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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cranial Sacral Therapy & The Dignity of the Human Person (Pt. 2)

(Warning: Necessary Technical Information Ahead)

Yes - your friend should have forewarned you about the emotions that may come up for you in these sessions...but, have you considered that your body needed to get this memory surfaced and dealt with? Did you consider that your other health ailments were unresolved energies that you had not processed (possibly from your trauma)? I am sorry for your ordeal as a child, it's heartbreaking...hopefully, you will see in time that your friend is not to blame and, maybe, you are projecting your anger/grief/sorrow on to them. Peace & Blessings. (emphasis added) Cranial Sacral Therapy & The Dignity of the Human Person (Pt. 1)
I'm glad she commented exactly as she did because Penelope raises most of the issues I want to cover in this post & the next.

In my previous post, “Cranial Sacral Therapy & The Dignity of the Human Person (Pt. 1),” I wrote: "[h]ow do I respond to someone who knew my story, knew the horrors I faced in my childhood, had also experienced similar horrors..." without specifying that my friend knew that I remembered being raped when I was four. My friend knew. I had shared with my friend all the trauma in my past that I know of, including being raped at four, before we had that last CST session. There was no memory that needed to come to the surface. It was already there.

Practitioners of Cranial Sacral Therapy refer to emotions as if emotions & memories are interchangeable. In fact, emotions are not memories & memories are not emotions. More importantly, a flashback is not a memory. Also, a flashback is not an emotion. Emotions usually arise in response to a flashback & memories are part of a flashback, but each is its own unique reality. They are not as some, including my friend & Penelope, seem to believe, one thing but three distinct things.

The definition of emotion includes other components than those listed here but this is a good medical/psychological definition: Emotion is a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.

Memory is the ability to recover information about past events or knowledge; the process of recovering information about past events or knowledge; cognitive reconstruction. 

A simple definition of a flashback is “a recurring, intensely vivid mental image of a past traumatic experience.” When defining a flashback, simple is inadequate, so additional,  even technical, information is required:
"During a flashback, the trauma survivor is usually still relatively aware of his or her current surroundings and situation. There is a kind of doubling of consciousness, i.e., of reliving the past (to which the person also begins to respond) while at the same time partially staying in the present. The dissonance occurring between these parallel experiences can induce survivors to feel 'crazy.'

"…During a conscious flashback, there is usually a strong visual component of the traumatic memory, implying that there is a cognitive dimension to the re-experienced trauma. Trauma survivors are also partially aware of their present circumstances, and usually remember the contents of the flashback afterwards. This combined awareness of both the trauma and the present situation can give rise to a confused sense of time. Although both the trauma and the present situation are experienced in the present, the current circumstances may be experienced in a more depersonalized manner."
Memory & emotion are normal human experiences. Flashbacks are a symptom of PTSD & other severe psychological illnesses. Memory doesn't take over. It doesn't cause one to live parallel experiences. In the midst of a flashback, I have little idea of what I'm saying or doing - I just try to get away without hurting anyone. Recently, flashbacks sent me running out of church because the homilist in retelling the history of Los Christeros spoke of the way the bishops were placed under house arrest. Suddenly I was four & being raped while at the same time I was being struck by the words of the homily. Panic surged up in me. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak what I wanted to say. I ran & found myself trapped in a corner trying not to hear (our sound system is inescapable). And I tried not to see, feel, smell, relive. People wanted to help me. I wanted to hurt them, to get away from them, to end their assault. That’s not memory. Memory is not an assault by the past & the present with no ability to protect oneself. Memory doesn't take over & cause me to be, whether I will or nil, reliving an experience that happened over 30 years ago. Penelope, I'm suddenly 4 years old, being raped & there's nothing I can do, not even distract myself. And whatever I’m experiencing in the moment becomes part of the attack. Can you see the difference? A flashback is not the same as recalling tea w/ Aunt Jane when one was a little girl.

I was told Cranial Sacral Therapy was gentle massage therapy "that helps engage the parasympathetic nervous system" & would help me relax on a very deep level which in turn would help my body heal. The description is woefully misleading. As I mentioned in Part 1, my friend gave me Dr. John Upledger's, Your Inner Physician to read. The book raised vague concerns that I thought had been addressed when my friend respected my discomfort if certain areas of my body were touched. I also thought, because this person was my friend & we were very close, if there were any problems, my friend would tell me. I was very wrong.

Dr. Upledger recounts pushing his hand into a woman's spine for an extended period of time until she remembered the occasion her brother punched her in the back. He calls such recollections the "Somatoemotional Release" (SER). SER is a goal for practitioners of Cranial Sacral Therapy though they have no idea what is being triggered. It may be memory, it may be nothing, it may be a flashback. I (& valid massage therapists as well as psychotherapists & psychiatrists) describe such actions when performed on persons with a history of trauma, as attempts to deliberately trigger flashbacks. The reason this is done is because practitioners believe what Penelope suggested, that my "body needed to get this memory surfaced and dealt with[.] ...that [my] other health ailments were unresolved energies that [I]  had not processed (possibly from [my] trauma)."

Practitioners of Cranial Sacral Therapy rarely have access to a patient’s medical history, have no training in psychology, no training in the mechanism of memory &, particularly, no training in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But, in that one statement, Penelope summarizes their belief system: when they encounter what “resistance” they know what patients need without knowing them at all & without any training in medicine or psychology. Even my friend, who knows me quite well, cannot determine what is best for me. My medical doctors who treat me regularly do not decide what is best for me. They tell me their findings & make recommendations then I must decide for myself what course to follow. In medicine, including massage therapy, this is known as “informed consent.” It is the belief that a patient who is compos mentis (of sound mind) must receive full information from a practitioner & make his own informed decision.

