Friday, December 19, 2014

People's Assumptions

It takes a long time to live through them - the things people have believed.

My daughter has a bowel condition.  I won't bother to explain it as most of you don't want to know!  The thing is, her doctor gave her medicine for it with this comment:  "It will take taking this medicine for as long as you have had this condition for it to heal."  For her, that is seven years.  She has two more to go.  Finally, five years into taking the medicine, we are beginning to see signs that it is starting to get better.  Her doctor is happy, but warns that we should not stop yet, but keep on with the treatment.

I was thinking of that today as the remnants of tears are still in my eyes from yesterday.  It may take as long to live through some of this as it has lasted.  I hope not.  But I am afraid it will.

I've had years of Dick talking to people about how bad I am.  Because of Dick's position within the mission, people believe him.  People who have lived near Dick know that there is something off with him, especially when it comes to relating to women, but those who have only seen Dick at occasional meetings, or pastors who may or may not have ever seen him for more than an hour once - they don't know that.  So his word's carry weight.  Then there is Harry.  Harry's words have a lot of weight because he holds a position higher than Dick.  Harry comes across as a more normal, nicer guy than Dick.  But he has never really known us or spent time with us.  He's only seen us a day or two a year, and gets his information from Dick, and lends his weight to it.  Then there is Tom.  Tom is older, with experience, so is looked up to.  Yet Tom is a man who says in any situation what is convenient for him to say.  He is also a man who benefits from us leaving as he then inherited a position, and time has shown in a few places that Tom is a man who likes a title and power.  There is a serious question about Tom's motives in what he has done.  (Also telling that 50% of the remaining team is saying they are leaving now that Tom has taken charge.  They can not work under his top down leadership style.)

We are leaving, and both of us will be incredibly delighted to see the end of Tom, Dick, and Harry.  But the after effects linger.  What they have said about us.  We are dealing now with our home church and their view of us largely based on what Dick and Harry have said.  I'm tired of dealing with their lies regurgitated, their twisted views popping up again....  but I am beginning to think it will be similar to my daughter's bowel problems - as long as it took to be a problem, it will take that long to heal.

I got a letter recently from them scolding me for not doing the counseling that Harry required.  It absolutely floored me since we have been doing a lot towards healing - professional debriefing/counseling, working with mentors and coaches, accountability partners.  My husband had recently visited our home church and came back with the news that they were very happy with us and very supportive.  Then this letter.  Addressed only to me, asking only me why I am not getting the counseling that Harry is asking me to.  Puzzling.  To be honest, it had me in tears - right in the middle of my daughter's birthday party - and up all night.  For the next night, more nightmares of betrayals and bullies.

We left it, unsure how to answer it, and then we were plunged into more tragedy on our field.  sorting through that.....

And then another letter, this time an e-mail, asking why I am not getting counseling and stating, "I understand, Ellie, that you prefer not to do the counseling."

There are times I just stop... just stop and want to scream, want to cry, feel tempted to use some of my more creative curses I've learned from the elderly, or want to just take off running, running, never to hear from this nonsense again!  But mostly to scream... through the tears.

This is echoes of Dick and Harry.  This is people listening to them, and not to me.  It could not be farther from the truth.  For ten years, I have been fighting FOR counseling.  Asking for it, searching for it.  For five years, I have been begging for counseling after a trauma, for my husband, my self, my daughter.  I've spent countless hours searching, talking to people.  I set up most of the appointments we have been to.  The big problem is that it is killingly expensive.  We simply do not have that type of money.  I took extra work so we could afford some of it, but that exhausts me to work 5-6 days a week on top of ministry and family.

I've worked over a year with a personal coach who agreed to work for free.  My home church seems to be unhappy with that, but never communicated to me that.  They just talked to Dick and Harry and decided that I am opposed to counseling!

Seriously, when this is all over, I'm going to need counseling to recover from the spiritual abuse we've been under as well as the trauma and critical incident!

