Thursday, August 20, 2015

a sort of "P.S."

As a sort of footnote to the last post....
Even when you tell your story, that isn't always the end of it.
Often there will still be times when ..."new wrinkles" of or from it will surface.
When they do, you are again at the crossroads of  tell? or no, or not this time.
If you notice something "new" from someone you know, who has a dark chapter or two from their story. You may be inclined to wonder if "this new thing" has to do with "that part" of their story.
I'd say you can ask. Their answer can range from the one word: "yeah." to a full on explanation. Or... they may ask you to "just let it" or "can we NOT talk about that?"
This might not mean, not ever talking about it. Sometimes I, personally, need distance from my story. To feel accepted both in & out of my story. My current life does not revolve around my story.
Telling my story is emotionally draining most times. As well as bringing darkness to the surface at times. Sometimes it's better to walk away from it for a while. You know, "we need to agree to see other people" kind of thing. Put another, perhaps simpler way: Abuse is part of my story... not the story unto itself. My story is always a partial story anyway. I am still here. Chapters are still unfolding. Chapters have yet to be written.
I have so much more I could say.
I will, however, leave this post short.....

May His grace drip from your fingers,

Sunday, August 9, 2015

About Dark Stories [telling them, or listening to them]

This could go really well........ or it could really end up being a sad attempt at something "to big for a blog post".
The last question on the TWLOHA movie discussion questions is:
"How do you make sure you are sharing your story in a healthy way?"
...why IS it that bad examples are so much easier to find than good ones?
It's not quite what my next example is...
TWLOHA movie [it's at about 47 minutes in] Renee goes to the church where the funeral was held for her friend's mother.[Jessie] Sitting down with Jessie & Dylan, proceeds to share her story with them.
No yelling, or pushing... just calm, somewhat quiet talking.
This is a favorite moment of the film. They mend fences, get real, & honest with each other. [Jessie & Renee]

In my own life, I've pushed back against telling my own story.
There are a lot of questions to think about. Honestly, there are questions no matter which side of the "telling a dark story" you happen to find yourself on. The one telling the story..... or the one listening to the story.
Here is a brief idea of some of them.
Telling your story.
How much can I tell them? [meaning: a, Do I have the strength, comfort, safety to "tell all"? If not, how much can I tell? b, how much can one person take of my story?] How hurt will they be? Can I trust them?  What will they do with such knowledge? What will this do to our relationship? Will it be over? Will they walk out? Am I willing to loose them, just to see if they can handle "the real me"?
Not fun....
The one being told the story.
What happened to them? What awful experience would make a person hide part of themselves from everyone? Did they make some horrible mistake? What did someone do to them? How does this story make them feel about themselves?  How do I help them? What should I say? Is there anything to say? How vulnerable do they feel right now? How do I show love in a way that seems real to them? How do I behave in such a way that I am a safe person? How do I act so that I am not triggering?

I'm not sure you can be prepared for a story you know nothing about.  You can watch someone's actions, try to piece together, from their behavior, what you might be in for.... however, without details you're still blind. You're still walking into an emotional mine field. Unsure what move will end up biting you.
You will probably apologize. "I'm sorry." will feel like handing a band aide to someone who lost a leg. [can you say "pointless"? I knew you could.]

This is probably not a complete list by any means. Just a little taste of the concerns on both sides of it.