Medical practitioners have been sued often enough to know that failure to provide full disclosure is illegal. Christians ought to understand such statements as Penelope’s as moral errors. Catholics have explicit teaching that give them even less excuse to countenance beliefs about acting because the “body needed to get this memory surfaced.” But Catholics, as well as other Christians, practice Cranial Sacral Therapy working to trigger SERs without providing full consent &, in fact, unable to provide it because first, they must accept that they don’t know what the results of an SER might be. The practitioner in this excerpt from the the Ethics of Touch, Part 3 might be my friend:
A practitioner was approached by a client who wasn't in psychotherapy and wanted to address her abuse issues through bodywork. The practitioner had very limited training in working with survivors but wanted to assist the client in her healing process. In the course of their work together, the client began to have flashbacks during the treatments. The practitioner felt she should let the client fully experience these memories and would process what happened afterward. After several weeks of treatment, the client began to experience more uncontrollable, intense and disabling flashbacks on buses, in the supermarket and frequently upon entering the practitioner's office. The practitioner's lack of training in this area resulted in a damaging situation for the client and a lawsuit against the practitioner. In this case, the practitioner did not understand the significance of the flashbacks and how to deal with them. She did not realize the client needed psychotherapy and other support systems in place. She lacked outside supervision to guide her work when questions or difficulties arose.
This practitioner has a cavalier attitude regarding the possibility of potential harm. She does not admit her own ignorance but acts anyway because she wants to help heal others. A cavalier attitude, ignorance & good intentions with a patient who has a history of trauma causes more damage & brings no healing. My friend once suggested I have my friend's mentor & my friend work on me at the same time so I'd get a "double whammy." At first I thought this might be a good idea, might help me get well faster. After reflection, I declined. Instinctively, I was concerned about SER though I didn’t understand why. Now I do. SER in persons with a history of trauma can easily be flashbacks. I feared my friend working with another, more advanced practitioner, might trigger an SER.

Because my friend had never triggered an SER & because I wouldn’t let my friend touch certain areas of my body, I thought I was safe. As I told my friend afterwards, I thought it was like hypnosis: a person cannot be hypnotized against his will. I was wrong. And my friend failed to tell me one very important piece of information that she knows which would have kept me off the massage table: people who have experiences of trauma in their past should be working with a therapist to deal with any memories that arise. As far as I'm concerned (& I'm not the only one), any person with a history of past trauma must be very careful when engaging in activities that are known to trigger flashbacks.

Practitioners of Cranial Sacral Therapy are taught, & advertise, that Cranial Sacral Therapy is helpful for those with PTSD. But they are not taught the difference between memory & flashbacks. When confronted, my friend has several responses: anything at all might accidentally trigger memory. First, a flashback is not a memory. Second, my friend’s actions were not accidental. My friend intended to trigger an SER even though my friend did not know that an SER might be a flashback. My friend believes that asking me if I was “okay” when encountering “resistance” while first holding my head constitutes sufficient information for me to provide informed consent. It was not because I could not know what my friend meant when asking if I was "okay." (I have told my friend this but my friend still disagrees.) When my rheumatologist last injected my knees, he encountered some difficulty inserting the needle in the left one. He told me of the problem, gave me extra anesthesia & we decided to get x-rays which explained the problem & helped us make decisions for future treatment. When my friend encountered “resistance,” my friend had the moral & legal responsibility to explain what was being encountered & even if all my friend could say was, I don’t know, then that is precisely what my friend ought to have done. My friend’s perspective is that it's acceptable to wait until flashbacks arise to inform a patient with a history of trauma to see a therapist. It is not acceptable to wait. Training in psychology & treating PTSD would teach my friend that those experiencing frequent flashbacks have difficulty showering or getting off the sofa; many patients finally see a therapist because they are unable to function & end up in an emergency room. Finally, Catholic practitioners, such as my friend, decide that a patient’s “body need[s] to get this memory surfaced” even though Catholic Social Teaching (the real CST) tells them:
No one should be the subject of medical or genetic experimentation, even if it is therapeutic, unless the person ...first has given free and informed consent. (emphasis added)
Cranial Sacral Therapy is a "medical" art, as is psychotherapy, physical therapy & any other medically related activity. By asking me to be a "guinea pig," my friend was asking to experiment on me. In fact though, every Cranial Sacral Therapy session is an experiment because practitioners do not know if they may trigger a flashback or, in the case of multiple personality disorder, a shift from one personality to another. My friend practiced Cranial Sacral Therapy on me, experimented on me without providing the information I needed to give free consent. Failure to fully disclose information is one of many sins that medical practitioners commit against the dignity of the human person. Such sins are not acceptable to God & the Church makes that clear: the dignity of the human person is more important than the belief that a treatment will be of benefit to the patient. Catholic Social Teaching is very sensitive to the occasions when medical decisions are made for patients rather than by them: such actions constitute grave evil.
Man can turn to good only in freedom,'s dignity demands that he act according to a knowing and free choice that is personally motivated and prompted from within...
Obedience to the teaching of the Catholic Church (which a non-Catholic can come to through living natural law) trumps my friend's & Penelope’s & every other medical practitioner’s desire to obtain an SER or any other result. In Part 3, I’ll write about belief in the existence of “unresolved energies” & how belief that a practitioner can “heal” encourages them to sin against the dignity of the human person.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Spirttual Ninjas - A Plea to Enter the Battle Against Satan

This a.m. I prayed the Church's Simple Exorcism for the abolition of abortion, for the end of sexual sins, particularly those that offend the consciences of children, as well as for conversions of those who ignore or battle against Our Lord, Jesus Christ. This Simple Exorcism may be prayed by the laity omitting the portion between the blue asterisks (*) to "'curb the power of the devil and prevent him from doing harm.' As St. Peter [has] written in Holy Scripture, 'your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.' (1 St.Peter 5,8)" (Before praying the Simple Exorcism, obtain some holy water to bless yourself & to sprinkle after saying the prayer.)

"The Holy Father exhorts priests to say this prayer as often as possible, as a simple exorcism to curb the power of the devil and prevent him from doing harm. The FAITHFUL ALSO MAY SAY IT in their own name, for the same purpose, as any approved prayer. Its use is recommended whenever action of the devil is suspected, causing malice in men, violent temptations and even storms and various calamities." (emphasis added)

This is not a Solemn Exorcism which must be prayed in Latin by an exorcist & requires a bishops approval. But recently, a friend brought the following to my attention: "'When I am asked how many demons there are, I answer with the words that the demon himself spoke through a demonic: ‘We are so many that, if we were visible, we would darken the sun.'" (An Exorcist Tells His Story by Father Gabrielle Amorth, Chief Exorcist of the Vatican). (emphasis added)

We're under attack but we must not think we are helpless or that all is hopeless. Jesus Christ won the victory over Satan & over death by dying on the Cross. The question now is how many of us will accept that victory & how many reject it. Those who accept Christ's victory can & MUST FIGHT BACK on their own behalf but also on behalf of others dazzled & trapped in sin & especially on behalf of children & babies. Children are being brought up to believe sin is virtue & the world reinforces what they have learned; babies are being ripped apart in the womb.

