Thursday, May 31, 2007

Facing Death

I haven't posted anything for the past two days because I have been emotionally tied up. My very dear friend and co-worker, Bonnie, was in a head on collision on Tuesday night. I received a phone call at 4:30 that morning from another of her friends. I was told that she had been in a terrible accident. Through tears I heard that they did not know if she would live. She had a torn aorta, her left arm, face and right foot were crushed. They were considering amputating the arm but were holding off because of the aorta tear. They were giving her a 25% chance of surviving the day.

All I remember is saying. God, I am sick. I am so sick..... And feeling this total shock and foggy sensation. I work next door to this lady and over the past 4 years we have grown close. We have taken a ton of college classes together and we plan our lessons and she is the only person at my school who knows my story that you all know. She is one of the most trustworthy and level headed people I have ever met.

Because the medical and trauma center here does not have a doctor who deals with vascular surgery of this severity, they air lifted Bonnie to a larger hospital 150 miles away. But, they had to wait on an airplane to take her there. There is so much smoke in the air from the Florida fires that it could not land.

There she was met by a team of doctors who stood around her bed and discussed what actions to take and in what order. They decided to deal with the arm at the same time they worked on the aorta so she went pretty quickly to surgery. The aorta was not torn completely through and had only leaked a small amount of blood into the chest cavity or she would not still be with us.

Bonnie faired very well in the 5 hour surgery. Her aorta is all patched and they have decreased her sedation so she recognizes family. She is moving the fingers on her left arm that they "reconstructed" - scary word. While she was enroute I prayed fervently for the nerves in that arm. I felt like I was willing them to grow together and be healed.

Her face is so swollen she cannot open her eyes. I suspect work on her face will have to wait until the swelling goes down.

Bonnie is doing so well that they plan on orthopedic surgery on her foot tomorrow. And the doctors are telling her husband that she has some hard therapy ahead but he can see her back in her classroom in about 6 months! That was the most wonderful thing he could have said.

For several hours I was facing the loss of one very, very dear to me. I was in such shock that I started shivering - and I NEVER get cold. I am always HOT! I am menopausal! Slowly good news filtered over here and we have hung on to every word of it.

Please pray for Bonnie. People all over the country are praying for her. I want to hear the doctors say, "You are kidding, I can't believe she is doing this well!" She is moving fingers that she came close to losing - that is one big one. She whipped the odds, that is two. Now for #3!

Bonnie loves flowers and plants so I picked the picture above for her. Bloom on Bonnie!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Facing GAD

GAD - General anxiety disorder according to Wikipedia is: "an anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive, uncontroll-able and often irrational worry about everyday things. The frequency, intensity, and duration of the worry are disproportionate to the actual source of worry, and such worry often interferes with daily functioning."

I have it. Yesterday I was reminded of that. It was a humbling experience.

We stopped by Lowe's to buy a few items and discovered the paint we want has a big rebate this weekend. That meant if we could make a final decision and buy what we needed for the outside of the house then we could save about $80. We had tried out a couple colors on our storage building and thought we had it down to what we wanted, a touch of black added to a doubled "recipe" from one of the cards. So the guy mixed it up and there we had 5 gallons of paint that sure did look a lot darker than we thought it would. So, he added some white and lightened it a little and we went with it.

On the way home I worried and worried that it was not the same as what we had already picked out. It looked so much darker. We had just spent $300 on paint and what if it was the wrong color. My anxiety was climbing and it was not rational and I knew it. Then once I got home I felt nauseas and took something and crawled in the bed talking to myself about why I did not need to feel this degree of anxiety - the paint had proven perfect but the anxiety just wouldn't retreat.

Then it hit me. When was the last time I had taken my Effexor? Hmm. Not that day. Not the day before. No wonder. Effexor unlike other anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds has a more immediate effect and if you forget to take it the results show up in a day or two and you come down with flu like symptoms including nausea. So I popped my meds and read for a little while. An hour later, I was fine. Anxiety almost gone and no nausea.

I forget sometimes that underneath the meds remains GAD. About 3% of those living in the U.S. have GAD and 2 out of 3 are women. I am willing to bet that those women are at least perimenopausal. That is when mine started, when my hormones began to plummet.

A symptom of GAD is being extra hard on, I am hard on myself for having GAD! I do see the humor in that. :-) What a vicious cycle. I first had to break that cycle by being ok with not being ok with being anxious. I know - weird, but it worked. I would get anxious over feeling anxious, I still do at times. I had to be ok with being anxious over my anxiety. Finally I could get at being ok with my anxiety itself.

I live so normally the majority of the time, that when the anxiety flares up due to a circumstance or my forgetting my meds, I have to remind myself it is ok to be flawed. But because of my GAD I have learned to be careful giving "pat" answers to people. To tell me there is nothing to be worried about when I am unmedicated is pointless. I know that. Nevertheless I stay anxious. The worst thing I can do is become frustrated at myself over the anxiety. Shame causes it to skyrocket.

So remember my GAD when you think you have an easy answer for someone. What is easy for you may very well be impossible for someone else.

Today, I thank God for Effexor! (I wonder if they would pay me for this advertisement?)

Friday, May 25, 2007

SNAP Support Group Meeting

Last night was a first for me. I sat in a circle with others who had also been abused at the hands of a minister. I shook hands with others who have shared similar paths. I heard stories that included the pain of pastoral sexual misconduct.

SNAP stands for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and was established as a result of the Catholic Church's explosion of abuse accusations 5 years ago. It is amazing how much that blew open people's knowledge and I am grateful for those willing to stand up and fight to get this horror into the public's conscious.

SNAP is open to those abused in other denominations and faiths and over half of us represented other churches.

I was impressed with some great ground rules for the meetings. Here are a few:

  • Everything said in the group is confidential. What happens here, stays here.

  • We share feelings and experiences, which just are or were. There are no right and wrong statements. Please don't judge the statements and don't judge the persons who share them.

  • When speaking use "I" statements rather an "you" or "they." Please focus on your feelings, not opinions.

  • Avoid individual problem solving. Individuals can learn from others' experiences and solve their own problems.

