“One day while I was with Louise, this seven-year-old was ‘out’ and talking with her. Louise recognized that I wasn't an ‘adult’ and asked this part what her name was. The child hesitated a little bit, then said . . . ‘Sherry.’ Louise had a daughter named Sherry who was also about seven-years-old at the time. It was almost as if this part of me took on the same name in an attempt to make Louise love her. The more ‘Sherry’ interacted with Louise, the more an analytical part of me became concerned about feeling so clingy. My journal entries described my concerns:
“Today I have been analyzing my relationship with Louise. . . . and why it is that I feel so clingy sometimes. I think it may be two things. First, I think she reminds me a lot of my own mother. She is a strong, outspoken person, and extremely busy and involved. I have always felt like my mom didn’t really have time for me. . . I think I see Louise a little in my Mom’s place, and want to see that she does have time for me. I also think there is a part that wants to prove to me that nobody can love me and that if I push Louise too far, that she will stop loving me. So, there is a part testing her.
“I see one more interesting aspect of this. I find myself trying to earn her love and approval. I again feel like that puts her back in the place of my own mother. My own mom—I tried to earn her love by being thoughtful and going the extra mile, and doing things for her, just to win approval and love. . . I also felt like it was my job to make sure she was happy. I think I kind of do that with Louise, too. . . .I need to be able to believe that I can be loved and that I don’t need to earn it.” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 109-110)
When a child has had issues with a parent, it is very common when that child grows up, to connect with someone who reminds them of that prominent caretaker. Usually this bond is the deepest when the subconscious is trying to fix an unhealthy care-taker relationship. The child inside somehow feels if they can fix this current unhealthy relationship, that somehow, they have then fixed their childhood.
“Over the next twelve months, Louise got more involved in my life and we visited more and more often. At the urging of my therapist, I started to attend a support group and it would sometimes leave me feeling drained. On one occasion, I called Louise after I got out of group and asked, ‘Can I come by to get a hug?’
“She responded enthusiastically, ‘Sure, Shawna. You can do that.’
“When I got to her home, she offered, ‘How are you doing, Shawna?’”
“‘Fine,’ I replied automatically.”
"‘You don't look fine, Shawna. I can tell you're not doing well.’”
“This surprised and frightened me. From somewhere deep inside, I let out, ‘I think I'm totally crazy, Louise.’”
“Louise then spent time comforting me, telling me that I wasn't crazy. She knew that I was struggling with thoughts that I was bad, with the idea that people would lie to me, and in my marriage. She said, ‘Shawna, those people did lie to you. You are not crazy. I am so sorry you are going through all of this, and that your husband isn't loving you. You are easy to love, Shawna.’
“As she tried to reassure me, I felt scared and panicky and then I started to have a flashback. Suddenly, my hands and the left side of my face went numb. In the course of the conversation, I somehow went from an adult talking about her marriage to a child re-experiencing cult abuse. I asked Louise if she thought I was making this up. She reassured me that she believed me, and that she didn't think I was making it up. At one point in the flashback I related a particularly gruesome ritual abuse memory and my whole body shook. Louise was so loving and reassuring. I especially appreciated how she seemed to want to protect me.”
“This experience really bonded me to Louise and I felt needier for her afterward. A seven-year-old part of me really connected with Louise and this part probably drove that neediness. In fact, this seven-year-old part was probably the one who was re-living the abuse through the flashback.” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 106-107)
Having been abused as a child in a situation where I was totally vulnerable and defenseless, and wishing so badly that someone, anyone, would save me, left a huge gaping hole in my psyche. The idea that anyone wanted to protect me drew out the terrified child within me and the desperate feelings I felt as a child returned in full force. Unfortunately, there are others besides me, who have also experienced terrible abuse and their need for love and compassion is as great as mine. What a miracle it is when Jesus inspires people to reach out to those in pain and who let His love work through them to give the comfort and love that is so desperately needed.
“My experience with Louise, another woman in my neighborhood, was valuable; but it was valuable in ways that were quite different from my experiences with other friends. In developing a friendship with Louise, I learned a valuable lesson. I learned that someone who might initially help you through your pain may not be able to continue to the end of your healing. When this happened to me, the pain intensified, especially for my traumatized child parts. Only much later were my adult parts able to put the entire situation into a beneficial perspective.
“The following analogy describes this adult perspective on a very painful part of my healing process: It was like being in Los Angeles and needing to get to New York City. A driver offers to take me to New York City but in Denver the driver discovers he can continue no further. I am still a long way from New York, but at least I have covered some distance and made some progress.
