Thursday, November 22, 2007


The beginning of last summer I posted a story about my friend Bonnie who was in a terrible car accident that almost took her life. Bonnie's life was spared but she still lost a lot. She lost the use of her left arm and hand, though a new surgery is in the plans for next Wed that will help restore her some use and further therapy should help her gain more use of her fingers. She lost her left-side vision. If she looks at your right eye she can see your nose but not your left eye. Thus everything appears dark to her and reading is very difficult. She lost her ability to run but has now regained her ability to walk due to multiple remarkable surgeries on her ankles and knee. She lost her whole summer. She remembers none of it. She lost the beauty of her arms and legs as they are now covered in scars and her left arm had much of the muscle and skin stripped off of it. She lost her teeth though the ones she now has are beautiful. But she is still Bonnie, a gentle and caring person who I was given the opportunity to work beside for 4 years.

As I talked with Bonnie on Tuesday, and celebrated in my heart her survival, she talked of a sense of uselessness. I wanted to scream, "Bonnie, how can you feel useless? You are so important to me! Your very existence is what my whole Thanksgiving is about this year." Instead I calmly pointed out her importance to me and how God is even now using her injury to teach doctors and nurses who will go on to impact others lives. I told her how very important she was and how I had to see her before Thanksgiving Day because my heart was so full of gratitude for her life.

And then I thought. How easy it is for all of us to fall into seeing our value in what we do and accomplish. That is what Bonnie was doing, missing terribly the sense of achievement that comes from teaching young minds. But from my end, Bonnie is valuable just because she is Bonnie. I couldn't quite explain that to her, but the light bulb came on for me. This is how God's sees us, valuable just because we exist. Nothing we do earns His love. Nothing we do defeats it.

He loves me because I exist and am precious to him. So today, beyond celebrating Bonnie's physical life, I celebrate the lesson that her trajedy just taught me. My value is in my being.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I continue to work on the shame issues over the relationship with Minton but I am only working on it sporadically. Life has been so very busy at work and home that the time to think is scarce. Though, I also wonder if I have not passed some kind of milestone in being able to work on emotional issues when I choose instead of them devouring me at their whim.

I had a really good session with Dan last night and we continued to talk about my transferential feelings with Tom and their connection to the shame with Minton. I can tell I am making progress in defeating the shame because it isn't so strong as I talk about it. Even now sitting and typing I feel much more at ease. I also recognize that it will take more work to finish this.

I feel a little concerned and guilty that I am in no hurry to hear from the task force on sexual misconduct. I am dreading having to pull all that back out to deal with it again. It is so emotionally draining. I asked Dan what he thought about my change of feeling in this area.

Dan's thoughts were that it is not a problem since I am doing some good work in the moment and one thing on the burner at the time is probably enough for anyone. What I am presently looking at is timely and will further prepare me for the opportunity to share with the church's committee.

When I talk with Dan it feels so good to talk with someone who so thoroughly understands what I am saying. I don't have to work to make myself understood. We flow together. I feel a lot of support and peace in my relationship with him. And I trust him. Nice.

God's timing first with Cheryl and then John and now Dan has been so evident. Each of them has played a role in the work I was doing in that time period that the others would not have been able to play so well. His hand in my healing is an area I am very grateful for this season.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I have been thinking about the cords of shame and how they have tied me in knots for so many years. Last week when I left Dan's so aware of the shame I felt, I was equally unaware of how to disentangle myself. I truly felt lost even as I had in my dream.

Now that is rather ironic since I had spent years disentangling myself from the cords of shame over my relationship with Bob, but nevertheless I felt equally as lost as I had when facing the original shame. It took a while for the words I wrote in my last post to find their way to my conscious mind but once I wrote them they brought powerful healing.

Cheryl, the therapist who worked for me during the first 5 years of my therapy, told me that she believed shame was at the root of all of our human issues. Cheryl is agnostic and leans toward Budhism. I tell you that because it is very interesting to me that Cheryl's view of humankind's problems is the same as the Christian's God's view. What did Christ bear on the cross but all our shame? What is the new covenant if not one based on grace which is as far from shame as one can get?

