Criminal Minds, God, Grief, Healing, Jezabel, Lord, Pastor, Pastoral counseling, Soul Healing, Spirit, Syracuse University, Thought, Trust
I want to explain what happened as I remember it, because I want this to be an accurate and truthful account of everything as much as is humanly possible. If I misrepresent anything, or leave any part out, that has not been my intent, and I’m sorry. I am not sure when all of this started, but will never forget, nor will I ever get over, how it all ended.
There were two women who used to go to my old church, the Chapel, back while I was going through my divorce. They had both started attending my current church long after I did, although at different times. They were also both clients of my pastoral counselor (I believe) and at the same time were also meeting with another leader on staff. (The Blond Elder.) I’m not sure why. One of the woman was also a client at my place of employment, which was a local domestic violence agency. She and I shared the same legal advocate.
One day, one of the women (who was the wife of my ex-husbands’ best friend at the time) called me at home, and said she had the other woman with her, and wanted her to talk to me because of a situation she was dealing with in her marriage. Both women knew where I worked, and why and how my own marriage ended, so they thought I could help. The other woman then got on the phone and proceeded to tell me what had occurred with her husband. She also said that she was seeing my counselor, and had been told by her something to the effect of “If she just took her medicine, her husband wouldn’t do those things.” This is the gist of what she said to me, although I honestly can’t remember her exact words. I did not want to get involved AT ALL, because it sounded like a mess, and I didn’t want to be put in the middle, and risk my job or my counseling. So, I told her that whether she took a medication or not, what her husband did was wrong, and she needed to call the crisis line where I worked. That is all that I said to her. I didn’t malign my counselor; in fact, I defended her, and said that I was sure that wasn’t what she meant (if she said it at all) and made it clear that I wouldn’t be put in a position of being in the middle. I don’t know what the woman thought she heard, or where things went wrong, or who she said what to after we hung up, but somehow I guess it was conveyed as though I had told her not to take her medicine, and not to listen to my counselor, but to go to Vera House instead.
It’s not what I said at all. I don’t believe she was lying; I honestly think she was just too upset and too high-strung at the time to hear anybody clearly. I certainly would never have told anyone not to take their medication. However, I hung up and didn’t think any more of it until I got a call at work from one of the women, who told me that there was a meeting scheduled at the church “for 4:00 on Monday.” She said that the two of them, myself, and my counselor, along with at least one of the elders and another staff member were going to be there, and that we were all in trouble. (Me and the other two clients.) Well, I worked, at the time, every week until 5:00 on Mondays, so it wouldn’t have been possible for me to be there even if someone from the church had called to see when I was available. I hung up with the woman who called, and immediately called the church myself and found out that yes, this meeting was already scheduled, but neither my counselor nor anyone else had called to tell me about it. Everyone else knew about it except me; I’m not sure why. Nor had anyone called to even see if any of this was true, or asked me what I actually did say. It would have resolved the whole thing, and none of this would ever have happened. One phone call.
So, I said to the woman who answered the phone that I had to work until 5:00 on Monday, and that I couldn’t possibly come to this meeting. I also said it sounded like it would be a conflict of interests, and that I would have to ask our senior legal advocate at Vera House what to do, as she was also my advocate. I was worried this would cause problems at work, and the whole situation had ‘conflict of interest’ and ‘confidentiality’ problems written all over it. I didn’t want to lose my job, although I did shortly after, as a result of all of this.
You know that game where kids sit in a circle, and whisper a sentence into the ear of the person next to them, who then turns and whispers it to the next person, and so on around the circle until what the sentence repeated at the end is nowhere near what was originally said? That’s what happened next. As far as I can tell, what ended up being said to my counselor was “Stacey refuses to come to the meeting without a lawyer.” I don’t know how this happened, or who turned it into that; I only know what has been told to me, first by the blond elder, and later confirmed by my counselor. (All of which I wrote about in a previous post; this is how all of that happened, and why the elder was telling people to stay away from me. So she said, anyway.)
