It’s Hard Being Green

Remember the song by Kermit the Frog, “It’s Not Easy Being Green”? I found myself thinking about that song today as I drove home from counseling.  Covid has worked over-time to silence my new found voice and barricade my heart that was starting to taste freedom.  Having to use all my brain cells to figure out how to keep my family safe from this hideous virus, I have no energy left to work on being emotionally vulnerable with the few safe people in my life. When I read so much about how we should be protecting ourselves and others, how best to do that, and what happens if we don’t, I have fallen back into protecting myself emotionally too. For almost two years now I have been emotionally shut down in counseling.  There are moments when I feel a connection with my counselor but more often I feel very distant and alone out here.  It has been painful but he says he is committed to keep meeting with me and working on rebuilding that connection.

But the threat of Covid has affected more than my relationship with my counselor.  It has affected my relationship with myself.  I no longer trust my thoughts or my heart.  I have gradually turned on myself and hardened against my very being.  If I dislike every thought I have, how can I share it with another?  It has created an extreme isolation from those that want to help me.  I have feared losing so much during Covid that I can’t take the risk to lose my husband or counselor because they decide they don’t like something I’ve said so I more often than not choose not to say anything.  Taking the risk to possibly lose their respect or positive opinion creates so much anxiety that I run from it.

My counselor reminded me again today that he respects me and wants to honor my journey because God has loved him.  His caring for me comes from the love he receives from God not from what I do or say or not do or say.  In other words, I can be free of judgement when I am with him and not have to fear he will condemn, judge, or leave me.  But it is so hard to trust that.  It is so hard to know how to let go of all the walls that were built these past two years.  I don’t know how to find the end of the thread to start to unravel them all.

I think my counselor would say, “Keep coming, we’ll find the thread together.”

Trust is like a Dawning

For the last couple of years I have been working through memories of my grandfather and his role in my abuse.  He was an evil man with a special hatred of God.  With having his evil rain down on me during my early years and now dealing with it in counseling it has been difficult to find God through the darkness.  He cursed God over me and baptized me into his unholiness.

 How do I learn to trust a God when I haven’t heard from Him in the past couple of years?  How do I learn to trust when I cannot see, hear, or feel God?  I read His words but struggle to find where I fit in to His story.  How has my story become a part of His?

Larry Crabb has said, “I don’t think real spiritual maturity is possible until you encounter the God that appears to be insane.”   I don’t understand a God that doesn’t save a small girl being offered to her grandfather’s gods and sold into prostitution.  I don’t understand a God that doesn’t at least whisper in her ear that He is there with her.  I don’t understand a God that lets this little girl go through her childhood with not one adult noticing the pain she is in.  That is a God that appears to be insane.  But, this is the God that I am encountering.

It’s like a dawning

A dear friend of Larry’s, my counselor, told me that “For we walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7) And then, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). When we become saved/born again, it’s because faith has felt the pressure (a good pressure) from the Holy Spirit and then knows that Jesus came to save us. And recognizes in Him His saving us through His death and resurrection. It’s like a dawning. Then we begin walking with Him and any unfinished business in our lives comes bubbling up. Many people suppress this, but I haven’t. As these issues come up, the Holy Spirit again and again brings that good pressure, that nudge that says, “I am re-building, straightening, cleansing, healing,” which, by faith we come to know and recognize that we’re not alone. Again, trusting like a dawning.

Oh God, please bring this dawning on me soon.  I long to feel your arms around me again.

The Silence of God

“It’s enough to drive a man crazy; it’ll break a man’s faith
It’s enough to make him wonder if he’s ever been sane
When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the heaven’s only answer is the silence of God

It’ll shake a man’s timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God

And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they’ve got
When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
‘Cause we all get lost sometimes…

There’s a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And He’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He’s weeping all alone

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought. So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God”

Lyrics by Andrew Peterson

In the Name of God?

