Walk Through the Door That’s Open
I’m glad this part of the story falls near Christmas! If there’s anything that gives us reason for hope, it’s this: God has not abandoned us to a bleak and bleary existence. He came. And He’s still in the business of “making all the sad things untrue.”
About this time, stories begin circulating about girls I know and love who have been preyed upon by the leader of the cult. I read books about spiritual abuse. I begin to understand what I experienced and to grieve having been part of anything that turned out to be so dark, so devastating. The abuse I suffered at his hands was both physical and emotional. I worked 18 hour days with little food, and was challenged with ideas like why *wouldn’t* I count it all joy to suffer deprivation for the sake of giving the world “a new approach to life”? But it’s nothing like what these precious ones describe.
The grooming. The manipulation. The sexual harassment. Dear God, did I trade my best years, my fertility for THIS?
In the Fall, I’m approached about a job as the registrar for a local seminary. We’re coming to terms with not having children and I accept. I adopt the motto, “Walk through the door that is open.” So often I banged my head and shook my fist at doors God had clearly closed. It is time to accept that His plot points for my life are different from my assumptions.
The job turns out to be a good fit. I’m grateful, because I struggle as more and more stories of dysfunction and abuse come to light. Turns out, I wasn’t the only smiling face holding a world of hurt behind a carefully placed mask. It’s so painful to know that women were right in front of me, walking wounded, and I had no idea.
Back in the early days, when Doctor #2 came up with the term “Multiple Systemic Exhaustion Syndrome,” he tells me I’ll always need thyroid meds, because the endocrine system can’t recover when it’s been run down to nearly nothing. It never crosses my mind he could be wrong. But, since joining Young Living, I’ve been doing all kinds of things to bathe my system in oil-infused nutrition. When I run out of my prescription a couple weeks before my annual Spring check up, I decide to let it ride until I see the doctor.
Now, you have to know that, for the last 13 years, any time I tried this little experiment, I took a quick and noticeable nose dive within 48-72 hours. Strangely, this time I feel fine. In fact, when the doctor draws my blood after I’m off the meds for two weeks, my levels are better than they were the year before when I had the prescription in my system! By God’s grace, I never need another one of those pills.
At some point during this period, the bleeding comes back. I’m healing in so many ways, but the fibroids are not gone. The ablation we all hoped would eradicate them didn’t. So, we begin planning for more invasive surgery.
Before we know it, it’s the day. We rise early to go to the hospital. We check in and, before I know it, it’s over and I stir awake in recovery. This time the surgeon has cut deep, like a C-section, to make sure the rogue tissue that’s been causing me to pass fist-sized clots is gone for good. With our permission, she performs another ablation as part of the deal. I assume, since she knows our desire for children, that she isn’t doing anything to sabotage that. But I’m wrong. No extra charge for searing the inside of my uterus and leaving it a barren wasteland.
After recovery, I return to the seminary and there’s tension as the year winds to a close. In January, I return to a shifted vibe. You know when you just sense something isn’t right? Within a few weeks I hear the word “narcissist” floated in connection with a certain leader, and I have an epiphany. I didn’t cause this problem, and I can’t fix it. For the first time, I see clearly that it’s not up to me to save the situation. That’s a God-sized job He hasn’t assigned to me. I turn in my two weeks’ notice and walk out feeling empowered and free. It’s progress!
I take time to rest and focus on loving on those God slowly adds to my Young Living group as we pursue wellness together. My health improves slow step by slow step. But as months slip by, my cycle doesn’t resume and I somehow can’t face going back to the doctor who performed the surgeries. I find support online and discover I’m not the only one who wasn’t informed of possible side effects of this procedure, like permanent barrenness.
I’m researching the connection between thyroid health and body temperature when I stumble on to someone local with the credentials I’m looking for, and we connect. During our first visit, she tells me the ablation wasn’t necessary. There were alternatives that could have preserved the integrity of my womb. By this time I’m in full blown mourning as the reality sinks in: there really will be no babies. Perhaps I needed to finally release that dream in order to fully enter into the next stage of healing.
I wrote about the books and paradigms fueling the healing in the season surrounding the second surgery in this post. For an overview of the connection between my health and spiritual abuse (and additional cultural commentary), click here. Click here for a full treatment of what went wrong within “The Institute.”