hide-n-seek games I played within myself. It is hard to put a lack of feeling into words.

I stumbled across a blog last evening. The first post I read is called "Numb" and it is on the blog called The Difficult Things.

Have you ever read something and instantly felt a connection? Wanted to stand up and shout "YES!" Found yourself nodding in agreement and crying? That is how I felt when I read this post. It put into words so well what I tried for so long to explain. Read it. You just might relate. I hope you won't - because I wouldn't wish it on anyone. But if you can relate, then I think you will see just well it is explained.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Church Saga - how I ended up where I am.

I keep meaning to go back to writing but then I try to figure out what I will write about. The main issue I am dealing with and that is consuming nearly every moment - awake and sleeping - is church. It may not be interesting for anyone else to read but it helps me to write it out here.

I didn't grow up going to church. My interactions with organized religion started in high school when I went with a friend to a very strict orthodox church. I found myself strangely attracted to the concept of religion and the beliefs, but I did not like that particular religion. It was led by a very male-dominate minister. He taught that women should stay home, not work, home-school, and above all follow the man of the house. Women could teach children but never adults. Surprisingly I didn't totally run the other way entirely.

In college I started attending an on-campus Christian organization. It was non-denominational and we actually attended different types of churches almost every week. I began to see what type of worship styles I liked and what I did not.

My husband grew up in a very small methodist church. It was family run with one or two families controlling everything. Since the pastor rotated through every three to five years, the same families stayed in control and became further entrenched.

When Husband and I started visiting churches, we liked the structure of the Baptist churches. There seemed a good balance between pastoral control and congregational control. When we moved to our present location, we noticed a church fairly close to our house and decided to visit. We felt a fit and never visited elsewhere.

Fast-forward ten years and we are still in that church. I became a trustee which is the board that handles the legal affairs - signs documents, contracts, loans, holds the title of the property. My husband is a deacon which is a spiritual leader of the church. We've both taught Sunday school and are active with the children's programs. Most of our local friends are members of the church. We go to church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Most of our holiday activities are built around church. Our children look forward to Easter egg hunts, fall festivals and summer camps.

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll understand why I have issues with male authority figures. Over the past ten years, my pastor has broken through some of my self-erected walls and I trusted him. In the last two months, more has happened to break that trust than ever before.

This past week I resigned from all positions of leadership in church. We attended a different church this past week and are looking for a new church. I used to think people who talked about nasty church splits were overly dramatic but now I see what a struggle it really is. I'm also seeing how issues raised now are intertwining and stepping on my toes which are already sensitive from abuse. Now the question becomes how to process all this and deal with it? This is where writing comes in. I hope to sort things out and go forward from here with some clarity.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Welcome Back to Me!

Welcome back to me. Hopefully this isn't a limited appearance and I'll actually stick around and write some. No promises though. Things are a bit crazy in my life.

I chose a new background and layout. I like the picture of the dandelion because I often feel tossed about by the wind. I don't like the narrow columns and would prefer they were a bit wider but can't figure out how to change that.

There have been a lot of changes in my life recently. Husband took yet another new job. He had taken one but it was second shift, seven days a week and we never saw him. However, since his unemployment ran out and we weren't sure if there would be an extension, he had to take something. Luckily, within a month he found this present job. It is still second shift but only Monday to Friday. The pay is average - less than what he was earning before but a tiny bit more than he was getting on unemployment. However, the benefits are awesome, especially their health insurance.

It has been an adjustment, having both kids at home with me all alone. I get up and leave and Husband gets the kids up and off to daycare/summer camp. Then I have to do the evening rush. Get them home about 5:30, find something for supper, feed them, bathe them, homework during the school year, any activites, bedtime and then do my stuff. I'm exhausted come Friday.

On weekends we try to cram in family time. Which doesn't leave us a lot of time together. But the advantages are no before-school for Munchkin. And Bugaboo gets to hang out with Daddy sometimes until he goes into work. When the kids are sick, there is only a 2 1/2 hour gap where we don't have child care. Much easier for one of us to miss a few hours of work than a whole day.

I'm completely off all medications for depression and just taking xanax as needed - which isn't often for panic. But I do take 1/2 pill fairly frequently to help with sleep. I still can't convince my busy brain to shut down at night. So the xanax helps with that. I think I might would do better with an anti-depressant but I hate the side effects so it's a catch-22 at the moment.

I am going to try to get back to blogging in hopes that sorting out my feelings here will help me sleep better at night without the xanax. We shall see.....