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.