When I mess Up, Is there really forgiveness, love and grace?

February 10, 2015

Sharing about my mistakes doesn’t seem like the best thing to write about on a blog.  What is the point of expressing the insanity of my life.  I prefer to be a vessel of encouragement and rightful living, than disclose that life isn’t always easy for me, and sometimes this is do to the choices I make.

Being a chronic pain survivor is something that is often beyond myself.  Though I can impact my pain by eating right, exercising and reducing stress, I still have pain.  Even though at times I can blame myself, in essence I know when I wake up in the morning with pain, I didn’t create it.

I also struggle with an addiction.  My addiction, my past, and my chronic pain are all intertwined.  When I went to therapy to deal with things I struggled with in the past, I began to escape into addictive behavior as I couldn’t deal with it.  As these behaviors continued, I got sick with a cold, took antibiotics, and my pain and fatigue started to take hold.  I coped with more addictive behaviors to deal with the pain.  I both sought help in a higher power, and sought help in other powers.

Eventually, I found help for myself through a support community, and through the medical community.  Over the years, I was able to reduce my pain, and not live in addictive behaviors.  I took myself off of pain medication, and felt like my life was going well.  I was still limited, mainly because of the fatigue, but overall had a fairly active life.

So why did I relapse?  Pretty complicated – life, opportunity, desire, denial, pain, resentments, selfishness, etc.  Something I continue to explore.  Unfortunately, the pain it has caused is great.  I feel much shame.  Many people can’t separate my action from who I am, and do I blame them? Not really, it doesn’t make sense.  Addiction and clearly harmful actions generally don’t.

I titled this blog post, Is there forgiveness, love and grace? I really believe that the healing of my body, mind and soul and connecting to something spiritual lies in the forgiveness, love and grace.  As much as I have hurt people, and can see and feel the effect in my life and in my body, I also believe healing can come and effect my life and my body.  Forgiveness, love and grace come through my higher power, my spiritual source that I hold onto.  Each day, I feel this more.  I am blessed to have several people in my life and a community group, who have also shown me the power of grace.  As I continue to integrate this into my belief about myself, I change.  I become more loving and other centered, and give grace to others.

Unfortunately, it can be easy to not love the ones who have hurt us.  This makes sense, and I have compassion for those I have hurt.  I don’t expect them to love and forgive me.  When those moments happen, I do feel the gift of such grace.  I take responsibility for my actions, and continue to do so as I see more.  Healing is a process, and it takes time for all.  Layers and layers often continue to be pealed away.  Much pain – yet a deeper love can develop.  May I become more forgiving, loving and graceful, and be able to give these gifts to others.  Not because of something they have done but because it shows my gratitude for what has been given to me.

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Unwelcomed Memories

May 3, 2013

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!


12 steps for chronic pain, looking at harms – step 4

February 26, 2013

Step 4 is about looking deep into ourselves – our fears, how we were harmed, how we harmed others, our struggles and our strengths. It isn’t meant to be a point of condemnation – a list of how awful we are, but of confirmation of what has made us who we are. Without looking truth in the face, it is hard to break out of patterns and behaviors. The truth also allows us to see what works for us, and when we are most how we dream to be.  Since there are a lot of complexities in step 4, I will start with harms done to me.

In the Big Book, step 4 is “We made a searching and moral inventory of ourselves”. I find this step life changing when I am able to dig deeper into my own responses to situations and how this also impacts my current behaviors. For example: One of my friends, “Cailyn”, reacted to my physical symptoms with a lot of questions and assumptions about my psychological state. We had been close at one time, but less connected prior to my illness. I felt hurt by her comments and questions. What she said to me and her lack of support effected our relationship (social) and how I viewed myself (security). I however reacted by being angry, criticizing her, felt doubt, self-pride, rationalized, resentful, suspicious and self focused. Though many of these reactions were internal, I reacted to this hurt by causing additional harm. I am not responsible for her actions, but I am responsible for mine. As time went by, I allowed the relationship to fade, which was a good thing at the time as we were going different directions. However, I continued to resent her and her reaction to me when I was sharing my physical struggles.

Such as with Cailyn, there are many people who caused me harm when I became ill. The list includes family members who weren’t able to recognize my pain, other people who thought I was seeking pain medication for an escape, doctors who were unkind and unhelpful. Some of these harms may have been more about my own assumptions of why I felt they did what they did. In general, most of us are fairly self-absorbed, and on a given day are unable to give everyone the support they need or desire. When I am listing my harms, I found it was helpful not to analyze too much about what I didn’t know, and reflect more on what I felt was a harm, because this is what I react too. Later I can look and pray for clarity on whether my perception could have been off (many times it is) or whether my perception is only slightly true, such as I may think someone is overreacting, yet still might agree mostly with what they say.

Much of my reactions to harms done to me are similar to reactions I have had since I was a young child. I believe many of my reactions are almost automatic especially when the situation brings up old feelings of abandonment, criticism, abuse and/or neglect. If I feel shame, I tend to look for ways of self-preservation. Often this is done by accusing other people, in order to feel ok about myself. When I recognize what I am doing, I can look more clearly at what is being done or said to me, and process whether this is something that is true, where I need to make a correction, or something that isn’t, where I may need to move away from the person or situation. If I am wrong, my guilt can move me to make changes while holding onto who I want to be. If I can’t see clearly something I did, I can ask questions for clarification, and try to understand where they are coming from (which may not be related to me). Though doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily keep me from being resentful, it does give me space to make the choices I want to make, and lessen the impact.

In my world of chronic pain, I hope to find grace and forgiveness for this journey. May I be free of shame, and have a heart that seeks to understand.


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