The entire section beginning & ending with the two sample paragraphs:
Rust, dust, grittiness against my tongue: I pressed my mouth against some sort of metal mesh. I didn’t know what it was. My feet were bare. I stood on a cool, smooth surface, wore pink and white pajamas with legs that ended before they reached my ankles. The mesh was inset in the upper part of a white, wooden door. On the other side of it, there were trees, sky, grass, flowers. Where was I? Who was I? I was like an electric light that had been snapped on. I felt inside myself for answers and encountered a palpable blackness, a thick, rubbery barrier. I was not alone. A Presence was with me. Separate. Accompanying me. I couldn’t see Him with my physical eyes but He was absolutely clear to the eyes of my heart. My physical senses were intensely aware of some One near me. I felt on the verge of touching, smelling, seeing Him. Though He spoke no word, I understood Him. I stood there probing the barrier, questioning the Presence with my heart and mind. A harsh, angry voice intruded: Go and finish your nap! I looked toward the sound, saw a narrow stream to my right that disappeared between the trees. A woman and several children sat or played near the stream. I could not see them clearly. I did not know them. The voice intruded again, louder, angrier: Go and finish your nap! I turned, ran into a room and climbed onto a bed. With the eyes of my heart, I looked towards the Presence and shrugged.
Days passed. I cried. Tears fell when I was alone. They fell when I was with the woman and children. As I walked through the woods with them: I lagged behind everyone else and cried. Food tasted of the tears in the back of my throat: I was not hungry. Each morning, my pillow case was crumpled and damp with tears. I lay awake long after the house was quiet. Only when the man was present did my tears stop. Around him, I did my best to keep them from falling. I was full of a sharp, searing pain as if my heart was burned, twisted, wrung. I hurt when I moved. I hurt when I breathed. The Presence comforted me. In the moments when I was alone, inwardly, I lay against His shoulder and snuggled into His arms. At night, I felt His hand gently stroking my back as I lay in bed, even as a huge, male member came down from the ceiling to get me. I could see it with the same eyes that saw the Presence. I knew it would get me, knew how it would get me; knew all I could do was shrink within myself, suck my thumb, rub my hand against my private parts and, hide my face against the Presence’s shoulder. Only the warm, gentle tingle from His stroking hand and His hugs kept the tiny shards of me together. When I cried so hard I wanted to scream and scream and scream, the tingle became a powerful, electric surge that overrode the insistent pressure to break down and carried me into a brief period of sleep.
During the day and well into the evening, the house was filled with noise from many, many, scary children: the oldest girl, the second girl, the oldest boy, the big, mean second boy, the third boy and others, both boys and girls, who came and went before I could place them in the miasma of the house’s occupants. Children shouted, screamed, cried, were loudly indignant, clomped their shoes on the floorboards while running, banged doors, bounced balls against the walls and threw toys on the floor and at each other. The woman and the housekeeper shouted at the children much of the day, Be quiet! Stop shouting! Stop crying! Lower your voice! Don’t run in the house! Walk quietly! Close the door! Don’t bang the door! You may not play ball inside! Don’t throw toys at him, her, it! In the evening, the housekeeper’s voice was replaced by the voice of man. Night after night, he’d shout: Don’t make me come up there! Night after night the noise continued and he’d stomp up the stairs, enter one of the rooms that held laughing or indignant children and beat them with whatever came to hand, often removing his belt or leather slipper. Then the shouts would be replaced with loud cries until the man threatened to continue the beating if the noise and tears did not end. He’d often beat all the children in the room. I soon learned to get in bed, pull the bedclothes up to my chin and close my eyes as soon as the man began shouting.
The most quiet inhabitant of the house was the woman. When she wasn’t shouting, I liked her voice. It reminded me of something. She sewed or worked in the kitchen and I read or played quietly in the dining room. She scolded me sometimes, Stop sucking your thumb! She shouted at the noisy children but as long as I was quiet and she did not see me sucking my thumb, she did not shout at me or scold me for crying. She did insist I eat things that made me ill; the other children were usually happy to gobble down their share and mine. She scolded me for being slow at my chores. Dusting, scrubbing baseboards and, vacuuming made my head ache, my nose stuffy, my heart pound; it was hard to breathe. I enjoyed drying cups, small glasses, plates. They fit my hands and I could sit when I was tired. I was always tired.
