My Journey from Mental Illness to Mental Wellness
Exodus 3:7 |
And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;(I am concerned about their suffering)
In the Beginning
In the course of rendition seeking recollection
Pasting back together the many broken pieces
of a glass once filled with the joy of being alive
mixed with the reality of suffering, but never alone
There are so many sharp shards of glass
glistening in the wilderness crying out
"behold I send a messenger who will bear witness
to Withness, out of the brokenness the glimmer of life
I begin my journey wanting to know what it means to have a God who hears and sees and does something about my suffering. This same God needs to passionately be with me as much as I want to be with God. Something better than being good is knowing goodness. Something better than being with is a commitment to "withness"
My family Roots/ connections
My grandfather George's father came to the United States from Sweden to escape persecution from the Lutheran state church. He came to Boston and pastored a Baptist church that my Dad, Gordon and his brother George attended under the influence of George's sister Hilda who lived with George and his wife Helga. She was concerned that they both understand the importance of knowing God. It was a lonely journey for him, his George and Helga rarely if ever attended. I can imagine at times he wondered why he went to the trouble of coming here. It means a lot to me in this moment, because without his coming to America I would not be here as a Baptist or person on a journey to know why I am here and what to do about it.
It did not work out so well for him according to the memory of my Uncle George. He went from desiring to save souls to saving the soles of shoes from wear and tear. This activity became the butt of jokes. I am sure certain persons in the family and community wondered if he was crazy.
The Swedish Baptists who planted the initial churches of the Baptist General Conference were fiercely independent. They had to be in order to leave family and country behind and travel to a new land. This independence was forged by the experiences of harassment and religious persecution that led to their immigration. They had fought in Sweden for the right to gather freely for Bible study, suffering jail and exile for their convictions. They had resisted the leadership of Lutheran Church preachers in order to seek the truths of the Bible for themselves. These early pioneers sailed from Sweden with a deep distrust of ecclesiastical and secular authority. (from the Bethel College archives)
My uncle also talks in intimate detail about the loss of his dad when he and my dad were barely teenagers. He had often enjoyed times with his dad in the coffee house with his dad. They walked together to and from work. One day his dad decided he was not feeling good and he went home. He came home at the age of fifteen to find his dad dead because of diabetes. My dad was twelve years at the time. My Uncle has made it his mission to spread the tale to protect others from a similar fate. My uncle at the age of 80 is very distant as he talks about his own way of seeing God's concern. He looks at me and says I look just like his dad. Maybe he finds comfort in seeing his father in me.
My great grandfather on Mom's side of the family had once been an alcoholic. He and his wife sired twelve children. Along the way he was filled with the Holy Spirit and moved from Canada to Everett Massachusetts to pioneer a church into the world of Pentecostalism, which was at the time just beginning to take hold. He became very successful. He had a leadership role in the denomination and mentored many men in his church to become pastors. His influence was ever present whether I knew about it concretely or not. You see my great grandfather was a fire and Brimstone preacher. In the course of events Mom would have a child (me) outside of marital bond, while her brother Allan became distant from the church.
I did not know as much about my mother's father's parents. I was told that her grandfather was a hell on wheels with cane ever present in a menacing way. He was a philanderer and not considered very highly. Papa's mother was described as constantly working. I knew even less about my Dad's mother's parents. The only thing that was shared was that his mother left Sweden when she could not get along with her step mother.
My father, Gordon had a Spiritual side that was even until the time right up to the time of his death hidden. Maybe he did not want to get as close to God as his dad. There were after all in the end dastardly consequences. He no doubt had heard often enough that his dad was with God. This was the same dad did not go to church. That is the stance dad took much of his life. He always focused on who his "father" was and how to be like that image. As a child he sang in the choir and sang beautifully. Dad was even being recruited by a much bigger church to sing praise to God. He gracefully declined. He did not like the idea of being forced into the kingdom of God. He took that same opinion into his child raising experience with Mom.
My mom Blanche was the younger of two children and as luck would have it his dad’s name was the same as hers, George. I have no question this was a whimsical tricks of a wayward angel that allowed this to happen. In the course of their courtship he, Gordon would meet up with someone with the same name as his father. I believe that this made it easier for my father to believe that he could be a dad. It was kind of like seeing the father alive through Mom's dad.
Her mother was not as home as much as mom would have liked. Mom took advantage of this by acting out and taking center stage. As was previously mentioned her mother’s father was a preacher who loved to talk about the “hellavision”, which was his name for the television along with other vital matters of faith. She could forever put a smile on her grandfather’s face despite her impishness. He was amused by his granddaughter. According to my mom she was his favorite. Her grandfather had twelve children of his own from his marriage. She wanted to have twelve children too. He just knew that God had something special for Blanche to do. SHE was worth saving. Her dad doted over her in a playful way and often called her an endearing title to compare her with her mother.
