Speaking OUT to end clergy sexual misconduct.

The Gift of Trauma

I’m stepping away from this work — maybe for a while, maybe for good. It’s not that the work is finished. The church is still unsafe for vulnerable people, and especially for survivors. The church still needs our voices. Thankfully many survivors are now speaking their truth. When one of us needs to lay down the burden, others are ready to pick it up. I’ve worked alongside some of today’s most effective victims and survivors, and I can attest to the power of their work. I may no longer have hope in church, but I have hope in the leaders I’ve met.

As I work on healing from the trauma, I am grateful for friends who have helped me reflect on its meaning. “The gift of trauma,” I said to one of them last week, “is that it enables us to create safe spaces for others.” I know what it feels like to be deeply traumatized, to feel paralyzed by fear 24 hours a day, to find myself destroying friendships and alienating family members because I felt I couldn’t trust anyone. During this time, the only safety I had was the presence of other trauma survivors. When I felt crazy, they made me feel sane; when I felt broken, they made me feel I could put myself back together. Eventually I realized I was doing the same for them. Even when I was still a hot mess of impairment, I was helping others build a sense of safety. I will always be grateful for this double gift: the sense of safety I got from other survivors, and the blessing of knowing I was giving it in return.

And so, dear survivors of this or any trauma, please know what a gift you are. Your wounds — and the compassion you gain in healing — will make you a safe place and a source of healing to others.

With love and thanks to all who have supported me in five years of writing.

Onward,
Catherine

Comments on: "The Gift of Trauma" (6)

  1. What an encouraging post for someone like me and I’m sure many others. You described it so well: “… to find myself destroying friendships and alienating family members because I felt I couldn’t trust anyone. During this time, the only safety I had was the presence of other trauma survivors.” etc.
    I still am finding myself being so careful and then at moments I will blurb out the messiness to some whom I know will gossip. And then I say to myself, “I don’t care because I’m so tired of hiding.” 😦 … and yet, I just can’t seem to trust and, sadly, the ones I can’t trust are family and fair-weather friends.
    God bless you as you carry on.

  2. June Richetto said:

    Dear Catherine,

    You saved my life ….twice! (physical and spiritual)

    May the God of grace and peace bless you and give you rest!

    With my deepest gratitude,

    June

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. Thank you so much for your affirming words, healinginhim. Between broken relationships and the sense that we have to hide our truth, this journey can be so hard. It does get better, though. Once we grieve the lost friendships, and once we grieve the lost sense of who we are, we can find truer friendships and a truer identity. That’s what your name — “healing in him” — makes me think of. We can heal and find our true selves in God, with or without church.
    God bless you on your healing journey.

  4. Sending you blessings and love as your path forward unfolds, dear Catherine.

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