Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

What It's Really All About - Part 1

This morning I awoke feeling unsettled, my mind filled with images of being sexually abused. I asked God, what it was all about and burst into tears. Then came sobbing and pain in my heart and more and more and more crying.

Over the past few days I’ve felt something was off, felt the occasional twinge of pain in my heart; my behaviour has been a bit manic at times. I’m not easily depressed at least not anymore. I am, in fact, probably one of the happiest people on earth – I was born that way. That tendency to happiness has stood me in good stead particularly during the years when I lived in a cloud of depression – from the time when my parents were killed, when I was about four and one-half or five, until my mid-twenties when through much therapy and much prayer and steady outpourings of grace the lights were turned up and everything became brighter and sharper and clearer; though God had given me great interior illumination throughout my childhood, once healed, I felt as if I had never experienced real light before. The healing process continues and now depression is a rarity. Still, on occasion, something will poke me and I know, time for more healing.

When I began studying philosophy last autumn, my spiritual director told me to ask the questions to which I don’t already have answers. I find myself doing just that more and more. Certainly, I don’t know the answers to being and remaining open to marriage for years, perhaps even for the rest of my life. But it really doesn’t surprise me that exploring the question reveals tender places and unhealed wounds. In fact, if this is as important as I believe it to be, I expect writing about it to be a dredging process; if there were no impact on me, the question wouldn’t be worth asking. Still, I am not accustomed to waking to such thoughts. Neither am I accustomed to bursting into tears that continue and continue and continue.

In answer to my question this morning about the thoughts that filled my mind and the sobbing and tears, I found myself face to face with white hot terror and thinking, Nobody wants me! It’s an old fear that is particularly healed in the experiences of community, of the Body of Christ which saturate my life today. But not so many years ago, when I found an antique volume of Tennyson’s poems and joyfully told my Anglican rector about it, he told me to read Maud and then quoted, Faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null...; I realized he was talking about me. This morning, memory of him quoting those words accompanied the white hot terror and I found myself feeling there would be no sustainer, nobody who wanted me and it was all my fault.

I wanted to delve into them, to analyze all the reasons men might see experience me as Maud. And I could have filled the rest of the morning distracting myself with them, picking them apart, laying them out neatly and trying to justify or resolve each one. Except the feelings and reasons don’t matter. The fact is that I am terrified that nobody wants me and it is my fault but, at the same time, I am called to be open to marriage and that is utterly ludicrous. Utterly impossible. I just don’t know how to do it.

Recently my rheumatologist prescribed injections of methotrexate to treat the autoimmune diseases with which I live. Arrangements were made for a nurse to teach me to inject myself. I was given a fake leg to practice and merrily filled the syringe and stabbed the unfeeling rubbery plastic several times injecting it with a good amount of saline solution. Then it was time for me to inject myself. Filling the syringe – no problem. Ditto swabbing and pinching the site. I plunged the needle towards my leg but suddenly stopped short just as it touched my skin. “I can’t,” I told the nurse. “I just don’t know how to choose to hurt myself.”

She said, “Look, I’ll hold your hand and we’ll do it together.” I watched her take hold of my hand and when I stopped short once again, she gently continued to push it forward until we had plunged the needle into my leg. Doctors and technicians stab me with great regularity and it always hurts but surprisingly, this injection didn’t, not even a little prick of pain.

As I recall learning to inject myself, as I consider the terror that no one will want me and it is all my fault, as I am tempted to delve into all the reasons why I don’t know how to be open to marriage, I realize once again, I don’t need to know how to do it. Belonging to God means there are infinitely strong, unimaginably gentle hands wrapped around mine; the experience of his arms holding me is present in my earliest memories. He will provide the way for me to be open despite all the tender places and wounds.

I am not writing a “how to” manual for myself or for anyone else. And ultimately, the real terror is not that nobody wants me but rather that I am not really open to marriage, not really open to the violence of divine love. And that is unacceptable because there is something I want so much more than marriage. I want to live Fiat! In reality not just in my words. There is a song I desperately want to sing. A song of mercy and love, a tiny echo of that greater Magnificat. He who is mighty continues to do great things and being open to marriage is all about being open to his gentle might.

