Dec 18, 2013

Sort of a part V-- Grateful Reflections in the aftermath of life explosions.

SO I've posted some difficult stuff lately. About struggles with my family, and ward, and bishops. Now that I've got all that out of the way, I want to fall back and enumerate some truly great things people have done for me and been for me. Nobody's perfect--like Oaks said, we're all imperfect appliances. But (as I've stated before) I have a truly great family, and my ward and also my bishop at the time of Paul, were/are also truly great people. I think they're due for some praise and gratefulness.

I'm going to number this just because it makes me think better sometimes to number things.

1) My Dad. Who I've talked about struggling with. Some wonderful things about him (other than what I've already said about him being brilliant, creative, funny, and someone who really loves me) is also an amazing piano player. One thing I always cherish with him is time when he plays the piano and I can sing. Want to know how I found my voice? (and it's a pretty belty voice... and has been since I was probably a 7-th grader). It's because I could sing freely while my Dad played because i know he loved me and our time together was special. While my dad's love language isn't the same as mine, he does do a lot of things to show people he loves them. He serves people, quietly, with no expectation of praise or returned favors. He also never, ever says things vindictively about others. He doesn't gossip. And if he has a problem with someone, he can still appreciate their good points.

2) My Mom. I've written poems about her. She is a person I'd love to be like. I like to call her a rennaisance woman. She can do anything creative. She throws herself into projects and is talented at just about everything she tries hard at. She is a woman (like I've said before) with a big heart and no chip on her shoulder--she'll come and clean poodle poo off your floor if you're wheelchair-bound and your six elderly poodles need cleaning up after. She is loyal. She is always on the lookout for the underdog, or for people who are lonely or are maybe in need of more help than others realize, and she does all she can to help. She helped nurse my great grandmother through the last stages of her life, even though it was not easy. She works really, really hard to make sure another of my grandmas, who is currently struggling a lot, is as happy as possible, and she takes the difficulties she faces silently, without returning hurt for hurt or feeling a need to defensively gossip. She is an inspiration to me that way. I wish I had her bravery to serve people without apology. She also is a master-organizer. She organized and put together and ran all the big events for my high school choir for years, and was willing to do even the hard jobs nobody else wanted to do, like chastise kids on Europe trips for buying stuff they shouldn't :) My mom is a rock star and she doesn't get a whole lot of recognition, except from those who love her and know her well enough to know who she is.

3) My sisters and brother. They are hilarious and brilliant and when I'm with them, I feel like I'm a member of some cool tribe. We have a sense of humor (my grandmother curtis's sense of humor) that is just its own flavor. Aaaand we do great things together. My siblings are very talented at a lot of things and they choose very interesting things to do in life and aren't afraid to dream big, or be themselves. Sometimes this has earned them some eyebrow raises or even disapproval--watching them do what they do and be what they are anyway, and still have very strong testimonies they wouldn't give up for any reason, or person, makes me feel grounded in my own love of the gospel of Christ.

4) Bishops and ward members. Specifically at the time I've been outlining lately--when all went down with Paul.
Despite my struggles with the bishop (which were because of all the circumstances already related... everything so messed up and stressful) I have a lot of admiration for this person. I know him still, and have gotten to know him better over the years. We have some association because of common interest groups, online and in other ways. He is a very good person. He's had trauma of his own. He is very loving and giving and really, a very sensitive person overall. Who was thrown into a very difficult situation. The last interaction I had with him, he actually came to my home (some ward members were over and we'd just cleaned it, ready to move me to my new apartment.) He handed me a book--the compilation from the Women's Conference that had just ended. And he said, 'I feel like I haven't been the best bishop to you.' and I could see how much he wished things had worked out better. I do, too. He is a good man. And I know we both learned a lot from our time together.

Ward members: People were so kind to me. One person brought me by some Christmas pretzel chocolates right when I needed reassurance. People still involved me in baby showers and such. My home teachers, one of the experiences with them that was quite hilarious was when a big media van pulled up in front of my house, and one couple distracted them while I sneaked out the back & headed over to the other couple's house. It was a bit double o seven ish. To be able to laugh at something so stressful was a relief. We even turned the TV on to see the news to see if they were still trying to film my house. People let me visit teach them. One relief society, the teacher dispensed with the lesson (right after story broke) and said she thought we should just sing hymns the whole time. I felt that was for me. The sister sitting next to me told me what a beautiful voice she thought I had. I needed to hear that. I will always be grateful for my relief society president who came over and mopped my floor, and then took walks with me, both of us hauling our baby strollers. I appreciate them and a couple who lived next to them, who invited me over occasionally to talk to me and laugh with me.