If we are faithful Christians, we must engage in the battle. We cannot just stand aside & think it doesn't affect us. Prayer is our #1 weapon; we cannot fight alone; we can only fight nestled in the arms of Christ & the powers of Heaven. Scripture, the saints & every faithful Christian that believes the Bible is actually God's Word, whether Catholic or Protestant, knows that war is God's punishment for sin. About 620,000 Americans were killed in the Civil War - the cost of slavery. What would punishment for abortion & the offenses against the consciences of children result in? Do we really need to know? Perhaps if we, who have done little to actually stop abortion & sins against children, truly repent & enter the battle against "spirits in the high places" using the gifts of fasting & prayer that God has given us, He will forgive & withhold His hand against us. And even if He doesn't, this is a fight we must enter at some point - either now or later. Let's become spiritual ninjas, calmly & quietly Fasting & Praying.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Core Strength

Ignitum Today is a Catholic news, entertainment & information site that I've subscribed to recently. An excellent review of Shaun T's, Insanity
which unpacks the Catholic spiritual dimension of the popular workout tapes evoked a comment which grew & grew into a post:

Until I became ill, I mostly taught the parts of dance one doesn't see in music videos: jazz barre & ballet technique. My goddaughter, who was studying drama & ballet in Moscow, took my jazz barre during a visit to NYC. I thought she'd find it easy but afterwards, in evident pain, she told me there was more core work than she had expected. Reading You're Insane on Ignitum Today, I finally realize why she went back to Moscow, left her faith & became a Muslim which is one of the painful experiences of my life.

As a child she had adopted me, the girl who rented the top floor of her mom's house. She'd been baptized & was taken to Mass on Christmas & Easter but only sporadically on other Sundays - HDOs were not acknowledged. Her mother was divorced & unable to help the girl who wanted to know how her sins could be forgiven. She came to me because I was friendly, religious, spent a lot of time at church & God was frequently in my conversation. I explained the process. We became friends & had many conversations. Eventually, she decided to call me "godmother" & I was happy to have such a role in her life. Then came the glamour & prestige of Moscow & finally becoming Muslim perhaps because it pleased her earthly father, who paid the bills, though not her heavenly One who gave her all. She didn't discuss becoming Muslim with me until after making the decision.

Christianity demanded too much core work just as Shaun T does, just as my barre did. It demanded too much heart. She went for less rather than more though I'm sure she imagined she was reaching for an immensity. She used to tell me she loved the Constitution & she shone when she spoke of it. Her desires that her sins be forgiven were so sincere yet she is of a belief that will never let her know whether she has been forgiven until death. And how did she stop believing Jesus Christ was the Son of God who died for her sins? Recently, she published clips of her activity in Moscow & I wondered how she could have forgotten truths she knew so well as a child. The clips show a girl working to make lies acceptable. The shine has gone though she is so beautiful. The immense love cannot be seen.

For years, I have prayed that she might remember her childhood but that's You're Insane has made it clear that it isn't the past she needs, it's core strength, it's God's Cor uniting with her cor, the Heart that longs for her to restart the heart that once longed for Him. So now I will pray that God send her whatever she needs to become strong at the core of her being, in her heart. Baptism creates an ontological change which cannot be undone. Through baptism, we become a new creation. It takes work to live that newness but nothing can make it go away. May God grant all who have been baptized into His Body whatever we need to become strong in the very center of our being.

Do check out Ignitum Today. It's an excellent read w/ lots of great features.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Voice For The Voiceless

Ken called a radio program in DC & told his story of being the child of a girl who had been raped at the age of 15. She did not abort her son but gave birth to him & gave him up for adoption. Before he knew the details of his conception, Ken was so grateful that he'd been adopted, as a teenager, he made a vow to God to adopt someday. His story is worth listening to. He is worth listening to. When he says if he met his biological father he'd punch him, I totally agree. I'd punch him too. Rape is horrible! And I know! Personally!

What if my parents had decided that because I'd been raped they would kill me? What if we killed everyone who had been sinned against? That's what aborting the child who is conceived as a result of rape means - killing those who have been sinned against & sinning against their mothers too. I've struggled to live w/ being raped since I was four & it's been hard - it still is. But w/ God's grace, w/ the Body of Christ, w/ help from the right professionals, w/ the love of friends & the love of parents who ultimately sent me to safety & saved my life, I've done it & continue to do it. It's possible to live w/ the results of being sinned against. It's possible to do more than that. Through Christ, we not only gain the strength to live w/ suffering, we gain the gift of resurrection, of triumph over suffering.

As an adopted child, Ken gained a mother, a father & two siblings. He is the father of his own family now, including an adopted daughter. Ken has met his birth mother, her husband & their children - his siblings - they love him & are happy that he is part of their family. The fruit of a courageous 15 year old's decision is three, happy families that seem to be becoming one & the gift, to all of us, of knowing that we can be courageous. We can triumph over the crimes & sins committed against us. We needn't sweep them under the rug as if they didn't happen. In fact, if we do try to make them disappear, we will only create death when we might have such abundant life.

(h/t to Deidre McQuade who wrote of Ken's story at Life Issues Forum on the USCCB's website.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rather Than Preach to the Choir, We Need to Preach to Lapsed & "Cultural" Catholics

Post-Comfortable Christianity and the Election of 2012


Shortly before he died in Oxford in 1988, the Jesuit retreat master and raconteur, Bernard Bassett, in good spirits after a double leg amputation, told me that the great lights of his theological formation had been Ignatius Loyola and John Henry Newman, but if he “had to do it all over,” he’d only read Paul.  “Everything is there.”  There is a temptation to think that God gave us the Apostle to the Gentiles in order to have second readings at Sunday Mass, usually unrelated to the first reading and the Gospel.  But everything truly is there.  Paul was one of the most important figures in human history, and a great character to boot.  That is, a character in the happiest sense of the word.  “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain” (1 Cor 15:10).

