Understanding My Fears

The Nut Gatherers (Credit: “The Nut Gatherers” by Bouguereau)

My “fear of not being understood” is really a fear of being misunderstood.  Surprisingly there’s a big difference! I have a longing to be “understood” but what I actually fear is being positively misunderstood.  And the worst is when someone thinks they understand me or “have [me] all figured out” and in reality they have jumped to conclusions, assigned a label for me and a box in which they can contain me or cast me away.  Possibly everyone does this to some extent in our genuine attempts to become acquainted; we look for what we know, and what we don’t, we explain to ourselves in terms of what’s familiar.

I very consciously and actively try to let my understanding of others be a blank book in which they write the chapters they choose to share with me.  Not only do I hope to let them be the authors of my knowledge of them, I assume they are sharing only part of their story.  It’s wrong for me to draw too many conclusions.  I can’t claim to do this perfectly or 100% because I am human and as it’s a natural or instinctive way for humans to learn by comparison of what’s new to what’s familiar, I realize I am going a bit against the grain of what’s a natural way of functioning. However, I find it is much more fun and interesting to let people reveal themselves to me rather than to make assumptions and then try to force their round gifts of self into any square holes of stereotype I might have on hand.

So when I try to count the people who have done this for me, persons who have allowed me to reveal myself to them and I think have really understood me as well as anyone not in your own skin could possibly do, I find the list is shockingly small.  In fact, I find I recognize gradients of being known.  Which is really what one would expect; only God knows us through and through, totally, without buffer or distortion.

“For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

~ Psalm 139: 13-14a

When I consider how this “being understood” manifests itself to me in these relationships, I realize that they actually have acknowledged they don’t know me entirely, they are open to getting better acquainted with me, they recognize and honor that I am the author of my story or the expert of my personal experience, they value me for who I am, and (it tends to be true that) they love me as unconditionally as any human can.  Given that I define this group of people in my life with such rarely fulfilled criteria, it’s no wonder my list of Those Who Understand Me is so small!

Considering all that, I recognize the relationships I have with each of those people are wondrous gift.  Being “known” like that is extremely rare in this world.  The other thing I realize is that as I mature, I find I don’t need an abundance of such benevolent intimacy.  I am content to be mostly unknown with most people.  The thing I have to work on is two-fold: First, don’t assume others should understand me.  I am (as my dad sometimes said) “not your average bear”!  Truth is, none of us are!  But maybe some of us are less “average” than others?  I don’t know.  I choose to view each person as terra nova.  At any rate, it’s up to me to reveal whatever I want understood by others.  And another truth is: very often being “understood” is not a prerequisite to being accepted!  I know many people who accept me even though they know they don’t understand me.  That too is great gift!

So my fear of being misunderstood is now a recognition that it is my responsibility to communicate what I choose, to correct when necessary, and to accept that most people don’t really care how accurate they are in their perceptions of others, and that’s actually mostly okay.  Society gets along pretty well without everyone understanding everyone else.  I think the human family needs more empathy than it does actual understanding.  In fact, it’s more often willingness to be empathetic that opens the door to understanding, than it is the other way around.

It’s so lovely how analyzing my fears dissolves their power!

“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”

~ Lau Tzu

There are so many great quotes and scriptures (and by the way, all of Psalm 139 is a lovely and encouraging passage) about the wonder of being known but one of my favorite songs about this is “On A Clear Day” by Alan Jay Lerner:

On a clear day,

Rise and look around you,

And you’ll see who you are,

On a clear day,

How it will astound you,

That the glow of your being,

Outshines every star,

You’ll feel part of,

E’vry mountain, sea and shore,

And you can hear,

From far and near,

A world you never heard before,

And on a clear day,

On that clear day,

You can see forever

And ever more.

