Recovering in Rehab from Spiritual Trauma

I am slowly recovering in rehab from revictimization and the rain of ruin that followed. Mending is slow but it is sure. In the ER of life, I triaged the body, then the mind, and now I sit here stable, but with a spirit soaked with sorrow. Trauma and the subsequent recovery is a pilgrimage.

Sexual, physical and emotional abuse from my father/stepmother, alienated me as a child from my family and myself. Revictimization as an adult alienated me as a woman from the workplace and my place in the world. Clerical malfeasance (financial, sexual, and spiritual abuse) alienated me from “the mystery that is God.” It first starved, then slaughtered my already malnourished spirit.

Once I survived my father, I sought the Father. It never once occurred to me that there would be predators in the pulpit who would see my hunger and scavenge my uncared for carcass to feed themselves. Just over two years ago I did not think that my body would survive and stabilize. It has.

I likewise had no idea if the cloud of confusion would ever lift or if the cognitive fog would be my constant companion. They too have dissipated.  

Like any good human clinician, I can scan the musculature of the human body and see obvious imbalances. I can see when things are out of place when they are not where they should be, and where alignment is off. I can tell, when I watch you move, what bit might be broken or at least what area may be affected.

Clinically speaking, in the musculoskeletal system, there are things that “typically” go wrong. There is a relatively predictable set of sequences that can be seen when things go askew. There are clues to look for above and below joints. The musculoskeletal system is so profoundly compensatory – the body works very hard to maintain homeostasis.

A force, a sudden trauma, a staggering blow can break a bone and tear soft tissues. What follows is swelling in a furious attempt to immobilize the injured area. Pain sends messages to the body to NOT MOVE. In general, pain is to be obeyed. You cannot heal a broken bone by putting any weight on it or mend a mashed muscle by flexing it. No, it must rest. While a few things can help, it is mainly time is required for the first bit to permit the tissues to mechanically mend.

In time, after the tissue has healed itself, its owner can weight bear and engage in a robust rehab program to retrain the atrophied muscles and reawaken the neural connections. Usually, during the mechanical mending phase, the body develops secondary problems that have to be dealt with in rehab. For instance, if someone has a broken lower leg on one side, the hip on the opposing side gets sore from the extra load it had to carry for too long.

I am convinced as I have walked through the trauma recovery process, that the soul (mind, will and emotion) has a very similar process. The spirit, however, has me befuddled. I cannot help but think that in the created order there must be some similar process to the recovery of the spirit, as there is to the body and the soul. The crushing of the spirit by clerical malfeasance is a weighty matter. It is a blunt blow; a sudden trauma, often with a slow onset; a staggering spiritual force that can fracture the faith and tear the soft tissues of the spirit.

I have no such clinical experience with spiritual trauma. When I try to see my way through, my field of vision yet floods; the plains fill with pain. The pain must be obeyed. I find myself in the mechanical mending phase, where time will do what time must do: allowing the fracture to mend; the fissure to close; the soft tissue to solidify into a scar.

Then I will be able to move about with some degree of freedom in my spirit. I confess that cannot weight bear yet, my spirit is still so crushed, that it will not hold the weight of the rest of me. I will expect some compensatory problems as I emerge and attempted to flex my spiritual muscles. The atrophy I will nod at knowingly when I see it. I take it on good authority that brittle bones can live and a bruised reed He will not break. I am counting on it. 

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