“A few months after getting a new therapist, I started reaching out to Louise, a woman with very wavy red hair, the kind of red you notice from far away. She was the mother of many children and supplemented the family income by teaching violin lessons at home. Something about Louise made me open up to her and mention some things about my troubled marriage and she responded in a very loving, non-judgmental way.
“On Christmas Eve of 1991, I was feeling extremely down and spoke with Louise over the phone for about 15 minutes. A few days after Christmas, she called to check on me and treated me so nicely. The following day she came over to my house, gave me a hug, and told me she loved me. I was so grateful for her love and affection. That little bit of reaching out made my inner ‘little ones’ say, ‘Oh, here's a nice, safe person.’” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 105-106)
It is important, as an adult, to try and understand that people can not always give as much as we may want them to give—or even as much as they may want to give. People are also imperfect and even though they love us, sometimes say or do things that hurt us. Unfortunately, my child parts did not have that perspective.
“It seemed that every step forward came in spite of several parts of me who were pulling in the opposite direction. Each of my parts was doing its job. They were created and split off from me in order to protect me from the awful trauma. Now in the process of re-addressing the trauma, I was being confronted by those same parts who were threatened by the changes I was making in my life:
YOU’RE BEING VULNERABLE
(By Numb Nancy, grown up - 1992)
You are starting to trust
You even believe they love you.
Don’t you know
how dangerous that is?
Someone like me
better protect you
When you let go of emotion,
you become too vulnerable.
That frightens me.
Numb is much safer.
If you get angry,
someone will hurt you.
If you cry
you might not be able to stop.
I don’t like that.
So don’t get mad at me.
I have to block you
for a time.
You’re being vulnerable
and your trust in others
“It wasn't long before Numb Nancy's concerns were put to the test. I soon discovered that some ‘healing’ relationships can be painful. I entered a relationship with a caring, Christian woman in order to find another ‘team’ member in my healing journey. I discovered, however, that not all good Christians have the same capacity or ability to serve, and that it was possible to become my own stumbling block by beginning a relationship with unrealistic expectations about the other person.” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 105-106)
Relationships can be difficult and one of the most common breeding grounds for problems comes with unrealistic expectations. Life is viewed from a personal perspective and our own experiences shape the way we think it is supposed to look. Since each person’s life is unique, what one person thinks is “normal” may look completely different to a friend or spouse. In these instances it is helpful to remember that “different” is not necessarily the same thing as “bad.”
“Soon after my dream experience, I had a therapy session that was very telling. During the session, I felt nervous for a couple of minutes, and then I totally changed; I didn't feel nervous, just numb. I told the therapist some more about the abuse in my past, but without any emotion.
“My husband picked me up and as we drove through town he said, ‘You seem totally different than when I dropped you off.’”
“I asked, ‘What do you mean?’”
"‘You just seem . . . more numb.’"
“My husband and I talked for a while and both decided that I needed to explore the possibility of getting a new therapist. One of the reasons I was open to this change, even though I was uncomfortable, was that I had previously had a similar discussion with my bishop. In that discussion, Bishop Scott told me that he thought I was afraid of my therapist. He asked if I was positive I was seeing the right therapist.
“I came to realize that, with only one exception, I had never been able to feel any emotion with my therapist in all the months I'd been working with him. On the other hand, in only two meetings with my bishop I had felt much more emotion. For some reason, I hadn't felt comfortable allowing myself to feel and express my emotions in the presence of the therapist. In my situation, where the expression of emotions was so critical, that was not a good sign. I found a new therapist!
“Being numb and suppressing my emotions was becoming a big problem in my healing journey. Numb Nancy was a part who split off from me at age five, but who re-surfaced as an adult during my marriage. Five-year-old Numb Nancy described the situation very well:
(By Numb Nancy, Age 5 - 1991)
Nobody hurts me
cuz I don’t let them.
And if they do
I can’t feel it.
I know a trick
and it works
I just run away from my body
and then I don’t hurt
cuz I made it numb
and it can’t feel
(My Tears Fall Inside, pages 103-104)
When individuals are numb, it means they are not fine. Being numb is often a symptom that the feelings inside are overwhelming, so “numbing out” is the survival technique. Look around. If you know someone who is numb, reach out to them and you could be as much of a hero to them, as those who reached out to me.
“The response from Bishop Scott was very important to me because the abuse and ritual brainwashing in my life made me believe that no man could love me. In fact in the beginning, I was so afraid of being close to any man, that when Bishop Scott shook my hand, if he held it for a split second longer than usual, I pulled away - feeling afraid.
