I actually looked forward to this day ~ but not without the dread of ‘feeling that in true mags style I probably flunked this assignment. The word count was 3000/5000 words. I managed 7100 words ~ or maybe I didn’t manage it very properly at all ~ hence the 2100 shortfall. It turns out I had 13 pages. That’s a pretty cool number of pages to have randomly finished at ~ I was most pleased. I came to the conclusion that I could ‘run myself’ over any number of the words, culling this paragraph here, deleting this one there, editing my edits, and get my autobiography down to the suggested word-count at a push. However the compromise would be that it simply wouldn’t be me. ~ And on this occasion I refuse to compromise ~ to turn in something which isn’t honest ~ isn’t authentic ~ and frankly isn’t me.
I could remove the language, that I use, to get to where I am going ~ and then the essence of me would be lost along the way. I could record any number of facts ~ but then the thoughts and the feelings that reveal my idiosyncrasies, that trigger my responses to certain situations ~ decisions ~ choices ~ and paths that I have taken, might become invisible. To have actually turned in 3000/5000 words of an autobiography, would have actually been to have turned in somebody else ~ and not me at all. So in order to be True I took the risk of failing the assignment ~ knowing that in Gods eyes I pass it wholeheartedly.
I have to at this point disclose to you, that I was worried about the response to what my tutors read. Worried about Christian tutors who ‘do not judge’ suddenly forming a silent unspoken opinion of me, which is now prejudiced by the information they have access to. Will I now be deemed unfit for service? A Spiritual Director trained by the London Centre for Spirituality, being publically rejected and banished by her own diocese, is not a good advert for me ~ for the spirituality centre ~ or for prospective directees (especially ones in my own diocese.) It’s almost game over before it’s begun.
The closer into the morning we drew to sharing our autobiography, the more my heart thumped in my chest ~ I thought I could have gone first maybe ~ but as soon as someone else went first, I knew then that I wanted to go last. I felt nervous, shaky and serious, and so at lunch time I took myself off alone, in solace, away from all others ~ I didn’t want to be around distracting inconsequential conversation ~ I just wanted to be with God ~ so I went off. And later in the afternoon at coffee time, I sat in the church and looked at some scripture ~ just to calm and still myself.
As others told their story before me, I felt warmth pour out of myself towards them, whilst also aware that what was so very emotional within, for them, (and so very big for them to share), for me not having experienced their journey, felt less traumatic ~ And yet I was fully aware of how this existential pain had burrowed into us all ~ in the deepest way ~ making us united in our grief and brokenness, despite our different stories. All broken, and yet all still breaking and mending ~ ongoing.
I was happy to share my story, but still I felt panic attacky all day ~ which isn’t something I usually feel. My controversial story, and my experiences being in a small way re-lived, re-felt, and re-experienced – out loud before others – would be so painful. And my dignity and my integrity wouldn’t disguise my hurt pride, at having been so appallingly hurt and betrayed by those whom I trusted and loved. To be an outsider is one thing ~ to be excluded rejected and held other by the men of God – whom I so love and respect – is to feel utterly and devastatingly ruined ~ (more so than being raped by a stranger). And yet, in being held other, and in being rejected by the ‘high priests’ ~ I determinedly feel, utterly, ultimately ‘cornerstone’ worthy!
I printed off my autobiography and gave the others in my tutor group a copy, because I didn’t want anyone filling in ‘my verbal gaps’ themselves, should I have missed anything out.
All the heightened tension I felt before I began my story, soon relaxed a little as my story unfolded ~ however in the moments of hurting, fear, sadness, and injustice, I found it impossible to contain my pain, and the raw emotion that such deeply cutting hurting evoked. ~ This made it momentarily difficult to speak at times, in case the dam should burst and flood wide open.
I felt sad for the parts of my story that I had missed out ~ my miscarriage ~ the near death of my twins etc. and when others spoke of these events which I also had experienced, I felt tears welling up and spilling over from the pain that I knew all to well ~ and that was ok. Tears are nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed about ~ they show compassion for, and affiliation with others in their pain and suffering. I am aware that my tears flow freely ~ where others mostly managed to somehow contain theirs.
I felt charged and raw with emotion during my sharing ~ and yet I felt all others in the room calmly and gently holding me, in my seemingly more visibly painful struggling and grief ~ they being intimately tuned-in throughout. And afterwards I felt a release of sorts, as if the comedy/tragedy mask had been lifted ~ and in my integrity and honesty once again ~ somehow I was poignantly graced.
At the end there was a sense of solidarity and achievement for us all ~ some of my fellow students hugged me close, and I felt blessed by their reaching out in love. The interior journey home was filled with a rarely familiar emptying ~ and a calm tranquil stillness.
Peace be with me.