I feel overwhelmed this morning, my mind filled with the images and stories pouring out of Haiti, the heartache of dear friends, my own little struggles.
This week I finally found the courage to pull out my journals from my years in the cult. So much of those years are a blank to me. I can’t remember huge chunks of time, people, faces, experiences. They’ve all been blocked out. Until now I was happy with that. The things I remembered were bad enough. I couldn’t face any more.
But this week I was ready. Perhaps it was reading the WW2 stories, other accounts of escape and survival that showed me I was not alone, and I couldn’t be afraid anymore. Others have gone through far, far worse and survived to be beautiful people with healed hearts and bodies. I want to be like them.
I took several deep breaths, cracked open a journal and began to read.
My heart ached for my young self as I read page after page of sometimes daily emotional and spiritual abuse, brainwashing, and neglect. I wanted to reach in through those pages and give her a hug and tell her to hang on because everything was going to be OK. Sobs welled up inside me and I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to snatch her out of there, and grab all her friends while I was at it, whisking them away to a safe place where no one would hurt them again. I found myself wanting to break down the doors of those buildings where they hid us away from the world, those secret places where they could hide and justify their cruelty and lies, and shout at the top of my lungs: “It’s not true! IT’S NOT TRUE!”
I only made it through one journal before I had to take a break and just sit. Quietly. Silently. I plugged in fairy lights, pulled my favorite quilt over me, and just sat. For a long time. A lovely peace stole over me, and I started to smile. I realized I like my young self.All these years I’ve been both sad for her and ashamed of her for not escaping, not getting out sooner, not fighting back. But as I read those pages I saw that I WAS a fighter.
Even in my darkest moments as I’m describing the bad things done to me I would write:
“But, I got to fall asleep in a pool of moonlight! How lovely is that?!”
“But, I got to see the sunrise this morning, and the sun is a puddle of gold on my head as I write.”
“But, it’s a gloriously rainy day, so how can I be sad?”
Such a beautiful little word that allowed a young girl to find beauty and joy in a dark, dark place.
Then I cried. And cried. Such a huge release of pent up fear, pain, grief. I cried and then I wrote furiously, the words hurtling from my fingers, a rush of understanding, comfort and strength compelling me to write, write, WRITE!
When it was all over I discovered something wonderful: I wasn’t afraid of my past anymore. I wasn’t ashamed of it anymore. My old self and my new self met for the first time, a little shyly as we peered tentatively at each other before bursting into laughter, hugging each other soundly and twirling about the room.
We’re going to be OK.
So today, in the midst of so much pain and suffering all around me, I’m taking a moment to be grateful. I don’t know why terrible things happen. I don’t know where God is in the midst of it, why he doesn’t rescue everyone and keep them safe. I don’t know how to alleviate the suffering of the people of Haiti or of my dear ones. But I’m going to keep looking, for answers, for ways to comfort, love and heal. And I’m going to be grateful for healing, hope, love and precious friendship, the things that make life worth living.