 

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Rejecting Fear

If I hold any superstitions, I’m not conscious of them.  I am aware of many superstitions common to others, and I sometimes wonder if my mere acknowledgement of them indicates a little bit of belief they have some kind of merit or influence on reality. For instance, I know today is “Friday The Thirteenth” and that many believe unlucky things will happen on this day.  So I take a different tack; I celebrate all that’s good on this day, or seek out what I can learn…  Does that give the day some sort of special power over me?  Maybe I indeed give the day some significance, but I think I exercise the power!  The worst kinds of fears are those for which we have no awareness. So today, on this lovely Friday the 13th, I want to examine some of my fears, do a fear-scrutiny if you will!

First fear of which I’m very aware is the fear of rejection.

Monsters Inc (Credit: Monsters Inc.)

It’s a bit strange that I have this fear because I really like being alone, and I admit, I most often prefer my own company to anyone else’s.  But there are a handful of people in my life I highly respect, and if I were to be totally rejected by one of them, I would feel a terrible loss.

Because of my own very long-held, (primal?), “issues” (emotional wounds/ weaknesses), I have sometimes “tested” the love or loyalty of the people I most want in my life. There’s really only one person however who temporarily rejected me (because I indisputably went too far in my testing of them), and later we “reconciled.”  However, our relationship was never again as close or as friendly and comfortable.

I must say though that there were some boundary problems (for me) in the relationship and I think my acting out was an indication that the other person had nurtured an attachment that wasn’t entirely appropriate.  I’m not talking about the teacher who abused me.  I am talking about a mentor who treated me like a much beloved daughter/ protegé and while I appeared old enough, I wasn’t mature enough to  be aware of (let alone define) the boundaries that would have been healthiest for me.  I wouldn’t say that mentor did anything immoral, but clearly it wasn’t right for me — and it was hard to “grow out of it.”  So I rebelled. By the time I did, I would say that I was definitely old enough to know better.  I understand what I did in terms of a larger emotional crisis.  However, while I understand the complexity of dynamics that triggered my “acting out,” I would still say I was responsible for my actions because I was old enough that I should be held responsible.  So I asked forgiveness of the mentor, and he later forgave me.

The challenge for me (even later) was that there really were things the mentor should not have done (should not have done in relation to me regardless of whether or not it was acceptable w/ other protegé), but I had again failed to define my own boundaries, so when I was finally aware of the conflict for me, I rebelled — I acted out what I should have spoken much earlier.  So I never really got to address w/ the mentor, in an appropriate way, what-all was not good for me in our relationship.

Because I’m not giving particulars, this might be confusing to people who haven’t experienced any side of this, but those whose boundaries were violated in formative years will likely understand what I’m talking about.  Repeating various dynamics in later relationships is very common to those who’ve been abused in childhood/ youth.  From my vantage point, it’s as if my subconscious was trying to work out things until I “got it right.”

The really tragic part (for the whole human family) is that there are so many flawed adults in society, especially in positions of leadership, who help create those unhealthy dynamics in relationships (even when no behavior goes to an extreme that would be defined as abusive or immoral).  They have absolutely no conscious intention of harming another.  So when others call them out on trespassing their boundaries, they don’t understand their role in having created harm, and they sometimes fail to learn their responsibility in PREVENTING harm; instead they feel themselves to be some sort of victim.  This is especially true any time there is inequity of power in a relationship that develops any form of intimacy beyond the definitions or demands of the outwardly defined relationship.  Most common examples of this are found between teachers and students, bosses and workers; maybe there are others, but these are the types of which I am familiar.

While I was gaining more and more awareness of my true feelings about my experiences, (at least from the time I got away from the abuser and progressively onward), it wasn’t until my 30’s that I was able to have enough perspective (and freedom/ safety) to understand my feelings, reactions, responses, choices, and gain significant control over my reactions & responses — and thus gain ability to exercise my own will.

Now that I have had more time and life-experience to reflect knowledgeably and wisely on all this, I don’t have much interest in working out anything between myself and persons of past relationships.  In relation to former relationships, it’s sufficient for me to understand all I can, to make better choices for myself now, and to forgive all I can as I’m ready.  I have the luxury of not having to relate at all with anyone who has abused me, or violated my boundaries in lesser ways.

