In Mass on Sunday, the Feast of Pentecost, I knelt after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist and closed my eyes in prayer and meditation. I listened to the music and allowed my mind to fill with the wonder of what I was experiencing: the immense Love of my Lord and my God being my actual Food.
Without warning, I found myself sitting in the kitchen of my childhood home, dressed in my Catholic School girl uniform and watching my father spank my baby brother's bear bottom with a ruler because he had disobeyed him. I felt the anguish, my eyes filled with tears and the horrible feeling of helplessness as the child I adored sobbed in pain. I was only 8 years old. I know that...I know I couldn't have done anything but to this day the memory fills me with shame because I was incapable of protecting my baby brother from injustice.
The big lie that I have told myself for years is that I am not enough. I was not enough to keep my father from leaving us. I was never enough to protect my baby brother from the sadness of not having a mother at home and having to be with babysitters or from a father who was not able to deal with his own moral lapses. I have never been enough for anyone to love just as I am and so had to give in to what the world told me boys wanted in order to belong. I am not a good enough daughter, sister or aunt. I am just not enough.
The amazing healing power of God and His Church, along with the healing power of the 12 Step program I use to arrest my alcoholism, has brought me a long, long way from that helpless 8 year old girl. I am much better today at recognizing that the occasional emotional flashbacks I experience do not have to define me or ruin a wonderful day. I was able, that morning, to shed some silent tears, wipe my runny mascara from beneath my eyes and carry on with my prayer and the worship of Jesus Christ. I had a lovely day at the Pentecost Pot Luck and got to take my dog for a walk as well as go to the gym for 45 minutes. I watched my Zombie show, dealt with a billing issue with AT&T and got to bed early. All in all, it was a lovely day.
What Sunday taught me, however, is that my journey is far from over. My healing is not complete and quite frankly I question if it is ever going to be complete. Perhaps it is the wound itself that allows me to remember I am vulnerable and I need Jesus Christ, His Church and Her Sacramental Life in order to function in the world. Perhaps this wound, caused by the lie that I am not enough, is what keeps me humble and looking to Him for help. Perhaps, if I was not aware of this wound, I would not be able to have the humility necessary for obedience.
My life today is pretty grand. I have lovely friends, a great relationship with most of my family and a better understanding of how God has worked in my life even when I didn't know He was there. I cannot complain about anything, really, except perhaps that I don't really understand the game of Hockey and I would like to root for the Sharks during the playoffs.
What I acknowledge, however, are the very real feelings of pain and sorrow felt by the little girl in that kitchen. I wish I had been stronger at age 8. I wish I had been like those kids today in parts of the world who are dying for The Faith and I suspect that if I had been faced with that kind of choice at age 8 I would have failed the test of martyrdom.
I also wish I had protected my baby brother.
Today, I ask for forgiveness for that child and I give it to her. She wasn't the best she could have been but she grew up into a woman who knows how important it is to be strong - and where to go for that strength when it is needed.
Thank you, God, for my life today exactly as it is...I wouldn't change a thing.
Even if I could.