Many years ago, I was struggling to set my world upright after a devastating emotional earthquake and the relational aftershocks. As the flashbacks of abuse came like a foreign invader into my world, I didn’t know who to trust. Or, how to trust. As I worked with a counselor to steady myself, I found my […]
Most of my life was spent marinating in shame. It felt like part of my genetic makeup. Shame held my head underwater and told me to resign to my fate, to stop fighting. Shame left me feeling my very personhood was flawed. At a very young age, I remember telling an adult about the sexual […]
The appliances in my kitchen are 24 years old. I’ve decided new appliances now ensures a reasonable price rather than buying in a melting emergency when the refrigerator eventually and inevitably buys the farm. The sales guy shows me dishwashers that scrub stemware in billowy diamond suds and a refrigerator that lands the space shuttle […]
When clients first visit with me they often ask, “Am I crazy?” They are asking the question in all seriousness. They’ll tell me more of their story and ask again, “Am I crazy? You’d tell me, right?”
For some, the question is asked because the choices they’ve made seem utterly unreasonable. The things they’ve done to themselves seem outrageous and irrational. For others, the things that have been done to them are truly unbelievable.
My response over and over is, “You’re not crazy, you’re hurting like crazy.”
It’s the question I asked, too. It’s easier to think we are crazy than to believe that the memories are actual events. Easier to think we are crazy than to acknowledge the extent of betrayal. Easier to be crazy than to turn and face the choices we’ve made. Easier to brush off the pain by hoping we’ve lost our marbles somewhere along the way.
Many years ago I went to see a pastor in the depth of my despair. As my life bottomed out, I needed help freeing myself from the pain and shame of years of childhood abuse. I tried to explain I had been sexually abused as a little girl. The pastor’s first question was, “was there penetration?” Then, I tried to explain the flashbacks and was told, “the devil is talking to you”.
This, my friends, is Exhibit A in the “Not At All Helpful” category.
I don’t believe Christian ministry leaders and pastors intend to injure others. Regardless of intent, damage often occurs. The hearts and souls they hope to nurture and influence become collateral damage in the name of pastoral counseling. Hearts and souls are wounded. Not for lack of a minister’s desire to help, but for lack of knowledge. I see the aftermath in my office every day.