The man was big, loud, angry, terrifying: Children should be seen but not heard! I wanted him to go away. He remained. We were all concerned with what he thought, felt, needed, wanted, desired. We were all afraid of him. Everything we did was wrong. He called us, Devils! We were, Doing the work of Satan! He often told his children, I rue the day you were born! He told me and the children who stayed for a time and left, I rue the day I brought you home! Each time he said it, I felt the tingle of the Presence hugging me: we heard the difference. The man hit us. He beat us. When the oldest girl poured part of a box of the mush she most hated down the sink and clogged the pipe, the man beat her until she bled. We watched as her blood saturated the back of her white school uniform blouse. As he beat her he screamed, I’ll kill you! Often, when he planned to beat one of us, the man would send the child to retrieve the weapon he planned to use: a heavy leather strap, a broom or mop handle, a branch the diameter of a pencil from a shrub that he would peel before our eyes. When he injured his back, he used his cane. The other children would fetch the weapon and return repeating, Please, daddy, don’t hit me! Please, daddy, don’t hit me! I didn’t understand. When I left, I did not return. I hid. If he found me he’d beat me and I’d bellow in rage: Don’t! Hit! Me! But every so often, he forgot in his anger at someone or something else and I’d escape. I shrank into myself, hoping he wouldn't notice me, hoping he’d would quickly move on when he did.
I did not speak very often. Neither did I smile or laugh. I was glum. There were many books in the house at the near the woods and as often as possible I took one and hid behind the drapes and read while I sang songs to the Presence and cried. Some of the songs I picked up from the man who sang in the morning. As everyone else slept, I lay awake listening as he sang in his beautiful voice. Then, I’d sing In The Garden or His Eye Is On The Sparrow to the Presence when we were alone. I hummed other tunes to the Presence though I did not recall the names or the words. I had so many questions but didn’t know how to ask. Why was I in that house? How did I get there? Why did they keep me there? They did not care about me. One night there was a fire. As red lights flashed and sirens screamed, I snapped on as I had that day at the mesh door. I had wakened, dressed myself in robe and slippers and, carried an old, ragged bear out the back door. No one noticed or asked after me.
One day we moved house. The front porch was taken away by men who had come to tear down all the houses near the woods. I kept going to the edge of the porch and looking down; the ground seemed so far away, too far for me to jump. How would I escape? Finally, the woman locked the front door so I could no longer get to the porch. The new house had many doors downstairs: one in front and one in back. In the cellar, there was one at the back and French doors that led to a driveway, the front garden and then, the street. Another door in the cellar led to the back garden. On the second floor, there was a balcony with stairs that led to the back garden. The door to the balcony was in the rooms shared by the man and the woman. The upstairs hallway bathroom was next door. The first day, when no one was around, I looked out the bathroom window. The porch rail was a few inches from the window frame. I raised the sash, used the toilet to climb up, sat on the sill, reached my foot over to the balcony railing and pulled myself onto the porch. I can escape!
Soon after we moved, the woman went away. The housekeeper stayed at night. Meals were easier to eat. When the woman returned, she brought a new baby. The noise decreased. I loved the baby. He smelled soft and sweet, smelled right. His curly fingers clasped one of my small fingers. His nails were pearly, delicate, his skin warm velvet. The woman allowed me to hold him in my lap as I sat in a chair. When she took him away, she warned me, Never try to pick him up. He’s too heavy for you. One day, I was alone with the baby, watching him sleep. I went over and carefully tried to lift him as I had seen the woman do. I dropped him back into the cradle: he was too heavy. He howled and I squeezed myself between the bookshelf and the window frame, pulling the drape over me. The woman rushed in, lifted him and soothed him back to sleep.
One afternoon, not long after the baby came, the woman held a party for me. She told me it was my birthday. A long, low table was set in the back garden. A number of strange children arrived. We all sat round the table; I was at one end. The weather was quite mild but the wind was a bit chilly: I wore a sweater over my dress. The boys received toy cars, the girls small dolls. I received wrapped packages. The housekeeper served sandwiches, lemonade, candy and cake. After the meal, the children ran off to play with their toys. I remained in my seat. The weather was wrong. It should be very hot or cold and foggy, not a mild, late Spring or early Summer day. The smell was wrong. I should smell the sea, horses and, a riotous sweetness of red flowers or wool, horses and, potpourri. The scent of blossoms and new mown grass was wrong.