Tragedy and comedy intertwine, ultimately issuing in glory, whenever he is on trial.  He longs to live and to die in the same breath: ”For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:210).  Whenever he is on trial for his life, he invokes a forensic brilliance to save the very life he is willing to sacrifice.  Just as Jesus who had come into the world to die, slipped through the mob in Nazareth because his hour had not yet come, so does Paul become his own defense when on trial, ready to die by God’s calendar and not man’s.  In Caesarea, he confounds Antonius Felix, the Roman governor of Judaea and Samaria, and a little later he does the same  to the successor of Felix, Procius Festus.   The best court scene is Paul before Marcus Annaeus Novatus, who had taken the name of his adoptive father Junius Gallio, the rhetorician and friend of his father Seneca Sr. whose son Seneca, Jr. was the noble Stoic.  Nero forced Seneca’s suicide, but before that, in Achaia where Gallio was proconsul, Paul was bit of a Rumpole of the Bailey, in how he played the jury like a piano to the frustration of the judge.  The point is this:  Paul, both innocent and shrewd, was willing to suffer and did so regularly, as he was not loathe to recount at length, and he was also ready to die, but as death comes but once, he wanted it to be at the right moment.

There is in Paul a model for Catholics at the start of the Third Millennium which began with fireworks and Ferris wheels but is now entering a sinister stage.  Like Paul, it is not possible to be a Christian without living for Christ by suffering for him, nor is it possible to be a Christian without willing to die for him when he wants.   The Christian veneer of  American culture has cracked and underneath is the inverse of the blithe Christianity that took shape in the various enthusiasms of the nineteenth century and ended when voters were under the impression that they finally had a Catholic president.

This new period is not “Post-Christian” because nothing comes after Christ.   We can, however, call it “Post-Comfortable Christian.”  Niebuhr, looking out from New York’s Neo-Athens on Morningside Heights with its Modernist Christian seminaries and highly endowed preaching palaces and office towers of denominational bureaucracies, caricatured the Messiah of mainline religiosity: ”A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”  The virtual collapse of  those institutions on Morningside Heights, is mute testimony to the truth of his irony.

The bishops of the United States have asked the faithful to pray for religious liberty, now facing unprecedented assault. The national election in November, 2012 will either give Christians one last chance to rally, or it will be the last free election in our nation.  This can only sound like hyperbole to those who are unaware of what happened to the Slavic lands after World War I and to Western Europe in the 1930’s.   St. Paul  was writing to us when he wrote to the Galatians and Corinthians and Washingtonians – or rather, Romans – in his lifetime.

Unless there is a dramatic reversal in the present course of our nation, those who measured their Catholicism by the Catholic schools they attended, will soon find most of those institutions officially pinching incense to the ephemeral genius of their secular leaders, and universities once called Catholic will be no more Catholic than Brown is Baptist or Princeton is Presbyterian. The surrender will not come by a sudden loss of faith in Transubstantiation or doubts about Papal Infallibility.   It will happen smoothly and quietly, as the raptures of the Netherworld always hum victims into somnolence, by the cost factor of buying out of government health insurance.  Catholic businessmen with more than fifty employees will be in the same bind.  Catholic institutions and small businesses owned by those with religious and moral reservations about government-imposed policies, will wither within a very short time, unable to bear the burden of confiscatory tax penalties. As analysts have figured, an employer offering a health plan that does not comply with the preventive services package and other requirements under the federal health plan could be subject to a confiscatory penalty. The fine, imposed through a civil penalty or excise tax on a non-exempted religious employer could be as much as $100 a day for each employee insured under a plan at variance with federal law.  The burden would amount then to $36,500 for each employee.

Add to that the approaching discrimination against Catholics seeking positions in commerce and public life.  Catholics will not be suitable for public charities, medicine, education, journalism, or in the legal profession, especially judgeships and law enforcement.  As the bishops, by the acknowledgement of many of their own number, failed to articulate the cogency of doctrines on contraception and other moral issues,  so will they now, despite the best intentions, not be able to stem the radical attrition among native Catholics whose eyes are on mammon, and among recent immigrants whose privileges are guaranteed only if they vote for opponents of the Church.  The general election of 2012 may rally the fraction of conscientious Catholics among the sixty million or so sympathetic Catholics. If their influence is not decisive, and the present course of federal legislation accelerates, encouraged by a self-destructive appetite for welfare statism  on the part of ecclesiastical bureaucrats, the majority of Catholics with tenuous commitments to the Faith will evaporate, as did the lapsed baptized in North Africa during the oppression of the emperor Diocletian.

Should the present direction of the federal government be endorsed by a reiterative vote in the November elections, more blatant threats to the Church will begin, culminating in a punitive suspension of tax exemptions on church properties, once the Church’s moral precepts are coded as offenses against civil rights. The test case in this instance will be what is known in Orwellian diction as “same sex marriage.”  In the Supreme Court case, McCulloch v. Maryland, argued in 1819, the same year that Daniel Webster reduced Chief Justice Marshall to tears in the Dartmouth College case which vouchsafed private charters,  Webster said: “An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy.”  Chief Justice Marshall, an antecedent of Chief Justice Roberts, said “That the power of taxing (the bank) by the States may be exercised so as to destroy it, is too obvious to be denied, and that the power to tax involves the power to destroy (is) not to be denied.”

St. Paul would have understood this. After all, he lived through its precedents. His self-defense in the secular courts showed his disdain for bravado and theatrical martyrdom.  He enjoyed common sense, reason, and native intelligence in outwitting evil, for he knew as did St. John Vianney, who was not as bright as the student of Gamaliel but whose heart was at least as large, that “the Devil is stupid.”  Because of that, the Devil can only get his way with the help of stupid Catholics.
This year offers the best and possibly last chance to see how many actually obey Christ’s pastoral instruction in a conflicted world:  “Behold, I am sending you out as a sheep among wolves, so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16). (

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Cranial Sacral Therapy & The Dignity of the Human Person (Pt. 1)

Several weeks ago I had an experience that caused me to flashback to the 1st time I was raped. I'm ready to write about portions of the experience, especially what I've learned about the trigger & how this whole experience relates to being a faithful Catholic. I don't want to identify the other person involved so please forgive the somewhat tortured use of language - writing w/o personal pronouns is difficult. Regarding comments, please remember, this is a Catholic blog. I ask those who want to leave comments referring to Cranial Sacral Therapy (CST) to limit themselves to the Church's teachings on New Age practices which can be found in the Papal Encyclical, Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life (JCBWL). Those who want a CST blog need only search the web to find a great many.

