Saturday, 14 April 2012
I've been feeling lately that I want to talk or write about this journey I've been on. I want to tell people the story of how I left the church I grew up in, avoided Christianity for a decade, and ended up in the C of E. I don't want to turn into one of these people who goes around telling everyone about their personal conversion experience and so I guess I need to write it. I don't know if this is a series of blog posts, or a book, or what.
I'm struggling with it for a number of reasons.
I don't like to talk about my relationship with my stepdad, which was difficult. Aha! The victim defending the abuser! But seriously -- yes, he treated us badly. Emotional, physical and sexual abuse were part of my reality living at home. But he is a person, too, and I'm painfully aware I tell my side of things without telling his. Am I afraid to tell it like it is because he might find out? Or because others might pre-judge him rather than meet him on equal terms, learn who he is now? I don't know. But I know it feels wrong to say too much.
The other reason is similar in some ways but also the complete opposite. I've been helped along on this journey by huge numbers of people, but there is one person whose unconditional care and love made a transformative impression on me. I thank God every day for sending her, and I couldn't seriously write about my own story without including her. But from her perspective? She was just doing her job, just doing what she would have done for anyone in a similar position, and she certainly doesn't want to take any sort of credit. She was able to come to my confirmation in the autumn, and I told the bishop it was her fault that I'm an Anglican, and I have never seen her blush so much. She finds any of that sort of thing extremely uncomfortable, in a very English sort of way. So, I can't write this story without causing her some pretty acute distress... and I don't want to do that.
Do I write anyway, and hang the consequences? Is it possible to write this in a way that, though potentially painful, won't be harmful to those involved? Do I write, and remember that this isn't the "end" of the story and it may be years before I show these words to others? (Then why the urge to write, to speak, about these things now?)
I don't really want to be one of those people who talks about God and church and stuff all the time. It puts people off. I know that it puts people off because it used to put me off. If I could, I'd write a book about this with all the names changed, publish it under a pseudonym, not tell more than a handful of people. But that isn't going to work, and if either of the people mentioned above got hold of it they would recognise the story instantly.
Refusal to put words to this is not going to make it go away.