with pastor b and miss l, what happened was this... we were feeling unwanted, unloved, invisible, useless except as a soloist (which we hated because that feeds the 'you always have to be the center of attention' message), untouchable, and generally outcast because people literally avoided us. we decided to sit down with them and with charlie at our side, we broke down in tears and told pastor b how hurt and lonely we felt. now thru all this miss l sat quietly and listened. sort of. not until after is was all over did i realize that what she heard was that her personal efforts to show us love were not received (good enough) and that the women in the church (over whom she is responsible) were not living up to her personal vision in showing open love and support to each other.
so when we were done with our sobbed outpouring (we DO NOT cry in front of people because we switch when tears fall. to do so requires extreme trust) she stepped in to point out a few things. her first mistake was in starting out with 'you're probably not going to like what i'm about to say'. (hint to those in leadership... never open up with that sentence) and was followed by, 'here's what you are doing wrong and here's why you are wrong to feel this way because look what we do for you'.
generally speaking, when you are going to offer criticism, it's best to tell the person what they have done right, first. we did that in this case, so were offended that the 'authority figure' in this situation didn't respond in kind. she went on to list all the ways that she says people have reached out to us.
now we had already explained thru tears that performance based acceptance was not something we could receive though we recognized the efforts to reach out to us in this way. we actually started off the whole thing by telling them what was good about the church in general and their leadership. also we told them how much it meant that they had so patiently given me space as i learned to trust them. no small task on either side.
back to the whole performance based thing...that was the most we could receive at home and that was a huge rarity. according to mum, i already knew how talented i was, why feed my ego by telling me i had done well or showing pride in me? so what came our way as a show of love at church, which basically consisted of huge pats on the back whenever i sang, but never being talked to outside of congratulations for yet another spine-tingling, heart warming performance, was not something that could really touch us. no matter how hard we tried to make it be enough for us. another negative message: nothing is EVER good enough for you
well, we collectively lost it. we'd already arranged for all the littles to be away from the conversation so it was just the three of us. reese was crushed because she had taken the chance to speak about this and had trusted them to see the hurt. stephanie was hugely pissed about her approach and delivery and i was floored that this person who had always been so well together was reacting so badly to what we'd had to say. we weren't even talking to her! this was for pastor b.
as far as we were concerned, her presence was only because it was proper, not because she could help. so when she jumped in with this, stephanie gave her about 90 seconds before telling her she had no fucking idea what she was talking about and had clearly not even been listening. miss l came back with 'don't you dare use that language with me' which was responded to with, 'then you don't want to hear anything i have to say!' just before we stormed out of the office.
sort of another side note here... both pastor b and miss l know abou the DID and miss l, to her credit, has a much better understanding of it than pastor does. his attempts to comprehend this are one of the things that endears him to me. he's genuine and real and just has this desire to love his flock that's almost like a presence around him. you can just feel it and see it in his eyes. anyway, they both know, but it's only pastor b i've talked to about stephanie's language. as a former sailor, he's totally understanding of the fact that if she's upset she may not bother to censor herself. he had promised several times that he would not shut her down if she came forward swearing.
we never got that promise from miss l because we never discussed it with her. we just assumed (our mistake) that she and he were on the same page about that. so when she jumped hot over the language (she acutally pointed her finger too which is another major hot button for us) stephanie became livid. we had misunderstood and thought that she could speak freely and it came across like a betrayal when miss l wouldn't let her speak her mind.
we must have really hit a hot spot for miss l because she never stopped talking, even as we walked out the door. she kept on going to charlie and pastor b about how we didn't attend often enough or participate in enough things for people to get to know us and on and on and on.
prior to their taking the pulpit, we had been extremely active, but the events leading up to the departure of the previous pastor had deeply hurt a lot of people, including us, and we admittedly backed off. but we've been going there for 5 1/2 years! sadly it was not that we weren't giving people a chance to know us, it was that they knew us and had backed off when i went off the deep end 3 years ago, but had not yet recognized that we were reaching out again in an effort to re-establish relationships.
we've come a long way and grown a lot, but people being people, they don't always see that. just like anyone else, church goer or not, they are more consumed with their own lives and their own trust issues. for a year we tried, we truly did. but just as we can't let go of past hurts/rejections, those we reached out to did not reach back for fear of our rejecting them. by the time we sat in the office to talk about this, we'd reached a point of believing it would be hopeless for anyone to ever see us differently.
the way we were feeling at church was so similar to what we felt at home (belonging but not really wanted) that what happened in the office that day was just more of a blow than we could handle. it confirmed our fears and convinced us that we'd have to put in a 24/7 effort at proving we weren't hopelessly crazy and unpredictable, before we could hope for real acceptance.
realizing that we were so very needy of acceptance was the very reason we decided to stop attending for a time. when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter what other people think. it doesn't matter if they accept us or not. all that really matters is who God says i am and what He thinks of me. no human will ever love or accept me as totally and deeply as He does and to keep substituting human acceptance only keeps me further from being able to believe the truth. that we are worthy. we are loved. we are wanted. we are gifted. we are a blessing.
so we backed away with the intent to focus on getting to a place of not putting so much importance on what other people think. we're getting there. so now we have to face that the reason we stay away is not because of feeling outcast, but because we're still pissed at miss. l. the bitterness toward miss l more than anything else, keeps me from going back.
that and pride. there is a real sense of unfairness (yeah, yeah, who said life was fair?) that we have to face all this ugly stuff we don't like in ourself but have to accept it in other people. what's right is to accept responsibility for us and our reactions to things, while lovingly accepting others. usually that's not a problem. only when someone points a finger at us, while their own crap is glaringly obvious, that we become so secretly hateful.
okay, so it's admitted and recognized... now what do we do with it?
fogive her for being a wounded human like the rest of us. accept she's not going to be a perfect example because no one can be. then move on.
simple huh? if only we didn't make it so complicated. it's not that it's hard to do... we just make it that way.
okay... we'll take care of it.