16 comments:

JustMe said...

A friend of ours was up in arms. Seemed his (widowed) mother found a widower "friend." Our friend who was so crazy about his dad was just not thrilled, but it was more than this.. he protects his mom as if she is a girl.

Well, she's gone and done the unthinkable. She eloped. Yep, at 70 years of age. She (fallen away Catholic) and this wonderful man (devout Catholic) who has many physical handicaps to deal with (as does she, probably) but has great joy nonetheless, are very, very happy. They had such a good time as friends. It all evolved quite naturally. I'm pretty sure they were married in the Church, but we're invited to the celebration of their happiness next month, and .. even our friend is happy about this shocking turn of events.
:-)

God holds the other half of your fiat, and He is incredibly fussy on our behalf.. I'd not have any fear of looking with new eyes, or of not doing so.

JustMe said...

PS.. I had the same terror ("no one wants me!") at 18, just before I married badly.

Once freed of that union's ever-more-tentacling pain by separation, divorce, and annulment, I never had that terror again. I had simply known that if our Father wanted me to remarry, He'd have to drop someone into my lap, as I wasn't dating anymore -- my vocation now was mother, and concentrating on a career in case I had to raise my family alone. Five years went by wherein all My Guy(s) lived in heaven only, and only now and then in my imagination. And then He dropped a guy into my lap.

UltraCrepidarian said...

I married completely the wrong person, because I felt that nobody would ever want me.

I know that was a lie, now. It's a lie for you, too.

Somebody wants you. He doesn't even know your name, but he wants you. I don't know if you'll ever meet him, but I hope so, and I know God can make it work out. I just *know* it's a happy ending, for you, and for all of us.

It's why I can't be an athiest, you see... I just can't believe in unhappy endings, no matter how hard I try, I doubt the sadness of it. There's got to be something better, and there *is*!

You're a really great person. And you're not the only really great person that I know that hasn't met Mr or Mrs Right. There's a bunch. And that doesn't make it your fault, nor anyone's fault.

I think it's a general trouble with the world, you know? The worm in the apple, and all that.

The violence of divine love will make you laugh, in the end, and wipe away your tears.

Anyways, love your blog, and think you're a really cool person. Don't lose heart!

W

JustMe said...

..hmm.. is it just me, or do others suddenly feel like matchmaking isn't completely out of order, here..?
;-)

Drusilla said...

Dear JustMe and Ultracrepidarian -

Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and concern. It really has become extremely rare for me to have such feelings and when they came on as they did yesterday, I knew something was up. It's so easy to focus on finding Mr./Miss Right but that's not the real issue. The real issue for long-term single people is remaining open to "the violence of divine love" and I realized it's important that I begin as I plan to proceed and, from the start, address the excuses we have for closing ourselves. (For a long time, I thought only people with histories of abuse had the "it's all my fault" experience. I was wrong. It's a universal, a human experience.)

Thank you both - you've shown me this requires a part II - asking questions to which I do not know the answers is a lot of work and I'll bet my spiritual director knows that.

And U, I also believe in happy endings. My life is the evidence of their existence. I'm also enjoying your blog. It's lovely that the Canada and New York are connecting.

God bless.

UltraCrepidarian said...

JustMe: Just for the record, I wasn't flirting. And, I'm unavailable. [read my blog if you're wondering why]

W

JustMe said...

Aw, I was just kidding, W, and I wasn't sure to which blog you referred, but I think I read, that because your annulment is in progress, you're not free to date.. you're actually still married (even if civilly divorced)? I felt the same way. As a matter of fact, I had to tell the love of my life to go away and not come back until I was free to date him. Huh, I just made that sound easy.

Years had gone by, tho', before I met the present Mr. Right. And it wasn't in an attempt to meet anyone whatsoever. It did indeed seem God's idea, but what I usually don't tell people is the fear and sadness and loneliness year after year that preceded it, and how I'd lay my head against the wall near Jesus' portrait, and I'd whine to Him. Not sure what it was about, tho' He was. I had two wonderful kids; it wasn't just on my own behalf that I grieved.

