Today I looked back at blog posts since I opened up shop. Wow, what a ride it has been! You have seen, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The grace, the sin and the darkness.
It made me think about you. The survivor. What has your rollercoaster been like? Where has it taken you? Have you had companions who have supported you in a positive way?
I have often asked myself and others, “What does healing look like?”
Having an understanding of the dynamics of abuse is important. I read a lot and was constantly surprised that you and I – all survivors – share so many of the same thoughts and feelings, and that our abusers used many of the same tactics.
Perhaps knowledge is part of healing.
The abuser. The bishop or religious superior. The Church. The difficulties -and graces – that surround those relationships. Working through the shame, anger, shame, pain, shame, self-loathing and shame. Possibly dealing with criminal justice. Possibly dealing with civil justice. Realizing that there is no real justice for what has happened to you. There just isn’t. The gut-wrenching pain that the thick of this process brings is the worst. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The pain does lessen. And forgiveness can be considered.
Perhaps the decision (not the feeling) to begin to forgive is a part of healing.
Does one come to a point when they do not think of the abuse or abuser much, if at all? I have wondered if a survivor is forever at risk of being triggered (like PTSD) by a story of clergy sex abuse. It seems like just when I think I am “over it”, I go into a tailspin because I have read something ugly.
Perhaps the lessening of instances of being triggered is part of healing.
Depression has been such a big part of my life since I disclosed the abuse in 2008. I had suffered bouts of depression off and on throughout my life. Some periods were worse than others. The period of the most intense abuse and a time when we moved out of state were times when I should have sought medical intervention because I was so depressed.
I entered a deep depression immediately after I told my spiritual director about the abuse and struggled with it until very recently. I think we have hit on the right medication and dosage and have it under control. I think!
Beginning to work through the abuse brought on depression. I also have a melancholic temperament, so am naturally disposed to it. Pangs from a difficult childhood fed into the depression sometimes. We have discovered that I have a mental illness, a mood disorder. A drug-induced depression was caused from receiving the wrong type of medication. A change in the “drug family type” caused that depression to lift immediately. So the point I am trying to make is that while I have suffered with depression, it is not all related to the abuse. Being “not depressed” does not mean that I am healed.
But perhaps peace is part of healing.
We have had a couple of healing services in our diocese for those affected by any kind of abuse. The services are sponsored by the Office of Child and Youth Protection. There will be another one this week. I went to the first one and I will go to the one on Wednesday.
I tongue-in-cheek call it “chasing healing.” The first service I went to left me feeling very sad and empty…and confused as to why I was feeling sad and empty. I am looking forward to this week’s service. I think it is important to join with others who have suffered in some way from the effects of abuse, to offer yourself to God in that moment, and say “I am yours.”
Perhaps healing from abuse it is something natural and it is something supernatural – and a lifelong process – despite our wish to “get over it” for good.
At a human level, we do what we need to do psychologically, mentally and emotionally. At a spiritual level, we open ourselves to the grace of Jesus to work in our hearts.
I am not healed. However, Jesus has granted me a great deal of healing – through the human and spiritual means. Ultimately it is all in his hands.
Moving towards healing is a rollercoaster ride alright, a wild one, especially at first. As time has moved on, I think the dips are not as steep and curves are not as sharp. Who knows. Maybe someday it will just be a nice leisurely ride, coasting along in the breeze.