  • Giving and asking for advice is not allowed. It is empowering and healing for us to gather ideas that will benefit us. None of us are experts and none of us know what is best for another.

  • The session is divided into two parts. During the first part, everyone is invited to share their experiences or feelings individually. No on speaks more than once during this part. There is no discussion during this time. The second part is an open discussion when everyone may talk about what they learned from the previous sharing.

Two things stood out to me last night. One: Diversity was great. We were all very different and probably would not have congregated together if put in a room full of people. But when the sharing started -we were all knit together in our respect and care for one another. Two: All of us there last night have chosen at least one way to try and change the world for the better in relation to sexual abuse and everyone's way was different and creative.

For me, it was a good experience and a very needed one. For me it was a 2 hour drive up and a 3 hour return trip due to work on the highway and the bottleneck behind it. That is a lot of driving. Will I do it again? I don't know. It cost me about $35 for gas and supper but the greatest cost was the exhausting return trip...and I dozed for much of it. My husband had accompanied me and drove home.

Yet, the people there last night have already snared a special place in my heart.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Normal Everyday Stuff: Phone Call 2 to Abuser

I really didn't want to make this call. I couldn't gather my thoughts and even as I talked with Tom and my husband, I was unsure of my need. Part of me wanted Bob's response to be "no" and part of me wanted it to be "yes". It was neither.

I had no idea what I wanted to say, for one last time, if he denied my request to see him face to face. Yes, I deserved an explanation ,but the only thing I could think that I had to know was "What happened to the dogs?"

I told my husband, "No mumbling. No comments. No angry retorts." No reply. "You are ignoring me."

"Ok, I promise."

Tom asked if I wanted him in the room or out in the reception area and I simply pointed with some vigor to the chair he was standing in front of and then cracked a smile. He smiled back and sat down.

After taking the phone number out, I dialed and Bob's wife answered. I didn't remember what she sounded like. I hadn't remembered what Bob sounded like. I asked to speak to Bob and she asked who it was, and I told her. I had made the decision to talk with her if she wanted, but she hesitated and moment and simply said, "Hold on." and went and got Bob.

I wanted Tom and Robin there but I purposely looked away from them when Bob came to the phone. I especially did not want to pick up on my husband's anger or protectiveness if it arose. I did not want to deal with anyone's emotions but my own. They were enough to sort through and listen to.

When Bob said hello, I told him I was sitting with Tom and my husband in Tom's office calling him back as I had said I would. Bob responded with something like this." "Well, I just got back from Argentina and we haven't had time to all sit down as a family. I am not sure when that can happen. Michael's family is due into town tonight . I am afraid it might be a while...... before we can work anything out. I am still open to it but it might be quite a while before we can all talk and well it might be quite a while if we decide to do this - like several months. You do know what Michael does don't you? And I was thinking maybe you and Tom and Michael and I could sit down after the summer."

"Yes, I know Michael is state youth director and works the camps for the summer... and I thought you might be more comfortable with him joining us and I'm ok with that."

"Well, between that and his and (his daughter's) going out of town for a week and a half and the national conference in August, it might be late summer or fall if we decide to do it."

"Ok, well when do you want me to touch base with you again? How am I going to know?"

"Well, its going to be a while. Maybe just call back if you don't want me to call you." We both paused thinking about the options.

"How about if you get Michael to email Tom, and Tom can tell me, and I'll call you then?"

"Ok, Michael can call Tom, and then you can call me." He was sounding relieved.

"How is your son?" he suddenly threw in.

It was such a fast change of subject that I was trying to mentally wrap my mind around his question. I was wondering how he knew anything about my son. "Which one?" I replied somewhat confused while Tom leaned over to Robin and said "He is trying to normalize the conversation."

"The one I met at Al's (my brother) funeral. Do you have more than one?"

"Yes I have tw0. You met my oldest. Our youngest just got married."
"Which one did I meet?" he asked betraying the fact that he might be a little more nervous than he was letting on.
"The oldest and they are both doing well."
"I still have that picture you took of (my daughter). The one with the bubbles." We both said "the bubbles" simultaneously. "I had it in my office at work for years and when her daughter was born I framed one of her and put it beside it."

"Do they look alike?" I asked.

"Yes, they look a lot alike. And Di, (wife) has taken up photography." He remembered I was really into it.

"I still take pictures. I like closeups a lot now." I said realizing it seemed ok having this sort of normal, human conversation with him, though I was aware of what he was doing. It was ok.

"We went out to Yellowstone this past year to see the wolves." he shared. "Mostly (wife) takes nature pictures."

"That sounds really fun."

"It was. Seeing the wolves was really awesome."I just got back from Argentina, went down to hunt dove. Dove are pests to the people of Argentina. Someone here asked me if I was going on a mission trip, knowing I was a pastor, and I told them the only mission I was on was to rid the world of some pests." He had a lot to say and at first I was hesitant - but why not? I figured it was ok to just be human this time. I didn't think it could hurt. I need to see the whole picture of who he is and has become. Seems to be healthy as long as I don't lose myself in that part of it.

"My nephew used to run a quail farm down in Thomasville." I shared.


"Bob, can I ask you one thing before we go?"

"Ok," he said rather hesitantly with a change in voice tone, but my question wasn't a hard one.

"What ever happened to the dogs?" Tom looked at Robin and Robin looked at Tom and they both had this exasperated look and shook their heads in disbelief.

"Well, I took them with me when I first moved and they stayed in the back of my truck at the little parsonage and then when I came back down to get the family, I left them with a friend who had quite a few of his own dogs until I could get the kennels built and went back to get them." He seemed quite relieved and surprised that my question had to do with Mack and Preach. "Preach died one hunting trip when I had taken him out. Mack lived to return to the state here, but was way past his hunting years. He eventually died and I buried him in my dog cemetary - lots of sand and easy to dig. I have always had dogs."

"Well, I always wondered." I explained.

"We carry things with us. Life goes on, doesn't it? We continued in areas and things that we shared," he seemed to think that was a comfort, and in a way it was. He had introduced me to backpacking and though I never continued that avenue, we have as a family enjoyed many wonderful camping expeditions. He doesn't know that though. Yeah, I guess there were things we shared that were ok and even some positive. I can handle that.