Some days after the party, as I lay awake one night, I saw the man and woman rush downstairs, heard the back door slam and the sound of the car driving away. The next morning we were told the baby was dead. A few days later, someone dressed me in a short, cream coloured dress adorned with cream coloured lace with matching pants underneath. It felt as a dress ought to feel, smelled as a dress ought to smell. I had not worn it any other day since that first day at the door, not even to church, but I knew this dress was mine. I was taken to a large room inside a stone building. A white, wooden box with part of the top open was at the far end. The delicious feel of the dress against my skin, the sight of that white, wooden box: I wanted to prance like a young colt. My knees raised themselves for a few steps, my feet touched the ground toe first, then heel. My bare legs were a delight. The man caught my hand, squeezed, hissed: Walk quietly! My knees quieted; my feet became heavy. People sat in rows of chairs; some seemed familiar. The woman sat in the front row crying. As we walked forward, female voices whispered, Why wasn’t the funeral held at the church? The baby wasn’t baptized. Well really! She said, No! I was led to the box. The baby lay within. I touched his cheek. It was no longer warm. I sat in my seat in the front row as the man who spoke each Sunday talked about the baby, about God, about death, about life in Christ. Many cried as he spoke. Eventually, I slid to the floor. Why did they cry? The baby’s face was before my eyes. My mouth hidden in my hand, I smiled to my Friend: He’s so sweet, so beautiful. After we returned to the house, I was told to change my clothes. When I went to bed, the delicious, cream coloured dress was gone.
Copyright - Drusilla Barron 2013
Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
The entire section beginning & ending with the two sample paragraphs:
Monday, December 16, 2013
Just 2 paragraphs from the first chapter:
"Rust, dust, grittiness against my tongue: I pressed my mouth against some sort of metal mesh. I didn’t know what it was. My feet were bare. I stood on a cool, smooth surface, wore pink and white pajamas with legs that ended before they reached my ankles. The mesh was inset in the upper part of a white, wooden door. On the other side of it, there were trees, sky, grass, flowers. Where was I? Who was I? I was like an electric light that had been snapped on. I felt inside myself for answers and encountered a palpable blackness, a thick, rubbery barrier. I was not alone. A Presence was with me. Separate. Accompanying me. I couldn’t see Him with my physical eyes but He was absolutely clear to the eyes of my heart. My physical senses were intensely aware of some One near me. I felt on the verge of touching, smelling, seeing Him. Though He spoke no word, I understood Him. I stood there probing the barrier, questioning the Presence with my heart and mind. A harsh, angry voice intruded: Go and finish your nap! I looked toward the sound, saw a narrow stream to my right that disappeared between the trees. A woman and several children sat or played near the stream. I could not see them clearly. I did not know them. The voice intruded again, louder, angrier: Go and finish your nap! I turned, ran into a room and climbed onto a bed. With the eyes of my heart, I looked towards the Presence and shrugged."
"Some days after the party, as I lay awake one night, I saw the man and woman rush downstairs, heard the back door slam and the sound of the car driving away. The next morning we were told the baby was dead. A few days later, someone dressed me in a short, cream coloured dress adorned with cream coloured lace with matching pants underneath. It felt as a dress ought to feel, smelled as a dress ought to smell. I had not worn it any other day since that first day at the door, not even to church, but I knew this dress was mine. I was taken to a large room inside a stone building. A white, wooden box with part of the top open was at the far end. The delicious feel of the dress against my skin, the sight of that white, wooden box: I wanted to prance like a young colt. My knees raised themselves for a few steps, my feet touched the ground toe first, then heel. My bare legs were a delight. The man caught my hand, squeezed, hissed: Walk quietly! My knees quieted; my feet became heavy. People sat in rows of chairs; some seemed familiar. The woman sat in the front row crying. As we walked forward, female voices whispered, Why wasn’t the funeral held at the church? The baby wasn’t baptized. Well really! She said, No! I was led to the box. The baby lay within. I touched his cheek. It was no longer warm. I sat in my seat in the front row as the man who spoke each Sunday talked about the baby, about God, about death, about life in Christ. Many cried as he spoke. Eventually, I slid to the floor. Why did they cry? The baby’s face was before my eyes. My mouth hidden in my hand, I smiled to my Friend: He’s so sweet, so beautiful. After we returned to the house, I was told to change my clothes. When I went to bed, the delicious, cream coloured dress was gone."
(Copyright Drusilla Barron 2013)
Posted by heirsinhope at 12/16/2013 07:02:00 PM
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
I've always asked, What if? As a child, I broke a vintage television that was kept in the cellar by wondering what would happen if I removed tubes and replaced them. First, I removed one tube and immediately put it back. Later, I removed two, then three, then more. Finally, the day came when I removed them all at once and when the time came to replace them, couldn't remember where they belonged. I decided that each tube would only fit in one spot. I was wrong. When the man in whose house I lived next turned on the TV, it went, Pfffft!, and never worked again. I broke clocks, more than one computer, many tape players, ditto disk players, ditto many other mechanical devices.
But my curiosity about What if? also encompasses ideas and, since it is the center of my life, my faith. Not long after my confirmation, when I was 16, I wondered what would happen if I took Matthew 6:33 as a fact: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (KJV) I decided to try it. It was the best risk I've ever taken; I'm still living the answer.