For those who have been abused by family members or people with whom they don’t want to cease all connection, I admit I don’t know how you manage it.  I can’t imagine having to accept the regular presence of an abuser in my life.  To have to exert much energy guarding necessary boundaries I’m afraid would leave me insufficient energy to live positively my life.

By this point in my life I realize this old “fear of rejection” isn’t really about me fearing others rejecting me; it’s more about me wanting to have secure boundaries and knowing I have to set them for myself, but I’m not always sure I will know how. The fear is: will I be able to define my needs soon enough and will I be able to communicate those needs to the pertinent people in appropriate ways commensurate to the situation? With experience I get better at this, but it also helps that I realize I can survive and rebound from rejection when it happens.  I’d rather be my true self and rejected for it than to be accepted by others only because I conform myself to pleasing them.

For more fears I’ll explore see next posts:

  • Not being understood
  • Being judged
  • Being in the spotlight
  • Not being able to control my “negative” emotions
  • My own power
  • Apathy (within myself)
  • Not knowing my purpose in something
  • Vomitting
  • Failure to protect a child in my care
  • Not being prepared, if I’m the one in charge
  • Poisonous creepy crawly creatures or flying things that sting (especially hornets)
  • Crashing in a car (because I’ve experienced this twice now, & I hope to never again!)

Anecdotes to fears (see later posts):

  • Faith
  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Gratitude
  • Affirmations
  • Exercise
  • Review past successes
  • Review experiences of survival
  • Direct confrontation (if you are equipped to be productive)
  • Humor (especially finding the frailty in faux monsters)
  • Beauty
  • Purposeful attention to what gives you bliss
  • Breathing!

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What everyone should know re abuse

 

Too many people really don’t have a clue about sexual abuse.  And those of us who know from direct experience are often not interested in educating others because it is just so damn painful.  Excruciating.  We were silenced then. Why speak up now?  Because: as long as society at large remains ignorant about abuse, society becomes willingly or unwillingly complicit in fostering abuse and harboring abusers.

Here’s the first thing you need to know about sexual abuse against children/ youth:

“When children participate to some degree in the sexual contact or are unable (as is usually the case) to find a way to prevent the abuse from happening, the guilt and shame over their involvement often causes severe consequences. If there were some pleasurable sensations from the contact (common when the abuse involves fondling), children often interpret their feelings as evidence of their culpability and responsibility. Children do not usually understand that the responsibility for preventing sexual expression of affection lies with the parent or adult.”

[From ASCA Survivor-to-Thriver online Manual, Chapter 3]

When otherwise healthfully loving adults surrounding the child/ youth don’t understand the dynamics of an adult sexually abusing a minor, they often compound the abuse; they might have no intention of doing so, but that’s what happens to the child/ youth none-the-less.

“In cases where the sexual abuse occurs outside of the home, the reaction of the family is paramount in shaping the degree of impact on the child. When the family is supportive, gets immediate help for the child and avoids any blaming or stigmatization, the long-term effects can be lessened. However, when the family does not understand, blames the child for the sexual abuse or is unable to accept that the child was victimized, the impact can be truly devastating because the family’s reaction confirms the child’s worst fears: that s/he did something wrong or did not do enough to prevent the sexual abuse. In these cases, the family members become co-conspirators in the abuse because, in failing to give the child what s/he needs during a time of tragedy, they may do far more damage to the child than did the abuser. It is no surprise that children will feel stigmatized by the sexual abuse if their families treat them with disdain and disgust.”

[From Survivor-to-Thriver online Manual, Chapter 3]

Never blame the child/ youth for the abuse committed against them.  Never.

Anger is Healthy

I’ve been reading Chapter 3 of the ASCA Survivor to Thriver manual, and it is rather discouraging, frustrating, depressing, but more so, it stirs up my anger, and anger is healthy, healthier than the feelings that leave me stuck.  Chapter 3 is painful because it reminds me of all my wounds and weaknesses.  I suffer from much of what other ASCA’s do.  However, I’m to the point in my life (recovery? healing?) where I no longer put myself down, feeling that I am the problem or defective or any negative thing.  It’s true I often feel this world wasn’t built for me, but I no-longer feel unbelonging; I just see the rest of the world as screwed up!

