Tag: voice

Tangles or Tapestry?

Image result for untangling knots

Other fears I’ve listed in a previous post:

  • Apathy (within myself) I guess I’m not really afraid of this.  It’s just something I’ve never experienced, and it’s something I tend to condemn.  Apathy implies a lack of concern where care should be given.  To recognize I don’t need to be interested in something or to discern I cannot make a productive response, is not apathy, and is often wisdom at work.  So while I hope I am never apathetic about something for which I should actively care, I am fully content to let go of what I cannot improve or to which I cannot productively and appropriately contribute.
  • Not knowing my purpose in something.  This is something I have experienced only during major transitions in my life.  I seek purpose, and I typically find it! I can identify two times in my life when I knew I needed to walk away from my life as I knew it then and walk into an undefined, undetermined future.  Of course the future is always truly unknown, but most of us establish plans before we end former commitments.  I am currently in my third transition.  I have yet to “discover” my “new” purpose.  This is extremely uncomfortable for me, however, I am discovering it’s not as unbearable as I thought it could be!
  • Vomiting.  This is an irrational fear that I have had since childhood and continues today.  As a young child I got the “stomach flu” frequently and often found myself vomiting into the toilet in the middle of the night.  I would wretch until there was nothing left to throw up; then my body would convulse with “dry heaves.”  I thought I could die, and I felt so helpless.  Sometimes Mom would hear me and come to my emotional rescue holding me until I quit convulsing.  As an adult I realize I won’t die, but I feel my historical terror none-the-less.
  • Failure to protect a child in my care.  I don’t believe this has ever happened, and I hope it never will.  To me, failure to protect a child in my care would be unforgivable.  I can’t imagine living with myself were I to fail in doing everything I possibly could to protect a child.
  • Not being prepared, if I’m the one in charge.  This is one of those fears of something I’ve never experienced, but it has been the drama of nightmares.  To me, “not being prepared” is on par with being naked when I should be clothed.
  • Poisonous creepy crawly creatures or flying things that sting (especially hornets).  I am somewhat allergic to bees so this fear is quite understandable.
  • Crashing in a car (because I’ve experienced this twice now, & I hope to never again!)  The moment before an actual crash is truly terrifying.

As I work through my list of fears I realize none of them are more than I can handle.  I suppose I could conjure up hypothetical situations that would be more terrible or terrifying than anything I’ve listed, but I tend to not concern myself with unlikely hypotheticals.

Facing my fears was an exercise I imposed upon myself.  It was mostly difficult, but I’m glad I did it.  Having done so, I believe the fear that still cripples me to some degree is that of Fear-of-Shame, fear of being misunderstood or unjustly condemned.  One constructive way I can address this is to write.  Much of what perpetuates shame is silence.  To write my story in my words with my voice helps me break that silence and dissolve the faux-shame.  Using my voice seems to be one of the most important avenues for my healing.  This is why I blog.  I mostly blog for myself.  But I am truly grateful for my readers.  To know someone has taken the time to read my writing, to “listen” to my thoughts, is amazing gift, and is a cherished thread in my tapestry of growing wholeness.  Thank you!

Image result for back side of a tapestry


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.

Vive la Voice!

French Flag held up by young girl

On this Bastille Day I say Vive la Voix! For me, healthy Personhood is all about having a voice, being able to express my true self.  My relationships/ associations, to be healthy, must always include my freedom to speak not only from my mind, but also from my heart, without censorship, and without threat of rejection.  Of course I understand that there are times and places more or less suitable for various specific kinds of expression, but I now know I need to be certain I have the freedom in all my important relationships to express my true thoughts and feelings without any threat of rejection.

Voice in Vocation

I’ve also figured out, (just now!), this is why church-ministry work isn’t such a good fit for me.  I did well as a Music Minister in the Catholic Church at a couple of parishes for over 26 years.  I have many gifts and skill sets that make that kind of work mostly a good fit for me.  However, the more responsibility I shouldered, the more I realized I too often had to censor myself.  I could do the work well, but at great cost to myself.  The kind of thing I’m talking about is nothing dramatic; I doubt any of my “issues” would cause any believer scandal.  It’s just that I honor and am much more devoted to Process*, than is typical of Church hierarchy.  By Process* I mean the development of people’s thinking, their faith journey, their understanding of relationships, their perception/understanding/interaction with Sacraments.

