Saturday, August 13, 2016

June 8, 2015:

Well, the last couple of days for me have been interesting. I feel as though I am just getting over anxiety and residual shame awakened during that last week. I felt enormous amounts of anxiety, especially the day following the retreat. I was unsure whether that was because of the lack of sleep that I had gotten or that I was still processing the trauma re-experienced following. Later, I realized that I was processing indeed. It’s a lot of work to undo the deceitful and malicious lies that have been dictating everything we do from such an early age. This week I had an opportunity to do just that, by delving into the pain and experiencing the pretty much unconditional love at that program. I approached a couple of situations poorly. Once, I was on the Dufferin bus north and the second after I had paid the bus driver and turned to walk further down the bus, he laughed out loud. I don’t know if he was laughing at me or not but I turned around and asked him if he was nicely. He said he wasn’t. Still I was unsure. But then, I turned and moved a bit further down the aisle and realized that even if he was, it was because of his thought process that he would have been. Then, when the bus stopped, I thanked him and wished him a nice day. He said the same in a very kind way. In any case, I was pleased with myself that I felt the right to be assertive. The day I returned I went to my church. They were having a concert that evening. It was the Vertical Church Band. I love their music and I had bought a ticket to the event. But was feeling pretty stressed out and didn’t want to overwhelm myself by being around so many people. When I got to the church, I got there a little early and offered my services to greet. I hadn’t known whether I would have been back in time so I didn’t schedule myself. About halfway during the greeting process, I felt such an overwhelming love. It was so incredibly powerful. And encouraged by all of the kind people who I was greeting. This feeling continued into the service. I sat at the back because there was limited room. There, at the back of the room, I wept. Hearing the Word, from the Book of Exodus being preached, was so moving for me, especially after the experience I’d just been through. I sat and allowed God’s Word, preached to saturate my heart. The week was difficult and stressful to say the least even though I was surrounded by such incredible love and support all through it. But overall, it has been a beautiful transformative process. I can tell this from the beautiful and powerfully compassionate and moving dreams I am having. I can tell this from the amazing, kind, loving people who have come out of what feels like the middle of nowhere to show me their love. I truly feel like a new man now. On the way to church that night, I saw a roommate of mine, a really beautiful black woman sitting checking her phone on the chair in front of our rooms. I said hello to her and explained that I’d just come back from the retreat. We had a lovely conversation about God’s grace and love and abusive situations and God’s incredible ability to heal them. At the end of the conversation, she offered me a ride to my church. I accepted. Only because I am trying lately to allow myself to trust others better and open myself up to people, I accepted. In hindsight, with how far I made her drive, I feel a little bad. But I was encouraged when she said she was doing it out of the love in her heart. God bless her. When we were almost there, I told her that I had a little problem with my self-esteem. She encouraged me to see myself as God views me. She told me about a Youtube video called Trick baby by a bishop named Ron Archer. That night, when I returned home, she had placed a note under my door with the video and the words, “God loves you,” highlighted in marker. I watched the video the next day and practically wept in a coffee shop. It was such an incredibly powerful video. I think the greatest thing I took from it was that it reinforced in my mind the fact that God uses broken people. Also, it emphasized the importance of filling your heart with Scripture. I went and thanked her the day I’d watched it. It’s funny how people often project their insecurities upon others through their perceptions and ideas. It doesn’t have to be like this. Once we all realize we’re loved unconditionally by God, we will be able to love ourselves and others with every ounce of our being. I had another insight. I seem to be experiencing them a lot since I have returned from the retreat. I realized that I shut off or unintentionally shut down experiences that I am having if I view them as traumatic or if they stir up in me unwanted or intrusive memories. Sometimes I go on websites just for comfort. Not for the purposes of masturbation. Nor do I look at porn any more. Sites like Craigslist personals and massage parlor sites with no intention of going or calling. I do it to remind myself I’m alive, that I’m a human being and to remind myself I have these feelings in the midst of loneliness. Need someone who will be understanding with me. Crazily, I have actually had that a number of times. The shameful part for me is that I was not healthy