I am in therapy. If you aren’t, you really should be. Anyway, I am writing this at the behest of my therapist.
I suffer from depression and other mental health issues. But even if all you suffer from is life, I highly recommend the therapeutical process. It is a great way to get out of your own head from time to time, and have someone reflect back to you your thinking and help you sort things out. Plus, a licensed therapist is required, by law, to keep your confidentiality. That will become relevant to things I will say in a bit.
I had, in the past few years, returned to church. I was mostly attending Sunday school, and not services, and I was doing it for a variety of reasons. I wanted to reconnect to things from my childhood and youth, and I was looking for ways to connect to a larger community. Eventually, I asked to and began teaching a bit. This was in order to grow my teaching skills, and also to offer my perspective on Biblical things. I have written before on this blog about my struggles with God and Christianity. I thought a teaching role would help me work through some of those issues and help me to reintegrate into a Christian society. And it did, somewhat.
Then, I got married last summer, and for reasons that made sense to the other two teachers in the class I attended, I was asked to step down from teaching. They said I needed to focus on my marriage, and my work situation, which was nonexistent. I could maybe have understood the first reason, but the second remains nonsensical to me. But, to be accommodating, and because I had no choice, I stepped down.
When, a few months later, I asked to begin teaching again, I was told several conflicting things that again made no sense. From a few people who apparently had issue with the way I got married, to not being able to be in a position of authority due to my lack of financial resources, I was basically tossed under the proverbial bus and barred from further teaching.
I met with the senior pastor of the church to ask his opinion. He is a not a licensed therapist. Neither are the two Sunday school teachers I was working with. All three violated my confidences, in talking to each other about me and what I had shared with them individually. I felt and feel utterly lost and completely betrayed. It resulted in the situation being escalated, and others in the church being made aware of what was happening. To date, the one teacher has never talked to me directly. The other did, but was so mean in what he said I feel cut off from whatever friendship I thought we had. Because I don’t have a job, and got married, I lost something that was very important to me.
Licensed therapists are different from pastors and Sunday school teachers. Anything you tell them, anything you ask them, is only and forever between you and them alone. There are a few exceptions, such as threatening harm to yourself or another person, but then there are strict laws to govern those eventualities. No such thing exists for clergy or lay church people. So while I highly recommend therapy, I now actively discourage talking about personal issues with any church people, unless you happen to completely trust them with what you say, which, in my experience, you cannot.
Now I am unsure where I stand in that church, and how I feel about God. I tried something, I tried reaching out of myself and toward something higher when I was completely unsure about both, and I was slapped down in the harshest way possible. Now, I just want to cut my losses and be done. I cannot do that for other reasons, but that is how I feel right now.
I am being told to forgive them, but I will not. These people did things for which they don’t deserve my forgiveness. I am letting the situation go, and inviting peace back into my soul. Maybe that is forgiveness by another name, but what I certainly will not do is let these three men off the hook. They did wrong, by me and by others. That isn’t something they should be able to walk away from. But that isn’t entirely up to me either, so again: I invite peace.
One of the best things about therapy is help finding your peace. Peace from a wrecked marriage, peace from an abusive parent, peace from those that have wronged you. It has been said that you cannot control what happens to you, only how you react to it. Therefore, I am choosing to react in a way that brings peace back into my life. It has been a month or more since this went down, during which time I’ve been more depressed and more than usually out of sorts. Time to move beyond.
I give thanks to the universe for help through therapy. May this be a path to lasting calm, about this and other issues. Ultimately, that’s why I share this situation. Not to work out my messy life publicly; but to reduce the shame of mental illness; and to bring to light things others would benefit from having remain hidden.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, reach out to a licensed therapist and get help finding your peace, and do not allow those who would claim power over your life to succeed. The power and peace is yours, and yours alone. I’m reclaiming mine. I breathe deeply, and release the hurt and invite peace into my soul.