Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Speaking out about Trauma

About a month ago I spoke at our Chittenden County Domestic and Sexual Violence Legislative Forum. The audience was made up of about 100 community members and 15 of our state legislators. I spoke for about 10 minutes from the perspective of a survivor of assault and sexual violence. The purpose of the Forum was to raise awareness of the issues of domestic and sexual violence among our legislators as they head into their 2012 legislative session. (I blogged about this previously at The Bady Partnership.)

The process of preparing and delivering the speech took much more out of me emotionally than I ever expected. I've talked about my experience of trauma with friends, family and congregation members on many, many occasions. Even so, in the week leading up to the Forum I began experiencing nightmares, insomnia and dissociative feelings associated with flashbacks. These old, familiar feelings rushed back reminding me of what it was like when I was in the midst ~ and at the worst ~ of my PTSD.

While the possibility of pulling out of the speech did occur to me, I decided to continue. While the PTSD symptoms were painful, I was not scared of them. Giving up would be giving in to the trauma. I felt that it was important to tell my story and, hopefully, make an impact. I gave the speech on January 30th and it was an amazing experience. It was difficult to share some of the more intimate details of my trauma and recovery, making myself vulnerable to a room full of strangers. I was helped by great support from church members who prayed for me and attended. Gary took the day off to be with me.

In some ways I feel like my story is out there in the world now. It's out there to, hopefully, help someone else in some way. When the legislators are making decisions about bills related to sexual and domestic violence maybe they will think of me. Giving the speech also gave me the opportunity to speak with other survivors and hear pieces of their stories.

I had hoped that after I gave the speech I would go back to feeling 'good' again, but it took some time. In fact, I think it has taken me the whole month to fully recover and feel back to my new-normal, healthy self again. Thankfully Bady and Gary and friends and family have been with me, supporting me, along the way. I am thankful that I had the opportunity and that I took it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Seven Random Happy Thoughts

Happy Day :)

1. I made chocolate chip cookies today. Two batches! I hadn't made any cookies since our marathon cookie bake-off before Christmas. We like to freeze them (and eat them frozen or dunk them in hot chocolate), so the two batches will last quite a while. And the house smells delicious.

2. I felt the Spirit move among us in worship yesterday. I love when that happens!

3. I'm keeping up pretty well with the PT exercises for my knee. Last week my therapist told me that she is seeing improvements and I am headed in the right direction. That was good motivation to help me keep up with these 20-30 minute exercises 3 times a day.

4. Bady let me sleep until 7:30 this morning. Yay!

5. Yesterday, thanks to talented and creative members of our congregation, we had a Mardi Gras party after church! It was a great celebration with good food, fellowship, decorations, and community building. I love to see the Narthex packed with people having fun and in no hurry to leave.

6. I've discovered 'Downton Abbey' through streaming Amazon video. It is so good! I'm trying to savor the episodes and not watch them all at once. One a week will last me for quite a while, but it's tempting.....

7. Belated Valentine's Dinner a Leunig's Bistro was fabulous. I'd never had Gnocchi before and I discovered that I really like it. (And the scallops were cooked to perfection!)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ministry Musings: The Good and The Difficult

There are some really great things about pastoring. I love participating and leading weekly worship services. I love preaching and all the preparation that goes into it. I love working within a community.

There are also some really difficult things about pastoring. There are the long and, sometimes, unproductive meetings. There is the administrative work that needs to be done for the denomination. There are those times when beloved community members get sick. There are the celebrations of life that are a privilege and a great responsibility.

Since I have been a Faith Church there has not been a lot of illness or many deaths. In two-and-a-half years of ministry I can count the number of funerals I have officiated here on one hand. (That is compared to the average 12 funerals a year at my previous appointments.) Perhaps I am a little out of practice. Still, I wish there didn't have to be any.

But I guess the good comes with the difficult. One of the best and most awe-inspiring things about being a pastor is being welcomed into the life of the congregation. With life comes joy and growth along with pain, illness and death. I'll take the difficult along with the good, because it is all a gift. But that doesn't make the difficult any easier.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

February Funk

I feel like I've been in a funk the past couple of weeks. It's nothing serious. I just don't feel like I have much motivation lately. My get-up-and go got-up-and went! I expect this kind of funky-feeling in November when the days are getting shorter and winter is making its arrival known. For some reason I by-passed the November funk this year and it popped up in February!

It probably has something to do with my knee problems and the fact that winter hasn't really arrived. Last February I spent most of my free time shoveling, so I didn't have time for a funk and I was getting plenty of endorphins from all the exercise. It may also have something to do with my Dad's birthday on February 7th ~ the second birthday he has not been around to celebrate.

Today has been a good day with a trip to the gym, a movie this afternoon, cupcakes in the oven for tomorrow's church pot-luck and an interesting recipe to try tonight. I've also got some work for The Bady Partnership to keep my busy this evening. Hopefully my February funk will be short-lived. I'm noticing already that it is staying light much later. Dare I hope that Spring is just around the corner........

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Random News: My Knee!

Last week I started Physical Therapy on my knee. This came about after an unsuccessful skiing trip in January. I had been noticing some pain in my knee while running on the treadmill and going down stairs but it all came to a head when I put the ski boot on and was immediately unable to walk. Yikes!

My Physical Therapist is very nice. She certainly put me through my paces! I have several exercises to do each day to strengthen the muscles around my knee with the ultimately goal of guiding my knee cap into a healthier place.

I'm glad to be getting treated with the hopes of avoiding a larger problem down the road! It is a little frustrating, though, since jogging is now not recommended and it is something I have really enjoyed. Maybe I will be able to start again after my treatment. This is also a reminder that ~ turning 37 next month ~ I am getting older!