enough at the time to realize the genuineness of the love that these beautiful women so freely offered me. I lament that fact but want them all to know that in spite of what I was going through, I loved each of them in the best way that I was able at the time I knew each of them. I pray you can understand how difficult it is for me to be doing what I am doing and to have come as far as I’ve come. And as proud as I am and as releasing as was in coming as far as I have, I need to proceed in small steps in order to take a leap of faith. The leap of faith that I definitely will take. Please have compassion and empathy. It is very clear to me that anyone else put under the same conditions would experience similar feelings, emotions, thoughts and develop similar defence mechanisms. Just know that this pain, this suffering is conquerable in the name of Christ. For all you’ve done, and yet to do, I’ll worship you. For every step, you’ve brought me through, I’ll worship you. Just know that no matter what you go through or where you are in life that you’re very loved. There are empathetic, caring people in this world. You are not alone. Even in your darkest times, God is with you. And that means the world. To know that in His incredible grace and love, yet in His incredible glory and majesty, He loves us. There is no earthly reason for Him to love us. Really, we are like the smallest of creatures to Him. It completely overwhelms me until I am on my knees on the floor every time I think of how much God cares about us. He created this world, this universe for a relationship with His Creation, which is us. All of us. Praise the Lord! Continuation: I am going to my Gatehouse support group this evening. I have mixed feelings about returning. For one, I am anxious about the expectations I feel they may have regarding how I will be after going through the Paths of Courage. I don’t know if I will live up to these expectations. But even still, I know that these are only my fears I am projecting onto them. Really, I am thankful to have the opportunity to go back and show them how great it was. Most of all, I want dearly to show them that regardless of what they’ve been through that they are loved dearly. And to encourage them to take part in that program! What a completely valuable thing they have at the Paths of Courage! I had another dream as I mentioned last night that was encouraging in the idea that I am not alone in my spiritual battle. It encouraged me that I was bound for glory and to reach out to others. One other thing that was nice this week so far: My friend Donna posted a meme to my wall about travelling through darkness, you find who really shines and supports you in your life. My friend Michelle liked this post. It was so nice of Donna to post this to my wall and I can only assume that my experiences at the retreat are well known by now. When Michelle liked it, I was so happy and it encouraged me so much. There has scarce been a night when I have not prayed for her. Please remember, my dear brothers and sisters that bravery is not always picking up a weapon in order to defend your country. Bravery is so much more than getting in the ring and lasting thirteen rounds with a heavyweight boxer. Bravery comes from within you. The kind of valiant bravery that it takes to be diagnosed with cancer at an early age, to watch your family weep and mourn yet hold so very much courage for the one with cancer. Bravery is a young child who has been in a respite hospital for much of his life with a serious, debilitating illness. The kind of valiant bravery it must take to not know where your next meal is coming from. The kind of incredible bravery it must take to have forgotten when and how you got your last meal. Bravery is what I did at that retreat. Bravery is what my brothers all did at that retreat. Bravery is what the facilitators subject themselves to weekly in order to help others who are suffering, even just a little bit. Brothers and sisters, you are all so incredibly brave. Keep faith and please have patience. Continuation: My support group was very good tonight. Got to see one of my old coordinators from my phase 1 at the Gatehouse. He has gotten a job at the place. Great news! He’s such a nice guy. My meeting went well. I was excited and checked in first. I talked about my week at the POC and recommended it for everyone there. I had an insight while in the meeting. I realized that often, especially with lack of sleep, I have difficulty communicating. I’m positive that this is in part a result of the trauma, which I am starting to deal with that began before I was verbal. I had no way to express what I was feeling and thinking with words so these emotions and thoughts became stuck. I have a lot of difficulty communicating because of bottled up pain. In addition, I realized that at times, I have a bad habit of just assuming that others know the periphery details of an issue, which I feel are common knowledge. This is a nasty habit that I plan on breaking by being more precise in my speech, when I am able. This is not a contest. Love is not a contest. Remember those words: Love is not a contest. Happy tonight. God bless!

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