Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Not a Victim

The only thing I regret about having written about spiritual abuse is the possibility that people who read about it would define me according to that.

I guess that's a risk we all take as we blog about ourselves. While the words stay fixed in black and white, the people writing the words move forward, growing and changing.

This is the two-year anniversary of "the lynching" that began our experience with spiritual abuse. I don't plan to continue marking these anniversaries, but it has been helpful for me to reflect on the state of my emotional and spiritual health at this time.

After two years, I can see that we have plodded through the stages of loss with annoying predictability.

Due to the surprise factor, the initial shock and denial was overwhelming. Like a spouse suddenly learning of a mate's infidelity, there was a lot of confusion about what was happening. The initial months were a piecing together of the clues and situations leading up to the betrayal that we missed or that didn't make sense at the time. It was at least six months until we fully understood what had happened.

During this time, I was also in the "why me" stage. I have a tendency to blame myself for things that go wrong, so this particular phase of examining what I should have done differently was pretty intense.

The depression stage seemed to hover like a cloud over the entire process. I withdrew from many things and found little joy in hobbies or recreation.

Last year at this time, my husband and I were fully immersed in the anger stage. I remember telling him that he would never heal if he wouldn't quit referring to them as "those ***holes". He has since matured to using the term "frickin weasels."

I was not only angry at the people who put me in this state, I found myself really angry at God. During the initial stages, I trusted that He was leading us and had the entire situation under control. By the time one year hit, I expected that He would have exposed the things that were false and settled this injustice. Didn't happen! Accepting that it wasn't going to happen was part of moving on for me.

I never wanted to be a victim. The cold, hard facts are that we were victimized. I can't change that. I wish we could have gone through the healing process faster, but I'm not sure it was possible.

We are at the beginning stages of hope and acceptance. We are so ready to move on with our lives. As intrusive as this has been, we have no desire to make it our identity. We are reconciled to what has happened and our focus is now the present rather than the past.

Hope is emerging subtly.


Robbymac said...

Grace (and hubby),

Wow, it would be so cool if all four of us could have a beer-n-nachos night, and be able to talk face-to-face -- your journey is so remarkably similar to ours!

In the first six months or so after our own version of the lynching you described, I couldn't read most of the Psalms. I kept reading passages about David asking God to break his enemies' jaws etc., and I found myself putting names to the faces I wouldn't mind seeing smashed. Not very Christ-like, I know, but you're not at your best when this kind of stuff happens at the hands of people who claim to love Jesus.

Thanks for posting your own journey so honestly and eloquently. You're putting into words what many are feeling. I think your writings give others hope as they deal with their own "frickin weasels". (HT to hubby for coming up with that one -- it's a classic!)

Scott said...

wondering this aft how many of us have gone through a "lynching". it's sad that we can all point to such an event. sad that it happens. sad that we usually endure it alone and forlorn.

Debbie said...

Nothing worse than being "lynched"in a place that is suppose to be a sanctuary. It makes me both angry and sad

Traci said...

I am so glad you can look back on the year and see the stages and that they are improving. It's been a year since we left our old church. I was just told by a friend what the latest gossip was about our leaving(she set the person she was talking to right). So sad that I know exactly who the author was and used to consider her a friend. But you know what? I laughed and told her thank you for letting me know and haven't thought of it since!

grace said...

Maybe someday we'll have the opportunity to meet at the border or (gasp) at a conference.

Yes, it actually surprised me how many people have experienced this. Googling phrases like "abusive church government" is what eventually led me to the emerging conversation.

Experiences like this have propelled many of us into the deconstruction process. Church structures that produce this leads to looking for something more true.

Yep. That's what makes it sad. It's done at the hands of people who claim to love you.

It's hard to realize that friends will gossip about you. But you're right, there comes a point where you have to not let it get to you.

Bruce said...

I'm glad you guys are ready to move on...something like this can consume us and it becomes "our identity" whether we want it to or not. Let it go (or as Paul says, forgetting the past) to press on! I'll be praying for you and your husband.

His peace.

iggy said...

So many churches do nto see honesty as a "christian" value.

I would rather be honest and bear my soul and thought to be victim/trouble/special/annoying/ then clothe myself is false self righteousness that denies that a "christian" can have "bad" things happen...

A victim? no... I view those the victim of their own selfish theology.

Am I bitter? no... just sad for those who have gotten caught up in the false system, and have nnever met the Risen Lord because some control freak gets in their way.


grace said...

Thanks for your comments bruce and iggy. I agree that we must press on in spite of the bumps along the way.