I wrote a letter to the elder, while still at work, and as soon as I left I drove to the church and asked to speak with her. I went upstairs, and she read the letter while I sat there. She agreed with some of it, but then said that there was no confidentiality when it came to my personal counseling and the church, and that they had “an open book policy”. I said that my counselor was my privately paid service provider, and as such, any concerns involving me should be handled by her supervisor, herself and me, except in cases of informed consent, which I couldn’t give, because I hadn’t been informed. I also made a copy for my counselor, and an extra one for the pastor, in case anyone ever asked exactly what I said. I wanted to speak for myself.
What hurt was that my counselor had never called in the first place to talk to me about any of this. I don’t know why. I only know it hurt.
I carried this hurt with me to my counseling, along with the letter for my counselor, because it was important to me to clear this up. I knew it would affect the counseling process, and didn’t want it to. I believed that anything we talked about openly could be dealt with, and resolved. Healed. I still believe this.
But, she refused to read the letter, and suddenly said she didn’t want to be involved, and that it wasn’t about her. The problem was that she was the one who called the original meeting, so it did involve her, even though it wasn’t about her.
This became a problem, mostly because I wouldn’t let it go. This is how it happened that one day several months later (yes, I did drag this out that long) she asked “why she should believe me over other people who are more credible.” And that stung. I should have dropped it long before, but for reasons God and I alone understand, I didn’t. And she was understandably frustrated, and angry. At the end of that appointment (this was in early summer of 2010) she turned to me at the door and said something to the effect of “You need to go home and look up the spirit of Jezebel, because you have that spirit all over you.”
I had no idea what she was talking about, but was embarrassed and sick over the whole thing. It hurt like hell, and I made more and more mistakes at work, huge mistakes, and cried all the time, while sitting at the front desk. My lack of focus and poor performance eventually cost me my job in the first week of July. I wasn’t sleeping at all, or eating, and was exhausted all the time. I’m not angry with Vera House for firing me, I’m angry at how they did it, but that’s another story for another time. My counseling continued, and I tried to not bring any of this up any more, but I guess it was still there under the surface. I still wanted the whole misunderstanding “fixed”. It just bothered me that it had all happened in the first place, and no one had ever done anything to set things straight.
“He who conceals a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separateth [very] friends.” Proverbs 17:9
I blame myself for not letting this matter go; it was only important to me, but looking back, it should have made no difference to my therapy. I had things said about me back in high school that were not true, and I think a lot of this triggered old stuff that I have never even yet talked to my counselor about. For no real reason, other than the fact that we were dealing with the whole immediate divorce crisis. And I made a complete and total mess of that; brought it with me, in fact, from my old church, and it is so much my own fault for wasting so much time over things that either didn’t happen, or weren’t all that important. I may have been confused, but I was also just extremely stupid.
Fast forward to the week of Halloween in October of 2010: I had fallen asleep on the couch one night; I was home alone, and it was late. I slept with the television on, and when I woke up, there was a program on that I don’t normally watch. It was Criminal Minds, which is an extremely graphic fictional program about solving murders. I do like forensic shows, but not this one. I was too tired to get up and find the remote, so the program went on, and I continued to lay there, and half watched it, and half slept. It caught my attention finally, because it turned out that the murderer in this particular episode was killing all of the women in his town whom he believed to be ‘Jezebels’. He targeted women who were cheating on their husbands, and then trapped and killed them by tying them up, and letting them be eaten by dogs somewhere out in the woods. Throughout the show, they went back and forth to the scriptures about Jezebel in the Bible, and how she was eaten by dogs for her sins, and the end of the show was the most horrific, bloody, terrifying scene of the murder of the last victim.
I should never have watched this.