My husband says, "Just quietly live who you are, and they will see you eventually for who you are.  People who know you love you and value you and respect you.  You are sought after for your ability to work in conflict peacefully and to come alongside of people well."  I know he is right, but it is hard.  I begin to think it is like my daughter's bowels - it will take as long as it has been a problem for people to change that view they have developed.

I just don't know if I have the strength to keep on in the face of this all.

We were at a retirement party for another organization (which had asked us to join them years ago, but we stayed where we were.), and listened to the hearts of those saying good bye to a loved leader.  My husband and I almost began to cry...  this was what a healthy organization looks like.  He leaned over to me and said, "we need to find new friends - ones like these!"  We are on our way there, but it is a long journey still, and we deal with the remnants of Dick's odd legacy and his apparent desire to discredit me to my husband, my church, and my mission.

I have never understood him.  Why?  Why does a man seem to attempt to separate a man and his wife, and speak such evil about a woman to her husband for so long?  It is baffling to me, and the very fact of not understanding it leaves me nervous - what if we meet another person like this....?  If I can't pick up the why of this one, will I pick up warning signs of another person so twisted?  It leaves me nervous.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I Had Seen Castles

One day, years ago, I began processing my life here because there was no one to listen and because my mission did not bother to do debriefing after a traumatic experience.  It wasn't the best, but it was better than silence which had been what was my lot before that.  I may do some more of that again, just to process thoughts, just to go over some things I have gone over once before with a friend.  Right now, I lack a friend involved enough in my life where I am to listen, and to listen without being too close to me.  The debriefing retreat we went to opened doors, and did not close them well, so I am left with thoughts and no ear to hear them.

Then we began to read a book in English class that I read last year.  "I Had Seen Castles".  It is a good book.  It is about a boy who goes to war, and can never come back.  He has changed.  He tried even to remember what it was before the day hit that was began, but he can not even remember.  He can not remember who he was.  He is no longer that person, and that person is so distant that he does not know him.

I feel like that.

Not one, but multiple traumas, some large, some minor, have been on my path.  Each has changed me.  In the same way that he can never come back, I also can never come home.  There is no going back for me.  Where I was is no more, communities that I belonged to no longer exist.  I can be here, but I am never all here.

Even my son read the book and said, "That is my favorite book.  It made my life make sense."  Now my second son is reading it, and he brought it home to me and told me I need to read this book too since it talks about our life.

We face trauma in our extended communities as missionaries so often, and yet we are surrounded with people who have no understanding of the traumas or misconceptions about how it affects us.  We've been told, "but they were with a different group, not yours", as if that means we should not be so affected when people are killed.  Unlike the States where your church is your church, and another church is another group, over there, we are a group together.  When trauma hits, it hits us all.

Hard to communicate to people who just think that if we just changed our focus and worked somewhere else that we wouldn't be affected.  That we just need to get away from it.  We can't.  Even if we moved to the South Pole to study penguins, our hearts would be forever tied up over there.  We grew up there, were born there, have deep connections with people working there, and the fabric of who we are is intertwined with theirs.

There is no getting away from it.  What we need is help to cope in it.

And we just found out that the home based group that we work with didn't even bother to phone  one of our coworkers whose brother narrowly escaped death in a situation where others were killed.  They didn't even bother to phone.  It brings back pain.  The pain of a two hour wait when this same man phoned many others before bothering to phone me that my husband was in a critical incident.  It brings anger.  This is no way to treat people.  Thankfully, we stepped in and phoned our coworker, told them the news, listened, comforted.  We got their community involved around them and coached the community on how to express care.  But the leadership did nothing.  And we know the pain that that will inflict on their hearts, and we are angry.

"I Had Seen Castles".  What we have been through ultimately changes us.  We may never fit in again where we left, but we have joined a new community... of those who have seen.  Because of what we have seen, we search for a city whose builder and maker is God.  There we will fit in, and there our hearts will heal.