RESOLVING ABUSE ISSUES A Personal Story
Two summers ago I participated in “Survivors of Abuse” a WGA support group which I found very challenging, helpful, and at times, difficult. I chose to attend this group to find support, encouragement, and insight into a painful incident of abuse that had occurred in my immediate family just months before my involvement with SOA. The group leader and members gently heard me, emotionally held me and prayed for me in ways that were simultaneously small and profound, they helped me. The other group members gained something good from my story and uniqueness, as I greatly and gratefully gained healing from their stories.
During one particular meeting, I felt overwhelmed with sorrow and anger as a member confided his recollection of a lonely childhood pocked with fear, unfeeling and unemotional parents, family violence, and sexual abuse. Angry and overwhelmed, I could not get the image out of my mind of that lonely, awkward little boy left neglected and unprotected within his own family. I cried in that meeting. Later I was able to speak of the unswerving protection I’m committed to providing my daughters. There wasn’t a dry eye in that group. I think we had connected with the lack of protection we all shared growing up.
My second SOA experience was worlds different from the first. This group was much more difficult that the first. I was now more “group wise.” The adjectives I used to describe by first group – supportive, encouraging, and insightful, are not the same words I would use to characterize group two – maybe agonizing, self-revealing, and humbling would apply better.
In group two, a few of my own broken behavioral modes were brought to light, I remember feeling disbelieved, not credible, like a fraud. I informed the group at the end of a particular meeting that it would be my last. During the next week, after some intense soul searching and timely conversations with my wife and the group leader, I saw some areas of my life that would destroy relationships if I would permit it: fear of rejection, insecurity stemming from my feelings of unworthiness, and several more. I desired restoration and returned to the group the next week. I talked about what I learned about myself. Rarely in my life have I experienced a spirit of reconciliation as I did that day in that meeting. Again, we cried.
I mention the tears because I believe they are vastly and powerfully connected to our healing. Frederick Buechner, one of my favorite writers, said about tears:
You never know what may cause them. The sight of the Atlantic Ocean can do it, or a piece of music, or a face you’ve never seen before. You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure – whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often then not that God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if you soul is to be saved, you should be next.
For me, SOA provided a connecting point similar to this.