I tend to be solidly “conservative” theologically; in Catholic terms, I would more often refer to the Catechism and to Scripture than I would to anyone’s explanation of them.  But relationally/ pastorally I have discovered I would probably be viewed as very “liberal” by my fellow-conservatives!  And when push comes to shove, I don’t make any political allegiances within the church; I don’t take sides, so I don’t have allies.  That leaves me extremely vulnerable to the opinion of whichever priest is currently boss of the parish.

In my experience priests tend to be thoroughly “conservative” or thoroughly “liberal.”  I.e. the priests who are process-oriented pastorally tend to embrace liberal theology, and those who embrace more traditional interpretations tend to relate w/ staff and parishioners in a more authoritarian way.

I have however met some priests who are exceptions to what I’ve just described.  From my vantage point, priests who are “liberal” theologically but “conservative” or authoritarian relationally are to be avoided; life with them is a nightmare!  Conversely, some of my favorite people are priests who are “conservative” theologically but “liberal” pastorally.  (Yes, I know, that’s like myself.)  What I find healthiest in church ministry is when a team of professionals and lay people work together, i.e. a more colleague-model of leadership, (much like I experienced when I worked in colleges/universities), regardless of priest’s style of leadership.

Regardless, my parish received (and heartily embraced) a priest I simply couldn’t work with, and I knew some of my reasons for not wanting to work with him, but I had a gnawing feeling that maybe I should have been more “flexible”.  In this case, that would have meant submissive, less active, less vocal, less involved!  But today I have a clearer understanding of why every fiber of my being knew I would die there spiritually if I forced myself to stay.  (The priest wanted me to stay but with less responsibility and drastic pay cut.  As I see it, he just wanted me to be one of his tools; he didn’t want to share ministry.)  He’s one of the new crop of young conservative-conservative priests who lean toward Traditionalism, if not altogether engulfed in a Pre-Vatican-II attachment.

Real Respect in Relationships

I also recently let go of an old friendship.  My friend’s narcissism was becoming more pronounced.  She had attempted to manipulate me into supporting a sick relationship involving her daughter.  I was convicted the daughter was entangled with a pedophile, and I refused to endorse the relationship in any way even though by the time of the breaking-point in our friendship, her daughter was “of age.”  Not only could I not support it, I felt obligated to report it to authorities for investigation!

However, the real conviction to cut off entirely relating with my friend came when I realized I couldn’t trust her to understand or honor all I had shared with her about myself over the years.  Given that I couldn’t trust her, I was no longer interested in further sharing one bit more of myself (my heart, my time) with her.

Although I feel some loss, I have no regrets about quitting the job, letting go of ministry work, parting ways with an old friend.  Even though I greatly valued those experiences and relationships, I have now grown to a point in my own healing where I am no longer dependent upon pseudo-affirmations, and in becoming aware of that, I am positively uninterested in sustaining such.

I am choosing to put my own health and wholeness first.  For me, that takes tremendous courage; it feels radical, like a risk a hero would take.  It feels that way because it is.  Since my abuse I’ve looked for safety or rescue or justice from others, and mostly it wasn’t to be found.  This time I’m the hero.

I feel odd saying that.  I imagine most people who didn’t experience abuse in their formative years would naturally put their own health first without even thinking about it; that’s part of being healthy.  So I can’t expect others to understand what this means for me.  That’s okay.  That too is part of being healthy!  I don’t know if you can tell from my tone, dear Reader, but I am smiling at myself!  It feels good to be one’s own “hero!”

If you too were abused, maybe you’ve already taken this step on your path toward wholeness.  Or maybe you haven’t even considered the possibility.  Where-ever you are in your healing process, my hope for you is that you will find within yourself the desire and ability to keep going, keep choosing health, keep believing you’re worth it.  And my prayer for you is that God will grace you with gentle patience as well as steadfast perseverance!

Eiffel Tower abstract