I lay here awake, feeling trapped in my memories. Being triggered into flashbacks, and reminders of days gone by. I try to escape the pain through activities or modes of tuning out yet they remain to block me from fully engaging in the moment or connecting with people intimately. Sometimes life feels too complicated and too difficult to let people in.
I am taken back to my youth, when I was in high school. A time of great confusion and a time of tremendous growth. I was taken in by an incredible spiritual mentor who nourished me in my faith, and took the time to learn about who I was. I trusted him, I needed him. He taught me much about relationships, spirituality and life. But some how through it all, it started to feel more complicated. In many ways it felt similar to dating. Too much time alone in places not meant to be – his house, with his family, many car trips and the adventure to the camping area where he baptised me.
One event changed everything, yet it changed nothing. The beauty of denial and the inability to grasp the reality of that which you hope to not understand. I am not sure how the trip to the camp site came to be, but I remember him driving us to Clark Creek, which was at least a 30 minute drive from where we lived. When we arrived we walked around the campground where we had youth camp where I recommitted my life to Christ, then to the creek where I was baptised. He persuaded me to take a swim with our clothes on in the creek. It was really cold, and I remember feeling uncomfortable yet enjoyed the time together. When we went to the car, my clothes were clinging to my body from the dampness. He wrapped something around me (a sweatshirt I believe) and ended up touching me on my breast. I felt fear and vulnerability of what was to come, especially since we were alone by the creek miles from home. He was my youth pastor, this wasn’t making sense. He proceeded to act like nothing happened and we drove home. I thought it must have been an accident, yet the situation created a sense of wonder. What will happen next? Can I trust him anymore? What really happened? Everything changed, yet it seemed the same. I continued to see him for many more years, both alone and with his family or other youth.
It has been over 20 years ago that this situation took place, yet I can see that it created spiritual blocks that are difficult to break. Though I can’t blame him for all of my spiritual conflicts, I realize it contributed to my personal trauma when it comes to the church and spiritual leaders. It didn’t help that my family life also had inconsistencies of spirituality and dysfunction which probably drew him to me in the first place. I have spent years in therapy, spiritual work and doing personal recovery, yet I feel at a loss of how to completely heal the wombs. A few years back I attempted to reach out to some of the church leaders in this church, and to my former youth pastor, but resistance and denial indicated that more loss was likely than personal gain from any connection to these people about our relationship. I am not sure why I expected more, I just assumed that someone (besides my therapist) would be interested in what I had to say. Regardless, his complete denial and defensiveness of any outings taking place, made it pretty clear that he wasn’t willing or able to look honestly at what happened.
So where do I go from here? There is no answer really, as not everything has a clear pathway. I can continue to seek healing, and remember that brokenness in all of us, including myself. I have done many things in which I regret, and am grateful for the forgiveness, love and grace I have received. My heart somehow has to find the balance between openness and being aware, allowing the Spirit in, while being discerning of what isn’t God but the humanness of people. I pray that God will bring healing to each of us on this path of finding freedom and peace through the brokenness of our past, and our current reality. There is always hope – hope for a brighter day!
So sorry this happened to you. It must be hard to separate the need for a spiritual truth that feels nourishing to you with the trauma and confusion of what happened with someone you trusted and was associated with spirituality. This is a tough path, not easy, but it sounds like you have a lot of courage and strength.
Thank you for your compassion and gentle words. Yes, it can be hard and most days I wish it were easier especially when situations trigger my vulnerability. I know there are many of us who have struggled with the brokenness of spiritual leaders and/or spiritual friends. Writing is a way for me to remind myself of my own struggle, and be able to be more understanding of my own resistance. It helps me move forward. Thanks for commenting – much appreciated.