SNAP: Stories for Living

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2008 Story #16 – One Good Thing

You’d think the healing process would be finished by now. But it’s not that easy for the walking wounded. We carry this lingering, un-nameable shame and when we least expect it, the flash of a painful memory crosses our minds.

But there is something that makes it easier: the friendship with my fellow traveler down this trail of good and bad days. Sometimes we meet halfway between the good and the bad, lingering in normalcy for the sake of a good front. But other times we re-live the pain of our past in order to lift the other one up. We might even have to stay away from each other if we are both feeling vulnerable. Because if there’s anything we’ve learned through our abuse by a once trusted pastor and counselor, it is that we must respect boundaries, speak honestly, and stay safe.

She reads my blog faithfully, encouraging my inner journey. She sends me her latest photos and I am reminded of her sensitivity to the small things, and her passion for anything outdoors. I click to see where her heart is now, as she invites me in with color and detail. I see hibiscus, hummingbirds, herons and mountains. My words and her photos allow us to escape for awhile.

But mostly we stick around and we find time to sit and talk over tea and we get past the surface things in our lives and hit the hard stuff, like what we really feel. And we wonder where we’d be if things hadn’t happened the way they did.

After my abuser had been confronted, my husband and I felt that this “pastoral counselor” was a danger to other women. But I was afraid to take the next step. Until a clue and a prayer led us to my old friend and we asked her, “Is it possible you are a victim?”

“Yes,” unfortunately was the answer and, amazingly, my friend and her husband almost immediately understood the dynamics of her abuse. That is not often the case because a victim of sexual exploitation forms an intense attachment to her perpetrator due to the imbalance of power, his position of trust and the psychological transference that is manipulated in “therapy.”

So there we were, the four of us, armed with the good power of knowledge and numbers and we gathered up the connection of our old friendship and forged a new bond, clinging to one another as we trudged through the legal system and lost friends, most of our church families and a piece of ourselves.

But we never lost each other, my friend and I. We have stayed together long past the traumatic bonds of our abuse, and I ponder this as we share words and tears and, on more days than I ever thought possible, laughter. So, on those days, years beyond the abuse, when all the bad things comes rushing back, my friend and I can look at each other and see the one good thing.

Note: this story is from 2008. View other 2008 stories and 2008 voting results. View current stories.