Friday, March 16, 2012

Swearing In

In court, if you are part of an actual trial and you have to testify, they have a procedure in which you are "sworn in."  Once you have done that, you are committed to telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

So help me, God.

I am swearing in, here. 

And it scares me.  I've always maintained a certain amount of detachment, freedom, from this blog.  That won't change.  But I also have frequently hidden behind "this is not for public knowledge" to avoid telling the whole truth about situations.

This post is months in the making, folks.  That's weird for me.  And different.

But the phrase at the top of my blog talks not just about being living proof, and not just about carrying light into the darkness.  It talks about the truth giving light.  And the truth is, there are ways to maintain privacy and anonymity without concealing that truth.

The truth is, I have been in a tooth-and-nail, knock-down-and-drag-em-out fight for my life.  In November, that fight had a temporary time out, as I was too sick do any more than lay in a hospital bed being filled with medication and connected to lines and tubes and having lots of surgery.  But I've healed well physically, and I'm back in the fight full force.  And I claim here to be honest, I claim to want to use my life, both the good and bad parts, to touch others and minister to them, and show them how God can do so much to help them.

And it's been clear for some time now that accomplishing that means telling the truth.

The truth is, my fight is the sort of fight that Ephesians 6 talks about.
And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long.  (MSG)

If the things I am fighting, were things I could fight on my own, then I wouldn't need God.  I wouldn't be leaning completely on Him.  I wouldn't be entirely dependent on Him to just get through the day.  I wouldn't need a supernatural boost to walk out my back door and try to face life.

When my daughter went to heaven, I thought I was truly and entirely broken and dependent on my God.  And then my Grandma was killed, and I realized I had never known dependence before.  And then, something changed.

The past I had been fighting so fiercely to hide from everyone who loves me, started leaking out.  A little bit at a time, the truth started to spill out.  Tiny bits at a time were revealed first to my husband, and then to my Pastor.  My husband, didn't know what to do.  He didn't know what words to use or what he should feel or what I needed... and he didn't know what he needed either.  Our Pastor, wasn't lost.  He wasn't overwhelmed.  He wasn't confused. 

And he wasn't surprised.  Through a series of meetings and pre-meeting letters, I shared more of my past with him than I'd shared with anyone.  And I was amazed.  It didn't hurt him.  It didn't hurt me.  It didn't cause a cascade of terrible events.  And it didn't change the way my Pastor treated me or my husband.  He continued to show us God.  And His love.  And for the first time in my life, I thought maybe I didn't have to hide the truth.  I thought maybe I could actually tell it and still be okay. 

The first counselor I saw was a good man.  I do mean that - he was good.  He was kind and compassionate and loved God and assured me that my Pastor was right when he told me that this counselor would understand and help without any need for me to feel out of place or ashamed.  But... he didn't seem quite strong enough to handle the things I told him.  I started... tentatively.  I shared just a little bit at a time, things that I knew were more... average.  Things I went through that I assumed lots of others had gone through as well.  And those first admissions were received with compassion and gentleness and support, which is what I needed.  He reminded me often to lean on God and to let my faith carry me.  Which would have been fine, but the things I was not saying, make faith and trust so very difficult.  And terrifying.  And I was convinced he was not strong enough to handle it if I were to tell him the things I still had bottled up.

He eventually decided to ask another counselor for help, to attempt doing EMDR

Flashbacks and nightmares and almost every symptom associated with PTSD took over my life.  Each day seemed longer and harder than the day before.  I couldn't eat - on a good day I would manage an entire tangerine and a handful of goldfish crackers.  Most days, it was less than that.  Anything more and I would vomit uncontrollably.  It wasn't an eating disorder; it was fear and anxiety and depression taking over my body.  Out of desperation, I turned to the only thing that had ever overcome the memories in the past.  I started cutting myself, deeper and more extensively than ever before.  With that came dishonesty and shame and constant fear that the wrong people would find out.

My self-destructive spiral landed me in the hospital.  It saved my life; I would never say otherwise.  But I was repeatedly reminded that I was there for crisis intervention.  My past was not appropriate subject matter for any of the counseling services received there.  A close friend visited daily and became the only person I could share the memories with.  Slowly, painfully, they came out.  Not all and not even most.  But some, a little at a time.

The counselor I started seeing after being released was different than anyone who had tried to help me, ever.  The first thing I noticed was that he was strong.  And intelligent.  Painfully blunt, which is what I crave in communication.  He was and is in many ways similar to my Pastor; the difference was, I actually care what my Pastor thinks and feels about and toward me.  The counselor, was only a counselor.  I had no fear or shame in revealing what was really happening, because there was no pre-existing connection.  He was in my life for one purpose and only one.  And that was what I needed most.

Since then, it has been two years.  Those two years have been spent in this battle I talk of.  I am overcoming a past that belongs in one of those horror films that is too bizarre to be believable.  A past that consisted of polar opposites in almost every arena.  The things that were done to me, the things I saw and heard, the people in my life, all seemed to be either very, very evil or very, very good. 

I was hurt.  When I was a child, a very, very young child, I was hurt.  I was abandoned and neglected and abused physically, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually.  As I grew, I had two worlds.  The world of good parenting and love and loving God and doing healthy things, and the world of abuse and shame and pretending to worship something distinctly not God.  Harming myself was my way to bring back reality on days when it all became too confusing.  It is something I started doing in kindergarten - maybe earlier, but I still clearly remember the first time I chose it as a way to turn off the images playing through my head.  It was the one thing, other than my body, that was part of both worlds I knew.

The abuse continued for years.  It was horrific and graphic and nearly destroyed my spirit, soul, and body.  I am not sharing details here, not because it's "not for public consumption" but because when it comes to sharing, they aren't needed.  It's not the specific events or even the people involved that make living today so hard.  It's what those things did to shape my thoughts and my beliefs and the way it impacted my body.  It's the fear and anxiety and flashbacks and disconnects and the random things that trigger terror and anger and specific thoughts.  And it's the way it interferes with my faith and my beliefs and the way I feel scared and ashamed almost all of the time.

God is the one constant that has been with me.  The only One who is strong enough and faithful enough to see me through.  And He has put people in my life to act on His behalf.  I don't know exactly what I will be sharing in the coming months.  I probably will never go into any detail; I just feel like the details of what I went through aren't what the world needs to know.  I think the part that matters most is how it changed me - and how I am fighting those changes now.

Thank you all for reading and for your support and encouragement. 

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