a response to ‘Paedogeddon’.

I’ve been trying to write this for weeks. In fact since the 15th November. Since I read the ‘Paedogeddon: of God and Monsters’ written by Sara Kewly Hyde and published on Threads here;

http://www.threadsuk.com/paedogeddon/

I’ve been trying to respond since then. And I have written and rewritten this blog several times now. And then I decided I would write it, and try and put down in words some of my personal thoughts. The thoughts I had initially.

Because however hard I try to come up with something deep and meaningful, I am not sure I can. However hard I try to come up with something that is ‘seen’ as ‘theological’ I am not sure I can. In fact I am sure I cant.

I’ve discovered all I can actually come up with is my own personal, deep down, gut instinct response to what Sara wrote.

I have been challenged. Big time. I have not been able to stop thinking about it. Since I first read what she had to say, it has played on my mind, and I have thought about it at least once a day, often more.

I am a survivor. I grew up being abused by the people who should have been caring for me. By the people I should have been able to look up to. The man who should have been a father to me abused me. I was abused by someone else who was unable himself to deal with being abused. 

I also, as a young adult, in my early twenties was assaulted one day, in the street, just down the road from where I was living at the time. When that happened, that day, my life changed. Forever. Yet another thing was taken away from me.

I had nothing left. It pushed me to the brink of death, because just over a year later, I would try to kill myself (here by the grace of God and all that).

 Sometimes I am able to eloquently describe and talk about what it is like to be abused, and raped. And sometimes I am not. Sometimes I am able to put into words the pain, shame, fear and torture that fill your mind. It is torment.

However hard you try to wash, scrub, cry, scream, cut and plead away the pain, the memories, the nightmares, they don’t go.

They will never go. They will always be there. And even though in time, you may be able to try to start living a life, a different life again, those memories will always exist. Sometimes they are more painful than others. But a day does not go by, when some memory surfaces. Somewhere, sometime during a normal day, something will trigger a memory. It could be a smell, a word. Something. Anything.

But what I have learnt as I grow stronger (and I shall be forever grateful to those people who support me in this journey) that life can be lived, and lived well. And that is the journey I am on, learning to live life, and live it well.

I am learning to laugh again, to smile, to be loved, and to love.

And it is going well. I think.

But then every now and then something comes along that halts you. Makes you stop. Makes you remember even more intensely than you already do. Makes you reflect more so than ever before. And makes everything so loud once again in your head.

That has been my experience since the Jimmy Savile expose happened. Since it was revealed that he was a predatory child abuser, and that his victims could be as many as 500 and counting.

Since everyone has been talking about child abuse, and rape. Since it has not left the front page, and Internet, the conversation in the street. Since the topic has been everywhere. And that is why I wrote this:

http://fragmentz.org/2012/10/13/some-thoughts-on-being-a-survivor-and-jimmy-savile/

 

To put into words, and convey some of my thoughts and feelings that had been aroused so much more than they usually are.

However, reading Sara’s Paedogeddon article made me realise that my response was just that. It was my response. It was the emotional and personal response of someone who has experienced the pain of abuse.

And this is where the clanger kicks in for me: it was NOT a Christian response. And it was not a response that considered the offender. In fact I never really thought about it from those points of views. I never really thought about what it means to be a Christian and a survivor, to the point where I have to then think about how I think about and respond to people who rape and abuse. Not properly anyway. Not deeply. Not with any meaning.

Until I read Sara’s thoughts. Her article was so well written. And it touched on topics I have not wanted to, have not been able to, and have tried to ignore.

But I have no choice but to. I have no choice, as a Christian but to confront these issues.

So how would I respond? If I was face to face, or in the position where I had to be with or engage with an offender.

And this is where I come a little stuck. This is where my head goes round and round in circles, and this is where I have written this blog so many times, and still not managed to write a coherent answer.

The best I can offer is I don’t know.

The best I can offer, after chatting about this to many people, including close friends, other survivors, and my minister is this: I don’t know.

The truth is, I really know how I would respond to someone who I knew was or had been a child abuser, or a rapist. I don’t know how I would love them, or even if I could. I don’t know how I would respond to someone sitting in front of me in church, who was a known sex offender.

Maybe I would want to hit them. Maybe I would want to scream at them. Maybe I would want to walk away and never have to think about them again. Maybe.

Or maybe I would want to talk to them. Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe I wouldn’t.

But I ask myself this: do I have a place myself, a place in a Christian community if I am not willing to accept this line that Sara wrote:

‘The church needs to be a place of acceptance and healing for the abuser and the abused’.

