I haven’t written in a while, for several reasons. When I went through and deleted and altered my posts a few weeks ago, I kind of lost interest in writing at all. I felt like I ruined my blog. It was the same feeling I used to have when I left counseling: maybe I hadn’t irritated my counselor that day, but I also hadn’t been true to myself and how I really think and feel. For whatever reason, it wasn’t possible to talk things through without making her angry. So I’m worried about my blog; do I write what I really think and feel, or keep it upbeat and super-spiritual so nobody gets offended, or thinks there’s something wrong with me. And there probably is a lot wrong with me, but I’m okay with that.
There was an elder who had a phenomenal meltdown over something I said at the altar a few years ago; she had started a horrible rumor about me based on gossip, not fact, and created quite a mess. A simple phone call would have been wise, and the whole thing could have been avoided. But, she went to my counselor at a staff meeting and discussed with her what she neglected to ask me first, as the Bible dictates. In all honesty, my counselor should have spoken to me privately, not to another church leader. Between the two of them, they created a situation that further destroyed my therapy. I had approached the elder after service to ask her what she herself had been telling people, and she admitted that she had lied to my counselor based on what she had heard (gossip) not on fact. Then she asked what I expected her to do about it, as it had already turned into a quite a witch hunt, and I said well, I would like you to go and tell my counselor that what you said was not at all true. She looked at me blankly for a second and said “Elders don’t do that.” And suddenly I looked at her and thought “You know what? I’m fine. I’m no more or less healthy than anyone in leadership.” That is, if they’re honest. But they can’t be; they have too much to lose.
I, on the other hand, have nothing to lose. Everything I valued or thought was important has been taken from me. There is little you can do to someone after trauma. If all I’m left with is my relationship with God, my Bible, and my family, I’m fine. I don’t need awards, degrees, plaques, or diplomas. I do need a paycheck, but I’m working on that.
The situation was never resolved; I wrote a letter, and spoke with my counselor, but even though she was the one who called the original meeting, she suddenly decided she didn’t want to be involved. And wouldn’t discuss it at all. And everything continued to fall apart, and we continued to “do therapy”. Without talking.
Therapy is not about techniques and theory as much as it is about relationship. You can’t just ‘go to another therapist’ at least, not if you already have a long-established relationship with one. And with pastoral counseling, it’s even more so; while establishing safety is always a first step in relationships (of any kind, actually) it’s the person of the therapist that is what is important for healing. If I had to pick the original reason that things didn’t work out, I would have to say it was the lack of trust due to the lack of (perceived) safety. Yes, all due largely to conflicts of interest and confidentiality, but even these things could have been worked through, and would have provided not just ‘life change’ but life healing. Soul healing.
I have recently started becoming more involved at church, and I have to say it is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I’ve made new friends, and been reunited with old ones, and the change is good. It feels like fresh air blowing through a vast wasteland of pain and regret. The old situations are not healed, and can’t be, as I’m not allowed to go to my therapy, and the elder who caused the problem has left to ‘minister’ somewhere else. I struggle with bitterness and grief, but I don’t feel angry, just sad. I’ve done all I know to do, and there is nothing else but to wait on God. In the meantime, the new stuff is a healthy distraction, and it’s fun. I feel like me again. So we’ll see how it goes.