As a child, though I longed for my family, I also longed for someone to notice that things weren't right, longed for someone who would help me. I fantasized about what would happen if a family loved me. As an adult, I longed to be part of a family, was intensely grateful for the time I spent as an au pair. I fantasized about being loved as the members of that family were loved but it never happened. I hurt and somehow I knew my pain would only be healed by family; I had no family. I had had a great experience of family as a young child. But death had left me alone. It seemed that I had had my quota and must now bear the cross of having no one. I didn't expect to experience family again this side of Heaven. No one owed me the love I hungered for. I certainly couldn't ask for it. There are some things that lose their value when requested.
Then I returned to the Church and encountered genuine Christian community and, for the first time in my life, Christian friends who were as interested in getting to Heaven as I was. There was little small talk. Everything mattered. Even if it only mattered to one person, we all cared. We prayed for each other. Celebrated birthdays and holidays together. Talked to each other. Laughed at each other. Wit and jokes flew around whenever we were together, even when only two of us gathered. I laughed at them. They laughed at me. I didn't take offense; their jokes were kind, not cruel.
I let down my guard. They continued to love me. Not once was I avoided for loving God or having strong opinions or being different. They invited me to brunch and concerts and dinner and accepted my invitations. As they learned of my childhood, they listened and prayed for me. I was imperfect. They still loved me. They came to collect me after medical procedures, helped me in small ways and big - they were all big to me. There were occasional frictions but falling out with one person didn't bring all my friendships crashing down. We were simply one big family that always had love for one more. I don't think any of them knew what they were doing. But by loving me as if I was a member of their family, they brought a level of healing I never imagined. Though I've moved miles away, the friendships and healing continue. And I've been given the grace to form new friendships which heal me and, I hope, heal my new friends too.
Loved As If is a What if? story I must share. It's the story of healing when I was certain healing was impossible. It's probably the most important work I've ever done. Loved As If is a triptych: 1) That which wounded me, 2) My search for healing, 3) Unanticipated, unexpected healing. Woven throughout is my experience of God's presence, His care and providence and love that prepared me to be able to accept the healing I longed for. It's the story of what can happen if Christians love each other as if we are one big family.
Over the next few months, I'll be posting excerpts and perhaps a bit about my experiences with editors and publishers. Please comment.
Posted by heirsinhope at 12/11/2013 09:04:00 PM
Friday, November 29, 2013
"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay
and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits
of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the
redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:18-23)
My pet betta fish, Sushi, died last night. Nearly two years ago, he was a Christmas gift. So many things went into his death: my ignorance, the ignorance at my local fish shop (they're great but not knowledgeable about bettas), a lack of proper care while I was away this summer, perhaps even his age (though two isn't old for a betta that receives proper care). No matter what I did, and I did everything I could, I couldn't save him.
That hurts. It hurt to bury him beneath the tree given to me by the same family who gave me Sushi. It hurts to know he is gone and won't be sulking, or trying to grab food from my fingers, or constantly begging for food, or engaging in his morning stare, or fighting himself in the mirror, or whisking away to hide when I put my face close so I can see how he's doing (I'm terribly near-sighted), or engaging in any of the other mundane and silly things he used to do. He was the first pet who was mine, whom no one else took from me, whose care I was (mostly) able to direct. He was just a fish but the more I tried to return him to health, the more I came to realize how much I cared about him. Caring for a living creature changes the heart. Parents speak about that change. Spouses do too. Certainly, I've cared for adults and children but I've always been able to keep a big piece of my heart detached and protected. I protected myself even when loving the little boy I cared for and was willing to adopt. I didn't let myself experience the passionate desire to be his mother that churned within me. When his mother took him away, I mostly shrugged it off. But now, I understand, a little better the desire that a creature totally dependent on me flourish. Live. Be.
Right now, I'm writing a book about the wounds from my childhood, my search for healing, and how healing has been and is being given to me. It's a painful task, even daunting. It's hard to write about what was done to me, about what I lost, without shielding myself from the pain. I can't avoid all the pain but I can hide my heart within a layer of stone so that much less pain can get through. I thought the stoniness was mostly gone. I was wrong. More must be chiseled away because to write the truth, I must open my heart as fully as possible to the pain of what I experienced. Unless I write truthfully of my wounds, I shan't be able to write truthfully of being healed. I must suffer. And suffering requires a heart of flesh without the hard, stony shell.