"So, you'll get Michael to touch base with Tom when you are ready, and then I will call you to see what you decided, right?" I changed the subject and aimed at ending the conversation.

"Yes, I will do that late summer or early fall."

"Ok." I had little choice and it felt fine.

"Take care."

"You too."

Upon hanging up, I gave my rendition of the other side of the conversation to my husband and Tom. Hubby was quiet and not very comfortable with the shallowness of the conversation. Tom asked me how I felt.

I responded by telling him I wasn't sure yet and I wasn't sure I trust myself enough to know. I explained that, "It is easy for me to fall back into the 17 year old. It felt ok talking about normal stuff though I wasn't expecting it, but I could feel myself doing the old 'put aside the reality of the abuse' and try and get from Bob the relational dynamics that I had wanted at 17. I am going to have to be careful to find the full reality and humaness of life, and I think that is a good thing to see the fullness and not just the abuse, without letting the human parts make me susceptible to old patterns. I can feel myself reaching into Bob like the 17 year old. Isn't it amazing that after all these years, I still tend to do that."

Tom nodded for a few moments and then said something that really touched me. "Di, I think you are healthier than you would be if you had not gone down this path. I mean we all have our dealings, but not many of us reach the place that we understand the dynamics of what we feel and why, the way you do. You just see them and share them and put them out there in the light .......... and that is so healthy."

Wow. Now that is being known and cared for and shared with in a righteous and loving, agape way. I am blessed.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Healing from the Inside Out

Two years ago, my nephew Brent, was clearing a field on the wildlife preserve that employed him. A small tree fell the wrong way, entered the cab of the tractor and a small limb jabbed into his thigh. Being the good old boy he is, he yanked it out and went on to work. Three weeks later the area was swollen, red, and hot to the touch with great red streaks climbing outward from the center.

With some encouragement from the women in his life, wife, mom, grandmother, and aunt; he went to the doctor and began a regimen of antibiotics. After taking several weeks of various medications it became obvious the wound was not going to heal without some surgery. The surgeon went in and opened the wound and found masses of dead tissue and infection that he removed. Bandaged but left open to heal from the inside out, the wound kept Brent home and in bed. Yet, once again the wound closed on the outside before healing could occur on the inside.

Once again surgery had to occur, but this time a long period of wound care accompanied it. Every day, for two weeks, and then every other day for several more weeks, Brent went in to the wound care center for a painful procedure. First he was given a dose of morphine, the bandage was removed, a topical anesthesia was applied, the top of the wound was bathed in saline and an instrument like a water pick was used to tear the edges of the top of the wound back open. A prod was used to reach deep into the layers of flesh (Brent is a large man with strong thighs so we are talking deep.) to explore the very depth of the wound. Only the furthest tissue in was allowed to close up.

The process was so painful that tears flowed even with the morphine and topical anesthesia. As the nurses came to know Brent, they put the water pick into his hand and let him gauge the slowness or quickness of the procedure. Some days he was there 3 hours taking all the pain he could each minute of the procedure. It took about 3 months of painful prodding and reopening of the wound to finally obtain a clean bill of health.

Those 3 months of Brent's healing are much like the 20 years of my emotional healing. I tried many options each time to find the wound healed outwardly, but left much seething underneath. I attended conferences on inner healing, I read books, I received tons of prayer, I sought God and learned to hear his Spirit's leading. Each and every opportunity brought a measure of healing and the grace to continue the journey, but infection in my life remained hidden beneath the healed places. Finally, with the help of a decrease in hormonal balance and the advent of menopause, everything came exploding to the surface and external healing was no longer an option. It was time to go deep and get the puss from the bottom.

The degree of emotional pain I experienced during those first 3 years of work with Cheryl was indescribable. I don't know how I made it through it. Cheryl, my therapist, often called it courage, but to me it was the only choice I had. I could no longer continue with the deep necrosis inside. I became as a child as I emotionally regressed. I lost all control of my emotions; anxiety and shame consumed me. I was almost completely dependent on my therapist. And, then slowly and methodically, I rebuilt who I was from the bottom up.

Like the nurses who worked with Brent, Cheryl and now John, respected my own time table and the work happening inside of me. They often handed me the tools and stood beside me as I cleaned the wounds. They graciously allowed me the time it took and let me breathe and cry between the painful excursions into the unhealed flesh.

My healing will never be the same as anyone else's. I cannot measure someone else's journey by my own. No one else can measure mine by theirs. When I first entered Cheryl's office in August of 2000, I mentally gave myself a year and half or at the most 2 to finish. After a year, I realized I was still tearing dead stuff out and was nowhere near the bottom. After 2 years I began to panic because of my personally set time limit. When year 3 came, a little shame remained for the time this was taking, but I gladly signed up for my master's degree program in order to continue to see Cheryl. I had learned to trust myself and my gut. By the end of year 5, I was ready to let go of Cheryl and move on - or to at least try.

After a brief respite, I found a new therapist, and with John have tied up loose ends here and there. I have also recently faced the pastoral sexual abuse of my childhood with a new knowledge base and a healthier sense of self.

This time, I plan to stay put until God finishes. Wherever you are in your time of healing from whatever it is you are healing, may you find the grace to be the clay on the wheel and trust the potter's hands.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How to Refuse the Victim Role

In my last post I asked myself a hard question. How do I make sure I leave the victim mentality behind. I have had some good responses and hard questions asked of me. In considering the questions, it occured to me that a post I had written a month ago might have the answer. The My Stuff/ Their Stuff concept seems to play a major role in my letting go of being a victim.

As long as Bob's actions were about me then I remained a victim. To whatever degree any of that lies hidden inside of me, I still remain a victim. When I see Bob's abuse as a statement about him and not me, then I am not a victim and in a sense never was. I am only a victim if I allow his actions to define me.