I was the oldest of eight. I was gifted with six siblings. Perceptions of each may be important to understanding the revealing of the essential content of my story. My oldest sister Lori had dreams of being a nurse, who worked hard to make people feel better: we remain close; Kim was a quiet and caring: She was there for me when my life seemed to be falling apart and to this day is an excellent caregiver. Craig was an inspirational character: he had dyslexia and yet was garnering hope. He is not afraid to deal with tough issues. Glenn was his own person: He did things his own way. Lisa was a toddler at the time: someone whose hand I held. Missy was not yet born as my journey to overcome my mental illness was beginning. Right or wrong I often think she was brought into being when my life was becoming more and more of a train wreck. There seemed to be so much promise, ministerial potential and the next thing you know chaos.
Kurt, one year younger, was a key player in my unfolding tale. He was one year younger than me. We roomed together upstairs. He was the athlete in the family and seemed to me at least to play the role of favorite son. I was obviously jealous. My only way to put him in his place was to wrestle him and out distance him since I could never run faster than him. It hardly seemed fair. When I was a Junior in high school finally feeling like I was going somewhere, something strange happened. Kurt was out in the hallway where I usually sat as I got ready to go home. There were double sessions, so that he was just getting started. Kurt was listless, staring into space. I had no idea what to make of it and went home. After all he had been acting a bit strange and yet Mom and Dad were in denial that what I said about his behavior meant anything. Mom had gone to Florida to be with a favorite Aunt. Dad was left to work and take care of the family. I was an emotional support; a role I took on through much of childhood for fear that if I did not our family might become messed up. There was a phone call. An ambulance was going to the hospital with Kurt. Dad took me with me. It was hard not to expect the worst. I can still see the lights of the ambulance. Out of the ambulance came my brother staring into space. At one point I was left to attend him while Dad went home to get the house in order. In those moments it seemed like it was up to me to bring him back to life. I felt guilty and ashamed. I had often cast myself into a mode of being responsible when things went wrong. After all, mom and dad seemed to have more than enough to deal with. I would learn later that Kurt was in a catatonic and was later diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia. I felt like it was my entire fault. Why didn't I say something to someone while at school? I could not bring him back to reality, which was my main focus. I did not know at the time his wellness did not depend on me. I felt like that I had let mom and dad down. Since this incident Kurt and I have been connected in ways that set us apart from everyone else. While mom was away, I tried to keep things on an even keel at home. Much of the time Kurt was in the hospital I visited with dad. Much of that time Kurt stared into space. I was left with the worry and concern (unspoken) that if it could happen to him, it could also happen to me.
Points of Redemption:
1. It is important to know about and deal with your history or it will deal with you. In the story you will often see challenges ahead and resources to deal with situations that just simply seem to always be there. I love the story of Jonah and the big fish (whale). When you try to escape your history it swallows you up and only by the grace of God will you escape.
2. It is important to realize over time it is not your fault. When you hold yourself for what happens to relationships you become a traumatized victim. You may fool yourself into thinking you can fix it, but in the long run become a victim of your own doing.
3. God has a sense of humor. Never get so serious that you can not see a lighter side or you will forever dwell in darkness.
4. Hang in there. You may have doubt and fears. God is love and love overcomes fear.
#44. Back to the beginning
ID #931117 entered on March 21, 2018 at 12:41pm
#43. What a headache
ID #894513 entered on October 14, 2016 at 8:33pm
#42. The Sound of silence
ID #894177 entered on October 10, 2016 at 10:10pm
#41. Looking for a job
ID #894079 entered on October 9, 2016 at 8:40pm
#40. A New Kind of Love
ID #893947 entered on October 8, 2016 at 11:49am
#39. Who would have thought?
ID #893916 entered on October 8, 2016 at 11:22am
#38. God speaks to me
ID #893839 entered on October 8, 2016 at 10:44am
#37. Introduction: What is the meaning of "Withness"?
ID #868305 entered on December 15, 2015 at 1:12pm
ID #863964 entered on October 24, 2015 at 2:12pm
#35. Learning how to choose the right friends
ID #863960 entered on October 24, 2015 at 1:13pm
#34. Learning about responsibility
ID #863797 entered on October 24, 2015 at 12:38pm
#33. Learning how to Care
ID #863705 entered on October 22, 2015 at 12:06am
#32. Sun House
ID #863507 entered on October 20, 2015 at 4:53pm
ID #861656 entered on October 3, 2015 at 12:50pm
#30. A Minister and Yet
ID #861634 entered on October 3, 2015 at 9:00am
ID #861433 entered on October 1, 2015 at 2:13pm
#28. Being There for myself
ID #861241 entered on September 29, 2015 at 9:34am
#27. Getting Out
ID #861136 entered on September 28, 2015 at 7:23am
#26. Setbacks, healing cost
ID #861133 entered on September 28, 2015 at 6:55am
#25. Planning to Get out
ID #860729 entered on September 22, 2015 at 4:54pm
#24. Sorting Through What it Means: Homosexuality/Christianity.
ID #860700 entered on September 22, 2015 at 10:07am
ID #860612 entered on September 21, 2015 at 9:03am
#22. Help Me Jesus
ID #860121 entered on September 15, 2015 at 2:58pm
#21. Why am I here?
ID #860108 entered on September 15, 2015 at 11:42am
ID #860015 entered on September 14, 2015 at 9:08am