This update is long overdue, and for that I apologize.
First, let me say that this project is still ongoing. I am still gathering, recording, and transcribing stories of heartache and healing. Sadly, I am still recording the stories I collected in my first round of visits with women. I want you to know that you still matter. You matter very much to me, and I am going to make sure your stories are heard. It was such a sacred thing to listen and be entrusted with such a beautiful gift.
I found that it takes literally twice as long to record and oral story as it does to listen to it. Most of the stories I heard were three hours at minimum. That means it takes me six hours of uninterrupted time to get that written up. I do have some done. I passed them along to a church authority who was visiting, along with a letter detailing my experience and what I gleaned from it. It felt like something I had to do. I'm sad to say that nearly a year later I have never heard anything back. In any case, that wasn't the initial point of the project anyway.
Do you recall the Bible story of the woman who touches Christ's robe and He feels virtue going out of him? Such a strange choice of word there, virtue. Anyway, I feel like it's something like this: When you listen to, really listen, and hold space for another person sharing their story... When you bear witness to their pain and hold space for them... It takes something from you. It's something you are happy to give. After all, you've chosen to listen. The simple act of holding space may drain you emotionally. It wearies you. It is like a part of your heart has been taken from you and left to reside with the one who needed you. And that's ok, because although hearts don't typically regenerate on their own, they do in this case. It just needs time and care.
As I began typing up the stories I collected, listening to them on repeat to be sure I didn't miss anything and was clearly capturing the feelings as well as words, this taking of my heart is what I experienced. I was happy to give. It took and filled all at the same time. I began to recognize a need to pace myself. After all, I do have a family to still attend to. I was prepared for this. What I was not prepared for was the level of storm that would become my life.
Things in my personal life grew increasingly difficult and I began to feel that I did not have the emotional stores or strength to deal with my life as well as the project at hand. I did not have control over my life. I did have control over this. And so I put it aside for the time being. I'm sorry for that. I think perhaps I did need to for the moment. I think, also, that Satan wanted me to and I allowed myself to be deceived. It was the easier path. Perhaps if I had forged ahead with more determination, I would have reaped the blessings of continuing on something so vitally important, and my personal life would have been in less turmoil. This is my commitment now. I just wanted you to know.
The truth is that life is still fairly chaotic. We've recently moved states and my husband has started a new job. We are in the midst of an in-house separation resulting from some relapses... something that began a year ago and was the first after six years of recovery. We're dealing with the trauma of the recent shooting in our hometown. I will share more of our struggles in a later post, so I won't list all the things here, but suffice to say it is beginning to feel as though I may never come up for air and return to a life where I'm not feeling like I'm getting the wind knocked out of me at every opportunity for rest. (yes, I know that's trauma talking-- I say it, I feel it, but I hope for better nonetheless)
I'm hoping this post is a returning to writing more. I've had several recent experiences that seem to be God nudging me and saying "It's time". It's time to step back into this project. It's time to be brave and move forward with other things (like the recovery workbook I wrote last month). It's time to put my head down and step into the storm head on. I may come out battered and bruised on the other side, but I'll still be there and there will still be an 'other side'. It's time to lose myself in something bigger than myself.
Thanks for your patience.
Thanks for reading.