I've discovered my 1st issue is delineating what happened & giving some initial thought to the other person involved. How do I respond to someone who knew my story, knew the horrors I faced in my childhood, had also experienced similar horrors, was, I thought, a very dear friend & yet chose to try to force memories from me?

My friend presented cranial sacral therapy (CST) as a gentle massage technique that helps engage the parasympathetic nervous system. One thing the parasympathetic nervous system does is allow us to enter deep relaxation & deep relaxation aids healing. Before I began sessions, I researched the parasympathetic nervous system & read a book about CST,  Your Inner Physician by Dr. John Upledger. The book raised some serious questions. Upledger sees CST as a way to access what he calls "the inner physician." My friend found the idea attractive & on some levels it is but it's also wrong. We talked about it a couple of times & I insisted that all healing comes from God. God has fashioned our bodies to participate in His work of healing & has given some people knowledge & talents that allow them to participate in His work but He has not given us an "inner physician" that when accessed will tell practitioners of CST how to heal our bodies. My friend agreed that healing comes from God & told me that practitioners of CST don't exactly know how or why it works. That didn't bother me because my doctors don't know how much of the medication I take works.

Another issue for me is that I don't like being touched in certain places. We're not talking about private areas, just places that feel weird when touched. My friend was happy not to touch me on those areas & though I had some other concerns, they were so vague, I didn't know how to express them & I thought all was well. Given that my friend & I seemed to be on the same page in terms of being faithful to Church teaching & this was a dear friend whom I trusted, I thought we could address any other issues when I had the words to express them.

After a few sessions of CST, my rheumatologist felt the fibromyalgia was improving & that my left knee, which has damage from rheumatoid arthritis as well as years of dancing, was better. I told several friends in DC about CST & how it was helping me & they were thrilled. Then my financial situation changed as did my friend's schedule & essentially, a couple of months passed w/o any CST sessions.

I kept asking my friend to get together so we could dance & then one day, my friend asked me to be a guinea pig to try out what had been recently taught in a workshop. We decided to get together, eat, dance & then have a CST session. During the 1st part of the session while working on my left thigh, my friend, told me I had some "congestion" in the thigh. The muscles were twitching. My friend asked if it twitched on other occasions & since I had experienced occasional twitching in that thigh, I affirmed it had. Throughout the time of working on my left leg, my friend spoke to me about what was happening. As my friend worked on my leg, I experienced a disturbing series of images: I was watching young children playing in what seemed to be huge, spent cartridge shells - so huge, a child was able to climb inside. They were on the edge of a garbage heap; the image reminded me of the favelas in Brazil. Suddenly, a jeep drove up & a blond man of Nordic appearance wearing fatigues & a leather cowboy-type hat shot the children. Blood, flowing from the cartridges, covered the ground; I knew the children were dead. I also knew I had never personally experienced anything of the sort & thought it was based on my awareness of Brazil's history of killing street children. It never occurred to me to wonder why those images arose at that moment.

Then my friend moved to work on my head & began pressing against it. Almost immediately my friend asked if I was okay. I replied, yes. At that moment, I was okay. My friend kept pressing & pressing. I felt my hair being gathered up & pushed aside as if my friend was trying to get to my scalp. As I used my hands to cover the part of my shoulders that I didn't want touched, my elbows were bent. All of a sudden, my arms began shaking uncontrollably like the beating of a hummingbird's wings & then I was reliving the 1st time I was raped when I was 4 years old.

Previously, in therapy, I had explored memories of the rape. Memory is odd. It has dimension just as time & space do. My previous memories were akin to viewing a 2D picture. That night, my friend "upgraded" me to 3D, even 4D memories. As my friend continued to press my head & my arms continued to beat uncontrollably & I kept reliving the rape, I wanted to say stop but my mouth wouldn't speak. Finally, I said something such as, I'm not doing very well here. I recall "my friend's" voice - silky, enticing, icky - asking me if I wanted to stop. It made no sense that "my friend" would ask me such a question. Why didn't "my friend" just stop? I finally pushed out the word, YES. "My friend" stopped, finally. Then that silky, icky voice was asking me if there were any memories I wanted to share. My arms continued to beat uncontrollably, the images that had been triggered continued to play in my mind & heart, I was so cold I felt I'd never be able to get warm & "my friend" was asking me if I wanted to share memories?! It was bizarre! Absolutely bizarre! I said no to sharing memories & asked for blankets. I wanted to know why my arms were shaking & didn't stop. "My friend" said something about memories. Then, "my friend" told me of feeling "resistance" in my head. But "my friend" had not mentioned resistance while actually pressing my head. I wanted this person out of my house. I went into fight or flight mode, became really nice (though I wanted to hurt "my friend"). I said & did whatever was necessary to appear normal so "my friend" would leave. When I was alone, I curled up in fetal position under a blanket & watched a video until I was finally able to sleep.

The next day, the 4D memories wouldn't stop. I didn't know what was happening to me. "My friend" & I were both at a social occasion. I had tried to walk across the room so we could speak & felt as if I'd hit a wall. Suddenly, I was utterly fatigued & in a great deal of pain. I asked another friend for a ride home. That evening, I called friends in DC & learned I was having serious flashbacks (I'd never experienced anything so horrid). One friend told me she had wanted to warn me about CST but hadn't because it seemed to be helping. I told her that in the future, she was to warn me. After explaining what was happening to me, she suggested I search for "CST + new age." When I did, page after page appeared; I couldn't read them at the time. On several occasions, that 1st week, I tried talking to "my friend" & simply couldn't; I felt happy when I missed a phone call. Following the suggestion of another friend, I sent "my friend" an email saying the CST had triggered flashbacks & I wasn't able to talk now. I avoided going out & spent most of my time hiding under a blanket on the sofa. On Saturday, close friends were celebrating their daughter's birthday. I went to the party since it would force me to go out & buy groceries (I kept putting it off 'til I hadn't any food left). Being around so many people hurt. I wanted to scream. After a few minutes, I left to get groceries & returned home. At Mass, the next day, I begged God to help me - I hadn't cried; I couldn't cry. I began to sob & sob. That day, I discovered I could be around 1 or 2 close friends but crowds were out. Later that week, I learned there are some people I'm just not comfortable being around & I have no idea why. During a "Fortnight for Freedom" homily, I ran out of the church because the homilist was graphically describing episodes from the time of the Cristeros war. A week later, I demanded a friend stop relating similar graphic scenes.