Over the past three years, God has been breaking my heart and revealing treasure hidden therein. First, there was an experience of betrayal that showed me a spark of innocence when I thought my innocence utterly destroyed. Then, there was an injury that ripped my soul to shreds. Ultimately, it sent me fleeing into a new apartment where I put together the first real home I've had since my parents sent me away. I need home in order to write. And I took charge of my health, asked for the help I needed, insisted we stop the meds that were making me sleepy and unable to think. There was a trip back East and realizing that I'm different with old friends than with new ones in Houston. In the months since my return, I've taken more risks and exposed more of myself, but much of me is still, appropriately, in hiding. This book is now the place for me to reveal myself. And now, Sushi dies and I'm not able to protect my heart behind a wall of stone. It hurts and I find myself thinking about what my parents must have felt sending me away: the helplessness, the desire for me to flourish, the trust that God would care for me and keep me safe.
A dear friend's beloved dog died not long ago. (I loved him too.) Romans 8:18-23 was part of the following Sunday's Mass readings. As I listened to those verses, her dog came to mind. I found myself flirting with creation as something more than the accoutrements of this earth. With Sushi's death, I'm no longer just flirting. Sushi too is part of creation and my desire to step back and say, 'He was just a fish' is suddenly foolish because God made him and will bring him to perfection with all the rest of creation. I hurt because I loved Sushi, because I desire that he be perfected and see that creation still groans in eager longing; I also groan. And even though I don't know what perfected creation means, I know I will see it. Already, God is using Sushi's life, illness and death to break away more of my protective stone and reveal a beating heart of living flesh. God is fulfilling His promises made in Ezekiel. His faithfulness continues. He will not stop being faithful.
I have no idea what I will be when all the stone is gone. I think there will be great joy, such as I experience when I'm walking down the street singing pleni sunt coeli et terra in gloria tua to the tune that God gave me one day. I think a heart of flesh is free and rich and abundant and overflowing but still thoughtful and considerate and definitely not always on guard, trying to protect itself from pain. We shall see. I am grateful for Sushi. I'm even grateful for the experience of frantically caring for him while he was ill, even grateful for burying him myself. Gratitude amidst tears, that too must be part of having a heart of flesh.
Posted by heirsinhope at 11/29/2013 11:32:00 PM
Friday, September 06, 2013
Several years ago, an endocrinologist performed an upper endoscopy on me without an anesthesiologist. I awoke in the midst of the procedure, repeatedly tried to signal him, repeatedly tried to pull the tube out of my mouth, watched as he obliviously cut bits of my insides out & continued to hurt me for another 20 minutes. I escaped as quickly as possible but when my results were due, I returned. I had imagined spewing all sorts of verbal vitriol at him. Instead, I gravely told him what he had done & requested my results. Upon learning of his failure to provide adequate care, the endocrinologist told me he was surprised at my return. Of course he couldn't say, What a horrible experience for you! I'm so sorry. Please forgive my carelessness. He had been trained to protect himself from a malpractice suit &, after 20 years in litigation, I understand that desire. But had he apologized, I would have benefited. The relationship between medical practitioner & patient is intensely personal. We let medical practitioners do things to us that we would never let our nearest & dearest do. The inability to say, I hurt you & I'm sorry shatters the relationship just as it shattered the relationship with that endocrinologist, just as it has shattered the relationship between me & the former friend who practiced CST on me.
I was not the only one harmed that evening. My former friend was also harmed, horribly. Yes, I live with the repercussions nearly a year later. I walk away when I'm angry, avoid many situations, even to my own detriment, because I fear my rage. I am afraid most of the time & not just of my rage. People don't notice. I learned long ago to hide what I'm experiencing inside. But the fear is real. Almost every day, many times on most days, I must stop & remind myself of what is actually happening: that I am not the center of the universe & have no reason to believe another person's bad humour is particularly directed at me or that my bad humour is reasonable, that guys who make unwanted comments at women exist throughout the world &, unless further evidence tells me otherwise, may be ignored. Conflicts I would have addressed simply a year ago leave me unsure of how to respond. Everything I do, from taking a shower to deciding to call a friend to working on the book I must complete to getting the women's webzine, GlamOfGod, up & running, has become excruciatingly painful. If I had my way, I'd be hiding in a corner where it's safe but life won't let me have that right now.
