Tag Archives: Trauma

A Minute of My Story

Do you want to hear my story
Parts are gory
I think you don’t
Listen you won’t

I feel compelled to write it all
Each trip and fall
Won’t you please read
Hear my heart bleed

I write to bring others healing
Share this feeling
Anguish explained
Hope is regained

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Frank is tending the bar at dVerse Poets Pub today for Meeting the Bar. The form lesson for the day is the Minute Poem. It’s sixty syllables with added line length and rhyme scheme rules. The only rule I didn’t consciously follow is that each line is supposed to be in iambic meter. But then, I tend to break the meter rules with some regularity. Head over and check out some other Minute Poems.

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Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry, Women

Showing My Scars

This Saturday I’ll be speaking at a conference called Shattering Stigma with StoriesI attended this event last year and experienced the powerful and informative stories of real people who struggle with mental illnesses, including anorexia, depression, and bipolar disorder. One of my writing friends, Leanne Sype, was one of the speakers. When we later met for coffee, I mentioned that I had a strong desire to tell my story and that I was drawn to this ministry. So she arranged for me to meet with the woman who created the Shattering Stigma ministry at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church.

Well, almost a year later I’d all but forgotten about this ministry, thinking they were never going to ask me to speak at their conference. That’s when Leanne contacted me to ask if I would be on a trauma panel. It didn’t take much thought to know the answer was yes.

So, the conference is this Saturday. Oh wait, I said that already. Can you tell I’m excited?

It seems weird to be excited about telling my story of having endured trauma and struggled with symptoms of PTSD and depression as a result. But I am excited because I know that God will use my story, just as He used the stories of the speakers last year, to shine a light on the truth about people with mental illnesses. That truth is that they—we—are loved by God. He desires to step into our circumstances and bring hope and healing. He desires for us to be a part of His Church and He expects His Church to minister to us in the midst of our struggles and pain.

He expects us to show the scars of the wounds He has healed so that others may find healing, too.

 

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Pondering the Why of Suffering

When Jesus and his disciples encountered the man born blind as recorded in John 9, the disciples wanted to know why he’d been born blind. Was it the man’s sin or his parents’ sin that had caused this tragedy?

Why me? Why her? It’s a question we all ask in the face of tragedy and suffering. I know I do. Why did my mom have cancer not once, but three times? Why did her dad die of cancer when she was only 14? Why did my sister die of cancer at only 61?

Why was I raped by someone I thought I could trust when I was only 14? Why was I faced with the impossible situation of a teen pregnancy because of being raped again when I was only 17? Was all this tragedy ordained by God to make me the person I am today? Would I have been less compassionate and more judgmental if I’d never experienced all the suffering I have?

I have a friend who is a Christian and yet she lacks empathy and compassion. Her words reveal the pride and judgment of others that flow from her heart. She hasn’t experienced the trauma I have or anything close to it as far as I can tell. I wonder if I would have been just like her—legalistic and critical—if I’d been spared the fertile soil of suffering that mercy needs to grow.

Or perhaps my suffering and my mother’s suffering are God’s punishment for the sins of her parents, my grandparents, or even earlier generations. There is certainly scripture to support the conclusion that God punishes the children for the sins of the parents even to multiple generations.

Then again, my own suffering may have been the result of my own sin. The first time I was raped happened in large part because I disobeyed my parents and hung out with the guy who did it. And after that it was one sin after another that led to more suffering.

I’ll probably never know why this side of Heaven. I can speculate until I’m blue in the face and never know for sure. So perhaps it’s most profitable to stop asking why and focus on the next part of the story of the man born blind.

Jesus answers His disciples, saying that the man was born blind that God might be glorified. Then He heals the man. He gives the man who had never seen so much as a blade of grass full sight. He took the man’s utter darkness and gave him light.

He did the same for me and that’s what matters. He healed my brokenness that He might be glorified. I’ll admit that there are days when even that answer can cause tears of anger to well up in my eyes. Couldn’t there have been an easier way for God to be glorified than for me to struggle under the weight of multiple traumas?

