Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Several issues are being moved to the front burner and God is stirring the pot.
The most exciting is that my new online friend, Sandy, is looking at flying down for a long weekend in February. Sandy was a victim of sexual misconduct at the age of 17 and during the same year that I was. We are the same ages. Our stories are eerily similar. Emailing has been a wonderful experience but the thought of connecting for 3 or 4 days face to face sounds like a dream. We are even talking about combining forces on some issues that we think need viewing from a victim's standpoint.

Another issue that is being stirred is not so exciting. The second pastoral relationship in which I was involved seems to still have its claws in me. As my husband and Dan and I sat and talked this evening about some of my issues with sex, I realized that some undealt with shame was still lingering around the relationship with Minton. When I think about Bob I don't feel the same shame. I have dismantled so much shame in the past few years that I can usually spot it in an instance and voila there it is.

I have told of my relationship with Bob on the blog in much more detail than mine with Minton. That is because I cringe still to share about that one. Why? I have some ideas as to why...... I was two years older at the time and I think I still blame myself more fully. I felt a lot of guilt and shame during this relationship while during the one with Bob, while shame and guilt were there, they were deeply buried under the ideology of a 17 year old. I still believed nothing could hurt me. My brain was not fully fuctioning as an adult. I never really connected mentally with how bizarre and wrong the situation was with Bob. With Minton, I knew from the start.

Also, I was caught alone with him one time by my mom very early in the relationship and before anything of any magnitude had occured in the sexual realm. She reacted and thought something wasn't right. Having been raised to believe that life revolved around "what was done" and "what was not done" I had no reference to the fact that sin was sin because it would HURT me. All I picked up on when my mom tried to talk with me about it, was that it embarrassed her. I denied anything being wrong and that was the last time she mentioned it. She just spent a lot of time freaking over stuff that was stupid to freak over. I don't think I mattered as much as "what was done" and "what the neighbors would think." I am still angry about that..... hmm.

This is not going to be fun digging back through this stuff but I know the freedom that has come from dealing with the baggage over Bob so I won't avoid it. I don't guess.

God do I have to do this, again?

I don't think He will push me. He doesn't have to. The overachiever in me pushes. If I don't deal with it voluntarily it will spew out of places I am unaware and at people that don't deserve it.

It is a lot harder to see the power issue and the abuse in the relationship when I was an adult.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Love and Loyalty

I had an awesome vacation camping at the beach with my husband. It was remarkable for two reasons. First, it dawned on me how faithful and loyal my husband has been to me for 27 years. We talked about the fact that he has always stood by me and never even considered abandoning me in the midst of any trial in our marriage. For the first time, his ever present support sunk in to a new level. Out of all my fears of abandonment, I suddenly was able to rejoice in the wonder of my husbands care. As the light bulb came on at a new level, our relationship blossomed over the 5 days. It was a special time together - one of the most special times in our marriage. It was hard to come home.

I returned to an appointment with Dan - my first with him as my official personal therapist. Dan has worked with us as a couple for years and though I have met with him a few times alone when Rob was out of town or sick at the last minute or Dan was filling in when Cheryl was gone and I was in a crisis, this was the first official meeting with him as my own therapist. It felt comfortable, right. Though I am grieving in saying goodbye to John, I am mostly enjoying saying hello to Dan. I am already able to turn some of my emotional baggage from Tom to Dan and it was obvious to me last night that this is a very good thing.

I almost felt normal at the Wednesday night meal and program. Instead of reaching emotionally into Tom or wanting to reach into him and fighting the tendency, I was at peace. Today, when I considered emailing Tom about some thoughts, I stopped and decided to keep that between Dan and me. It isn't that I won't continue to work with Tom. I can't attend church and not do that. However, I think I will be able to keep some of the emotional transference in therapy and deal with it with a professional who is trained to help me do just that. It gets really messy in real life when my emotions, thoughts, and fears from the past invade the present.

I feel much less of a need to explain the sometimes bizarre emotions to Tom now. It is more OK that he doesn't "get it". I just remind myself that Dan very much does get it. With Dan, I don't have to explain it to feel OK with who I am and what I am struggling with. Those of you who have experienced a good therapeutic relationship will understand this. For those who haven't, I'm not sure I can explain it. I could not have understood prior to being in therapy myself. I think if must be the kind of relationship that has to be experienced to understand.

Dan is a Christian and not afraid to say he is. He is less guarded in his "blank wall" needs or beliefs and it feels more natural and normal to me than working with John did. Besides being good at what he does, Dan has a way of always seeing the positive - something that does not come naturally to me. As I shared with him on Tuesday all the fears, struggles, and frustrations of the previous Wednesday at church, he saw the progress. He saw the courage. He saw the getting up and brushing myself off and the determination to move on. I tend to see the mistakes and the never ending struggles to function in the denomination in which I was abused. Dan pointed out to me far more positive than any negative I could innumerate.

I also continue to talk via email with Sandy, my fellow survivor. One day, perhaps, she will write her story and let me post it on this blog. It is amazing how our journeys have paralleled each other's. Talking with her is meeting a need I did not know how to scratch. Being with my SNAP friends has been a powerful experience, yet this one is even more so. Sandy's abuse having happened at the same age of 17, in the same year as mine, at the hands of her youth pastor makes the connection powerful. The fact that she too has confronted her perpetrator and a regional minister in the same denomination, and contacted the national church adds a lot of parallels to share. I am presently reading her written account of those confrontations. I am reading slowly though and not late at night. The connection is so strong that her story sets off a plethora of feelings - anger being the primary one.