I also wonder, what the person who was my friend experiences. How does one face the knowledge that while acting in a professional capacity, one has caused another, & a friend at that, great harm? That's a heavy burden to carry. It must be heartbreaking. Perhaps that's why there has never been any inquiry into how I'm doing. And perhaps that's why the person who was my friend does not trust me, feels it necessary to be protected from my rage & blame. I've not shared the rage I feel with my former friend. Rather, I've walked away when I'm intensely angry & clearly stated that I avoided contact so that I wouldn't share that rage. If my former friend asks about CST, I reply but I don't bring it up myself. Ditto anything regarding New Age. When encountering my friend in social situations, I try to be cordial & limit our interchanges. At the same time, I've gone out of my way to assist the former friend in an unrelated way hoping we can find a means to achieve reconciliation; I've made that clear. The reason for the mistrust is that I told my former friend that I had nearly filed a lawsuit because of the failure to disclose the risks & because the practitioner had no training to prevent, minimize or respond to damage from CST. Had I discovered myself in similar jeopardy, I'd be frightened too. But I also told my former friend that I would not be suing because I believe a suit would only be justified to prevent harm to others. That's obviously not enough. My former friend believes to be angry is rage & to blame, even when one is blameworthy, is totally unacceptable.
Certainly, I realize the training my former friend received was deficient. That is something my former friend must address with those who provided training. I've taught dance & hope to do so again. Whether I'm being paid or volunteering, if I ask or allow my students to do something that harms them, even if I honestly don't know that it will harm them, I am culpable for that harm. I've taught cocksure teens who want to force movement for all the same reasons I wanted to force them when I was a teen. Each time I've caught them at it, I've had to reiterate that to remain in my classes means following my rules, have even had to reject some students. I've frequently & probingly questioned students about abilities & pain & then modified movement to protect them. That's my job, my responsibility. Neither the glories of dance, nor my desire to see a person with limited mobility be healthier, nor believing dance is a gift God has given me to share with others overrides my responsibility to protect my students from harm. And lack of knowledge is no excuse. Before I ask a student to do something, I must determine if it's safe & safe for that particular student.
A state license in one of the medical professions indicates qualification to provide medical services. It also means the practitioner understands the ethical demands & ramifications surrounding those services. As a licensed medical professional, my former friend must adhere to higher standards than I must as an unlicensed dance teacher. The failure to adhere to the requirements of one's license, not ignorance of the ramifications of a procedure, determines culpability. There is a positive requirement that a medical professional know before acting & inform the patient of possible harm before proceeding. The endocrinologist who did not know I was awake had the responsibility to understand the anesthesia he administered & monitor me as he performed the procedure. He failed to do so. The CST practitioner, though a friend at the time, had the responsibility to gain adequate training & understand CST's potential for harming a patient with a traumatic past. I can't protect my former friend from being culpable for failing to live up to those professional responsibilities.
No one likes to be blamed. I don't. I want everything I do to be blameless. But sometimes I am blameworthy. Sometimes my actions are wrong. Sometimes I'm blameworthy even when my actions are right. When I began this series, I knew that if my former friend ever read what I've written I'd be responsible for causing pain. I did not know if my friend read my blog & decided to make these posts anyway. I'm making this last CST post even knowing that former friend has read my work & that this will probably contribute to my former friend's mistrust & desire to be protected from my blame & rage (even though I've never expressed rage & continue to seek not to do so to my own detriment). I can't give my former friend what is desired by not assigning blame where blame is due. I can't respect my former friend's dignity by pretending there's no harm, no foul. My former friend can't fix this. But neither would a lawsuit fix this, it would only sap us both. Telling my friend was appropriate & helpful at the time as a way of expressing how serious the situation is. Writing these three posts has also been helpful particularly in bringing me to see that I must continue to tell the truth.
By the way, my posts about CST & the failure to respect the dignity of human person aren't about attacking alternative medicine. After being hyper-medicated for a number of years, I am a strong supporter of alternative medicine. Having a two page list of pills, diagnoses based on grant proposals, some doctors who don't listen & others who don't know how to say, I don't know how to help you, is enough to push anyone to look for alternatives to the medical establishment. But New Age practices are not viable, not if we value our souls more than our bodies. I have gained great benefits from eating a healthy diet of real food, from removing as many traces as possible of foods to which I'm allergic from my diet (difficult to do when soy is a culprit), from looking back at what I found helpful in the past, from following simpler suggestions from doctors who couldn't promise me a cure but only the knowledge to live as well as possible. I've gained from research into how illness I face was treated before there were magic pills, from physical therapy, exercise & finding doctors who are honest with me. The Sacraments, prayer, community & friendship are healing. Six months ago, I ingested 60 mgs of a powerful narcotic each day. Now, I am nearly down to 10. I've cut my sleeping medicine in half & decreased another pain medicine by 25%. There are viable alternatives to blind dependence on established medical procedure. But there is also a dangerous thread of New Age practice that runs through alternative healthcare including massage therapy. Massage therapy is viable. My physical therapist massaged knots out of the muscles in my thigh that came from an old dance injury. But when massage therapy goes by names such as CST, Myofacial Release (MFR), Reiki & a host of others in which "the source of healing is said to be within ourselves" it is no longer medicine at all. Therapists talk of listening to the patient's body, about being guided by what they sense. What they sense cannot be measured or replicated; science cannot comprehend it. Neither do those who engage in such practices submit to the authority of the Church. When the Church pronounces, such as it does in Jesus Christ The Bearer Of The Water Of Life, the response is, my particular type of energy/body/massage therapy falls outside the Church's teaching.
