I AM THE mistress of procrastination, finding a thousand things to do to keep me from my writing. I know what I have to say is vitally important; I have no doubt about that, even though it is a difficult subject to confront. Nonetheless I have wasted hours and hours in pathetic procrastination.
After what had been a hellish life of abuse and trauma as a child and teenager, and trying to cope in a loveless marriage, I believed I was through all my challenges and was happily enjoying life in my second stint as a social worker in Outback Queensland. That was until my mind was bombarded with frightening images of my being sexual abused by a supposedly Christian psychiatrist, the then head of a Queensland evangelical denomination. I was absolutely shattered by what I saw. It has taken me three years to deal with the repercussions of that abuse: and it is those experiences that I want to capture in a brief memoir.
It is important for me to document this journey, for several reasons. Firstly, as difficult as it will be for my children to read it, they do need to know the truth of what I have been through, why I struggled to be the perfect mother they believed I should have been, and why I failed. Secondly, people in the church and broader community must understand the destructive consequences those who have been abused by church leaders need to address—and why many are unable to do so. Thirdly, I want church people to know that it was not just Catholic priests or Anglican ministers who abused their parishioners; such abuse has also occurred in evangelical, Pentecostal and charismatic churches. Those churches are just as guilty as those they have chosen to condemn. All churches, regardless of denominational bias, must address this sickening issue that still taints communities today.
I have taken this project very slowly, particularly when I was covering the early weeks, months when those dreadful memories barged into awareness. One small step at a time was all I could manage.
But now I am through the tough spots and I’m ready to write of the changes I have experienced, particularly in the two most powerful areas of life: spirituality and sexuality. It is so precious to feel complete in myself, comfortable with who I am, and to realise that just by being me is enough. I can at last speak my truth from the position of wholeness.
Why am I procrastinating at this point? Perhaps because I have a bit of work to do to capture the unfolding of these final weeks of the healing process, and I’d rather just glory in the moment of how great it feels, in a sense, to have arrived. I also want to relate the reality of my God and the journey we have both been on over these past three years. Not only was he with me right the way through, especially when I railed against him and tried to turn my back on him, and understood the torment I went through as I dealt with this hell, but he also knew the joy I would experience when I finally came to this place of completion, contentment. The Hebrew word Shalom means much more than peace, it also means wholeness, integration, goodwill—among other things.
Shalom. That’s what I have found. What a precious gift for this time of the year!