And on top of that, I now appreciate all the people who have written me to express how they wanted to help, even though they weren't sure how, but that they were thinking of me. I know that made a difference. Maybe one plus in having my story all over the place was I had a whole bunch of people praying for me.

One sunday, I was informed that the entire provo police department was fasting for me.

So.... I guess what I'm saying is, difficulty is difficulty. We go through crap. People aren't perfect. But they are still wonderful. Even people who make things hard are wonderful. I'm sure I've accidentally (or maybe on purpose, I don't know) made things hard for others. I hope they can forgive me, and I hope that whatever harm I've done, can be healed eventually. I'm grateful for healing. I'm grateful for people.

I'm grateful for my voice teacher, who became my friend and who gave me blessings. And who taught me to find my voice again, and who has continued to be a wonderful friend forever.

I'm grateful to the people who watched Loli with such love and care, and who weren't awkward about it at all, who I felt were my friends.

I'm grateful for psych professors who didn't condescend to me or mention anything, even though I'm sure they knew who I was and what I was going through.

I'm grateful to a guy I dated (between Paul and Jeff) who helped me realize I was a desirable person to date, and a fun person to be around, and who helped me gain the courage I needed to date my husband when that happened.

I'm grateful for random ward members (especially ones who cooked lots of Indian food and gifted me with a homemade-cool ball thingie) (and later moved here where I can be their friends now still) who took Loli when I needed to go to the temple or some other appointment.

I'm grateful to teachers and classmates who expressed concern.

I'm grateful to the people at my work, and my boss, who put up with me not always being the greatest employee, and who moved me (illegally, using work vans) into my new apartment, on work hours. Because they wanted to make sure I was OK. They made me feel very loved and supported.

I'm grateful to my (now cousin-in-law,) who convinced me it wasn't selfish or inappropriate of me to try attending the singles' ward, where I met my wonderful husband.

I'm grateful to lawyers and therapists who worked with me, I suspect, partly pro-bono.

I'm grateful to a bishop who advocated for me, even though I wasn't supposed to be attending the singles' ward, and whose grin kind of split his face open when he attended Jeff's and my post-sealing luncheon.

I'm grateful for whoever anonymously donated 1000 as a "scholarship" for me one semester, and enabled me, along with some help from my grandparents as well, to buy a vehicle to replace the one that had so many bad memories, and also not very good gas mileage, and was safer to drive.

I'm grateful to a former YW leader for her show of support and help.

I'm grateful for Elder Groberg too, who I am sure prayed for me. And who, I'm sure, wanted me to make the right choices.

I know I've missed lots and lots of you. Sorry about that. It's like numbering grains of sand. I know you're there. I'm grateful for the warmth and support I stood on, and continue to stand on.

I'm just grateful, is all, and Merry Christmas to everybody. Love you all.

Parts 1-5 of this post:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5


Grumpa and Oma said...

Sarah, I am gently weeping as I write this post. The love and appreciation that you expressed in part 5 is beautiful. I really can't express adequately what I am feeling, I am not mighty in writing like you. You are beautiful person. Thank you for sharing and helping is all to grow.

Jon said...

Sarah, I'm tearing up with a lump in my throat as I read this. Your gratitude, understanding, forgiveness, and just plain recognition of even the smallest morsels of help and kindness that people tried to offer are your super-powers that can reach people 1,000 miles away. Thank you, thank you for ending the story like this.

We were all thrown into a perplexing situation together, and I'm sure we all did or said things that we wish we could go back and do over a little better. (Except for when I distracted the news team while you drove the get-away car -- that was perfect!)

And I'm so, so glad especially for what you wrote about the bishop above. I can't imagine the immense stress he was feeling, having just been called as a brand new bishop (just 30-something years old!) and having to carry the burden of trying somehow to counsel and help both you and Paul. I have to admit, it was hard for me to read some of what you wrote about him previously. I was hoping that something like today's post was still coming, and I was so glad to read it. He is, as you wrote, indeed caring, loving, sensitive, and good. After you moved, he found ways to help me with problems of my own (nothing like what you went through), and in my mind he is a true friend.