Over the past few weeks, I've gone from a basket case to a bit better. Since seeing a therapist may be a valid possibility, I asked for help finding someone. Thus far, I've seen him twice. He said it's sad that I'm not speaking w/ "my friend" & I agreed at the time. But after giving it some thought, I'm not so sure it is sad. Had "my friend" felt "resistance," told me about it, explained what it might mean & what might happen, if I had then given permission to continue & experienced flashbacks as a result, it would be sad because I would have chosen to take the risk. But I wasn't given an opportunity to choose. I don't think that's the way friends behave.

I realize I'm relieved not to talk w/ "my friend." I feel as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I now know CST is extremely dangerous but I haven't the energy to try to convince "my friend." Oh, eventually I'll talk w/ "my friend." I'll even refer "my friend" to information on why CST is so dangerous & in opposition to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Right now, I'm recovering from an infection & then there's a course of chemo to undergo. Life is already filled w/ responsibilities. I'd be foolish to add more.

In part 2, I plan to write more about the dangers of CST, how it's opposed to Church teaching & the ways practitioners fail to respect the dignity of the human person.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When the World Came Crashing Down

Recently, I had an experience that caused me to flashback to the 1st time I was raped. I was between 4 1/2 & 5, there were two men & the world came crashing down. The child I had been died though I was still alive. I have spent many years working to bring her back to life. Parts of her still exist but I will never be the person I was before that experience. Through God's grace, I have found life again or at least I had. This current experience has me teetering on the edge between that shattered child & the integrated adult I had become. There is potential for even greater integration, I know that. But for now, I can only live reality as it is & it is a time of wailing & gnashing of teeth - I can't describe the hell I experience any time I don't exercise every bit of energy I have to push it away & often when I do.

A flashback is partly reliving a past traumatic experience in 3D surround sound. But it also includes the awareness of the terror, fear, shock & horror that I was too young to recognize at the time, that God in His mercy saved me from experiencing then. There are other symptoms: my heart races, my blood pressure rises, I startle easily, some people or places make me feel frightened though I don't know why. Sometimes I feel like a hunted bunny, sometimes I just want my Papa to come & get me as he did then. The odd thing is the memory that is causing so much trouble has long been part of the platter of horrors I was served up in my childhood. But it was a memory not something that claimed my entire being while playing itself over & over in my mind against my will.

A friend encourages me to get a special form of psychotherapy. My income is fixed & I won't be able to afford such expensive therapy for at least 8 months to a year. And, given my previous experience of therapists & studies in psychology, I don't find the thought attractive. It is relatively new therapy (1989) & has been inadequately studied; I fear to expose myself to a treatment devised while on a walk by a therapist who completed her PhD in an unaccredited & now defunct institution especially when those who are trained certify that they will not reveal any information from the training session & the training modalities & materials are not made available to other scientists for study. And certainly at this time, I haven't the energy or ability to choose a therapist wisely: my ability to make appropriate judgements is compromised. I want to be safe & know I would tend to choose the first person who made me feel safe. That's a foolish way to choose a therapist as past experience has taught me.

So what will I do?

First, I know God has pulled me from hell in the past & am very aware that that knowledge is allowing me to get through each moment of the day right now. Memory is horrifying but also a lifeline. When I recall that another friend triggered a series of flashbacks just under two years ago & though it took a year, God brought me through them & sensibilities I thought permanently deadened were returned to life, I have hope. When I recall my belief that I would never heal after experiencing such an abusive childhood but that through God's grace, some therapy & Christian community I found healing & friendships I never imagined, I have hope. When I forget & then remember that Jesus' heart is a safe place & I can remain there forever, I not only have hope but safety. When I find myself being chased by hideous memories, I beg Him to pick me up & tuck me into His heart & He does. So though memory is my enemy it is also the gift that allows me to hope that God's arm is not to short to save me.

Second, I am listening to the Voice of my Friend, Jesus. Listening in a way I've not done before. Some people make me feel uncomfortable, I avoid them. I've told the person whose actions triggered the flashback that I cannot be in contact w/ her for now. Doing so is for her good as well as mine. Intellectually, I know she didn't intend to harm me but she did & the violation & rage I feel is intense. Eventually, we'll need to discuss what occurred but now is not the time. Now, I want to hurt her as she hurt me. I know how easily I could do so: I've lived w/ myself long enough to know how terribly I can hurt people w/ words & attitudes. I'd rather not. The harm it would do to my soul is inconceivable: I may feel like a 4 year old child but I'm an adult & I know better. I also know how to avoid such misbehaviour. She has sent me a note but I shan't open it. I'll put it aside until I can read it fairly & reasonably. Now, I'm ready to respond to it w/ rage even before I know the content; I want to express sentiments that I don't mean except I hurt so badly. I am not the person I would normally be. I am an enraged, terrified, violated child & it's best I remember that. I avoid large groups of people & many other experiences that normally tend to make me feel a bit unsafe or frustrated because I know now my response to them would be excessive. My life has become quieter: listening to P.G. Wodehouse & other lighthearted 19th & early 20th century audio books (including children's books), discussing distributism vs. genuine capitalism (sans most of the regulations & all the subsidies & bailouts) w/ a friend who has a calm personality, spending time w/ another friend & her young children - children are healing. I keep a blanket nearby to swaddle myself & when something occurs that startles me, such as a recent lightening strike & resultant thunder which is so much louder in a city where the buildings are fewer and much farther between, I remind myself of how I used to feel just 2 1/2 weeks ago: I loved lightening & will love it again.

And I am considering therapy. I plan to talk to a priest I know & ask him if he has an affordable suggestion for someone who uses more traditional therapy for trauma survivors. I need someone who is able to exercise his reason & critical facilities, someone who knows me, whom I already know & have reason to believe won't frighten me, who knows the possibilities in Houston & can help me during this time when I can't trust myself to act reasonably.

I keep prayer simple: the prayer to St. Michael, the Anima Christi, the Our Father, the Hail Holy Queen & other short simple prayers seeking protection, assistance & healing.