In Christian terms, do I recognize that I am a sinner?  Yes. But I am forgiven and made whole in Christ.  And the really cool and radical thing about Life in Christ is that all my wounds and weaknesses are redeemed — sanctified — made to be part of The Blessing of my life!  I bring up the Christian perspective because I want to make clear to my fellow Christians that I do not consider any of my wounds or weaknesses sins.  Sin is doing what you know is wrong.  Sin is the willful turning away from what I know to be God’s Will.  All the crap that happened to me and in me while I was being abused was the sin of the abuser.  And much of the crap that I continue to contend with because I am still wounded is to some extent the fault of the abuser.  However, I am glad and grateful that God has given me enough resilience and resources to heal anyway.  Anyway, the point here is: don’t confuse wounds inflicted by an abuser with any potential sinning of the abused.

I’m glad I feel anger today.  I’m glad I can recognize that what the abuser did to me was abuse, and I should be angry about that.  A huge impediment to my feeling whole-heartedly angry is all the nonsense I was taught about forgiving unconditionally right away.  Sometimes adults are idiots.  When why how did Christians begin to think that those who do wrong should bear no consequences?  So often, Christians quote Jesus as saying “turn the other cheek.”  However, Jesus was talking to adults.  Jesus was talking to adults who were in a position to choose following Him.  Children, youth, are not adults.  Children and youth should be protected by adults.  And when someone hurts a child/youth in any way, they should be punished and make some form of restitution.  The adult can choose (or not) to forgive the culprit in terms of not bearing any harm towards them beyond the resolution of the wrong, but the adult (parent/ guardian/ etc) should do everything possible to stop the harm and get justice for the child/youth.

I’m still angry that the bastard who abused me was never prosecuted.  My father got a restraining order, but that was it.  And by the time I was old enough to consider what I could do for myself, the statute of limitations had run out.  I don’t think there should be a statute of limitations on sexual abuse.  Sexual abuse causes so much harm, especially if you were in your developing years when it occurred.

There are times when I think the man who abused me should have been castrated.  He certainly should never have been allowed to have anything further to do with any children/youth.  But that’s not what happened in my community.  He lost his job in the local school, but he continued to teach privately and sometimes subbed in other schools, as well as led music ensembles that included youth.  From my vantage point the whole community is sick.

Even my own denomination took him in.  My own pastor led the man and his wife in a renewal of their vows.  But does she realize he continued to contact me everywhere I lived after I left here?  He’s a pervert.  Each time he found me, I told him to leave me alone, but he didn’t stop until I threatened to call his wife.  Even after that, he tried to contact me at a work place when I was living again with my parents.  What scum.

So do I forgive him?  No.  The best I can do is to leave him to God’s judgement.  And to work on my own healing.  My pastor (at the time of the abuse) directed me to and through forgiving him.  What idiocy.  There were so many layers of spiritual abuse heaped on top of the sexual abuse, it took me a long time to get down to the original wounds to even begin to heal.

I am glad however that I have been able to forgive my parents.  And they me.  That relationship was worth redeeming, making whole again, and even better than before.  Thank You Jesus for that.

One mystery in all of this is that I conceived.  That out of all this harm, something good could come; that’s the mystery.  I named her Sarah Maria.  I miscarried at 8 weeks, but I caught her as I miscarried.  I saw her, her head, her spine, her little phalanges that would become hands.  I cleaned her up, placed her in a bed of dried rose petals in a corsage box and buried her in the nearby Civil War cemetery.  I buried her at the foot of tree since I couldn’t give her a marker.  That tree is no longer there.  It was cut down around 15 years after I buried her.  Sarah Maria would turn 40 next year.  I believe she is in Heaven with Jesus.  I thank God for Sarah Maria.  She is pure innocence.  She is praying for my wholeness.  Thank You Lord.  Thank You for Sarah Maria.

This is all I can write right now.  I’ve been not writing because it is so hard to let myself write what it is I really have to say.  But I have to let my voice speak, even if it is raw.  I have to quit censoring myself.  It’s up to me now to put my healing first.  And this is part of it.  So here it is.  Like it or not, here it is.