Well that should catch my friends up on the happenings of the last week. God continues to work and I continue to be grateful.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Firing a Shrink

The title sounds harsh but the reality isn't. John has met my needs in a unique way over the past year and a half. He allowed me to test boundaries and try out my fledgling ones. Under his care I found my own secure boundaries as I learned experientially why they were needed. I have gained a new sense of security as I practice telling myself what is "my stuff" and what is someone else's. I have learned to not fight the humaness within me with such vigor and to surrender at times to the internal pressures.

Yet, on several occasions during the past 6 months, I have considered changing my personal therapist to the man who has seen my husband and I for 6 years. Dan and I have a relationship that transcends mine and John's. As I drove home on Tuesday evening and thought of the struggles and issues with Tom and his wife, subconsciously expecting to be betrayed, I didn't think of John and his support but rather that as long as Dan understood the dynamics at work in me and believed in my goodness that I could withstand whatever came my way. It was that moment that I knew it was time to change.

Dan agreed to see me personally and a letter is in the mail to John explaining things. We had talked a month ago about the possibility of this occuring, so John won't be totally broadsided by my decision.

I am sure it would be better if I went in to see John rather than tell him via letter, but insurance companies only pay for so many sessions and it is the end of the year. To use a session to talk to John about what I already talked with him about a month ago feels wasteful. At $150 a session, if he wants to talk, then let him do it out of heart and not my purse.

I bet there is a fortune of psychological issues in that last sentence!


Friday, October 12, 2007


I was 20. Sexually and emotionally exploited by my youth pastor at the age of 17, the shame and self doubt grew inside of me daily. I had left the denomination of my youth and joined a small congregation that met in the pastor's home. This man knew the scripture and lived the love within it. With my respect and heart, he grew to be like a father to me.

Then he betrayed me.

Eaten with guilt, I went to he and his wife over the relationship with Bob. They listened and prayed with me. Within two weeks he made his move.

I remember the moment. I remember the thoughts sizzling through my brain. "Now what do I do? This is it. It is over. I have lost it all. I can run or I can go along with his wants." I had been betrayed by a man who I had known for 3 years and who I trusted as my pastor. I had trusted him enough to share about the other abuse. It had never occurred to me that he too would exploit me.

The internal struggle began. I argued with myself but I always gave in. I hated myself for not being able to tell him "no" as the relationship intimately progressed. The need to be special was riveting. It was all a lie, but the lie was easier to believe than the truth. The only "truth" I could seem to believe was that something was terribly wrong with me.

In time the small congregation began to pick up on signals and at his wife's pressing, the elders (who were all men) met to discuss the situation. I was not invited. I was not questioned. Instead, I was disposable and the church, who I saw as my family, cast me out. The end. Goodbye. Go away. I was devastated and to this day, I know of no other memory that has brought me such pain.

What had this man told them? I do not know. He obviously did not tell them the truth. Yet, I was blind to this new betrayal and having been thrown out and pushed away, I picked up the phone and threw myself completely into the relationship he wanted. At least that way, I was not alone.

I saw him frequently until one week God got my attention. On the way to meet this "pastor", after a year of avoiding God, I heard God speak, "Di, I am removing my hand of protection from you." Three days of hell commenced. We were caught together twice, once by a mutual friend and once by his parents, and then on the third day, I swallowed a yellow jacket and it stung my throat and as my throat began to close I could only think, "God don't let me die here with him." On the way back to my car, I broke off our "affair".

We ended up attending the same church and telling the pastor of our past. He was a legalistic man but one who believed God could heal. I was broken and hungry for that healing. My ex-pastor-abuser talked with him first. When I went to see him and talk, it never occurred to me that my ex-perpetrator might have lied about me. What I heard, I thought I truly deserved: "Do you understand the seriousness of what you have done!?" Looking back, it seems obvious that the story was probably misrepresented once again and for the third time a man who was ready to leave his wife for me a few weeks prior, let me take the rap.

Finally after a year in this church, the pastor and the predator had a falling out, and the predator was prepared to take with him a large portion of the congregation. In anger, the pastor went to those leaving and told them of my perpetrator's sexual relationship with one of the single women. It took about 2 seconds for people to figure out it was me, so once again my trust was betrayed and my secret exposed. I learned of this after a Wednesday night meeting when in the midst of mingling about, I was approached with the news. It seems he did not mean to break my confidence...........

So what did my perpetrator do in the face of everyone knowing? He lied. He placed the blame on me. His story was of my pursuing him and his weakness and inability to fight me off. Once again I was betrayed. I was shunned and branded while those told rallied to his side.

He was a coward. Unwilling to face the truth and have the balls to come clean, he lived the remainder of his life without ever accepting his responsibility. He died 2 years ago after suffering from some type of neurological disease.

I never denied my involvement. I didn't blame him any more than myself. I thought it was equally my fault. I accepted the part of it that was mine plus a whole lot more. No one understood the dynamics of power relationships back then. I knew this had happened to me, and never to anyone else, so there must be some terrible flaw in my soul.

Thirty five years later the past, at times, still controls me. Transference walks with me today. Tonight it is heavily consuming me and I continue to run and hide. Why should Tom be any different? How do I know he is different? When will he too betray me?


Monday, October 1, 2007

Letter to the General Minister

I sent an email to the minister hired at the national level in the denomination to do the same job that Reg does at the state level. She is a she! She replied today, and asked if she could forward my email to the national level chair.

It was a nice feel to hear back so quickly and feel appreciated.

I told my basic story and of my desire to help fashion the way a response is made to a report.

Below is the reply I received:

Dear Diane,Thank you for trusting me with your story. I praise God that you have been able to begin a journey toward healing. I think it is time to review our policies with a particular view toward how we walk along side people who have experienced clergy sexual misconduct. I would like, with your permission, to forward your letter (or another one if you prefer) to the chair of the General Ministry. Again thanks - and God bless you.

It especially felt nice to hear from a woman!