I appreciate James Finley's talk on YouTube called: Becoming a Healing Presence in a Traumatized World. He shares stories about his childhood of violent abuse from his alcoholic father & how God sustained him throughout all that. Upon his graduation from high school, he entered a monastery which he says "radicalized me". With poetic imagery, he describes a few 'otherworldly' Godly experiences he had there. But then he undergoes another encounter of abuse, this time from a well-respected priest in authority over him & he "had a breakdown'. Finley explains the breakdown by saying: "As I was walking around, I felt like I was unraveling & sanity was like thin ice over icy-cold black water & it was cracking & if I fell through, because of my trauma history, I might never find my way back again, so I left." He left the monastery without telling anyone what happened.
While I have not experienced the same severity of abuse, I've had enough trauma (& the privilege of being removed from it) to viscerally relate with Finley's description of "breakdown" & his response of fleeing. After painstakingly climbing my way out of a clinical depression in my twenties on my own via 'self-help', I did some traveling & then began a two-year apprenticeship at a personal growth institute in Massachusetts. For a brief while in life, I was at the top of my game! So I thought.
What I didn't understand during my time at this institute is that the teachers there, so they could help me heal more, wanted me to 'repel' back into the hole of pain I scraped my fingernails off climbing out of. There was no way in hell I would willingly go to that place again. I eagerly explored many 'unhappy' beliefs & motivations for doing this & feeling that but simply put, I didn't feel nearly enough love from or trust in the teachers there, for me to 'climb back down' into the pit of despair to bring forth whatever remained.
I'm doing so well now, I subconsciously thought, I've recovered from the wounds that had caused depression. Why pick the scabs & make them bleed again? This intensely demanding work & emotional 'healing' place I lived at for two years is why my 'Mama Bear' protector part re-activated. Instead of being angry & aggressive toward others, she protected me with shut-down (hibernation). Wait it out, in time things will be better (hopefully they will eventually stop prodding me with a hot iron). This is a major survival strategy for many living things that must endure difficult conditions over long periods. Shut-down mode plays a role in triggering & maintaining the long-term illness (ME/CFS) I experience but is not the whole story.
What I know now, all these years later, is that Self is insufficient for healing. Even Self + doctors, medicine, friends, family, spiritual & psychological help, exercise, fresh air, sunshine, good nutrition, plenty of rest & sleep - all of that is beneficial, don't get me wrong, but barely touches the surface of the hellscape of on-going, daily body pain & bone crushing fatigue. An intimate, enduring & ever-present relationship with God via Jesus Christ is The Love that is absolutely necessary for sustaining life (eternal life). I've had to learn this the hard way. I pray that in sharing my story, others won't have to learn the hard way. For those already in 'a hard way', I pray that this will be a reminder to: 'ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is & walk in it', amen!