Ouch.

But it is true. Painfully true.

If I talk about, and expect, and desire, and wish to see His church, THE church understand, accept and have a place for a survivor of abuse, then surely I have to accept that it is also a place for an offender. I have to accept that there can be/is/has to be a place for them too. That they also need to be part of a community that will accept, love and support them. I have to accept that they are people too.

She says this

‘There has to be grace for those who have committed even the most atrocious, life wrecking crimes , and those cripples by the effects of these crimes, otherwise the cross is a nonsense’.

As a survivor, and a Christian I HAVE TO BELIEVE that Jesus came for the people who abused and raped me too. That He came for people who abuse and rape others. Otherwise, as Sara put it so well ‘the cross is a nonsense’. And deep down, no matter what state my relationship with God is, I know it is not nonsense.

But that is big. That is big stuff to get my head around. But I am trying to. Slowly.

But how does this actually play out?

And again, that’s where I come to ‘I don’t know’.

I could give you the answers I’m ‘meant’ to. The answers where I say I would greet them with open arms, welcome them into my community, my family, and love them. But whether I would or could, I don’t know?

I could give you the answers that I have thought about for the last few weeks, that have gone round and round in my head, the ones where I have tried to be deep and super spiritual, but actually those answers wouldn’t be being true to myself. Because the answer I have is I don’t know. I simply don’t know.

But I do accept that there has to be a place for them. The church has to have a place for them. Because deep down, deep down where it hurts so painfully, I know Jesus has a place for them. He loves them, like He loves me.

Knowing that is not easy. Trust me. I don’t say it in a blasé way.

But it’s the truth.

I have to accept that these people have the right to be engaged with, supported and part of Gods Kingdom, like I do.

But I also have to accept that I do not have to everything and anything to everyone and anyone.

When I threw this topic out on to twitter a few weeks ago, I had a chat with Jon Beech who you can find here: @_jonb

I asked something on the lines of, how as a survivor should I/could I engage with offenders. His response startled me. I was not expecting it.

He asked back whether I should have to.

His point was: I cannot, and not have to engage with absolutely anyone and everyone I come across. I do not have to be all things to all people. I can’t be.

So I have to accept my limitations. Whilst accepting child abusers and offenders may have a place in my community, and probably already do, that I just don’t know about I have to accept I don’t HAVE to engage with them. And that unless God somehow struck me with lightening and convicted me in such a way that made clear that I was meant to, that actually I can keep myself safe.

At the top of Sara’s article on Threads, it says this in a blue box ‘ who has all the answers? Not us, that’s for sure. But ignoring the questions doesn’t make them go away’.

And that’s the truth. Who has all the answers? I certainly don’t, but the questions will not go away. So we must keep discussing them. We must keep talking about them. And we must be honest.

So, I bring this to an end, probably without writing about what I started out intending to. I am a Queen of tangents.

But rest assured, these topics are ones that roll around my head on a daily basis, and are never too far away from my thoughts, so if you ever want to join in the conversation with me, feel free to contact me. I’m open to all thoughts.

 

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i wanted to die …

my name is fragmentz … and as well as being fat (see a previous post) there was a time in my life when I wanted to die.

A few times in fact … but one very clear time that I will never forget about … when there was no other option than to die. That one time was more than ‘wishing’ or spending time planning or thinking about … this one time was about acting on that wish to go.

obviously … here i stand, by the grace of God if you believe in Him (which I do) or by sheer luck or fortune if you dont. So for me, it didnt work. And at the time … I was gutted. Devastated. Some people have the view that if you dont ‘successfully’ kill your self when you try then you didnt really mean to do it, and that you were just crying out for help. I disagree with that whilst acknowledging that for some people that may be the case. For me it wasnt. I had tried the call for help. Numerous times. I had tried many many things. I had gone beyond wanting help. I wanted release. The end.

Why am I writing about this? Again, some of you may say, as I have written one or two blogs over the last few years about my experience. The reason is because I can. And for that, now, I am thankful.

Why am i writing about this today/tonight? That would be because since Sunday all day and today I have been reading some very beautiful writings by some beautiful people about a beautiful person. Gary Speed. A former football player turned manager. Who sadly committed suicide so it would seem over the weekend. I dont know Gary, in fact I know very little about him, other than his job role and family status, oh and the fact it would seem there was something very dark going inside of his life that not many if any people knew about. This past week has also seen the apparent suicide of Angie Dowds, a celebrity fitness trainer, known for her role as a joint trainer on the UK version of ‘The Biggest Loser’ … a determined, strong and inspiring person to many. She also, for some reason, and who may ever know the real reasons why, felt there was no other option left to her other than to die.