“Here was a man who looked into my eyes and loved me enough to make me a top priority, without any hesitation. It was a shock to me, meant a great deal to me, and set the stage for a trusting relationship that allowed me to open up to other trustworthy men in my life. In fact, Bishop Scott met with me twice a week for several weeks, getting to know some of my child parts on a personal basis and counseling with them. He also counseled with the adult me about my marriage.
“If I had any leftover concerns about Bishop Scott, they were soon dispelled by a dream I had about him shortly after my initial meeting. At this time, I was second-guessing myself and asking myself whether or not I was crazy or maybe overly sensitive. I had told my bishop many things about me and my husband and my insecurities were starting to come through. I wondered if he could possibly continue to think I was a good person.
“In my dream, we were outside with a lot of people, with tables all around, rather like a church party or picnic. I was sitting in a chair and Bishop Scott came up behind and to the side of me. He put his hand on my shoulder and gave a quick squeeze with his fingers. I glanced up at him and he just smiled at me, and immediately I felt more secure. I felt he was trying to let me know that he still thought well of me. It really reassured me and I didn't worry as much about it after the dream.” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 102-103)
God was directly involved in my healing process. He led people to me who could help me and He reassured me through His spirit as well as through dreams. Trust issues were so massive, however, it was a very long, intense, and difficult journey.
“I first opened up to Bishop Scott about the time I began to get to know Audrey. He was concerned about me and started meeting with me on a regular basis. On one particular visit I was still suffering from an inability to cry, but my bishop's reaction surprised me to the point of tears. I knew that he had very critical administrative duties to attend to, but that didn't stop him from spending time with me. I actually became tearful about it, something I had thought I was incapable of.
“Journal entry, Sept. 5, 1991:
“I had a terrific experience talking with my bishop last night. He was so kind—much more than I expected him to be. Our interview didn’t begin until 6:50 p.m. and I knew he had another meeting at 7 p.m,. so I asked if he just wanted me to come back later. He said, 'No.' Then we talked and about 10 or 20 minutes after 7:00 I said, 'I really need to let you have your meeting.' He looked at me and said, 'You are more important than that meeting.' I was really touched, because he meant it. Well, we ended up talking until 7:55 p.m. . . .
“After I left, I immediately remembered him saying that I was more important than his meeting and I started to actually cry. I began to stop myself and decided I wouldn’t. So I cried off and on for about 15 minutes. It was . . . interesting that kindness brought it on.
“I realize that from a bishop's perspective it comes down to deciding whether to focus on running a critical program, or to focus on a troubled person. It may look like an easy answer to focus on the person, but the consequences of such a decision can be dire and immediate for a bishop when he sees critical program necessities being pushed aside. I am thankful Bishop Scott was a man who was able to keep Christ-like priorities. It really comes down to the somewhat trendy question, ‘What would Jesus do?’ The scriptures are full of Jesus' compassionate involvement with people, and not one incidence of Him worrying about programs.” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 101-102)
Bishop Scott’s decision to make me “more important than that meeting” really shocked me since I didn’t have a sense of my own personal value. What a difference it could make if each of us asked ourselves the question, “What would Jesus do?” and then actually tried to do what He would do.
“Several months after beginning my therapy sessions and after becoming acquainted with Audrey and Dixie, I also sought support from my church leaders. The church I attend is quite unusual in that it was set up exactly the same way Christ established his church while He was on the earth.
“Congregations are kept small (400-600 people) in order to foster the Christian concept that everyone is a vital member of the body of Christ. I Corinthians 12:21 says: ‘And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.’ (KJV)
“The goal is to involve everyone in a vital purpose and hopefully avoid losing anyone ‘in the cracks,’ so small congregations try to give every individual a ‘calling’ or job to do, whether it is teaching small children, mentoring and teaching teenagers, or leading the music.
“The leader of our congregation is called a ‘bishop,’ and like all who labor in the congregation, he is un-paid. Consequently, all labors are ‘labors of love.’ A bishop's calling is typically for only five to seven years, after which a new bishop is called to take his place. During his term as ‘The Bishop,’ a man is committed to sacrificing many hours in the service of his congregation, in addition to his family and employment obligations. A bishop serves willingly and enthusiastically as he looks after the temporal and spiritual welfare of the flock. Bishops develop a deep love for those they serve, and devote themselves to serving the Lord as they serve members of the congregation. . . .
