“If any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him.” James 1:5
If anyone needed answers from heaven I did. Yesterday morning, my fevered three year old lay beside me in the bed while I hugged my knees to my chest, my fingers entangled in my hair doing my best to rip it out. I couldn’t breathe for the racking sobs that did nothing to stem the torment in my soul. I know what hell is. It was me in that moment.
Why was I going through this pain? Someone had told me that I was overly sensitive, I lacked introspection, and was easily offended. Someone I trusted. Someone I had reached out to for help. Someone trained and certified as a therapist. Someone who didn’t know me at all and didn’t take the time to see me because he didn’t have time for me.
I lost all hope and faith. I have exhausted myself spiritually and emotionally convincing myself that I’m worthy, I’m valuable, my feelings and thoughts matter, and that my Savior loves me. That I am enough for him. I have put my trust in therapists, church leaders, and personal revelation, and nurtured the tender tree of hope that maybe God’s plan of happiness could bring happiness for me. That tree of hope was uprooted and put through the chipper, all because I tried to fight a battle for him and I lost. It wasn’t even my fault.
I posted on “Ask an LDS Therapist” about the suicide at BYU and the New York post article that highlights the problem of serving the demand for therapy services at BYU. One woman kept defending the status quo while blaming the family and friends of the victims and suggesting vague unhelpful solutions. Many efforts were made by at least four other women to draw this woman out and expand her views, but it became clear that she wasn’t interested in exploring the subject. She was a troll.
I reached out to the administrator of the site three times to intervene, but he refused to address the toxic and hurtful comments and then finally he deleted my post and blamed me for everything. He told me, “I can’t fight your battles for you.” I responded, “I fought your battles for you!” And I did. I prayed and I searched and quoted scripture. I posted thoughtful and vulnerable experiences of my own wrestle with suicide. I told that troll that I loved her and wanted her to see and understand these difficult issues. Her last post after all the pain she caused was “lol.” I fought his battles, but I lacked his training, his degree, and his authority to appropriately warn and silence the abuse. When I asked for help, I was blamed and shamed. I didn’t start the site and invite the suffering then leave them to be subjected to toxic messages with no one to guide the discussion. I fought his battles, and when I asked for help with what I couldn’t do, he projected his selfish callousness onto me. He told me he had to have boundaries and he blocked me.
With my faith and hope gone, I fell into a free fall of despair. There was so Savior. No truth, no healing journey, no help for me. The “LDS Therapist” had judged me as a malignant narcissist hurling criticism at everyone. What alternative was there? Death. It was the only way forward.
Ben struggled with me as my poisonous cynicism exploded. “I’m a heartless narcissist! Look at me! I am sick and I’m never going to get better! There is no Savior for me, no forgiveness, no heavenly reward! Let me end this and stop the suffering! You can have a real life with a wife that can function right.” His faith and testimony gave me a few more hours and some friends to hold and comfort me.
The therapist apologized to me. In his anger he had treated me unfairly. To his credit he recognized it and had the humility to apologize. He even offered me free counseling sessions. I offered to be his site moderator, but he said he is already hiring a moderator for the site. I hope he is able to fix the issues and to help some people, but I have drawn my own boundaries and will probably not be back to his page.
I’m still processing the experience and I’m going to talk to my therapist, my real therapist, on Friday. I also have an appointment tomorrow with my psychiatrist who is a really wonderful guy I have been seeing for seven years or so. I have some ideas I’ve been researching and there is a medication that I think might turn things around for me. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing, but maybe my husband can go to work, my kids will have a mom, and my mom won’t be sick with worry about me as often. Sorry Mom! I love you.
The reason I’m sharing this experience with you is because trust is hard. Trusting a person is always a risk, no matter how lofty their church calling, how many degrees hang on their walls, how many important people say they are brilliant, how much they have helped someone else, or even family ties.
We are all broken. Even our collective wisdom is a drop of water in the ocean of his omniscience. I trusted the “LDS Therapist” too much. He marketed himself as the great and powerful Oz, but behind the curtain, he was human, just like me, and limited by his own perspective which told him things about me that weren’t true. My perspective told me things about him that were not true. In the end, my Savior will heal me, whatever that healing looks like. I can’t look to any person to save me.
I have felt his gentle hand as I have gone through these trying experiences. We came to this Earth to suffer. We are surrounded with suffering and death in mortality, but there is hope of a better world and a better life. No matter how many times I trust, and how many times I get hurt, I know that I can reach out to trust again, because He will be there for me each time to make me whole again. That isn’t to say that boundaries won’t be necessary, but I can choose whether to give in to cynicism, or nurture my faith tree. I choose faith, I choose hope, I choose vulnerability. I choose to reach out and tell my story because I believe in the power of my story, and every person’s story, to teach empathy for the suffering among us, and the truly miraculous power of the atonement to heal us.