Monday, August 22, 2016
April 30, 2016:
Yesterday was amazing. I went to a conference at the Toronto Police College with the Gatehouse. The morning was eventful. I was pretty exhausted to be honest. Because I was in a new place sleeping was pretty shaky. I took the subway into Kipling where I took a cab to the college. I saw a whole bunch of people I knew. The conference was great and I learned quite a bit. It started with a testimony of an athlete named Jean-Paul Bedard who apparently ran the Boston Marathon three times in a day. He is also a survivor of child sexual abuse. He said a couple of things that really resonated with me. He was talking about how fear is perpetuated by the sense that we are alone and victims. He said a lot about courage and resilience. Courage is the conscious decision to move forward in the midst of fear. People who are resilient believe they are the orchestrators of their own fate. He reminded us that repressed anger can be very dangerous. And that hurt people, hurt people. That is to say that people who hurt others are often (not always) holding onto their pain and anger and trauma. He said something that really interested me and reminded me of my first novel. Sort of the theme, at least. He said that incarceration for this sort of crime is not always the answer. I believe strongly in the need for punishment, especially for crimes like these. But he brings an important issue to light in that it doesn’t always fix, but rather and in many ways, simply perpetuates the shame. I will not propose a solution. What he said though, reminded me that I am not angry in my search for justice. I am angry at the situation. I am not angry at them, the people who hurt me. After his speech, there was another speaker who really resonated with me. She is a PhD student out east who is using poetry as a tool to help people in prison and others who are struggling with their own recovery processes. She said that creativity allows us the space to open ourselves to vulnerability. When we make ourselves vulnerable with others, we are changing the ways that trauma affects us. She also reminded me that being seen and heard for truth of our experiences can be empowering and allow us to heal. What she was saying really resonated with me because of the way that I also have used literature and writing for my own recovery. The next speaker, his message, was really incredible. It inspired me a lot. He started off by stating that when you are a victim, you have no choice. That in recovering and healing, we are regaining our capacity to make choices. We begin to differentiate between the dynamic of power we were in as children versus the position of power we have as adults. When we are children, going through these terrible injustices, we have no control, power or choice. What we do with those experiences, with the feelings that resulted are our choices. We have no power over what happened. Naturally, this will lead to the belief that we have little or no power over the choices of our lives. This is where the arena of grief comes into importance. We have the power to choose. And that anger is important. It is so vital to be able to express that repressed anger and grief and shame and loss. We can be angry without blame and without vilification. A great sense of compassion develops when we see humans as imperfect and flawed. We have the choice. We need to be able to anticipate and have a plan for when we are triggered. Triggers are a very real thing. How we react is our choice. Having that plan gives us the choice. After this, the members of the Gatehouse spoke. It was really awesome. After our break for lunch, my co facilitator came and found me, introducing me to a woman who was struggling with the fact that she was having flashbacks and realizations of abuse that she was having difficulty making sense of. I will not say anything about this discussion. We sat outside the conference hall and spoke for some time. I hope I was able to help her. After the conference, I took a cab. I think he may have not been entirely familiar with the city because he was driving me a long way away from Islington Station. I asked him to stop and drop me off on Lakeshore around Mimico because I didn’t feel comfortable. I’m sure he was just taking me in the way he knew. But regardless of his intentions, I am so proud of myself that I stood up for myself, set a boundary and stood by it without explaining it. I’m sure he thought what he was doing was best. Still, I’m glad I made this choice on my own instead of simply submitting as I have always in my life. I’m finding this really transforming how I react to situations: I’m learning to take the ‘you’ out of ‘what are they doing to you.’ Again, when we see people as simply reacting, we are able to have a greater sense of empathy. So I took the streetcar into Yonge. A woman who was asking for change played me a song she wrote on her washboard. It was awesome! What an awesome talent. She was really nice. I gave her ten dollars. That evening, I went to my buddy’s place where we played poker. It was a good night. I was exhausted. Today, I went to church. I sang in the choir today. I am realizing that maybe I shouldn’t have. I was very tired and am still getting used to my new place. Therefore my body is not working at full functioning. I don’t feel that I sang well today. I continued to sing in spite of this because I wanted to contribute and I know I am able at my best. I want to say that I believe fully that Christ and the beautiful Holy Spirit can heal me completely. I have faith and I absolutely believe. I am working on feeling worthy. And I feel that I need to follow His plan for my life further. I know I need to confront my past. Not for glory.