... the beginning of the new as I live it now.
Before things got better. They got worse. Much worse. Not in a slow deterioration. But with a big bang. One event. One event which impacted not only me but my entire family. One event which changed the course of all of our lives. It began rather uneventfully one Sunday morning. I knew I was in an iffy state emotionally but felt it important to go to church that Sunday. I had never recovered from the events of my last employment contract plus I'd had to deal with abuse from a known and previously trusted counsellor along with a lot of secondary wounding from otherwise caring and sane individuals. While at the same time I had a faint, very faint glimmer of hope with the new counsellor. My new counsellor confirmed that I had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from the previous contract - which gave me hope for tomorrow. A slender hope. But hope nonetheless. I was a bruised reed. Badly battered. But still alive - barely.
That Sunday we were also dealing with a family crisis along with other pressing outside issues. That Sunday my granddaughter's other grandmother was in the hospital, not expected to survive. My daughter was out of town. We were caring for our granddaughter in the interim.
I threw my Bible on the floor of the church library in anger.
And then came the end of life as I knew it. Later that Sunday afternoon, there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find my pastor there. Although I indicated it was not a good time and that we were in the middle of a family crisis and needed to tend to our granddaughter's needs, he refused to leave. He came not to reconcile. Not to minister to a hurting, fragile member of his congregation. Not to minister to a family in crisis. He came to condemn. He came in anger. He came knowing ahead of time about the family crisis we were experiencing. I sat on the bottom stair near the door and cried ... and cried and cried and cried. I could not stop. I felt so awful. So unloved and unloveable. I crumpled the tissue in my hand, reusing it again and again. I felt paralyzed. I felt I could not move without this man's permission. I could not get up and get the tissue box. I felt controlled. Eventually he left, leaving the wreckage of our family in his wake.
In those minutes, I entered a barren, foreign landscape emotionally. One I did not know how to navigate. One without hope. I could not function at all. All I could do was cry. I remember my grandchild crying out: "Grammy don't die! Grammy don't die!" So I forced a smile and forced down some food for her benefit. We needed to be surrounding each other. We needed to be praying for the other grandmother. We needed to be there for each other. Instead, I was unable to function. I was bereft. I was useless. Unable to pray for my family. Unable to do anything but sit there and cry.
I could not return to that church. I was too ashamed. I felt like there was a huge sign above my head which everyone could read: "This woman threw her Bible on the floor in the library. An act so bad that the pastor had to come immediately to chastise her. No mercy. She is unfit to be one of us. She is unclean." I was sure that everyone would know what I had done and how terrible it was.
My next appointment with my new counsellor was almost two weeks away. I dreaded seeing her. I was sure that she would abuse me like my last counsellor had and would throw me out. I was sure there was no hope for me. No hope at all.
But that didn't happen. She looked at me warmly. She enfolded me with grace and acceptance. She accepted me for who I was at that moment. A bruised reed, badly battered, lying on the ground. Not needed to be stomped upon, but needed to be ministered too, cared for. Needing the salve of unconditional acceptance to heal.
She explained that this incident was the trauma speaking. That I wasn't a horrible person. Just a hurting one.
Like the one-legged runner in the picture to the left, she gave me the hope and inspiration to get up, move on and work through the barren landscape of trauma and its affects. To push on even though emotionally handicapped.
Life as I knew it ended one Sunday. Life as I now know it began in the counsellor's office two weeks later.
The end: condemnation.
The new beginning: unconditional acceptance.