Finally, I maintain contact w/ old friends even though they are far away. We don't intentionally talk about the flashbacks but if I want to talk about the way I feel, I can. Friends help a great deal.

My dear friend, Dawn Eden has written a book, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints. I've read it a couple of times & though I can't read it straight through now as I have in the past, an occasional glance helps. One of the things I need to do is cry. I fear I'll never stop crying, that there aren't enough tears to wash away what was done to me but life doesn't allow me to cry indefinitely. Writing a piece such as this or reading a bit of Dawn's book helps me to cry in almost a structured way - so that I'm not keeping it all in & pretending all is just fine (I tried that week 1, it didn't work). Below is a recent interview w/ Dawn that is quite good. If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual abuse or other kinds of abuse or trauma, I highly recommend her book. Please keep me in your prayers. God bless.

Friday, May 25, 2012

I'm still around, having health issues but thinking & planning & occasionally commenting on something I see. Here's a recent comment I made on the blog for the new women's magazine, Verily:

My comment:
"Do you think there are ways that unmarried women can be practicing commitment in small ways to be building character traits that help prepare for lifelong marriages?" I'm not Ashley but I will give my answer to your question: 'Yes!' We can perform our "manifest duties" well: give appropriate notice when we leave a job (sometimes that's more than 2 weeks) or a roommate situation. Pay bills on time. Repay friends when it's really possible & not just when asked or when we've got extra cash. (When do we have extra?) Learn to tell the truth & not what we hope will be the truth (ie: I don't know when I'll be able to repay this so if you can't spare it, please don't make the loan.) Seek to do our jobs well, even the parts we don't like. Ask how we might help when we have downtime. We ought to be making & keeping commitments to serve God & our neighbours: Church at least once each week. Defined prayer times (morning prayer, evening prayer, the Rosary, etc. can be very helpful). We can also engage in what I call "personal giving" so that when we want to slack off, we know the people we would be hurting - it helps enormously if children are involved because it hurts to disappoint a child. (ie: Recently, I remade a flower girl dress for a child in a family of 9 whose eldest son is marrying. They couldn't afford a seamstress. I also loaned shoes & a belt to the mother knowing she can't afford cool accessories but would love to have them. Because I'm ill, the sewing was quite difficult but I couldn't let them down so I did it.) Most of our lives can be spent building our characters so that we are able to make & keep commitments. For most of us, marriage is only the biggest commitment we will make.

Their response:
Alessandre, I love your ideas for small personal commitments. I see them also as ways to serve others. As a single person (not-married), it is so easy to craft my schedule around whatever I would enjoy at that moment. The ideas you gave really reminded me of service and the ways that serving others or being attuned to others can help us develop character. Great points!

Check out Verily's teaser issue. I'm not involved but I'd love your comments since I've been thinking about a project in the same area but different. I'll keep my own comments on Verily & info on my project to myself for now. God bless you all & thanks for hanging in there. I continue to hope for stability in my health but then something changes; that's what it means to live on earth.

Monday, April 02, 2012


(This post was inspired by a friends post at The Emperor Has No Clothes. Follow the link in her 1st sentence to the article about which inspired her question.)

Bluebeard (Edna St. Vincent Millay)
This door you might not open, and you did;
So enter now, and see for what slight thing
You are betrayed.... Here is no treasure hid,
No cauldron, no clear crystal mirroring
The sought-for truth, no heads of women slain
For greed like yours, no writhings of distress,
But only what you see.... Look yet again—
An empty room, cobwebbed and comfortless.
Yet this alone out of my life I kept
Unto myself, lest any know me quite;
And you did so profane me when you crept
Unto the threshold of this room to-night
That I must never more behold your face.
This now is yours. I seek another place.

A male friend directed me to this poem when he learned I was beginning to work on a women's webzine. It made me pay attention to all the professional women I knew, had known & kept hearing about who, after a time, hated their jobs; to the new mothers who wanted to be with their babies; to the disappointed women who had been convinced that law or accounting or business or medicine was their calling only to discover 20 years later that they were engaged in boring, repetitive activity no matter the level they had achieved. I've known vicious managers & meek receptionists (& vice versa) who after a drink or two tell me they hate their jobs, their lives - people talk to me a lot. With birth control, we peeked behind the forbidden door, into the male world which ought to have been full of glorious treasure only to find that men had sacrificed their souls to care for their families..We insisted that we could do as they did but we never asked what we might be losing or what we might be taking from them.

By & large, we now live in a culture that emasculates men & defeminizes women. Women have been taught to be tough but so many of us never learned to love, never learned to defer because often, being right is much less important than loving another, never learned to be obedient because we began rebelling as teenagers and didn't know how to listen to anyone unless involved in negotiations for our own benefit. We don't know how to be women, made in God's image & the crowning glory of His creation just as men don't know how to be man, made in God's image & the lord of His creation. It's not at all surprising, therefore, that neither men nor women are happier. There are, of course, happy individuals but on the whole, our behaviour is not that of happy people.

I shan't revisit the contents of the article in my friend's post but there are a few additional indicators of unhappiness that aren't mentioned: So many men have given up not only on marriage but on any relationships at all: men have been so traumatized by women who screech at them when they hold a door or fail to hold it, they sit at home alone in chat rooms & playing games & yes, on porn sites. In the past five years, I've met a dozen or more men who go on bride meeting holidays in Asian, Eastern European & Latin American countries because non-American women are willing to be wives; those men tell me such trips are numerous & packed. Many women have given up as well. We too have growing relationships w/ our computers & 1/3 of us visit porn sites - it's not just for men anymore.

Birth control gave women everything we were convinced we were missing. Some women are glad. Many of us simply wish we had had mothers to teach us to be wives & homemakers, to be gentle & loving & feminine, to be partners to men rather than competitors. And a very few of us are working to help women who want to be women, who know they can do almost anything but who want to learn to love & support & care for a husband & family & help build the Body of Christ or at least their community in ways that men can't. Certainly that includes work when that is a woman's calling or a family's need but because it's her calling or the family's need not because she is just as good as a man.

And maybe that's why we're so unhappy, because it has always been silly to make male/female relationships into a competition to determine whose better. We're both fallen, we're both rebellious and, if we choose to accept it, we've both been redeemed. Which means being a woman has been redeemed and might be something so glorious, so much more than we imagine if we will be obedient to Christ.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Modern Conversion Story: God is Great!