“Bishops are asked to focus on ministering, not on being administrators. Despite this, however, bishops often find themselves caught up in the administration of programs. Each congregation has a number of committees and auxiliaries, and it is the bishop's job to meet with and advise the leaders of those organizations. In a perfect world, those leaders will have handled all of the administrative issues without his direct involvement. In reality, bishops often find themselves being pulled into various crises in order to keep the church's programs functioning.” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 99-101)
No matter what makes up our busy schedules, each of us has to make a decision about priorities. It generally comes down to two choices, things to do or people. If we can always remember that people are more important than things, then those we truly love will be able to feel our love.
“In an excerpt from ‘Writings from My Soul’, I wrote of the things I had learned about this same spot of ground in different seasons. Not surprisingly, I was intent on discovering whether God was interested in life and living, even when the environment had turned cold. In my mind, if there remained life in the middle of a harsh winter, there was hope for me:
Life Out of Death
(By Tina, Angel, etc. - 1992)
I trudge through
the newly fallen snow,
nearly a foot deep now.
I hope by following
the fresh tracks of my friends,
to avoid tripping over
unseen rocks and branches.
The world looks white and beautiful,
The sap no longer flows
through the arteries of the trees
or the veins of their green leaves.
Are they really dead
or do they merely sleep away
the harshness of winter?
It is cold today,
but I feel driven to hike
to the top of the mountain.
I must find out,
when the cold becomes so intense,
if the rest of the world
curls up and dies inside,
I approach where the water
used to trickle down the hill.
It was frozen on top
but I could still hear the water
flowing under the ice.
Now there is a foot of snow
and I hear nothing.
I quickly trudge across the snow-filled stream
to the other side
where I know has lived
a beautiful patch of moss.
The forked tree is very crooked
and the unsightly bend
creates a sheltered hollow
perfect for moss.
I look carefully
and my heart fills with joy!
still vibrant green,
still soft to the touch!
Even the snow has been held at bay
by the deformity
of the misshapen tree.
The life-giving water
is still another key.
I climb to the source,
and out of the frozen ground,
springs forth water
creating still an unfrozen pool.
The water seems alive with strength.
within the caverns
of my tortured
mind and heart,
let there be a sheltered place,
As I hike through cold snow
for an hour or two,
even in winter,
let me reach Thee
as I have searched now
and reached the source.
Help me find
the pink skies
Don’t let the sage
the pinks and greens within.
Help me still find
beauty and life.
Help me remember
that moss is still green
even in winter,
and that the water still flows
out of the frozen ground,
and that the sap will flow once again
through the arteries of the trees!
Psalms 104: parts of verses 10-28 - "He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field: . . . By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches. He watereth the hills from His chambers: . . . The trees of the Lord are full of sap; . . . The high hills are a refuge . . . These wait all upon thee; . . . thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.”
Isaiah 25:8 – “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces . . .”
“God was certainly a part of my healing and His powerful hand was evident in so many ways. To many who have a distaste for "organized religion," there is often a sharp divide separating the God of personal experience, such as the God who taught me so directly and personally in the mountains near my home, from the God of the church. That wasn't my experience. I was blessed to have both. I was able to develop a deep connection with God in my personal life while also being an accepted member of a vibrant, living, God-filled church that worshipped a God with the same powerful and loving attributes as the God who created me.” (My Tears Fall Inside, pages 94-98)
“My constant walks into nature provided me with a deeper understanding of God's ways, His mind and His will:
I GO TO THE SOURCE
I meander through the hills
It has become too heavy
and I know it is here
I will find my strength.
I discover a small amount of water
trickling down the hill,
pooling occasionally into a small mud puddle,
yet it has been a dry summer.
Where does the water come from?
up steep sandy hills,
shaded by scrub oak and maple.
the water is no more.
But where does it come from?
I search more carefully.
I paw through dry colorful leaves,
and move small stones.
There it is!
It comes out of the ground.
I have brought my burdens,
a handful of sage,
and a small bundle of dry grass
tied with a piece of living green grass,
I come here
to the source,
and set my burdens on the ground
the ever flowing
I return to the source often.
I leave my burdens here.
I listen to the soothing sounds
of the ever flowing water.
I let the source calm my fears
and bring the healing peace.
I observe carefully,
and discover that this water
brings to life,
cold dead stones,
by turning them vibrant green
with lush moss.
Take my cold dead pain,
and turn me,
with living water,
into vibrant green!
John 4:14 - “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
(My Tears Fall Inside, page 92 -94)
Even through the depths of my pain, God tried to bring me hope. He did this by teaching me through nature. Surely if He could make a rock look like it was alive and growing, He could even take me and bring me out of my agony and teach me that I had value and could be loved.