I step from the wreckage as cars jerk around
The people’s busy lives leading them forward, no room to see.
I stand naked and heart raw as the world
goes to church chanting their chants.

Dead bodies lining the street
the blood flowing, pulsating, echoing in ear
life slowly ebbing, draining in earth
no one caring to witness the haunted.

I lift my skinless hands and soundless voice screams
begging, wailing, tears never reaching ground
Where am I?  Where are you? 
Can you not show the way through?

The slicing, knifing, and labored breathing
I can no longer live in counterfeit normality
where living is sightlessness and unconsciousness
where selflessness, kindness and goodness are unwanted foreigners.

I see only their crushing abominating
feel their abrasive absurdity
hear their acrid articulations and aggressive anarchy
Are you here?  Can you not witness?

All humanity dying to self or in selfishness.
lambs slaughtering other lambs
the massacre going unnoticed
my blood only leaving a shadow under their boot

Delusional Living or Dying

Last week I begged my husband to give me some alone time, just a few hours without the kids.  I told him I was close to having a nervous breakdown. (Which I don’t even know what that means but I felt like my mind was going to snap under the strain of 7 months of pandemic homeschooling, never getting time alone to process life, trying to keep my family safe while living in a world gone mad.)  He didn’t hear my cries and I woke the next morning in a delusion that last for two days.   It was a delusion made out of a survival instinct but ultimately draws away from life.

Between you and me (I have NOT shared this with my counselor)….I tried to draw myself into this delusional place.  I don’t know if that is possible but that is what it felt like.  I felt my mind starting to break and I created this ‘place’ to go to that eventually took over the outside world.  The thing that brought me out of the delusion was reading an old text from my counselor reaching out when I was suicidal six years ago.

As I sat this morning just watching the birds in the woods behind our house,  I realized I had a choice.  A choice to choose life or to choose ‘living’ in the recesses of my mind.  I had a picture of someone kayaking and laughing with friends contrasted with someone turned completely inward communing only with her own imaginings. The first involves pain but also joys, the second involves numbing pain and ultimately losing everything.  I don’t understand why I sit in the place of not deciding.  Of course any sane person would choose the first, right?  I know I’ll eventually choose that….and really aren’t I already making the choice because I’m staying in the moment and not pushing the choice away?  What’s hard is being kind to myself and just letting myself be in this in-between spot for a while.

In the Land of DID

After our new normal of beginning our sessions in silence, my counselor pulls out a Winnie-the-Pooh book and starts to read.  Pre-COVID I had been taking long strides toward integration.  My 14 year old integrated some time ago, leaving me, Little Girl, and the 19 year old.  The Little Girl has been growing up, maybe to being around 8 or 9 years old now. This past year I haven’t been switching as much as I used to although they still come out once in a while during counseling.  Last week my counselor and I realize that my freezing up and mutism is in part due to fear in a younger alter. 

Whereas my switching used to be very distinct with sharp edges between me and the alters, there is now a blending of colors and a soft fading in and out.  I no longer feel a separation between them and me even though I can tell when I am not really acting as an adult at the moment.  It makes things confusing but I try to accept it and work through whatever feelings or actions are being expressed at the moment.

As he continues to read, I pull out a sheet with pink and red roses with little green stems and leaves.  I found this sheet at a yard sale years ago and snatched it up.  It is the exact pattern of a pair of sheets that my grandmother used to have. I drape the sheet over my head to give me some protection.  I hope that having that thin barrier between me and him will give me a little more freedom or sense of safety.  It doesn’t magically help me to speak but it still stays over me the whole session.

We pass sticky notes back and forth with not much being spoken.  During the session I always feel a tremendous amount of fear.  It’s almost as if fear were a living creature lurking and pacing around my chair.  T tells me that even if things are locked down again and he has to close the office he will still continue to see me.  All I can think is that I should feel comforted, I should feel his caring, I should feel relieved.  But, all I feel is the heavy sadness and fear.  I really want this sadness and fear to be lifted but I have no idea how to do it.

