In his novel Requiem For A Nun, William Faulkner wrote “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” While Faulkner had his faults (like alcoholism and womanizing), the man could turn a phrase. This quote might have been born out of Faulkner’s essential southern-ness, but it applies to not-so-southern people, too. Especially in when you’re talking about abuse. I think it’s even more true when that abuse is of the religious variety.
In Friday’s I Hate That F**king List, I said “Since “edgy and controversial” is out, another hook I could use revolves around abuse. In light of recent revelations, church/religious/spiritual abuse is all the rage and, as you might remember from some posts in the last couple of weeks, it’s a topic I am well-qualified to take on. But, here’s the thing: to do so, it feels like I have to wallow in my past and be pissed off about all the crap that happened to me. I mean, let’s face it, the internet doesn’t reward a happy ending nearly as handsomely as it does anger, spite and vindictiveness. Those are things I’m trying to get away from, not embrace.”
The posts I refer to in that excerpt are My Story Pt. I-IV and Spank You Very Much. While Spank You speaks more to the physical abuse I endured, the other posts provide some needed context with the back story. And, the latter half of My Story does something else: it talks about my efforts to not “wallow in my past and be pissed off about all the crap that happened to me” and move away from “anger, spite and vindictiveness”. Because acknowledging the fact that you’ve been abused is only the beginning of the passage to wholeness.
People deal with their abuse in different ways. Some wear it like a badge, constantly shoving the fucked-up facts of their past in your face at every opportunity, while others deny it ever happened, pretending everything is all hunk-dory even though everyone in a five block radius can see it’s not. I think we can all agree that neither of these situations are…, let’s say, optimal. I mean, we all know people like this and they’re not exactly fun to be around. Personally, I’ve done the denial thing and it didn’t really work for me. Now that I’ve acknowledged my past, I’m trying my damnedest not to do the former. I’ll be honest, it’s not easy.
It’s not easy because every time I talk about it, I feel like I’m “shoving the fucked-up facts of (my) past in your face at every opportunity”, even if I’m not. And, it’s hard to talk about where I am now without feeling like a smug, holier-than-thou asshole who thinks they have the answer to your problems especially since, on some level, I kinda actually believe that. There’s a balancing point in there somewhere, if I could only find it.
In Romans 8:28, Paul says “That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” It would be nice if that were true, since it would mean I didn’t go through all the shit that I did for no good reason. Who knows, maybe if I can find that balancing point and help someone else work through the hell that is the aftermath of abuse, I might actually believe it.