My three part postings on an Alternative Narrative didn’t attract much attention. And yet, most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, must admit that our lives are complex, rarely all bad or all good. Yeah, I’m a highly educated churchman with specializations in crisis counseling and conflict management. These two specializations indicate what I was struggling with at the time I was in seminary.
I remember thinking out loud with one of my professors that I felt then like an adolescent. I had a lot of anger/rage as well as a deep sense of loss and sorrow in my late 20’s. This was a long time before I was conscious of the sexual abuse I endured as a child. I remembered the car accident, the damaged eye, my mother’s death. I remembered being the lone white guy in a bubbling cauldron of racial tension.
Being smart didn’t help when it came to existential life/death threats. I couldn’t think my way out of the injuries sustained from being run over by a car or the terrifying and violent loss of my mother in my arms when I was 14. Being smart did not help me when I wanted to die at the age of 17. These are two separate streams of lived experience. Alternative Narratives, if you will.
Think about your own life. You are also complex, are you not?
When my mind was begging to be set free from the chains of sexual abuse, I did not think my way through it. I felt terror and anxiety. It was in these lived, existential, experiences that my mind attempted to find wholeness. Again, it was not a cognitive process, it was an emotional process. I only remembered during each session in therapy just so much as my mind could manage and then the self-discovery ended for the day. Ten years. Once every week. Dealing with the depth of emotions I didn’t know I had — that I didn’t know I could manage — boiling up out of memory and often reducing me to a suffering child once again.
To be sure, after a necessary time to process emotively, I was able to place the experiences within a mental framework that made sense to me. But this doesn’t require a couple of master’s degrees to do. It requires bravery and a desire for wholeness. Characteristics that most all of us find within ourselves, no matter how strong or weak we may feel at any given time in life.