In the spring of 2010, I embarked on a project with a doctor, co-writing a book about the vagina. It was to be a funky self-help guide to a woman’s most misunderstood parts: The Vagina, an Owner’s Guide. Part of my remit was to garner as much anecdotal information as possible. I decided to interview prostitutes and Muslims, Catholics and lesbians.

The hookers and gay women were easy talkers. The religious women less so. But I live near Rome and run into nuns every day – what a scoop, to talk to a nun about her vagina! But the approach would be tricky. I knew of a priest through a friend, a youngish man who chatted easily at the grocer’s. Perhaps he could introduce me to an open-minded sister. One March morning, I emailed him: “Dear Father, I am writing a book about vaginas …”

And so the clash of the sacred and profane began. [continue...]

Thursday, January 05, 2012

If That's All There Is

I've been watching Christian movies recently, everything from VeggieTales to movies about saints to films about Our Lady's & Our Lord's apparitions (she seems to make visits with messages for the world or healing springs, etc. & He tends to make personal, individual visits). I've been watching personal stories, fiction & documentaries. My requirements have been, does the film recognize that Jesus Christ is Lord & that Christ was crucified, rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven & is with us through the comforter He promised, the Holy Spirit? They don't all enunciate that particular formula but that is the basic premise; if it is not, the film quickly degenerates into ideology & nice warm feelings.

There are many reasons I've been watching Christian movies. The 1st is that afterwards, I feel clean. My background of abuse leaves me susceptible to flashbacks & even now, I must fight the belief that I deserve to be abused. Christian movies don't trigger those negative experiences, they remind me of God's love & actual intention for me which is certainly not more of the evil things that were done to me in the past. Christian movies are another way to focus on Jesus even when my mind is woozy w/ drugs. And I'm interested in what's out there. Christian rock is the fastest growing segment of the music market. It is my hope that Christian films will soon be in a similar position. I want to live in a world that shows me good things not evil. Of course I still watch cartoons & an occasional episode of Buffy or an action or superhero film. But in general, just as I prefer to read good things, I've come to see that I prefer to watch & listen to good things. And finally, many films are like Psalms, they sing praise to God & that's my very favourite thing to do. Every so often, when a film impresses me for good or ill, I plan to write about it.

Recently I watched, A Greater Yes: The Amy Newhouse Story on Netflix. I am happily impressed at the Christian films I can stream or order on Netflix. A Greater Yes is the depiction of Amy Newhouse's response to cancer. At 16, she is clearly God's child, she belongs to Him & has a strong sense of a mission to touch the lives of others for Christ. The Movieguide review says, in part:

The movie A GREATER YES has its heart in the right place. The message is compelling, the emotion strong, and it’s a story that no parent can watch without being moved. The role of Amy is played well, though most of the supporting cast is a bit weak.

The story is very moving, but the script tells but doesn’t show the plot points. All of the scenes are characters talking with no action. Amy’s character is so perfect that she is always perky, even going through the hardest times.
What Movieguide calls perky is actually an indomitable faith in God. As she says, "God always answers my prayers." After suffering six months of grueling side affects from chemotherapy, she believes she has been healed & is ready to take on the world. Though others want her to take a break, she feels she has lived through six inactive months & can't wait another moment to extend God's love to the world. She voices her desire to have a career as a missionary & begins to do everything she can in her own community to share Christ's love. Then the cancer resurfaces, treatment is not working & she is sent home to die. At 1st she wonders why God has left her & stopped answering her prayers but then she discovers that God has been answering "No" because He has a greater yes in store for her.

My main interest in writing about this film (& others too) isn't the cinematography or any of the usual criticisms one encounters in reviews. I'm interested in the message that's portrayed in the story & I think A Greater Yes is missing something, something very important. Amy is the narrator & we come to understand her experience of God through her eyes. Ultimately, I think Amy comes to the right conclusions but she has no sense that suffering is redemptive. Her six inactive months are spent helping a young girl get through chemo, as if God knew she was strong enough to care for the child who was afraid & in need of Amy's childlike faith. Each day, she has her boyfriend invite the school outcast, Jordan, to join his group at lunch. Jordan eventually joins just to get Amy to stop asking & also joins the 6 a.m. prayer group that is praying for Amy's healing; previously, Jordan was a rebel who would not consider prayer. Amy's suffering sparks a revival of faith in a large part of TX. Even today, her story continues to touch hearts & encourage others to love Christ & to persevere. It would have been nice if the other characters were stronger, particularly her parents - I'd have loved to see them sharing their faith with their children. But even without knowing more about them, Amy is very much like St. Therese of Lisieux: she loves Jesus & when the time comes, she suffers with Him. The film doesn't make that clear, just as it fails to make it clear that Amy suffers for Christ - her suffering is a gift that will bring many to Christ just as Christ's suffering made it possible for us to become children of God. (I think Jesus knew we would forget how powerful His sacrifice was so He sends us reminders through people like Amy; it's another way we can know Christ did not leave us alone.) Finally,  I wish she had understood that suffering was also God's gift to her, that God took His dear child, Amy & conformed her to His Son's image: through suffering: she died with Him & she will reign with Him. (See 2 Timothy 2:12)

If suffering only means revival, it's good but it's not much. Helping others is nice but I want more than nice. I want to love like Christ does. I want to heal like Christ does. I want to be made like Christ because that is what God made me to be & only through accepting His will for me can I fully love others; only then is suffering worth it. A person conformed to Christ's image is the most attractive person there is. He (or she) is the only person who can truly win souls to Christ because Christ has been invited to use him/her exactly as He wills.

I highly recommend A Greater Yes: The Story of Amy Newhouse. And I strongly suggest that it be watched while asking the question, is she being conformed to Christ? Though she seems not to be aware of it, she becomes so much like Him, so on fire with Christ's love, her death, so she will be with Christ face-to-face, makes perfect sense even though it is excruciating for those who love her. And though she has died, she will touch more people than the limited few she mentions. God put her in the right place to help the school outcast, put her in the right place to help another child through chemo, He has put her in the right place to show many souls the love of Christ. The God of the living still holds Amy Newhouse in the palm of His hand. She lives with & in Him & she will reign with Him. I have been graced by her story & look forward to meeting her on someday.