#MeToo and Why It Matters

#MeToo is a hash-tag “movement” that started on social-media several years ago, but is recently more in use.  More people are telling their stories of sexual abuse/ harassment.  More people are talking about sexual-abuse issues.

Some people feel the hash-tag for victims to speak up is not very helpful; those who voice their objection or concern usually go on to say it’s the abusers we should be naming.  I’ve heard a few celebrities express that view, but of the people I know personally, that argument has come more from young women (in their 20’s) than any other demographic.

I’d like to reflect on my current views regarding the pros and cons of telling our stories, (with or without naming offenders), versus keeping silence.  While all the components of sexual abuse and all the issues surrounding the subject are multi-faceted, and this is not a scholarly article on the topic, I plan to simply reflect on what stands out as most important for me right now.

  1. Anytime anyone tells their story of their experience of sexual abuse, they should be believed and affirmed for their courage to speak up.  Speaking up is one of the hardest things for a victim to do; it takes immeasurable courage.  While it’s true that some might tell a story that is untrue or only partially true (research tells us 2% of those who tell a story of abuse tell a false story); however, we also know there are many victims who never tell their stories to police or counselors or researchers or anyone who tabulates these statistics.  Odds are, if someone tells you they experienced abuse, they did.  And because it takes so much courage for true victims to speak up, listeners should always believe and affirm their courage.  Too much damage can be done when victims are not heard; that’s why so many don’t bother to speak out.
  2. It’s the victim’s choice to name or not name their abuser.  The most important thing for the victim is safety.  The next thing is healing, do whatever is best for their own healing and well-being.  All the things a victim does to heal and to grow towards wholeness and thriving are good and valuable because they are for their well-being.  The things we do to heal are not so we can help others or so we can help bring about justice or improve society, or any number of other goods that could later come of out of our healing.  The reason to heal is because you exist, you deserve to exist, and you deserve to become whole.  Because I believe in God, I would add: God created you Good and created you out of Love; your being is sacred because your Creator is Holy.  Any hurt or damage done to you by others does not undo the fact that you ARE Good, Loved-by-God, intended, and deserving well-being, healing, wholeness.

There have been many large impediments to my healing process because well-meaning people have urged me to “forgive and forget” thinking I need to forgive in order to heal.  That’s a myth too many Christians preach and never really examine.  It’s often the case that a victim of abuse must find sufficient safety before they can even begin to express their pain and anger.  Think of a rough, deep wound filled with dirt and gravel.  Would you simply cover it up or stitch it up without cleaning the wound?  Cleaning the wound might be analogous to daring to express one’s anger.  If you don’t properly and adequately clean a wound, even if the body can partially heal, closing or scabbing over the debris-filled wound, it will likely suffer from infection and other debilitating consequences which likely would have been avoided had you cleaned the wound.

I had a biking accident that instructs me a bit about such matters.  I was on a day trip with Out-Spoken.  We were cruising along in 10th gear with the wind at our backs.  Although the road had a slight downward slope, and we could have coasted, we were pedaling fast for the sheer joy of speed with little labor.  Off to my right there was a large school being constructed and one of my cluster-mates pointed at it.  I glanced to see what interested them and I remember seeing construction workers walking along beams up on top of the structure.  I was amazed at their balance and I looked a little too long.  I had turned my front wheel ever so slightly and slipped off the road.  It had an extra deep berm and I made the mistake of trying to turn back onto the pavement.  Before I knew it, I had wiped out and the biker behind me had ridden over my back!  I scraped and bruised all my limbs, but especially my right elbow was ground open and embedded with gravel.  I remember the Out-Spoken leaders called my mom and took me to a local ER.  My mother had to drive quite a distance (I don’t remember what we did while we waited for her), but she met us at the hospital.  The ER doctor numbed my right fore-arm, took dirt and gravel out of my flesh, and I remember hearing the scrubbing of my tissue!  The numbing agent worked so well I didn’t feel any pain, but I could feel the pressure they were using, and I could hear how hard they were scrubbing!  It nearly nauseated me, but I was grateful they were so diligent.  Even so, they weren’t able to remove every particle of debris and to this day (some 40 years later) I still have scars near my right elbow and you can even see bits of something black under the skin.  Thankfully it’s only a visual blemish and I experience no debilitation in that limb.