At first, the abuse was my fault. I was an abuse magnet. Then slowly I came to see he was a predator but I still hated the needy part of myself that allowed the abuse. After dealing with the self hatred, it took some time for me to fully face the degree of abuse and predation he purpetrated on me. Why? Because I believed it was about me. For example: Though I remembered for years that Bob had set me up to keep his friend Charlie company and had felt he wanted me to entertain him sexually, it was not until a few months ago that I realized the fact that he was actually pimping me off on Charlie. Though it was right in front of my face, I couldn't see it. Why? Because, at one time it would have defined me as a whore.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped letting others define me so easily and when I discovered myself back in a "Bob's abuse" season, the experience defined him as a sexual addict and a sadistic and cruel one. His behavior did not define me and I could see it clearly and in a new light.

In the present - his choice of meeting with me or not - is not about me. I have been surprisingly fine with waiting to recontact him. I didn't expect to reach a point of being fine and focussing most of my time on other day to day issues. I was ready for more turmoil than this has caused. I have found strength that I was not aware existed inside of me.
Bob's decision will be about him, his courage or lack of it, his ability to look at truth or his lack of ability, his degree of repentance and recovery, etc. He has tried to make it about me - first as to whether I was still extremely angry, then to whether my therapist is supportive of my doing this and feels I can handle it, and finally to whether my therapist was a quack and pushing me into doing this as the only way to find healing. None are true and he has been told that 4 times now. Three times by me and once through Tom's conversation with his son-in-law, Michael. I expect to hear it again if he decides to not meet with me. I intend to tell him that his decision has to be about him and his need - that I am quite healthy enough to decide my own.

We can all work things out in the therapist's office, but sooner or later we have to work it out in our everyday lives. I am doing that in a deliberate, chosen way with Bob. His stuff is his. His actions and choices are about him. They aren't about me.

I believe this is refusing to be the victim. :-) And, it feels good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pastoral Exploitation and Letting it Go

Letting go is not going to be easy. For years the abuse dealt with me. In my dealing with it, I gained some semblance of control. I also gained a sense of being special - sort of a sick sense but when one seeks to feel special, it can be amazing how it doesn't really matter why you feel special. As a survivor, I have been a "special" client and often heard that "Not many go this deep or have this courage." As I disentangled my identity from being a victim and changed it to being a survivor, the abuse was nevertheless central to my identity.

At times like the last few months, it has been more obvious, more in control, more upfront and in my face. It has to be for me to deal with it at this depth, but I am aware that a time approaches when I will need to lay something down and leave it behind.

How do I move on to a place in which it does not define me or confine me without leaving behind a ministry I believe God has called me to? This sounds like the tight rope once again.

I first made a choice in October to defeat the confines the abuse still had on my life. For 5 years I had avoided church and certainly would not have considered the same denomination in which the abuse occured as a possible church home. But now I am there and it is only with a great deal of determination that I made it through the 3 or 4 months that followed. Slowly the knowledge that I had to face Bob settled in and I began this process. I don't know yet whether I will have that opportunity face to face or if the phone will be the best I am given.

One way or the other, I will soon be full cycle. By the second week in June or perhaps sooner, I will have talked with Bob and finished the cycle I began 34 years ago. What will I do then? Who will I be? I can't completely leave it behind because I have become who I am through the pain. But who I am transcends all of that.

I get the feeling that this new road will be challenging in itself. People get stuck in a victim mentality. I wonder if it is going to be hard for me to not get stuck there? I can see the road up ahead. I wonder what lies around the bend?


Sunday, May 13, 2007


So many emotions fill this recent journey of mine. Today as I sat in church, listening for God and praying over and over, "God, let your will be done, let your kingdom come in this decision Bob will make", my mind wandered to his possible answer of "No, it will cost us too much as a family." And suddenly tears welled up in my eyes. Tears of disappointment. As those tears flooded my face and my husband handed me his handkerchief, I realized the disappointment went much deeper than the possible future meeting.

Disappointment. Disappointed in God for one. Though I stopped shaking my fist in God's face and let go of the anger over a loving father allowing such a horrendous thing to happen, I find disappointment remains. Hmmm. I know that this is my stuff, not God's. How must I align my understanding of God to not feel he let me down? Or do I simply acknowledge the disappointment and let it go too?

Disappointment in church and pastors runs deep. Fear of them runs deep. A year ago, I could not have entered a church without a Xanex to get me through it. Today I attend regularly but I can't join. And often I feel disappointed in the church. I spent a great deal of my life feeling that way.

Disappointed that a time of my life that should have been a time of jubilation was not. This morning we celebrated both Mother's Day and graduation Sunday. We celebrated 9 young lives who will soon move on to college or careers. They looked so young. And then I cried more. No telling what the people at this church, where emotions are not readily shown in the service, must think. The tears would not quit flowing.

Tears. I think these were healing tears and at two points I felt an overwhelming sense of God's presence.

Later today, once again I fell into the feeling of desperation of needing to see Bob. I just have to finish this no matter how. Then I remind myself that "No, I will not repeat the 17 year old's path. I will not seek his approval and pat on the back and sacrifice my need to get it." Twice now that has surfaced and twice now I have realized what was happening.

At 17 I was deeply disappointed in myself. At 51 I am proud of the 17 year old who made it through the abuse. I want to put my arms around her and tell her "I am not disappointed in you. You survived and I am proud of you."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Did I Sin?

Well, did I?

I had an interesting conversation with my therapist this past week on this very subject. I told John that at one time I truly believed that for some reason I was an abuse magnet, that somehow something was terribly flawed about me. I mean, I actually attracted this twice in my life and neither time was I out to get what I got. I was not throwing myself at these pastors. Yet, they both offered me a sense of being special and in both cases I accepted the relationship.

Did I sin?

If you check out some of the sites I have linked to my blog, you will find references that say it was not me at all but the responsibility of the pastor - 100%. Because a pastor like a therapist holds so much power in the relationship, the victim really can't consent. A concentual relationship can only occur in a relationship of equal power.

Yet, I have had a hard time swallowing that and have wrestled lately with it once again. This wrestling is not one based on shame or self hatred but rather on simply facing truth.

In discussing this question of my sin with my pastor Tom, he first sited scripture and then offered possible insight:

"In response to your question a scripture came to mind. Luke 17:1-3 1Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.