Extremely distraught, all I could think was “Oh my God, this is what she thinks of me? That I should be eaten by dogs?” And then I did what ultimately ended it all. I went to the computer, still groggy and half-asleep, and sent her an email saying how upset I was at what had happened to my counseling; how frustrated I was with all of it, and ready to give up. Not because of her; because of me. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote; I don’t believe I wrote anything bad about her, just how I felt about the whole situation. The whole mess. Never heard anything back. By the next morning, I had a sinking realization that I probably shouldn’t have done that, and that she would most likely be upset, but was totally unprepared for what happened when I walked into my next appointment.
The moment she came into the waiting room to get me, I knew it was bad. We sat down in her office, and I think she asked if I had anything to say. I didn’t know what to say. I remember feeling very cold. She said she was sure that I was aware that this would be my last appointment, and that she was done; she would no longer be my counselor. This is very difficult to write about, and I’m not really sure of everything that was said. I knew she was extremely, extremely angry; it was one of the most humiliating and traumatizing things I have ever been through. I was numb with fear and unbelief. I could not believe what I had done. She said she would “refer me to another counselor” and do whatever she had to do to facilitate that, but that she herself would no longer work with me. I don’t know that anyone has ever been that angry, or said such harsh things to me. I don’t know how I made it out of the office, or through the rest of the day. It was surreal. That day will forever be part of me, and I can’t ever get away from the memory of it- from the feeling of the memory. Not even for five minutes. I wasn’t allowed to explain at all, nor did we talk about the email, which is what I had expected. I did not expect ten years of therapy to end, suddenly, without warning, right in the middle of the work we were doing. So this is what I mean when I say that “We ended over a very bad episode of Criminal Minds” because, in effect, we did. Ten years of the hardest work I have ever done, thrown away, in less than an hour. Over.
Finding the right therapist happens once in a lifetime; it’s a one-shot deal, and this was mine. I waited my whole life for it, knowing God would eventually send someone to help me, and He did. She and I both knew it when I first asked her to be my counselor; she said God spoke to her in that moment and told her she was supposed to help me. My pastor confirmed this. It doesn’t happen twice, nor will it. This is the person God ordained to walk alongside me on this journey; it is the person He sent to help me, from back when I was a little girl. Our lives had intersected long before we had ever met, in the way that only God can weave two lives together, for a purpose that lies far ahead in the future. There is no one else I would have trusted, and I considered her to be not only my counselor, but also a mentor, and a friend. I both loved and respected her; still do, in spite of all of this, especially considering how much of it all is my own fault.
I will not ever trust anyone to this degree again. Not ever.
My counselor has a small sign, or plaque, in her office; she bought it in an antique shop one day when she was out for a walk. It says something like “God will not look you over for medals, or degrees, but for scars” or something to that effect. Had I known I would never see it again, I would have made a point of memorizing it, because that sign was the thing that had told me from the very beginning that I was in the right place for me. It is my favorite thing in the office, and I miss it.
I also wanted to say that she did, that same evening of that horrible day, call and apologize for saying the statement about Jezebel, and said she never intended to call me that, or imply anything by it. I sincerely believe her. I have said many things in my own anger that I hope people can forgive me for. But we have never reconciled, or healed, or resolved anything else. Things remain as they are, or rather, as they were left that day in her office. The day (that first week of November) was the day before I was to start a new job. I lost that job shortly after, and the next one, because of how this has affected me. I am currently on disability, because I just can’t meet any employers expectations, nor do I care to. My grades immediately fell, as I was in my last year at Syracuse University at the time, and I cannot now get into graduate school to finish my Master’s degree. Everything has fallen apart. I’m not doing anything until this is resolved. Can’t do anything; can barely function. For me, every day is November 4th, 2010. Time stopped that day, and all I am doing is going through the motions, because I have to. Only because I have to. This has destroyed everything; my life, my health, my home, and my ability to trust people. My hope.
