These past few days have been a whirlwind of emotions.
Yesterday mid-afternoon I walked into St. Paul’s Co-Cathedral, already full of anxious anticipation. A woman named Anne introduced herself to me. Bishop Mark, she said, had asked her to come sit in on this meeting with me. He felt it was important that another woman be present to support me. I learned a little later that she is also a trauma counselor.
We were led to a meeting room and chit chatted before Fr. Tim arrived, the man I had been in contact with since September. The one who had flown in, by his bishop’s request, to listen to my abuse story and to create a picture of what happened so that the Calgary diocese would know how to proceed. A report, in essence.
The meeting lasted just shy of two hours. A remarkable time frame, given that what I went through in two hours had previously taken me six months. Six months. Six months of every-other-week therapy (and occasionally weekly) so that I could start to feel functional again (spoiler: I’m not there yet). Six months to get to a point where I might not become so overwhelmed that I couldn’t continue with the story.
Prior to this meeting I had come to a point where I wouldn’t randomly become overwhelmed with emotions, all connected to my abuse and triggered by some source. It varied, what would trigger it. Oftentimes it was due to not being busy, so being busy helped to control that which felt uncontrollable. Every time I went in to therapy, though, it felt like a safe space where it didn’t matter if I lost control. It didn’t matter my feelings of inadequacy or shame or confusion rattled around the room, bouncing off the walls. Here, they could be set loose and understood. And slowly, I continued to understand.
It felt jarring when during that meeting, new emotions that had not previously been loud came forth. Trapped. I had not encountered this one in therapy yet. Trapped with no where to go, no one who could understand the complexity, no one who could come and save me without drawing judgement, being trapped in a room with him and being sick to my stomach at what was taking place. This emotion sucked my breath from me and only later did I realise how my hands were shaking.
A break, Anne called for. A break. Let’s reset. Look around the room, change your sensory input, drink some water, let’s walk a bit. A break. And then, I continued on. My strategy changed when I encountered betrayal. And I continued forward until there was nothing left.
It’s All About Brokenness
I took time at a church after the meeting. First, I drove around for awhile before realising it was probably not a terribly safe way to drive, with all these emotions still running around in my head. So I went to a church and sat in front of Jesus. I prayed the Sorrowful mysteries, which seemed most appropriate. And I felt the agony in the garden. I felt my suffering and agony as close to Christ as it could be. I know Mother Teresa tells me that these feelings, when they are such, mean that I come so close to Jesus that he could kiss me. And I felt his companionship in the agony. The thorns were the sins committed piercing his flesh, bringing forth heated drops of blood. I did not feel the thorns as he does, but felt his companionship continuing through.
My pencil slipped out of my bag with a notebook. I was intending to write down my thoughts, my emotions, all that felt chaotic. But instead, I wrote suffering. I wrote praise. I wrote gratitude. For in my own suffering, Christ suffers with me. And even though he is suffering, he embraces me, he catches me, he ensures I do not crash to the ground. He carries my own sinful self amidst his own suffering because he is my shepherd and he will not lose his sheep.
The steps from this point are unsure. The report will be discussed with bishop McGrattan, and he will no doubt wish to discern. Fr. Tim was kind and genuine; I felt he desired to see that I receive healing out of this, which I have no doubt will be a part of that discussion.
I am still recovering out of having to relive in detail the events of my abuse. I have more work to unpack all of this. I am being triggered more often, which makes it hard to feel confident leaving my house. The anxiety of having shared this publicly, of knowing that people are concerned, and yet not being in a safe place and cannot necessarily relieve concerns.
Healing will come to me, but it will take time. I may have more set backs in front of me still, but all I know is the here and now. I know the strength of Jesus, who can carry me while also carrying his cross. And I have given my heart to Mary, whose own heart is inflamed with compassion and a mother’s love. She carries my heart with resolute tenacity. I could be in no better company than these.