Recently I spent five weeks back east visiting friends & wanted to continue exercises begun in physical therapy. Doing so required that I work out on particular equipment. There was only one gym in the DC area that had such equipment without a corresponding program of CST, MFR & other New Age practices. Transportation to that one gym was five times as expensive as transportation to more local facilities. I spent the extra money. When I was looking for an exercise therapist in Houston to help me build on the work begun in regular physical therapy, I found one within walking distance who ended each session with MFR. After my experience of CST, I knew of the need to to research MFR & knew how to do so. I wasn't surprised that a search on MFR revealed only positive remarks. Looking further, I learned from massage therapists that the developer of the technique sues those who publish negative comments. Then I discovered a journal that had only chillingly positive comments to make:
Tina was my therapist. As I type this, I don’t remember a lot about this session except that at one point Tina had me trapped face-down on the table. Now Tina has a tiny body, but she has a HUGE essence and when she is on top of me holding me down, it feels like I have a brick house on top of me. And I know that she was holding onto the other side of the table adding even more weight on me. I seem to have a lot of “fight” in me so I assume I was fighting or needing to fight. I struggled and struggled to get her off of me. Of course, she was encouraging me to “get away.” I was crying and getting angrier and angrier, and finally got her off of me and swung my feet off the table and onto the floor. I turned and shoved her away and then turned back to the table and shoved it hard across the room and onto its side. I desperately wanted to get away. But there wasn’t anywhere to go. The room was small and this one didn’t have a deck attached. I ran to the corner of the room and shoved my face into the corner. When Tina told me that I was safe and had gotten away, I cried “Then why am I hiding in this f**king corner?” She told me to come out of the corner – to find my power – and that I could stop hiding. It was a struggle for me to stop hiding. But then my beautiful tiger came to me and I found the strength to pull my face away from the corner. I turned from the corner and leaned against the wall. After a moment or so, I slid down the wall and sat on the floor. Tina asked me if she could touch me and I told her yes. I think she started slowly, but she soon was hugging me.After reading this journal, I cancelled my appointment to meet with this "exercise therapist" & told her I was uncomfortable with MFR. She replied telling me she only does light MFR. Is there a light version of cyanide? Would I not be a fool even to expose myself to a light version of something that could cause me to go into regression & flashbacks because an exercise therapist with no training in psychology or working with people with traumatic pasts thinks it would do me good? And once I know the danger that lurks behind the acronyms, do I not have a responsibility to erect some sort of sign to warn the unwary? Doesn't justice demand at least that even though someone who was once a dear friend will be pained because of involvement in such practices? I believe it does. Alternative medicine does not consist in trading truth for a hip New Age acronym that releases memories stored as energy without reference to the needs or desires of the patient. To do so is to take a path I will not walk & my former friend knows that because we've had many conversations about the occasions when I have sacrificed friendship because I cannot follow where a friend is going.
Though I doubt my former friend believes me, as far as possible, I do forgive the transgression committed against me & seek to forgive more each day. We live in an age when we want forgiveness to be the equivalent of spilling a cup of milk when we're four. An I'm sorry or no word at all because another knows we would never intentionally inflict harm ought to be enough. We think forgiveness somehow erases our actions. That's not forgiveness. For forgiveness to be real, transgression cannot be erased or brushed aside. One of the real consequences for those who inflict harm is blame. At four, it's just a cup of milk & a wise adult knows a four year-old is unsteady: not much blame. At eight, the spilled cup of milk is carelessness: more blame. As an adult, when carelessness rises to the level that harm is inflicted, particularly by someone who knows or ought to know better, blame can neither be deflected nor minimized. A dance teacher who asks students to perform movements that harm them is blameworthy. An endocrinologist who fails to monitor his patient is to blame if he harms his patient. A massage therapist who practices CST without understanding the damage that can be inflicted is to blame if the patient is harmed. It is painful to accept that one has harmed another. I know, I've harmed others. By harm, I don't just mean the day-to-day knocking up against one another which can be painful. Neither do I mean the personality clashes or moments of rudeness when one is ill or out of sorts. I mean times when I've failed to live up to responsibilities that I know are mine & caused damage to others. I can't foist the blame for those off on anyone else or lump them with the inappropriate blame others have heaped upon me. Sometimes I'm just to blame & can only seek forgiveness.