As I read this Jesus is saying both/and. Yes there is sin involved, BUT who does he reserve the harsh judgment for? The one who caused his 'little one' to sin. I think Jesus is saying to me, and maybe you, confess your part in all this, but recognize you were victimized, that another set you up to sin, placed the temptation before you and abused the role God had placed them in; be they Apostle, Elder, Deacon, Teacher, Youth Director, Supervisor, or Pastor. "

John's thoughts were different. He proposed that the full responsibility has to reside in the pastor or therapist (He being a therapist, he has dealt with this issue personally.). If a client or parishoner comes to one and needs to act out in order to find their own healthy boundaries or to find they have value outside of abuse, if the pastor does not hold the total responsibility, healing has no chance to flow. The client must be free to seek that healing even if it means testing boundaries.

My thoughts are finding this expression:

I made choices that hurt me and I think I bear some responsibility, particularly for the second decision I made. I was no longer a child. I thought very differently and knew I was hurting myself. Perhaps, my sin stops there. It is the pastor's responsibility to care for the sheep and the church as a whole. His sin goes far beyond the scope of hurting himself - though that too is very true. He deeply damages an individual who looks to him as God's representative. He misuses power and turns it to control. He turns his back on God's calling on his life and breaks covenant with God over his promise to serve as a shepherd to the sheep. If caught, he damages many. The pastor ultimately holds responsibility for himself, the individual, and the church as a whole. The victim holds responsibility for herself.

Could that be the answer? Regardless as to the fullness of truth there, Tom once said to me that it was in the hard questions and wrestlings that we find God. So, I wrestle.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Confronting My Abuser: A Week's Journaling

I did it. Today, Wednesday, May 2, 2007, I called Bob at home and confronted him with the truth - the fullness of truth. I confronted with what he did not remember and I did it with kindness and grace. Please pray that he will have the courage to face the truth and find his Father.

This is what happened: I had an appointment with my pastor, Tom, and in the back of my head I thought I might go ahead and call Bob. Tom and I looked at his calendar to decide, if Bob agreed, when it might work for Bob to come over here and meet with me. I really didn't want a long period of time to pass between my contacting Bob and us sitting down - if he agreed to it, but Tom mentioned the fact that Bob would probably need some time to think his way through this, hopefully pray about it, and perhaps talk to his wife. So I looked at Tom and said, let's do it.

It took a little while to get the right phone number. I finally called the last church he had pastored and retired from 2 years ago and a lady answered. I told her I was trying to reach a man that had once pastored me and had been pastor there and told her his name. She asked me my name and then said, he was her father, and gave me the number. My God! I hung up realizing I had just talked to the little girl I had babysat. That was a very strange feeling.

I looked at Tom. Took a deep breathe. Dialed. Bob answered.

"Bob, this is Di ........and I used my present last name."


"Di.....and used my maiden name. " Dead silence.

"Bob, I am sitting in (church name) with Tom (last name) and I would like to talk with you about our relationship. Are you willing to talk to me?" I asked clearly but gently.

"I don't know, how angry are you still?" came a rather defensive reply. It was as if he was shooting arrows at me.

"I think I have dealt with most of that. I'm ok. I am ready to do this." I replied dodging the arrows and any reaction to him.

"Well I ask, because when T.N. (the regional minister I reported him to) came down here and talked with me and (wife) I was willing to sit down with you and your therapist.

"T.N. never told me you said that."

"I offered but T.N. said you were pretty angry and hurt and he didn't think you were ready." His voice remained defensive and betrayed a need to remain the one in control. My feeling was that he was saying that I was the one sick, but that didn't matter. What he thought wasn't truth and I knew it. I knew it deep inside and was even able to share from weakness and not strength.
Immediately upon his question of my level of anger and the tone of his voice, I also knew I was talking to a man unbroken. I responded with an amazing control and levelness and evenness through the whole conversation. Where did this woman come from?

"No, Bob, I wasn't ready. I had work to do. As a matter of fact, it was only this past fall after I came to this church that I finished enough to do this. I could never come to church here before. (I heard a quiet moan.) My mom moved to town and I took her to church. And when I did, every remnant left inside of me blew open. It wasn't easy. But I am through it, and I am ready, and I would like to talk. Can you?"

"Do you mean now on the phone?"

"Actually I was thinking of face to face and here at the church. It would mean your driving over." I added somewhat apologetically.

"I'm really sorry I hurt you." a slight tremor entered his voice. "I had no idea this would happen." "Are you still seeing a therapist?" he asked.

"Yes, I am".

"Is this something he encouraged you to do?" he asked somewhat patronizingly with the emphasis on the word "encouraged." He was still defensive but slowly his tone was changing and his voice cracked showing me his self control was lessening.

"No, he would never 'encourage' me to do something like this. It was my idea, and he has been supportive, and we have discussed it quite a bit, but he would never push me to do something like this."

"I would have to know it was his recommendation that you do this."

"He is supportive, Bob. I am fine. I am doing ok."

"I never saw you as a child, I know it was wrong and I was wrong not realizing it, but I saw you as a woman. I know that is not right, I am not saying it was but it was the way I saw you." he interjected in his defense.

Firmly but evenly I replied, "Bob, not only was I 17 and very much a child, but you were my pastor."

"Yeah, I know that. I understand that........" His tone never really sounded sorry. "We were such good friends and it just grew out of that."

Nothing in my tone was harsh as I said, "Bob, how did it come out of our friendship when I had only known you one day when it started?" Silence........

"Can you explain. I don't comprehend what you are saying." his voice was definitely quivering and inside of me power and a sense of truth was growing. I was very in control of myself and very aware of the fact that I was handling this wonderfully, much better than I would have expected. "I went by your house the first day and met you and your family and you asked me to meet you at the church to show you around the youth center and I did. I met you there the next day and on the walk back from the youth center you asked me if I had a boyfriend and I told you we had just broken up and then you asked me if we had sex. Bob, no body talked about stuff like that and I thought it was amazing and then when we got back to your office, you lifted my chin and you kissed me....and then on Thursday I babysat for (your daughter) and you came home while she was napping and we had oral sex and in three weeks time I was in bed with you."

He interrupted the last couple of words with, "That isn't what I recall. I remember taking you home from a lock-in at the church. You remember us having a lock-in?"