I’m very grateful that the ER doctor and nurses worked so hard to free me from as much debris as possible.  I’m also grateful for the use of a numbing agent in the procedure!  Even with the protection against severe pain, there was discomfort in the process of cleaning my wound, and I am grateful for the entire procedure/ process because it allowed me to heal more completely.

I have been blessed by God to have been able to receive and engage in stages of healing per my readiness.  Like I said, there have been some notable set-backs, but I have been able to see that most of my life has been directed by God in such a way that I have been protected from scenarios that would have been debilitating to me, and given opportunities where-in I could process the healing for which I was ready.  I credit God for this because no-one else could do all this for me.  I also credit myself for being able to see all this and make use of help.  I think my ability to heal (anyone’s ability to heal) is a testimony to the Goodness with which God created us.  However, even if you don’t believe in God or believe the way I do, I hope you can see and profoundly affirm whatever Goodness you find within yourself.  Find the Good and celebrate it!  (By “celebrate” I mean live it fully.)

This post has alluded to several other matters on which I hope to write, however I had intended to keep these posts to less than 1,000 words, so… more on these matters in following posts!

A special word for my blog followers and readers: THANK YOU!  Thank you for reading my words.  Thank you for listening with your head AND heart!  I find I need to write these words first for myself, and I need to make them available to the public because I refuse to harbor shame, but it is also tremendous GIFT that there are some who actually read my posts!  THANK YOU!

 

Melancholic

Today I’m struggling with melancholy more than usual.  Melancholy is different from depression or sadness or grief or any other feeling in that category of unhappy/painful emotions.  It’s visceral and lively.  It takes over my mind and my heart.  My heart aches.  I ache excruciatingly, but it’s not for a particular person or thing.  It’s more in response to the fullness of life and beauty and sweet things, sweet beautiful meaningful things.  All that is good and beautiful and true flooding me can make me feel profoundly melancholic.  Why?  What is it physically that happens to me when I feel this?  Are my thoughts and feelings responses to something initiated biologically?  Or is it the other way around?  Feeling and thinking and listening make it more pronounced.  I have to do something.  Something that takes me “out” of myself.  Usually I do something mundane like wash the dishes or organize something or read a book.  Today I’m letting myself write while I feel this because I want to communicate to others what this is like.  I’m sure there are others who feel this.  It’s probably more closely related to anxiety than any other diagnosable thing.  I think the ancients considered it a type, or sometimes a sickness, or a type who tends toward this sickness.  I think today the scientific community simply wouldn’t use the word “melancholia.”  They would dissect it for possible biological conditions, most likely finding some kind of deficiencies.  Am I simply hungry?

The strange thing (although not at all strange to me) is that I find this such “native territory.”  I can remember having this feeling to some degree from the time of my earliest memories.  I know sometimes even at age three I would sit on the kitchen floor while Mom was working, and the cats were licking my pajamas, and although I liked being there with Mom, and I liked the cats’ attention, I also was aware of sunbeams falling on the floor and somehow they made me sad; I felt such a strange crux of realities; I felt present and elsewhere; I felt happy and sad; I felt belonging and otherly; I felt tangible understandings and mystery.  Of course I didn’t think all those words.  I think feeling melancholy comes from hyper-awareness, maybe too much observing while not balancing that with engaging.

So why am I writing this in this particular blog?  Does feeling melancholy having anything to do with having experienced abuse?  I don’t think it does necessarily or directly since I can remember feeling it even when my circumstances were fairly idyllic.  But I think being someone who is prone to melancholy is probably more vulnerable — more vulnerable to anything, including abuse.  I think that’s the essential requisite for experiencing melancholy: no borders or shields between sense of self and sense of context.

