Tuesday, January 27, 2004

So Many Stories

I have so many stories I haven't yet written about, and I feel like they're all swirling around inside me...Glenn, who is one month younger than me and emaciated from AIDs, received years ago during a transfusion for his hemophelia; Richard, who has only the lower lobes of his lungs left and is now fighting pneumonia; Georgia, with her thick German accident, staunch optimism, and tear-touched pride welling up when she talks about her daughter...

But the biggest story today was my own, shared in a newly formed group of chaplain interns I am only beginning to know...I was attempting to approach an assignment honestly and with full disclosure for the sake of learning as much as I could from it, and judging from the condition of my emotions, I'd say I pushed myself too far. The day has taken on a dark, nightmarish quality. I've felt like crying all afternoon. I feel in turns upset and embarrassed that I offered myself up as the first guinea pig in the group, and angry that I have made myself vulnerable to a contrived and formulaic learning format that rewards exposing peoples' woundedness perhaps for nothing more than the sake of processing. I don't want to share my most hurtful experiences with people who only want to use them as a roll-play in how to minister to others. I want my story to be understood, cared for, heard, felt--not analyzed, "figured out," or named in some kind of surface-level, academic way.

This is a good learning for me--both in remembering to give myself permission to set my own boundaries, and in recognizing how tenderly I would wish to be listened to. It also tells me something about the level of trust that needs to be there (for me? for others?) before we can journey deeply together through our respective dark nights.


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