"I took you home and I remember kissing you when I dropped you off." he replied quietly and seemed to be a little hesitant."

He seemed uncomfortable and somewhat confused as I spoke the truth, yet I think he was being honest when he said he did not remember anything before that time. He did not accuse me of being wrong he simply said he didn't remember it.

The lock-in was well into his stay at the church - as in months down the road. He is truly in deep denial.

"That is what I remember" he continued. "Whatever the details, I don't think either one of us needs to rehash through it. I don't think that will do any good."

Carefully I replied, "I'm not sure I agree with that, Bob. Healing only comes as we face the truth."


"So are you willing to listen to what I remember?" I pried gently.

"I don't know. I don't know if it would accomplish anything. Would it help you?"

"Yes, I think it would."

"When T.N. and his wife came down here and talked to me and (wife) it really tore us up as a family. I had spent a little time with a counselor before then and after that spent about 2 years in counseling. (Wife) had her own counselor. The first person I told after T.N. came down here was my son-in-law and my daughter. (Daughter) went to counseling too. " All this was said with a tone that betrayed a belief that he was the victim and I the purpetrator of his abuse. There was anger in his voice and defensiveness. I didn't swallow it, but neither did I react to it. I felt like the adult listening to the child.

"Well, let me tell you what Tom and I are thinking."

"You told Tom, he knows all this?" He obviously missed my statement in the beginning that I was sitting there with Tom.

"Yes, I told him. And he has walked beside me supporting me in these months as I dealt with it...... There is not a lynch mob here, Bob. No one is out to lynch you. Not Tom and not me........ We were thinking maybe early June. Can I call you back in a week and see what you think about sitting down and talking?"

"Well, I just don't know that it will accomplish anything. (Wife) is out of town taking care of her sick mother. It tore us up so much after T.N. came down here that I don't know that it will accomplish anything. We won't both be back home until after the 16th, I am leaving the country briefly. If I do this, it will be a family decision. I have to talk to them all first. And I absolutely have to know this is what your therapist thinks you need to do," he said trying to put it back in my lap.

"I am talking with him and will be talking with him. I'll get back with you then, when you are all back. Are you ok?" I am not sure he registered that last question.

He ended, we both ended with a moment of concern for the other, though I can't remember exactly what either of us said. I hung up and looked at Tom who had been rearranging the books there in the church library as he listened to my end of the conversation.

"I did it Tom." and a big smile broke out on my face as he replied, "Yes, you did do it and you did it with kindness." We talked about the fact that Bob might very well call him tomorrow and Tom assured me he would let me know, and he would also tell Bob that there were no secrets from me - that anything Bob said to him would be shared with me. And then we prayed for Bob, on my request and we both prayed that truth would break through to him and with it grace.

I asked Tom if, now faced with two different stories, he believed me. He replied, "I can't imagine someone creating such pain for themselves." but being the concrete person I am, before I left church for the night, I had him look at me and simply say "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

I love that man! God has a crown for him.

How am I? Amazing. A little in shock, but amazed at myself and what came out of my mouth and how it came out of my mouth. I felt no fear or intimidation and who Bob is did not in the least bit define me or my ability to cling to truth. How he responded or responds is not the issue. How I responded is what it is all about.


Thursday, May 3, 2007
Update to Confrontation

Today was horrendous at school. Stress and more stress. Please continue to pray for me, much is wrong there and it hits me at a vulnerable time. I had heart palpitations again this evening for an hour and was on my way to the emergency room when they stopped.

As far as Bob, he talked to his son-in-law who is also a minister and to his daughter last night after my call. His son-in-law called Tom this morning. They know each other pretty well. No questions about the differences in our story, but Bob was confused as to my therapists part in this. Odd. I answered that 3 times. It seems he was concerned I had some terrible shrink who was pushing me to do this and saying there was no way over it unless I did. Tom assured him that was not the case, that John had not suggested it or pushed me, though he was supportive of whatever I chose to do. Also they were looking for reassurance that no was was out to stone Bob. Tom assured him of that and offered to talk to Bob if he would like to talk with him.

It all feels scary and the fear is because I am afraid I will not be believed. I had to ask Tom again if he still believed me. He teasingly said he was not going to answer that question but as my panic rose to a high pitched, "You have to!" he quickly reassured me that he did.

That is so important to me. Without the support of my dear husband and Tom, I could not do this.

Then as I sat to write this post a couple of hours ago, my husband put his arms around me and told me he had sad news. Taffy, my calico cat of 15 years, was hit by a car. I completely broke down and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I asked him to call my two sons and one of them immediately left his night of RISK playing and came over. The other son was hosting the RISK tournament and sent his love and a hug.

Odd how I needed my children at that time of grief. It was my very first response. Get me my kids, now! When my son arrived he just held me and patted my back and let me cry all over his shoulder. I think that is the first time that has ever happened. It was nice.

I am at my emotional limit and called in and got a sub and will stay home tomorrow and call the doctor. I have no doubt that the palpitations are due to the stress and that God used my sobs tonight to release emotions I needed to release. I will terribly miss my cat, but I knew that the depth of grief that came out of me was not only about Taffy.

Taffy, was my birthday present from Jesus 15 years ago. I had wanted a calico but everytime one was advertised in the paper it ended up being a tabby. People didn't understand what a calico cat was. Then on my birthday my husband had seen a posting in a vets office for one and called and went over and got her. I named her Taffy because she was all different colors like salt water taffy.

We buried her in the flower bed where we will soon plant some new roses on top of her. I like that idea. Those roses will recycle her life. We still have her son, a black and white long hair cat named Snoopy. I wonder if he will miss her too?

Saturday, May 5, 2007 More thoughts on the confrontation

My mind is a little clearer this morning, after losing my cat, and I am intrigued with the degree of denial Bob displayed. I will be glad to see John on Tuesday to talk about all this. His expectation as to Bob's psychological condition was right on target. "It was all about Bob, wasn't it?" The narcissism is evident along with the denial. Bob also seems to be looking for any reason that he can hang on me as to why he should not meet with me.