One of the fears is that my hopelessness and helplessness will touch him and cause him to turn away.  He assures me that it does touch him but all it brings up is compassion.

Hurt, Pain, Fear, Terror, Violence, Abandonment

During our session I write in a note, because I have been too afraid to speak in there, that he sees me and my pain because he offered another appointment that week.  When he writes back that “seeing means caring” all the alarm bells started going off inside.  I write that I need to retreat and fade away rather than staying in the room.  “Retreat from what?”

Hurt            Pain 

Fear            Terror

Violence      Abandonment

“Hurt, pain, fear and terror are feelings while violence and abandonment are things that happen to someone.  Why violence?”  I tell him all pain is violent.  Hurt and pain and abandonment rips the heart.

When I ask him if he is actually the same as he’s been telling me then what or where am I? He shows me a drawing of a small girl curled up in a ball on the floor and tells me I’m small and hiding.  I start to cry at the truth of that and he tells me that even if I continue to freeze and continue to not be able to talk he still wants me to be there. 

When I write a note asking if he will write down that he cares, he writes “I care very much!!!! You are not alone.”

And then the walls crumble to the floor and I begin to weep.

Being Faithful in the Time of COVID

When I walk into my counseling appointment now, my counselor, for the past several weeks, tells me he will be silent to just see what comes forward.  I sit down very nervous about the visit knowing how COVID has put our counseling relationship into the blender on high and shredded all feelings of safety.  But, in the silence, my finger nails stop digging into my skin, my nerves calm, and my legs grow quiet.  And, then, even though I am able to think more clearly I still find it too hard to speak out loud.  So, I write how I care whether or not he gets sick from COVID and that caring is bringing a lot of fear and pain.  I care not only about him but having to face life without him if he were not around.  He responds saying that “it is risky to care for to care is to ask for faithfulness from the other person. And that, too, is getting out on a limb. But it is also possible for people to keep faith with one another, to answer caring with faithfulness.”  When I write that he can’t be faithful if the circumstances don’t allow it we discuss (through my written words) my worst fears in him getting sick (death) and how unsafe I feel to be needing him during this time.

The ultimate risk to caring and realizing that need for caring is abandonment.  Of course these topics have been discussed before COVID but now there doesn’t seem to be time to let that caring and need to grow and be nourished.  It’s definitely worth the risk but it’s hard in the moment now.  When I’m in his office it’s like there is a tornado barreling through the parking lot with trees, cars, and debris being blown against the doors and windows.  And with all of that going on outside it’s impossible to feel safe and feel his caring.  So I end up staying locked up and walled up trying to find a measure of safety.  But of course this has the opposite effect because I cannot benefit from counseling that way.  Everything feels like a loss. So, I grieve.  I grieve the loss of safety in counseling.  I grieve the loss of a counselor.  I grieve the loss of that relationship.  I grieve the loss of support.  I grieve the loss of caring.  But I will remain faithful and keep going and he will remain faithful to keep caring.

How I am Not Dealing Well with the Pandemic

On March 27 our governor issued a stay at home order for our state.  That is when my counselor started having his appointments over zoom.  We did zoom for over a month but I was having a lot of difficulty connecting to him.  I couldn’t see his expression all that well over zoom and it felt like too much information was getting in the way of hearing the caring in his voice.  So we decided to switch to phone appointments.

Probably just a few weeks before the pandemic hit our part of the world, I was realizing how I couldn’t look someone in the face if I suspected they were looking at me in a caring way.  I had just begun to actually hear the caring in my counselor’s voice towards me. We’ve been meeting every week for over seven years.  But looking at his face while also hearing that caring was frightening.  We were working on it though….then the pandemic hit.

After just a few weeks of phone appointments he decided to open his office back up.  So that would have been maybe the middle of June.  We met for two weeks before he had to close it again for 14 days because he found out that a couple he counseled had traveled out of state.  When he opened back up he was going to be meeting in his lobby (still private as it is a private practice).  For some reason, this time I totally freaked me out.  I could not speak when I was in session.  It took several weeks before I could actually write answers to his questions.  I become very frightful and he seems foreign to me.  It’s like he is a stranger asking me personal questions.  It feels very invasive and terrifying.  This has been going on now for three months!