Then I remember the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his own brothers, thrown into jail by Pharaoh for a betrayal he didn’t commit, and then ultimately raised to a position of power in Egypt. When his brothers came to him for food in time of famine, fearing he would punish them for the wrong they had committed against him, Joseph responded: “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:19-20 (NIV).

I ponder that perhaps God intended the harm that has befallen me for good, to accomplish great things for Him. This helps me let go of the “why” questions and focus on where I can encourage others who have been through similar circumstances and haven’t yet found His healing light. Perhaps I can even be used by God to save many lives.

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Set Free

She drove away from the pizza place
joyful in the knowledge that she had been set free.

No dark cloud appeared.

She realized she was humming along,
tapping her foot to the beat.

As she waited for her pizza to go,
Bad Company played on the radio.

One day, she stopped to get a pizza
on her way home from work.

She felt a weight lifted and joy return.

When she awoke, she knelt and prayed
for the strength to forgive.

One night she dreamed of forgiveness
and knew it was a message from God.

She pondered taking her own life
because she thought she was forever broken.

She spent years in darkness and anger.

She was never the same; whenever she heard Bad Company
a dark cloud would descend upon her.

Afterwards, he drove her home
and left her broken upon her doorstep.

Bad Company played on the radio.

He assaulted her in the front seat of his Lincoln.

He asked if she wanted to go to a party
and she said yes because he seemed nice.

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The NaPoWriMo prompt today is to write a story in reverse. I couldn’t help but turn each line of this semi-autobiographical story into a verse.

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Memories

Yesterday, Toni at Kanzen Sakura commented thanking me for writing two haibuns. I replied that I’d only written one. Apparently that’s because the second one was still in the works. So I’m posting this second haibun now for Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub.

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Working on my memoir, giving in to the compulsion to communicate my story to whoever might need to read it, I decided I would have more success in actually getting the words on the page if I hand wrote. There is something about typing that makes me feel like it has to be perfect the first time, but handwriting builds in an automatic rewrite when I later type it up. So I rummage through my cloth basket of blank journals for just the right one. [This takes some time because there are probably 20 or more journals in that basket, evidence of another compulsion]. I find a 150-page spiral bound notebook with only 10 pages used up and decide that’s perfect. I peruse what’s been written and come across these words, written 18 ½ years ago:

It takes courage to write. Courage is not the same as fearlessness. Rather, courage is writing in spite of fear.

Just been reading “The Courage to Write” by Ralph Keyes. It got me thinking about writing a book about the effect being raped at the age of 14, while still a virgin, had on my life—the teen years, college, marriage, sex, life, thoughts, depression [although genetics had something to do with this as well].

I must be crazy. I can’t write such a book. Or rather I can, in that I’m sure I have enough material and could actually write it, but would I ever be willing to let anyone read it?

Crazy indeed. Yet here I am, almost two decades later, still compelled to write that book. Only now the story is complete. There is more than just the pain and suffering of trauma to tell; there is also the story of healing and redemption. Now there is courage.

Memories fester
Hidden on journal pages
Die and are reborn

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Why This Pain?

Why would God allow this pain?
Sometimes I wonder, sometimes I doubt
What is this suffering all about?
What could there possibly be to gain?

Oh the trauma that drove me insane
Mired in darkness, struggling to get out
Why would God allow this pain?
Sometimes I wonder, sometimes I doubt

Though I know there’ll soon be rain
Sometimes at God I want to shout
Wallowing in a spiritual drought
Identifying with His Son who was slain
Why would God allow this pain?

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The Meeting the Bar lesson at dVerse Poets Pub today is the Rondel. Check out the other wonderful Rondel’s linked from the lesson.

I actually started writing this poem last night, as part of my decision to write 40 poems for Lent, and it wasn’t quite a Rondel. I made some modifications and had to remove a few lines, although I kept them on the back burner for one of the other 40 poems.

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