Sometimes I feel so full of feeling, I feel like I need to vomit.  Except that it’s not like when you’re sick and might actually need to vomit.  It’s more like when you drink a really sweet and thick milkshake too fast and your throat feels so full that you almost gag.  So often I find myself describing my extreme emotions in terms of digestive issues!  Hmm.

Is this helping me to describe this feeling?  I don’t know.  I hope that if anyone reads this who has felt this might take a little comfort in knowing you’re not isolated.  Any type of feeling of being overwhelmed can make us feel helpless and isolated.  But this too shall pass.  I won’t say “this is just a feeling” because it is also bodily discomfort and it engages a type of perspective.  But I can say with certainty this feeling of Melancholy is not your Author or Lord or sum-total of your Being or your Destiny; it’s just one of the arrows in your emotional/psychological quiver.

Another thing I find that helps me when I feel overwhelmed with Melancholy is to breathe more deeply.  I too often find myself holding my breath.  And I can hold my breath for “too long” — that’s an artifact from having been an oboist.  I remember doing exercises with my oboe teacher and achieving the capacity to exhale for over four minutes.  Exhale!

What prayer helps me when I feel this?  Lord-God have mercy on me for I am but dust.  Jesu juva; soli Deo gloria.  Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.  Jesus, hold me!

Imagining the Spirit holding me in something like a spiritual Dew-Drop helps me greatly.  Like my spirit is in the amniotic sac of my Creator-Who-Births-Me.

Abba!  Papa-Mama-Lord!  Save me!

I think some might say I’m having “liminal” experiences.  They might be correct.  But while I’m experiencing this, what does it matter what it’s called or how it’s analysed?  The whole essence of this is complete immersion in sensing, feeling, communing.

That’s a helpful point for me.  When I’m celebrating/ receiving the Eucharist, I feel this intensity of openness and vulnerability yet without pain.  Hmm.  What does this teach me?  I need Jesus to transport me through these “waters.”

Well, dear Reader, do you experience Melancholy?  Care to share any of your experience with me?  Did any of my ramblings give you insights or comfort?

 

Anatomy of Ambivalence: Story of Self-Sacrifice

One particularly powerful example of my dad’s courage occurred when I was around 7 years old.  The whole family was sitting at the dinner table when there was a loud knock at the door.  We had a lovely door-bell, but as I recall, the unexpected visitor banged on the door rather than press the bell.  I remember being instantly alarmed.  My dad went to the door while the rest of us remained at the table.  I could hear his voice and another man’s.  Normally my dad would immediately invite people in, but this time I heard him go out.  The other man’s voice sounded angry and my dad’s sounded urgent.

I ran upstairs and watched out a bedroom window.  I could see the man and my dad.  Dad had taken the conversation to the front curb near the man’s car.  The other man had a gun!  It was a big gun; I think it was a shot-gun or rifle.  Learning later who it was, I imagine it was a gun the man would have used for hunting.  The angry man was yelling at my dad and initially pointing the gun at him!

I knew instinctively that my dad’s body posture was oriented to calming and consoling the man.  It looked like my dad had spread his arms out as if to show he had nothing with him.  After a while, the man lowered his gun, and dad reached out to him, maybe to take his hand.  I couldn’t hear or understand what they were talking about, but I could tell that my dad was showing the man great understanding.  Eventually the man put his gun down completely and my dad hugged him.  The man was crying.  I learned later that the man’s wife had been a patient of my dad’s.  The wife had died and the man blamed my dad.  She had some sort of cancer, and in those days there weren’t the cures or treatments we have today.

As I watched from the window, I saw the man drive away.  My dad watched him drive away.  Then I heard my dad come back inside and I ran downstairs.  My dad looked very alert yet completely worn out.  He came back to the table and we all finished our dinner.  I don’t remember how much my dad explained to all of us then and how much I learned at a later time, but I know I didn’t tell anyone at the time what I had witnessed through the window upstairs.  In fact, I don’t think I talked with my dad about that until decades later.  I do know though that at the time I believed my dad had saved his family from the angry man with a gun by taking all the risk on himself.  I can’t over-state the enduring power for me of my dad’s example of heroic courage that day.