For the rest of this little... whatever you want to call it..... I'm going to tell a story. A time when someone got me to tell them my story. I'm not sure it was shared in the best way. It started off pretty rough, anyway. It's why I mention the idea of willingly walking into a mine field. Which is pretty much what he did, at least at first.
Sadly, this story happened at church.
So... "on with it" then......
I used to work 2nd shift. So, on Wed. I'd help out at church. They needed "tech people". You know, people who could work with electronics & do non-linear video editing, make copies of tapes & discs, setting up the stage, tearing down the stage.
Things were good.
Then, one day, I went in. I sat on the couch in Dave's office. He says to me: "Hey, I need to have a serious conversation." I was fine with that.[not realizing he was wanting to talk to me] I don't need to eves drop on it. So, making for the door I reply: "Ok, well, tell me what you want me to work on & I'll get to it & be out of your hair."
"Um, no, I mean I need to have a conversation with you."
I stopped dead. Turned & looked at him. He asked me to close the door. He didn't realize what he was asking. I slowly walked toward the door. Now, for the first time, I began to take a different look around his office. Bookshelf by the door. That'll do. I can knock it over, thus making it hard for him to come closer to me. If that doesn't work the bookshelf is pretty full of books. I only need to have a firm grip on one of them.... to kill him with it. I'm moving toward the door. The handle is metal. The door is solid. If I have to, I can hurt or kill him with either one.
See... what he didn't know was that being locked in a room for hours, is how the abuse started. I HATE being trapped. I "threw" my arm into a window of my overturned car once. Just so I could crawl out of the car. Kill me. Don't trap me. I cannot tell you graphically enough, how I hate being trapped. He didn't know this. How could he? I never told him.
Worse... "B, can you lock it please?"
I never let go of the door handle. I did lock it. I'm sorry for what I'm going to write..... it is what I said, though.
Turning to face him. "LOOK. If you're firing me -though how you fire someone from a volunteer job I have no idea- Just say so. I'll be gone. You will NEVER see me again. ok?"
"I'm not firing you. You seem -"
"I HATE being trapped, David. So, you have 5 minutes to tell me what the ___ this is. GOT IT? 5 minutes. During which time you need to keep your ___ in that chair. If you touch me, I WILL kill you. I know you were a cop. I know your bigger than me, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE. I can fix that. I can make you any size you want. Do NOT touch me. I don't want to hurt you. David. But I will if I have to."
He smiled. [an uneasy, nervous smile. tinged with sadness. So much for making me feel safe] Folded his hands across his stomach. "I'll stay right here. I won't come out from behind my desk. What I wanted to say was that several people feel you have something that is eating at you. Like you are going to explode. I want you to feel free to tell me whatever it is. I may not know how to help you. Yet you can say anything. I wanted the door shut & locked, so no one would walk in on us while you are sharing it. That's all. So you are sharing only with me..... can you please tell me what happened to you? Why you feel threatened by being here?"
"I don't think I should."
"Why not?"
"Because I don't hate you that much."
Somehow, he got me to start telling him. It just fell out of my mouth.
A great deal of it. Then, when I was done, he said: "So.... is that it?"
Unfortunately, I heard it as: "oh, is that all."
Me in total sarcasm mode: "Oh, I'm sorry. Was that not graphic enough for you? Cause I can give you the blow by blow, bloody version, if that'll make you feel better."
"No, no, no. That's not what I meant at all. I mean, you've kept this to yourself for all these years. Are you sure that you've told me all of it?"
"Let's just say it this way, Dave..... I think I've told you all I can suffer through telling in one sitting. Ok? There probably is more. just don't know how hard it is to tell this stuff. It's like bleeding... it's like taking all of your clothes off just because you can. I'm not used to sharing all this. It hurts. It makes me feel..... I'm not sure I can say how it feels in words..... I'd rather be dipped, naked, in rubbing alcohol, & drug slowly across a yard of razor blades., do you still want me here? I understand if you want me to leave & never come back."
"No. I want you here. I'm glad you could tell me. I cannot imagine how hard it was to tell me all of that. It hurts me to know that you had to live though that. I'm glad you're still alive. I don't have any experience with any of that. Thank you for telling me, though. I want you to know, you can come in here. Shut the door & say anything you want. I want you to feel like we can talk about anything. I'm here for you. No matter what."
He eventually suggested I go to therapy. Mostly because a therapist is qualified to really help process such things. Yet he made t clean that it "in no way" meant he wasn't interested in listening. He just wanted me to heal. I went all sarcasm on that, too. I told him years later that I finally went to one. I apologized to him for not going sooner. He was great about it.
This conversation began this... "code" between us. If I needed to rant. To verbally throw up [or "word vomit" as Renee Yohe calls it] I would walk into his office, push the door shut, & say: "Ok... the gloves are OFF!" Then I would launch into whatever was ticking me off at that moment.
...truthfully, everyone should have a person like this. I've a few people that I can be really... "descriptive" with. [MAN that sounds so polite & benign, for what it really was/is]
Maybe someday I'll give you some example of my "way with words" in this regard. ...perhaps I don't really need to? ouch.
I began with some questions. Maybe I can finish with a few feeble answers.
In telling your story.
How much can you tell?
A. Only you know when you reach your limit of sharing. If you can't tell all of it. Maybe just say so. "Look, this is really hard for me. I don't think I can say more right now. I think I hit my limit."
As for how much can someone take of my story. If you feel comfortable enough to share with them... they will probably hear all you have to say. It WILL hurt them. This means they care.
If you don't know if you can trust them, I hope you keep looking till you find someone you can trust.
What will they do with such knowledge?
In my own experience, most of those people will be the ones you will feel most comfortable with. They will learn better how to respond to you. How to help you. They will understand your behavior better. Most people at my church don't touch me much. Though some have done the slow process of ..."replacing bad memories". They have learned how to make touching me easier for me to handle. Some of them I go to & hug them, now. Which took them by surprise the first few times.
So it can grow your relationship with someone. Not always, yet it can happen.
I haven't lost many relationships because of sharing my story.
The one being told the story.
Once you know what happened, you may have some idea how to be a better friend. You will probably have a few "ah ha" moments about things that didn't make sense to you before. I have a friend who told me this.
"B, there were always behaviors I didn't understand about you. Now I understand all of them perfectly. Everything about you makes sense now." Telling me that was a bit jarring at first. Yet I'm glad he did. I don't know if I can say how that helped me.
How the story effects the way they see themselves? You'll only know if A. they feel comfortable telling you... &/or B. You feel comfortable asking them.
How vulnerable do they feel right now? Again, asking is the best way to know for sure. To hear it in their own words.
What should I say? Is there anything to say?
For me, at least, the single best thing you can "say" after the telling of a story like mine... [if told "in person"] Just stay with them for a while. Communicate that you are still there for them. As soon as you can. If they tell you in an email, for whatever reason, email them back as soon as possible & just tell them you are still their friend. You still want them in your life. After a few days seek them out. Call, email, some form of "thinking of you",
"wondering how you are", "are you ok?" It'll mean a lot.
How do I behave in such a way that I am a safe person? How do I act so that I am not triggering?
These will depend on what happened in the story. If you aren't sure, ask them. How can I be a safe haven for you? Is there anything I do [or have done] that would trigger a memory for you?
Ask how [if/when/where] you can help.
I hope this ends up being helpful to someone out there.....

ok... I think I need some songs on here. 
"...Come surrender your hidden scars
Leave your weapons where they are
You’ve been hiding
But I know your wounded heart
And you don’t know how beautiful you are..."
Danny Leggett - The Valley [love how this tune builds] "'re not alone, on this dark day, sharing your wounds will be your strength..."
Both songs from the TWLOHA movie soundtrack.

May His grace drip from your fingers,