I've received such forgiveness & will certainly require it again & again. It's always been painful. And though it's necessary not to inflict pain when possible, forgiveness cannot come through a lie because the truth is unacceptable nor does it preclude the pain that must come when the one who has inflicted harm faces the action done. Facing the reality that one has harmed another hurts abominably. It hurts even more when I myself who have been badly hurt by others & am guilty because I ought to know better than to do such a thing. I think that is mixed up in my former friend's mistrust & desire to be protected from rage & blame, mixed up in my former friend's inability to recognize that I've never offered rage & that blame cannot be removed from the table. I want to take my former friend in my arms & weep at my pain, at my friend's pain, at our shattered relationship. There is a part of me that wants to rewind the months & unmake the damage that we both have experienced but I have not been given that power. My former friend must also bear the cross or not. And that cross includes responsibility for harming me, a/k/a blame. I cannot pretend that I was not harmed nor can I pretend that my former friend is not culpable even if doing so would make the cross feel easier. The cross is hard & real & painful no matter how it comes to be on one's back.
There is hope. My former friend plans to contact the Upledger Institute & inform them that their training is deficient & that practicing CST on a patient with a traumatic past can trigger flashbacks. I hope that contact will include informing the institute that practitioners are certified without being prepared to respond to the damage they can inflict or even to inform patients that they are putting themselves in danger. Even so, as long as my former friend walks a road that embraces the New Age, we will be former friends. Perhaps we can find some other kind of relationship that will lead back to friendship. Perhaps our friendship can be healed & perhaps not. We'll have to wait & see. Certainly, the topics of CST & anything related to New Age are off limits which is fine with me. From now on, I cannot even respond to my former friend's inquiries on such subjects. The wounds cannot heal if we constantly pick at them & I do believe God would use them to heal us both & to heal others. Perhaps someone will abjure CST or some related type of "massage" because of what I've written. Perhaps a massage therapist will stop using New Age techniques: at least some of the therapists on this Network understand some of the dangers of CST & other energy work & ask if it can be practiced by Christians. What God will do only God knows. That He gives me the strength to pick up this new cross, even in faltering fashion, & make it through the day is already a miracle. I'll trust Him to work forgiveness without lies, forgiveness that affirms not only my dignity but the dignity of the human person who harmed me.
Posted by heirsinhope at 9/06/2013 10:13:00 PM
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Moving gets in the way of everything. As do several bouts of bronchitis, 1 of pneumonia & the discovery that I must have surgery on both eyes to remove cataracts.
Me: Aren't I too young to have cataracts?
Ophthalmologist: Have you been taking steroids?
Me: silence & a shrug. (In one form or another, I take steroids every day & have for the past 10 years. For those on steroids, if they're necessary, what can you do? At least ask about alternatives & do some research. Don't risk your life but don't just blindly accept everything doctors tell you.)
As for blindly accepting what doctors tell me, I have discovered I was misdiagnosed. Yes, I have autoimmune diseases but some aren't affecting me as I had been led to believe. Pain & inflammation in my hips & knee come from an old injury when I was 17 exacerbated by years of dancing on it. I've found an excellent physical therapist who challenges me & though I was away for a month because of bronchitis & another bout w/ a skin infection after having blood drawn, the knee is getting better & we're working on the hips. God is very good. More than very good. Reductions in pain meds on the way but must continue to take the meds that make me a swollen balloon, at least for now. Still, there's hope. Exercise & dance are powerful gifts for healing. Also, the simplest treatments are the most effective, for me at least: a sinus wash system (just a bottle that gently squeezes saline solution into my lower sinus cavities) has eased allergic reactions & allowed me to eliminate several allergy meds. The list is getting smaller. Did I mention, God is very good?
And another project is filling my time: Loved As If, the story of how I was ripped to shreds, sought healing, found it in Christian community & why that community had to be Catholic. I think I'll post portions of it here & would love comments. Please, please, please, tell me the truth. Both about my writing & my subject. You'll help me become a better writer. The story is painful but not graphic. Some of it is intense but then so was my life. Living w/ evil is intense. More so living w/ God - even for a five year old child.
Prayers are requested. You all have my continuing prayers. May God bless all who come here. (In case you doubt it, He is very, very good.)
PS: please note, I've changed my email.
PPS: will get to part 3 of CST postings when life becomes less hectic. Also, I must write part 3 w/ great tenderness because it's about the other victim in the room, my friend who doesn't realize it. Please pray that God will give me tenderness and clear any remnants of judgement from my heart. I can't walk the path my friend is walking but I can love my friend and pray for repentance. Perhaps I've needed some time to get to that point.
Posted by heirsinhope at 4/21/2013 12:14:00 AM