As I was out to dinner with friends this week something occured to me. This thought has crossed my mind before, however this particular evening, it really seemed to be obvious to not only me, but probably also to the incredibly patient friends who are nice enough to hang out with me.
As we were discussing our crazy lives with kids, husbands, in-laws and work, my stories seemed to all be centered around my past church experiences.
I felt bad.
Why is it I always revert back to this? I am positive people around me get sick of hearing about the ways the UPC has affected my life. I am tired of hearing about it myself. Yet, for some reason, it’s all I’ve got. I realize the church was a huge part of my life for many, many years, so it makes logical sense my life stories would revolve around my experiences and people within the church. But I so badly want it to not be that way. I childishly want my life story to be “normal”. I’m sure many people would love to be able to change their past, but I honestly didn’t realize how different mine is from most until a well meaning friend made the statement, “Wow, we were raised nothing alike!” And it’s true.
While she has amazing stories about dating, college, dances, sports etc. I have nothing of the sort. Being out of the church the length of time I have been now, I realize my upbringing without a TV, school dances, and excessive church attendance seems almost archaic to most “normal” people. I would absolutely love to get to the place of personal acceptance of my past and have it legitimately not bother me. I would love for the betrayal of an organization I clung to for my very salvation not affect me in ways I myself cannot even comprehend.
Personal confession time, I unintentionally missed a dose or two of my anxiety medication this week, and I can tell. I have been thinking of trying to go off of it, hoping my therapy sessions have kick started the seemingly never ending healing process, but my waking up from a dead sleep having a panic attack because I was dreaming about people who were apart of my past life, just proves my body is still trying to cope. I shed tears at work today, for reasons that normally would roll right off my shoulders while the medication in is my system. I am clearly still having uncontrollable physical responses from my experiences, and I am sick of it.
I am sick of every aspect of my life, at work, out with friends, and sleep itself being linked to spiritual abuse. I look around at others in my life who have left the UPC just as I have and they seem to be leaps and bounds ahead of my personal journey. I get discouraged thinking there is something wrong with me. Why is it they have overcome the hurt and I am still struggling? I feel weak and frail.
When does it end? Does it ever end? Can you ever completely get over the wounds and the triggers from trauma? My experiences seem so trivial to many other’s and the fact the very core of my body is affected is disheartening. I feel so happy most days, that’s the confusing part. I am free, I don’t feel the oppression any longer like I did for my entire adult life. But for some reason I just can’t quite stop the UPC from creeping into my life stories, and I hate it. That organization robbed me from my childhood, controlled my appearance, my relationships, my parenting choices and so, so much more for over twenty-five years, I will die trying to keep it from stealing my very being. I refuse to live my life in the grips of it’s seemingly unending consequences.
I just started EMDR therapy. Something that is supposed to be helpful in PTSD situations, I am hopeful by it’s track record that it will be beneficial for me. We shall see.
The God who is bigger than man made religion loves me, and I am his child. I will spend the rest of my life trying to live up to this reality. Because in the end, God’s approval and love is all that matters, and that fact is what is the “truth”.