Most importantly, I'm so happy to see that you have been able to heal. It is a wonderful gift, and I hope there's much more for you where that came from. I'm glad you're doing well. And I'm glad to have been a small, if flawed, part of your story.

Your former home teacher,


Sarah Dunster said...

Yeah, Jon :) I think this is why I've never really written about this in this manner. Just, occasionally, posts about the facts and how I'm struggling but not exactly why. It's almost been a source of shame to me. LIke, that I would have had such a difficult experience when the people were all good people, involved. It doesn't make me think "Damn" _______ bishop, it makes me thing, Damn the world and the way it seems to work. And the fact that, for whatever reason, I've not had a whole lot of emotional support my whole life, that it's always been Me and Heavenly Father against the World. It hurt a whole lot. It really did. Doesn't make anybody a bad person, but I need to admit it hurt a lot so I can move on, you know what I mean. I do remember being pretty glad I could laugh at stuff you said, & being grateful you guys were at least talking to me. Instead of not. Ugh. There are just *so many memories* of crappy things that just incidentally happened with the ward. But the good things ought to outweigh those... hurt is just so much more salient, unfortunately. but that's the point of writing this--trying to move past it so I can trust people in wards again and not feel so terrible walking into a chapel every sunday. You guys are great... you guys were young, and all that. So was I and so was bishop and we all did the best we could.

JA said...

Sarah, I stumbled across your blog today and I believe it was meant to be. We are still in the midst of hurtful affects from co-dependent priesthood leaders that have yet to be resolved. In fact, the trauma caused by the invalidation of priesthood leaders has been greater than the initial assault.

My daughter (then 15 and having never been on a date) was raped by a young man who left on a mission just weeks after a several-month controlling and secret relationship ended. He confessed - without *really* confessing - a few months out. Our daughter, who was by then seeing her second therapist for severe depression and self-harm (cutting), was called into the bishop's office and told she needed to repent and to stop taking the sacrament. No questions asked about her version of what happened nor note taken that their ages at the time - 15 vs. 19 = statutory rape. We, as her parents, also didn't yet know. What followed included two hospitalizations, two suicide attempts, months and months of therapy and an unbelievable amount of pain and suffering. When a faithful LDS therapist finally helped her begin to heal and the truth came out, she spoke out. So far, two bishops, two stake presidents, and an area seventy (who gave her about 3 minutes of his time) have told her to forgive and forget. This man completed his mission. He was allowed to enter the temple to marry two days after our daughter testified in his bishop's disciplinary council. This man lied to the bishop and TOLD the TRUTH to the stake president who gave his temple recommend back to him with instructions to come back after his honeymoon and clean this up. It's been 6 months and of course, he hasn't. He's not in the same stake anymore.

I know that the pressure has been unbelievable on these priesthood leaders (the YSA bishop was 3 months into his service) and the stake president was hit from all sides, including angry family members and another stake president. I am hurt and angry AND I have compassion for them. My daughter does not yet feel compassion. She's NOT unforgiving of her rapist. That's not even the issue. It's that after 4 years, she's not been heard. Not really. They have ALL agreed that it happened, yet he has not been held accountable. That this is allowed to happen and the temple is open to men who have manipulated and lied to get there is not okay! And for authorities to allow it because it's too uncomfortable to upset wedding plans and make a bunch of people uncomfortable is just plain evil. What kind of God allows this to be sanctioned by his called servants? That's where she's at. Having said that, she is a strong and healthy young woman who is emotionally honest, responsible for her thoughts and actions, and seeks to be humble. She is compelled to speak out so that other women and girls can be spared this experience.

Your experience gives me hope that the day will come when she can feel finally let God completely heal her. You are a courageous woman who has spoken out honestly, responsibly, and humbly. Thank you for modeling that.

Sarah Dunster said...

healing is a process that lasts a lifetime, but it *does get better.* Letting her talk, letting her know that all of her feelings and needs are valid, helping her figure out how to meet them...all these things will bring healing more quickly.

Sarah Dunster said...

and I am so, so sorry you are going through this.