The fact that Bob sees himself as the victim of my reporting him is a loud statement as to his psychological condition. Woe to his family for all I put them through. There was no sense or suggestion that it was his behavior that brought this pain on his family but rather the confrontation by T.N. that I initiated that caused them such pain.

I wonder if his family sees this distortion or if they are too soon in the healing journey to do so.

Also a part of our conversation that I forgot about and left out of the original dialogue, centered around when he had been confronted. He seemed to think it an admirable quality that the first person he told was his son-in-law. His son-in-law however worked in the central office and had contact with the ministerial committee that looked at all this, had/has access to the file that now had my story in it, and saw frequently T.N. the regional minister. It seems to me that he really had no choice but to tell his son-in-law. Secondly, he could not remember when the confrontation with T.N. occured in relation to his daughter's wedding. He admitted his memory as to timing was very foggy and that was just 5 years ago. It was a major circumstance in his life and he cannot remember if it occured before the wedding or afterwards.

In reality, it occured after the wedding because I requested he not be confronted until then. My report occured 6 weeks prior to the wedding. Denominational policy stated that he should have been confronted within 24 hours of my report. The policy was set aside because I did not want to hurt anyone or rob them of the joy of the wedding. It had been 30 years and T.N. did contact elders in the church to make sure nothing that appeared to be abusive was occuring.

I see that Bob now has two choices as he wrestles with this new confrontation. He can decide I am creating memories so I can avoid some internal strife, or he can face the fact that he is erasing memories to avoid a similar strife. Since I openly admit my desire for the relationship and eager participation, and because Tom's conversation with his son-in-law reassured him of my mental state - it seems he is going to have a harder time nailing the inconsistencies on me.

Also my conversation with him was so healthy, placing this new discord of memories on my psychological state should be difficult. It seems that God, by placing in my life Tom, and thus Tom's relationship with Bob's son-in-law, is making it more difficult for Bob to remain in denial.

The curtain is wrent in two. (For those who may not understand the analogy, when Jesus died, the curtain that separated the inner section of the temple where God was supposed to dwell, from the rest of it was torn in two. This represents the fact that all persons whether priests or not can now enter the holy of holies or God's presense.)

Saturday, May 5 More Thoughts and Feelings

Today has been strangly full of emotion at times and lacking of them at other times. Anxiety to numbness - I have shifted between the two. I don't know whether my grief over my cat or my phone call to Bob or my conflict at work or all of them are at fault.

Anger has also surfaced over Bob's lack of realizing it was his own sin that hurt his family and not my reporting of it or T.N.'s confrontation. But the anger seems to be dissipating pretty rapidly.

I have had major stomach cramps both this evening and late yesterday afternoon. Odd. I had them the summer of Bob's abuse. After lunch each day they would double me over in pain. I can't help but wonder if the ones I am having now are not equally related to connecting with Bob.

I started to email his son-in-law. His email is online. But then I decided I didn't like his picture. Actually I wasn't sure about doing it so I didn't. I wanted to tell him to go get the chart and read what I reported. I want him to know what Bob is denying.

I had coffee with the associate pastor of the church and one idea that came from it was for me to make sure I am not trying to be responsible for Bob. I can't do that. God is big enough to take care of him.

I am about to fall asleep so off to bed I go. Thanks for all your prayers out there.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The emotional journey continues. I have gone from excitement over my handling of the phone call on Wednesday, to grief over my cat, to numbness, to anger at Bob's denial, to once again seeking Bob's approval. I can sit as an outsider and watch my emotional movement and see the confusion and find it quite interesting, but when I go back into my self I feel a greater degree of anxiety than I have dealt with in quite some time.

The most recent feelings from today involved wanting to just have the chance to SEE Bob again. It suddenly didn't matter if I confronted him with anything. I just needed to go full cycle and see him and talk with him and forgive him and just be normal. While in that stage it sounded good but then I realized I was falling back into the 17 year olds running back to him on his terms.

The ache for his approval came up out of me as if it was 34 years ago. The mind is an amazing thing. I feel that ache for approval toward T.N. (who just responded to an email I wrote) to Tom, to Trey, toward these three pastors (funny that they all have names that start with "T", is there something godly about "T"'s. ) This drive for their attention and approval and affirmation is great at the moment. Should I give in to it and call Tom? It might help momentarily but it is so very deep and not about Tom at all that I am not sure if anything would relieve the anxiety inside.

I dread with a capital "D" going back to school tomorrow and facing Mr. J our retiring principal who has recently treated us with such control and disrespect. I am transfering my "crap" with Bob onto him, no doubt. My need for his approval has been dealt with to the point that I am not supposed to feel this degree of anxiety but I do.

Incredible, what comes rushing to the surface when we deal with the past. At least for the moment I can see what it is and that helps. It scared me when I realized earlier that my desire to just call Bob and ask to see him and to say to him that I forgave him and just talk about intervening years and deny the abuse had occured at all was the same thing I had done at 17.

How many times did he manipulate me that way? I remember 3 or 4 big ones but the whole relationship was built on his manipulation of my need for his attention.

I hope one day my own story of this week will help someone else.

Monday, May 7, 2007

No more heart palpitations since last Thursday but my anxiety level is definitely heightened. Our team or group of students (100 of them) go on a field trip tomorrow. There is less than 2 weeks left in school and everyone including the students are mad at me. I am making them do work on the field trip. Nothing I did satisfied my team. The principal called me stubborn for forking out my own $$ to carry water for the kids. Now the truth is that I am stubborn but I think that caring, responsible, giving, might as easily fit.

And the kids - they get cookies for doing the work as well as a grade. Bribery often works better than grades.

With Bob issues right under the surface, the loss of my dearest pet, and the stress of the field trip I am close to being maxed. Today was foggy. Not outside but inside of me. I actually do not remember much of the day. That is so strange. Other people do this, not me! Other people have panic attacks. Other people were abused. Other people have to take medication. Other people see a shrink just to try and be normal on the inside.

It isn't that I appear abnormal on the outside. I think I do quite well outwardly but those who know me best, know that times of shaking are not uncommon on the inside.

I plan on talking to John (shrink) tomorrow about my conversation with Bob and about my flipping back into approval mode. No, if this possible meeting is to do me any good, it will be because I am true to myself and the truth. I have at times continued to have a little anger but nothing like the past. It seems to dissipate with the passage of a small amount of time.