So, the internet has been awash with tributes/tweets/blogs/reflections/thoughts. Its been over the news, over facebook, over the twittersphere. Famous people, celebrities, friends, family, fans and other folk have all come out to pay their respects. To give humbling and heartfelt reactions to the deaths of people who meant much to them.

And of course … the topic of mental health … depression / suicide has been bought to the front of peoples minds. Its been very interesting seeing it happen. Seeing the discussion, the empathy, support, the kind thoughts, and well meaning comments to the families effected by these two peoples passing, but also the whole on the topic of people wanting to kill themselves.

I whole heartedly advocate talking about it. And it feels uncomfortable to say but it has been heartwarming to see the responses of such tragedies. People not shoving it under the carpet.

I was touched hugely by the article Stan Colleymore released via his twitter … click here to read his thoughts . A very brave peice and I admire him greatly for putting it out there.

A few years ago, there was a documentary on the television about depression in the sporting industry and I remember writing at the time how indiscriminate mental health illness truly is. How indiscriminate depression truly is. How at any time it can surround any person. Rich, Famous, Poor, Not Famous, Fat, Think, Black, Green, White, Mothers, Daughters, Professionals, Sons, Fathers. Anyone. The list is endless. It could be anyone. It could be you.

It was me. And how life changing has it been. I am never going to be as poetic and eloquent in my words as some of the other blogs I have seen and read over the last 48 hours whatsoever, I am not even going to try. I dont think right now its needed particularly as so many other people are doing such a good job of describing their experiences.

I tweeted earlier on today this ‘Some really beautiful blogs and tributes bring written since the sad news of Gary speeds death … But please please don’t just move on from  The topic of depression/suicide/mental health as soon as it leaves the front pages coz his family/friends and anyone else effected by the Sadness and life changing/wrecking illnesses won’t. They don’t and won’t go away for the many millions out there who suffer daily’

And I suppose that is what is on my heart/in my mind this evening as I write this … depression is such a far wider thing that what we sometimes imagine it to be. It effects more than the person who has the illness. It effects so many different people, and even after maybe the final act is committed, for those people that isn’t the end. At I guess part of me feels that right now, this topic is being discussed hugely, probably because its effecting the famous the publicised, the people who make it into the papers (I am not intending this to offend whatsoever so apologies if it does to anyone) and that no doubt, as the headlines fade away so will the discussion … or the majority of the discussion, because for some of us there is always the discussion (there are some amazing mental health bloggers/writers out there).

But it doesn’t fade away for the millions of people who are out there struggling tonight. as I write this, it does not fade away for the people who go to sleep this evening wishing that they didn’t have to wake up in the morning.

It does not fade away for me. Yes, I am alive, yes I have come a long way from what is almost four years ago, from the time when I went to sleep having hurt my self significantly to not wake up again … (trust me, it was a shock when i did).

And I am glad I did. Wake up. I am glad that I have amazing people in my life who stand by my side as I walk this journey of learning to live again, learning how love, how to laugh, how to enjoy life. Some days are good. Some are not. The not days however are not as bad as they were. For now. But I live under the cloud .. all the time, as do many millions out there … the cloud of depression, of mental health illness. The cloud of being precariously balanced on a ledge of normality waiting for it to spike, to go into overdrive, or waiting for it to tilt the other way into a pit of despair that one can only claw to try and get out of … its my hope and prayer that I never have to experience how bad life was then again … but who knows? Because its so much more than just ‘being sad because …’ or ‘having a bad day …’.

I really want to encourage people who have been moved by the death of a sports personality, or anyone and RIP dear Gary to have the courage to continue the thinking of mental health, and how you see it. How you are affected by it. How you engage with it?

Keep the conversation going … because it needs to be talked about. It needs to become less of a stigma and the only way that can happen is through awareness and people continuing to speak out, write about it, be honest/open and make it the very real thing that it is.

Please.

 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression/mental health illness or thoguhts of suicide, please please get help. 
The Samaritans are a 24 hour talk line for people in distress, and a service I have used and been very grateful. You can find them at http://www.samaritans.org or phone UK 0845 90 90 90 ROI 1850 60 90 90 (check out the link on the site for interntaional ‘befrienders’ information’