Friday, January 25, 2013

Sometimes Walls Are About Keeping Things In

I want you to come along with me on an emotional thought experiment.  This is the best analogy I have been able to formulate in my mind, even with its flaws and hyperbole, to try to bring others along to the appropriate levels of sympathy of my emotional state.

Imagine you were raped.  Not an I-regret-what-I-did-last-night, morning-after regret kind of "rape"; a brutal, violent rape where you were left for dead.  Now the rapist is not just a random stranger.  This person is someone you know and your community knows.  They are prominent, well regarded, and heavily involved in both the community at large and your own personal life.  This person is someone you grew up being taught to admire, respect, trust, and follow.

As time goes by after your rape, you learn about other people the rapist has attacked and abused.  Some have died.  Others take their own lives later.  Still, many survive and live with the scars.  Accusations have been made against the rapist.  Legal action has been attempted.  In the end, however, no solidly convicting evidence comes forth.  Plus, given the person's prominence and public image in the community, many turn a blind eye, dismiss the charges as "evil" people trying to destroy a good person, or even justifying the events in favor of the rapist.  If anything, the result is you are the one the community sees as the villain.  You are censured.  You are blamed for the damage.  You are damaged further by trying to come out about the events.

Imagine, with all of this, how you would feel whenever the rapist would be treated as an exemplary person.  Consider what it might bring up whenever someone praises the rapist for all the "good" they do for both the community and the praiser themselves.  Now, consider that this person praising the rapist is not just anyone; they are someone in a relationship with the rapist where they are being abused directly.  How would you feel about that scenario?  How might you react?

To put this analogy into place--and I remind you I admit it is with its flaws and hyperbole--this is how I feel about the LDS church in regards to my PTSD.  From my mission experience where I was emotionally and even physically abused and manipulated to the point of suicide, to the constant war they have backed and fought against homosexuals I have been violated.  I have been working for over a decade to somehow deal with this violation.  Much of what I have written in this blog has been some part of that process.  However, it is never enough.  I cannot escape my own anxiety.  Living in Utah, I cannot avoid the omnipresent culture and influence of the church in general society and communities.  I cannot find complete healing for the damage that has been and continues to be done to my soul.

In the past I have tried to make a reconciliation between myself and the LDS church.  Until very recently I thought I had reached a reasonably good place.  However, I realize now that is not the case.  Instead of reaching a reconciliation, I walled myself in emotionally.  I stopped letting myself think about it.  I kept away from people who talked about it.  When all else failed, I just blocked it off.  I think that is, at least in part, why I have had such gaps in writing the past few years.

But this hasn't been so much about keeping things out as it has been about keeping things in.  PTSD is a condition where one re-experiences painful emotions.  Regardless of time that has passed, the emotions return will as full a force as they had when the original experience happened.  My emotional walls are the dam holding back the massive, nearly limitless reservoir of anger and pain.  Those walls keep the emotions suppressed from my consciousness and prevent them from bursting out and harming others. But despite being out of sight and out of (conscious) mind it is still all there, pressurized in the container I've made for it.  I do not know how to release it.  Perhaps one day I thought I did, but not now.  At the moment I don't really see options beyond either suffocating behind the walls I've built or being swept away in a dam burst of pain and anger to rampage and further damage myself and most likely others.