So that is my day. If you read this, pray that I survive tomorrow without my heart going off at 160 beats a minute.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

I saw John today and it took most of the hour to catch him up on all the happenings since our last conversation. Following all the Toms, Bobs, T.N.'s, Trey's, etc. is confusing. I see him again on Thursday to further process my emotions.

The best thing he offered me was to accept the anxiety the same way I accept the grief over Taffy. It is part of the process and normal. Just recognize it and accept it and remember this is not Bob being in control again - though it feels that way. It is a result of this situation and I am not the only one feeling anxious. This will impact more people than me. So I am working on it being ok to be anxious. I haven't done that kind of work in some time.

Also he raised a new thought. The rest of Bob's family might want to talk with me too. Egads! I don't want to be the harbinger of pain though I refuse to be considered the source of it.

After I left John's, I began to give some thought to the increased anger I am feeling toward the denomination. I don't want that. I chose to believe from the very little bit that I was told, that Bob had gotten more help and was more repentant. I feel angry that the reporting process of 5 years ago seemed to protect Bob and leave me out in the dark. It was unfair to not be told what he said. Other than telling me that Bob admitted the abuse, cried a lot, and had gotten some kind of counseling in the past I have been left to wonder. I have some anger to work through. I feel as if Bob was put first.

Also, I am realizing that if Bob does not agree to sit down with me that perhaps more needs to be done to make sure he is not taking interim minister roles without a full psychological evaluation. I think I may ask to meet with the state ministerial committee in order to talk with them face to face, bring them up to date on my conversation with Bob, and to request they require the evaluation if he continues in any form of ministry, allow me to talk with a psychologist about the situation, and then accept or deeply consider the report of the psychologists as to whether Bob is fit to minister or not. I can at least ask and be at peace knowing I have done all I can do.

This should have happened 5 years ago and had I known it is a common practice I would have requested it. The abuse was so predatory. My story is not one of a weak and gentle man who fell prey to his own needs. My story is instead of a predator abusing a child. Day 2 - lines were crossed when he kissed me. Day 3 - sodomy. Week 3 - intercourse. And a year of sexual and emotional abuse followed that.

Bob remains very sick in my opinion. His victim mentality and defensiveness speak loudly of a man probably incapable of repentance and thus dangerous.

I hope this is all uneccessary. I hope Bob can admit to the truth and admit it to his family. If he can do that then healing can lie ahead. I doubt it though. But God IS God.

Wed. May 9, 2007

I have gone from great excitement and passed through a period of numbness to find myself angry once again, not so much at Bob but at the denomination, and finally tonight I find myself very teary eyed and sad.

Three situations have occurred that left me disappointed in a pastor, but the pain comes from the power I allow them to carry. One promised me we would talk as soon as the weekend was over - but I have not heard from him. One seemed to judge rather than simply listen. The other just didn't give me the hug I needed this evening. :-) Obviously a minor issue.

I have realized that where pastors are concerned, I have a deeply worn and rutted road traversing my soul. Though, I try to keep pastors and situations out of those old ruts, I find it hard to do.

I know the answer is two fold. I must find my acceptance in God and in myself.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Facing Truth

Like truth, this picture is both intriguing and unsettling. My eyes can't figure what to focus on and my brain fights to find someway to digest it. It might be easier to move on and see what else I find to view, but then I find myself coming back more intrigued.
I must have been prophetic last night when I wrote about truth, because this evening I have a dose of truth to face and like this picture it draws me, but also makes me uncomfortable. It is not easy to look at, and bringing it into focus and cataloguing it somewhere in my brain requires work.
As I shared with my husband the "Why?" question that I want to ask Bob, I was faced with the possibility that he might very well answer, "Because you wanted it."
If he were to say such an assinine thing, I would reply, "Part of me did want it, but not only was I a child, but you were an adult responsible for my growth and care. Neither of which did your behavior display."
But, I am choosing tonight to look at myself, not Bob. The truth is that I did want it. I didn't want to be hurt or used, but I wanted the attention and to be special and I was willing to sacrifice what I knew was right for the immediacy of those feelings.
Don't confuse this honesty with any type of condoning of his behavior. It was abuse. No excuses made. Yet, if I choose to look at the whole truth, and to find my total healing I believe I must, then I must face the fact that I did want it.
After years of asking myself, "What is wrong with me?" facing the fact that something was "wrong with me" is confusing and difficult to wrap my mind around. I have fought to stop that question and replace it with truth, but more truth lingers around the edges.
When I was 14, my dearest cousin came to spend a week of the summer with me. Later I would spend a week at her house. We were close. One night as we talked as only girls of that age can talk when the lights are out, my cousin revealed something painful to me. Her brother in law was molesting her. I listened and then I advised, "Tell him if he won't stop, you will tell your parents." Not bad for a 14 year old, but that isn't where my mind was already racing. Much to my present shame, I rolled over and starting planning how I could invoke such attention. And that is exactly what I did the next several times I saw him. I got small doses of what I asked for and then when things advanced further than I wanted, I cried to God to get me out of it.
Why would anyone in their right mind seek molestation? Well, it wasn't abuse I wanted, but attention and to be special and sex is an avenue for such. Yet, I didn't care how I got it. Neither did I understand the damage it would cause me. I had this insatiable desire for attention and affirmation - the reason will have to wait for another post. That same longing and hunger has followed me to the present. I still feel it, though I am not driven to seek for it in unhealthy ways.
When I met Bob, the longing was very alive inside of me. I wanted his attention. What I had of it was intoxicating and soon became an addiction. Like the confusing picture above, truth was in front of my eyes, but it was not comfortable and I chose to look away. I willingly accepted Bob's advances. I made choices. I thought like a child but I still made choices. Choices that hurt me.
So tonight I walk that tightrope of facing truth and accepting my 17 year old self.
Oh, the picture is the reflection of a tree in the water, only the water is being blown by the wind and the straight line reflection of the tree is being warped and reflected by the small ripples and waves that distort the "mirror". Perhaps with that truth, you can see it for what it is, and appreciate its details.