My monthly session with Father Charlie yesterday was both painful and hopeful. I sat in my van before I went in and asked myself what I wanted from the session. I had spent an hour in candle lit darkness yesterday morning trying to discern what to bring to the session and came up empty. A time of being open to what Jesus might have to say to me about it and not one word back. I shake my head because it doesn't seem to matter to me at the moment if I hear anything back or not. It doesn't rattle my cage as if Jesus didn't hear me. I know Jesus heard me and that seems to be enough. In the van I came to the conclusion that I wanted the courage to be unafraid of my emotions. I thought about the whole range of emotions I have felt sitting in Father Charlie's office. How amazed I am that I haven't thrown anything through his office window although the urge has been there many times. I prayed for the courage to be unafraid of my feelings, opened the van door and went to my session.
While I was waiting for him in his office I looked through his bookshelf, looking for a book he had offered me last November. At that time, when I saw the author's name, I went on a rant about how angry one of this guy's other books had made me....how angry I had been because he had been so right and I just couldn't handle it. One of the things I like about Father Charlie is that he doesn't push anything. Don't want to borrow the book? No big deal. I couldn't find what I was looking for but I did come across a different book I had wanted to read - Addiction and Grace by Gerald May - and when Father Charlie came in he found the book I had been looking for - Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw.
Almost always I bring a blog post to my sessions and often it is the springboard for our discussion. Talking about the book that had pissed me off so bad had me off on a tangent in less than 5 seconds so I never did show him any writing yesterday.
We talked about secrets and shame. Family secrets. Personal shame. To think we go through this life without our actions, seen or unseen by others, affecting no one is a lie. Yesterday I said words outloud that make me cringe. B.l.o.w J.o.b. Such a fucking ugly word. I can't even type it without wanting to run outside of my body screaming. It makes me want to put my head down on the desk and sob for who I might have been.
So many tears. So much anger. Yesterday I let them rise as they wanted to. I acknowledged that they had a right to be there. At one point, as tears were streaming down my face, Father Charlie said to me "I know. You just want to open up a zipper and let all the pain out. But it only comes out in layers. And there is a pearl waiting to be found at the core."
I said out loud yesterday things I've never allowed myself to say. I stopped pretending that where my parents were in their journey when I was a kid made their behaviour excusable. Covering their tracks and assuaging their guilt was more important than protecting me from a predator. How fucked is that? I stopped pretending that just because there was a black hole in my memory about a certain incident didn't mean what I thought must have happened didn't. I cried for how cruel the truth can be.
At one point I thought,"now what?" What did closure look like? Once I acknowledged the truth what did I do with it? As if reading my mind Father Charlie said, "How does one reconcile it all?" He asked a few questions and I came home with some concrete things I could do. They won't be fun, but they will be healing. I also came away with the assurance that it could be reconciled without letting anyone off the hook as if their behaviour didn't matter. I won't have to pretend what happened was okay when it wasn't. I saw that there is a path through it, a path that leads to healing. A path that will allow me to stop being defined by my pain. A path that can speak truth without apology. I won't have to be nice at the expense of being honest.
I was one of those kids who did what they were told and never said no. I gladly took on being responsible for your mood. If I was going to be rebellious it was never going to be in ways that were direct. Are you kidding? I'm not a fan of getting my face slapped. Yesterday though, I had one memory that gave me great hope.
My mother had many affairs when I was an adolescent. One of her 'friends' once told my younger sister that if he won anything on the lottery that week that he would buy her a teddy bear. She told me and I said, "He doesn't care about you. He's only trying to buy your love." She started screaming, screaming so loud that my mom came in the room to see what was the matter. My mom made me repeat what I had said to my sister. I calmly looked her in the face and told her. No slap across the face. No repercussions.
When I was telling Father Charlie this yesterday my mouth twitched with a hint of a smile. The memory was a positive one. On the drive home yesterday I realized why. It is the lone time in my whole childhood where I voiced the truth about a situation I was supposed to pretend was a secret. Even though it was happening right in front of my eyes I was supposed to pretend I was blind. I spoke truth out loud, voiding the secret's power. If I had a voice as a child in that instance then it is possible to uncover my voice for all the other things that we were forbidden to acknowledge. I can stop the crazy making. I have a voice. I can stop being afraid of it as I face the past.
Honouring my voice will heal the shame that binds me.