He says that it would be best to keep meeting and try to figure out what this is all about.  We’ve talked (or rather he has talked) about how just changing to the lobby (even though I am accustomed with it) and his sitting further away than he was in his office has made everything unfamiliar.  After a month of me still not able to speak or even look up at him, he offered to meet in his office with me if we both wear masks.  I was hopeful that the familiarity would give me the freedom to speak but it did not.  Again, things are still different (he’s wearing a mask, we leave the side door open….and even though it is completely private it doesn’t feel private.) 

This week he let me read something that he had found in one of his counseling books.  It was about Axis IV traumas.  Essentially there are four types of traumas.  Brief childhood traumas are one (a single car accident where there is a death would be an example), then prolonged childhood traumas would be another axis.  (I can’t remember all of the axis’s and can’t find it on internet right now).  But the last one was a world changing/environmental trauma. 

“Type IV stressor events produce high levels of uncertainty and profound adaptational dilemmas as to how to cope with the stressor once it has become recognized and acknowledged by the person. An example of a Type IV stressor is a technological disaster that exposes individuals or entire communities to toxic chemicals known to be carcinogenic. In this stressor event, in many cases, the victim does not know what the dose or exposure effects may be and thus confronts a dilemma of coping and adaptation. Victims may react with chronic uncertainty, hypervigilance, and somatoform concerns as well as exhibit heightened states of depression, anxiety, and brooding. It is as if they can find no way to terminate the threat of exposure and, among other changes in functioning, ow experience a serious violation of their sense of safety with the biosphere (Mother Earth).  This violation is often reported in terms of attachment loss, states of disconnectedness, and increased mistrust about themselves and loved ones. Further their chronic uncertainty extends to fears about the future in terms of their health and emotional well-being.” –John P. Wilson in Handbook of Post-Traumatic Therapy

What stuck out to me was that this type of trauma can cause attachment and relationship disturbances.  I think that is what is going on here.  I now do not feel that attachment that I had before…that feeling of safety and support.  My counselor feels like, looks like, sounds like a distant acquaintance and nothing more.

This has caused heavy depression because I cannot detect his support anymore.  Whereas before it was a relief to be in a safe space for a couple of hours a week, it is now very difficult to make myself go to counseling.

I’m going to keep going because I guess a part of me trusts him when he says that it will be worth fighting through this and finding out the root of pain.  But it is happening at a time when EVERYTHING is so hard to walk through.

I am trying to keep my family safe in a world that has gone insane.  So many people don’t want to care about their neighbors and just want to show political support and not wear a mask.  One of my children is attending a school that doesn’t enforce the mask mandate so NO teachers or students are wearing masks and we have two people at home that we are trying to protect.  Every time I have to leave my house I feel like I am taking not only my own life in my  hands but also my family’s.   I am now homeschooling my youngest, who has an underlining condition, trying to budget due to my job loss and my husband’s cut in salary (all due to COVID), ordering groceries, which sounds lovely but has been a headache not knowing when the order will be canceled or products not available.  Add to that how racism has become accepted in so many circles and at the minimum many not caring enough to look to even acknowledge systemic racism.  Running out of cleaning supplies, lack of social contact, no alone time at all anymore, I feel like I’m going crazy.  And now I don’t have the support of my counselor. Well, actually I have it but I cannot rest in that fact because it doesn’t seem true at the moment.

It just all seems never ending at the moment.

Journalists find 700 confirmed victims of sexual assault at Southern Baptist Churches in 20 years

and these are only those that were confirmed by court records and data bases.  Of course there are hundreds maybe thousands more that never found their voice to speak out.  And still Southern Baptist leaders refuse to protect the innocent.  Please read the article….