I will not ever go to another counselor; like I said, this happens once in a lifetime, and she is the person ordained by God for me. Not because it’s about her, but because that is what God intended. I know this to be true; I had it, and I lost it, mostly by my own doing. She helped in more ways than she will ever know, in spite of everything that happened to threaten the whole process along the way. And a hell of a lot happened. In saying that the ten years were wasted, all I meant was that it is a waste if this is how it ends. I am at a complete loss out in the world on my own; counseling helped me to get, and keep, a job; to go to school; to deal with trying to raise two girls on my own. It gave me a safe and private place to deal with stress, and emotions, and fears, both real and unreal. I will not do this outside of the privacy of that office, and all of my undone work is still in there. Still needs to be done there. Not forever; in my silly, stupid fantasy life that all avoidants have, I thought that once we had worked through the trauma of my divorce, and what that all meant for me, that she would help me learn how to deal with people, especially men, which I am definitely not good at. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. She’s a pastor; I thought that she would help me learn how to date, or interact with people, so that I could eventually meet someone and get remarried, without making the same fear-based mistakes I made the first time around. I knew I needed someone not only for accountability, but to help me work through the issues I will most assuredly have when it comes time for that. Then I figured I eventually wouldn’t need her anymore, and my therapy would come to gradual and healthy end, and I would know when I was ready to move on. It’s how good therapy should end.
I was not ready for this.
Know this: As much as God has a plan for your life, so does the enemy. And he will use everything and everyone he can use to keep God’s purposes from coming to pass in your life; when he cannot tempt you into outright sin, he will use distraction. If that doesn’t work, he will cause dissension. His ultimate goal is always destruction. I walked blindly into this one, and didn’t see it for what it was. This was my fault, and I have been left in a mess I can’t get out of, but I still trust God. If He truly ordained this, as I believe He did, then no demon in Hell can destroy what God calls and ordains.
I have tried to write only what I know, and believe to be true. I’m tired of writing around things, and not feeling free to be more direct because of what people will think. I don’t want to hurt, or misrepresent, anybody or anything. There is so much more that could be written, but this is already long. I am tired.
James Robert Wilson said:
I’d like to preface this comment with an observation: In the Bible, Christ spent 1/3 of his ministry dealing with demons. Believing in demons is not popular these days, but Jesus believed in their existence. Peter said, “Beware of Satan who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.”
I once was a bystander in a church split. An elder came to me and said, “Do you know what the Pastor did? He did this and this…”
But I knew the Pastor, and knew he wouldn’t have done or said that.
Then the Pastor came to me and said, “Do you know what that Elder did? He did this and this…”
But I knew the Elder, and knew he wouldn’t have done or said that.
So, what do I believe…?
One, the Elder and Pastor are both lying…
Two, the Elder and Pastor are both acting contrary to their normal standards…
Or three, that Satan somehow gets into our conversations and changes our words.
Satan is the accuser of the brethren. So we know he would try to malign those closest to us if he could.
But how does he do it? Imagine yourself eavesdropping on two ladies’ conversation and one of them says to the other, “You are my BEST friend.” Sneaking up behind them, you say “WORST” where the one friend said “BEST”. Not seeing you, the 2nd friend hears a different sentence. We must accept that we are surrounded by a spiritual world, full of angels and demons, who can communicate with us from time to time.
Can Satan speak into our minds? He gave Jesus a suicidal thought, “Throw yourself off the Temple…” If he could do it to Jesus, we certainly would be susceptible.
What’s the solution? Cherish your friends. Use the ‘repeat’ approach… “Did you just say…?”
Realize that we are all broken people and spread around love like mayonaise. Forgive, overlook, build bridges.
Lastly, cling to Jesus. We are but wayfairers here and exiles. Let Him be your Rock and Strength.
Thank you James, for reading and sharing about your own personal experience. Mine, however, is simply a matter of confidentiality and conflict-of-interest issues related to professional counseling, not about Church at all. But thank you for taking the time to comment. 🙂