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.