Counseling 2: Sixth Session
My talk with Aaron helped me realize some things--not necessarily related to the topic I was supposed to discuss with him. I realized that one of the things I'm struggling with is that I can hardly bear the fact that a little girl was deeply hurt. The fact that the little girl was me seems peripheral to everything else. And I think a little of the desperation I feel is that I was there when the abuse happened, but I was helpless to do anything about it. And I REALLY want to change that. But I can't.
Writing about the abuse in detail had a profound effect on me. Adult Samantha wants to dismiss the past--she doesn't want anyone else to have to think of the ugliness that lives in hidden corners of her mind. She doesn't want to know of similar experiences that have happened to others, as people try, misguidedly, to comfort her with those. The terrifying reality of her own past is enough without having to realize that abuse is common, that children are disregarded and disrespected, that she is only one of many little girls and boys who cannot cry because there are no more tears left. Child Samantha wants to tell everyone. She has been silent for many years. She wants people to know of the hurt and confusion. She wants to be held and comforted and protected. She pokes and prods at adult Samantha, giving her no peace. As I finally acknowledge and describe my experiences, I realize that what I have been afraid of for so long, is over. And I also realize that I'm ready to be finished with this.
I talked with Therapist about what I had done. He was surprised. He paid me a compliment, "You've got more guts than most of my clients." I was surprised. I thought that, like my first counselor, Therapist would tell me that looking too deeply at the past can do more harm than good. He talked about how I was taking charge of my life--I was no longer reacting, but becoming proactive in how I would deal with past problems. So I told him, I was having trouble applying the atonement--which I felt was the next step.
Former counselor talked endlessly about applying the atonement--it's wonderful, it can heal, it brings joy and peace...but she never addressed the problem I had--how do I do it? What's stopping me from handing my problems to Christ?
Have I mentioned that I'm in love with Therapist?
He asked me what I thought it was that was keeping me from letting go. I thought for a long time, then I said, "I know that Christ has already suffered my pain. He did it long ago. But it breaks my heart that anyone else has to feel what I've felt--NO ONE should feel that. I love Christ. I don't want him to have to feel that. I keep thinking if I don't hand it off, he won't have to. I know that's stupid, because it's over and done with--but I still don't want him to feel that hurt."
I waited for him to tell me all the things I say to myself: That's silly--the atonement has already taken place. Christ won't thank me for not taking advantage of his sacrifice. I can't change anything by holding onto my hurt. This is but one more futile attempt to change the past.
He didn't say anything like that. He said, "That sounds very empathetic, and it doesn't surprise me that you would feel that way. You've spent much of your life trying to help alleviate pain in the lives of other people. It sounds to me like you feel that, by allowing Christ to take on the pain you have suffered, you personally, are responsible for inflicting that pain on someone you love." I thought about that, and realized it was true, and it made me cry. I really did feel that way, and I didn't want that responsibility.
Therapist (by the way, I love him) was really kind--which is something I often believe I don't deserve. He asked me to think carefully. He said, "Who, really, is responsible for creating the pain you don't want to give away?" I admitted that my cousin was the responsible party. Then Therapist, who is insightful beyond anyone else I know, said, "If your cousin chooses to repent, do you think he should have that opportunity?" I thought for awhile, again. I said, "I don't think he will. But if he wants to, I hope he will. I don't think I'd be able to live with myself if I had done the things that he has. I hope he will." Therapist asked me, "Should he be forgiven?" That was easy...I'd done this with my last counselor, "Of course," I answered. "What he did was wrong, but I don't have any idea what, in his past, might have motivated him to mistreat me. Everyone deserves forgiveness." Therapist said, "Maybe it's time you gave his responsibility back to him." I asked him what he meant. He said, "Christ suffered the agony of paying the price for your cousin's mistreatment of you. He felt your pain so that he could heal you. You've been stopping the process, even though you believe in it, because you don't know how to let your cousin take the blame for what he has done. YOUR COUSIN is the one who has caused Christ's pain--you have not. He is the one who committed the sin--in this particular experience of your life, you have none, you are not responsible."
Sometimes we have "AH-HAH!!!" moments. As soon as he said that, I felt something inside me give way. It seemed as though a knot suddenly loosened, released. My head told me, Samantha, he's right--YOU are not the one who caused the pain. You don't have to take ANY responsibility for that. And as I thought more about this, I felt the most incredible peace come. And I think I can let go. It might take a little more time for everything to sink in. It might take a week or so to get used to the idea. But I think I can do this. I think I'm finally ready to let my cousin shoulder his own burden, to accept that the work to heal me has already taken place, to allow Christ's love to step in and comfort that broken child that is me.