At any rate, I kept having the feeling that I was remembering a conversation I'd (over)heard-- yet, there'd been no such thing. However, there was a very strong sense of having heard, "Hang on. I have something wonderful in store for you."

Well, He did. But I knew even then that it could've involved never marrying (again). I just trusted Him. He knows us better than anyone on earth ever could.

marie said...

Drusilla

you have a very interesting blog. I hope you dont mind if I add your blog to my own which I share with Ginny?

Sometimes God calls a soul to Himself alone. It is society that demands a person MUST be 'something' or with 'someone'. Who do we listen to?

Thanking you in advance:).

Marie:)

marie said...

I think at times we are too driven by the ghosts of the 'what if's' and the 'maybe's'......Sometimes our greatest fear is in facing ourselves..alone.


This is an excellent piece. I hope you dont mind that I also linked it to my own blog.

Peace & Blessings,

Marie

Pia said...

It is extremely difficult to entrust and share our lives with another person, and even more so if one is an abuse survivor.

It's much easier to prefer to do God's will, because God is "up there" or "in our hearts", not in our house, in our bed, in our kitchen or bathroom.

He loves us for who we are, we are a treasure in His eyes. He doesn't demand physical or emotional attention from us, he doesn't get on our case for anything like a husband or wife would do. He doesn't have faults like a husband or wife has. It took me a very long time to accept that my husband is a channel of God's will and grace in my life, and vice versa. It took me a long time to learn how to give of myself to my husband,freely.

My husband and I have been married 25 years; I gave up my country, family and friends to follow what I was convinced was my vocation,even though I was very young and inexperienced. We knew very little about each other, having exchanged only a few dozen letters and some phone calls over a period of two years, while I lived in the States and he lived in Italy. We took the most incredible risks, and I still can't figure out how we've managed to stay together and to keep the fire burning all that time. I know I am lucky.

I have a sister who got a divorce and an anullment a few years ago. It has taken her years to get over the consequences of this painful turn of events in her life. She has a son who will soon be 15 and she's now beginning to think she'd like to share her life again with someone, but doesn't have a clue as to how or where to start.

I feel deeply for her and for all those who long for love, because it truly involves a great deal of courage. I hope you, my sister and anyone else who desires love and to give love, will keep their hearts open to it and be willing to take the risk.

Drusilla said...

Marie - you are welcome to link to my blog anytime you like.

And: Who do we listen to?

God (even though it's often difficult).

Drusilla said...

It took me a very long time to accept that my husband is a channel of God's will and grace in my life, and vice versa.

Precisely. I'm so glad you have been able to experience God's grace through marriage.

Pia, you are one of those who has inspired me to write on this subject. Thank you so much.

Pia said...

It took about 20 years together for me to become aware of that, Dru. I think besides God's grace, there was in both of us a form of tenacity or determination not to give up when things got tough, especially after our children were born, a quality too many couples today do not seem to have. This is discouraging for those who are starting out in life. I've noticed that our eldest son is quite pessimistic about marriage. I know he's grateful that our family is a happy one, but maybe he sets his standards too high, thinking that he may never find a girl who has these same values. He would love to have a serious relationship with someone, he wants to experience love - true love. But he has no faith in the opposite sex.

Anonymous said...

Pia,

I also do not have Faith in the opposite sex...

Does anyone have a reply to this?

Drusilla said...

Pia and Anonymous -

I do intend to write more about having faith in the opposite sex but the short answer is the faith is really in God, not in other people. Other people will always disappoint each other - we're fallen. The only one who's worthy of our faith is God.

Of course the question is, how do we live with, even marry these untrustworthy human beings?

Melanie B said...

re: "having faith in the opposite sex"

When you decide to marry, you do not decide to marry "the opposite sex". You marry a man or a woman, made in the image and likeness of God. The first step in healing your distrust is to see members of the opposite sex not as representatives of a class, "the opposite sex"; but as individuals and as children of God. Such sweeping generalizations are not logical nor in keeping with a Christian view of the world.