The church taught me of God's grace but did a poor job of teaching me how to extend my own personal grace inward. That took Cheryl. "What is God saying?" was changed to "What are you telling yourself, Diane?" I am not negating the first question. I went into therapy knowing well what God was saying long before I met Cheryl. I knew he was a God of grace. I did not doubt his grace filled ways of dealing with me,his child. Yet, I could not figure out how to translate it into my own practice toward myself.

It was truly as if I was adicted to the self hatred. The pathways of despite had eroded themselves into my brain. After years of work, I think differently about myself. I talk differently to myself. I relate to myself with gentleness.

Dan last week focussed on a question asked of me by a pastor after the relationship with Minton was shared with him. "Do you understand the seriousness of what you have done?" Dan asked me what that seriousness was? I fumbled around for an answer and still do not have a clear one. I think further freedom will come as I answer for myself and reframe the meaning of that question.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Two night ago I dreamed: Rejected by friends at a function in the UGA auditorium and even abandoned by my husband, I got lost in Athens and could not find my way back onto the campus. I tried and struggled and people tried to help but I kept making wrong turns and nothing worked out right. Even when the path was pointed out to me, I either missed it or it somehow evaded my attempts to get on it.

It was a vivid dream and emotionally troubling to me when I awoke. I took the memory with me to my session with Dan. He likes to work with dreams and has taught me that our subconscious often tries to work out our struggles for us while we sleep. At first we talked about the obvious abandonment and I discussed how Minton and the church had abandoned me. Then Dan asked me why UGA was part of the dream. What did it mean to me? What was the connection? I was shocked to realize there was a big one.

I left UGA as a failure in the fall of '75. The bottom was falling out of my grasp on any emotional stability. That summer I had told Minton and his wife about my relationship with Bob, and Minton had begun persuing me physically. I am not sure you can imagine the emotional confusion I felt because I haven't completely grasped it myself. I only know that by that time I was completely and totally convinced that something was terribly wrong with me. I was doomed and dirty and I must have a sign on me that said I was a whore. I went back to school that fall and came very close to a mental/emotional breakdown. I could not study. I could not attend to anything in my classes. For the first time in life and perhaps the only time, my anxiety was so high that I could not function mentally. I shut down. My mind was in a fog. I was alone and since I didn't understand myself what was wrong, I had no idea how to tell anyone else or to ask for help. I was lost.

I thought God told me to go home, drop out, and I told my mom and dad and they were upset but let me. I withdrew from the fall quarter and went home. There is massive shame tied to letting my parents down. There is shame over dropping out. There is shame in mishearing God.

Perhaps it is time to reframe that. Let me try right now:

I was 20 years old and for the second time in my life a pastor was coming on to me. I was confused. Who wouldn't be? I was being told by the second shepherd that I was some kind of whore who attracted this kind of behavior. I was full of anxiety. I believed a lie that I was somehow a big mistake.

That is a LOT for anyone to handle. This was before anyone talked about psychologists or counseling though at the time I did wonder about talking with someone at the clinic. I had heard they had counselors of some kind. But I didn't go. I didn't know what to tell them. I never connected my emotional turmoil with Minton's passes.

If that was today and I knew about a kid going through this, I would talk to her. I would listen. I would offer to put my arms around her and tell her that she is not a whore, that she did not deserve that treatment, that she was not at fault, that it was the pastor's place to hold the boundary and to not push it. I would tell her that all the confusion and fear she feels is ok, that dropping out is ok if that is what she needs to do to get her thoughts and feelings sorted through. I would tell her that the improper advances were not statements about something being wrong with her but rather a loud statement about those two men. And over and over I would tell her she is valuable and loved and not alone any more. She is not abandoned and I am not ashamed of her. I would be there with her and with all her confusion. I wouldn't leave her alone or simply point the path out to her. Instead I would walk with her until she found her way back. And then I would stay with her so she did not have to fear the dark.

And so, in this very moment, I choose to stop running from her and to walk toward her with arms outstretched and acceptance in my heart for her. I choose to no longer hate her and her imperfectness. I see her courage. I feel her pain. And I love her.