"...our greatest strength was forged in our worst pain and suffering. It was precisely those "worst times" that hollowed out a space in us that wouldn't have existed otherwise. And this space becomes the haven where others find the compassion, understanding and strength we so badly needed ourselves at one time." ~Earnie Larson in Destination JoyDearest one woke me up this morning by placing a snowball in my hand. There were snowy footprints on the deck this morning although we were spared the several inches of white stuff that other areas got overnight. As I look out the window it's nearly all melted now. Soon I will go for a walk and savour the crispness of the air and breathe in the smell of decomposing leaves. I love their earthy smell. They remind me that this journey is temporary.
Thank you for praying. I'm slowly regaining my equilibrium. There is an undercurrent of serenity beneath the pain. Yesterday as I went for my walk I started to name out loud all the reasons I was grateful. After a few moments I burst in tears because the gratitude was genuine and that I could have gratitude in the midst of emotional pain overwhelmed me. I never knew it was possible. Typing that sentence has me in tears all over again. God is doing for me what I could not do for myself. And I'm so very aware and grateful.
My home group in AA is called Gratitude 24/7. When I first went I thought that people who were grateful in the midst of pain were lying. I easily wrote off anyone who smacked of Pollyanna. "Ha. At least I'm realistic," I told myself. And while I still have a hard time liking people who are fake and smiley when everything else about them cries pain, I know my ability to sneer in the face of the genuine gratitude of others is just another version of camouflaged pain. In my all or nothing way of thinking one could either be in emotional pain or be grateful but never the two shall meet. I know now that gratitude is cultivated. It is a perspective one chooses. It doesn't deny reality, it exists in the midst of reality.
As I was walking one day this week I was begging God for the grace to show compassion towards myself. When I'm in the worst places emotionally it hasn't been my pattern to have self compassion. In the midst of my pain and the shame that threatened to overwhelm me I knew that the biggest gift I could give myself was compassion. The old patterns, the inner voices that wanted to accuse and condemn me were competing with the new pattern of loving and forgiving myself for being human. And as I prayed the word mantle popped into my head. It was such a random, strange word that I let it sit in my mouth for a while. As I did the line from a song we used to sing came to me. "His mantle over me is love." How true.
Yesterday I went for a long drive to meet with Fr. Charlie. I've chosen to continue seeing him for counseling/spiritual direction even though he has moved to another parish. As I reflect on today's quote it is Fr. Charlie's own hollowed out place, born out of working through his worst of times, that makes him a safe place of compassion, strength and understanding. It was good to be able to just spill my guts to him, no explanation needed.
On my drive home I returned a call to the sexual abuse counselling centre. As I told the woman my experience of having the rape triggered this past weekend and the battle it's been since to simply get through my days she told me she would bump me up the waiting list. It's now about 2 weeks before I get in to see someone.
It felt good to say I need help and then to reach out for that help. None of us can journey alone. It just isn't meant to be.
Yesterday Fr. Charlie asked me if I was still blogging. I told I was but that it was often such narcissistic crap I didn't know what the point was anymore. Today I know I need a place to say, this is my story. And I know those of you who read here regularly can see patterns, threads and growth that I am blind to. For today I embrace that reality.