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Hidden Emotional Wedges: Part 1
I'm currently going through trauma therapy to deal with issues arising from being sexually abused & raped by my grandfather, Alvah Jay Van Wagoner, when I was 12 years old. Recently, a family member made the unfortunate statement of “I thought you let that go.”
Alas, if it were only that easy.
Part of the problem is that mental health care is at least 50 years behind traditional health care in development. The two biggest challenges facing the mental health care system are diagnosis and treatment. Our oldest daughter has asthma. It took two years and dozens of doctors visits to even discover it. Now, four years later, we're still trying to find the best treatment plan. Oh, how much more dire are things for people with emotional sickness! I'm 36 years old. Since the age of 13 I've been to several mental health professionals. Only in the last year and a half have I finally begun to find answers. Yes, I know I was molested by grandpa. That's doesn't mean I know and understand the complex and buried beliefs I carry about it deep in my subconscious. And there are few mental health professionals that know how to navigate such terrain.
Another problem is that people often don't understand the full meaning of mental illness. One of the most ridiculous things I see are news headlines that read “Woman who killed children struggled with mental illness”. To illustrate the ridiculousness of such a headline, let’s change it to, “Woman who killed child struggled with physical health”. Physical health? What does that mean? Did she have a cold, a splinter, cancer, what? Mental health includes everything from unresolved anger towards your sibling to depression from the death of a loved one to schizophrenia. Just as everybody deals with various physical ailments throughout life, everybody struggles with mental health on a wide spectrum. Everybody. Nobody is immune or exempt.
Now let’s talk about the issues for a religious person who is struggling with mental health issues. “Why are you still struggling with this? You just need to forgive. Let Jesus heal you.” Now, imagine saying that to a cancer patient going through chemo therapy.
This from an article posted by my church:
“Making statements like “get over it” or “just forgive and forget” can lead the victim to increased secrecy and shame rather than healing and peace.”
There are scientific & physical laws directing mental health, just as there are for physical health. Forgiving the person who shot you in the leg doesn’t heal the gunshot wound. Forgiving the person who molested you doesn’t heal all the damage done from the abuse.
From the same article:
“Like a physical injury, if abuse is ignored, it often does not heal properly. Like having a broken leg reset, healing from emotional wounds often involves allowing the feelings of being hurt, scared, and sad to be felt, acknowledged, and validated.”
I believe many religious people often can’t separate the spiritual form the emotional. Which makes sense. They’re so closely linked together. But they are separate. I further believe that many religious people suffer needlessly because they try to solve emotional problems with spiritual methods alone. This applies to dealing with emotional trauma and emotional "colds".
“If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation,” said Jeffrey R. Holland.
But emotional problems aren't always easy to identify. They're complex, varied, and sometimes hidden or forgotten.
Thomas S. Monson once shared a story that illustrates this point (I have paraphrased):
Years ago, a young farm boy found an metal wood splitting wedge in a field (pictured above). This wedge was used to help cut wood. It is inserted in a cut made by a saw or axe and then struck with a sledgehammer to widen the cut. Because the boy was already late for dinner, the lad laid the wedge between the limbs of the young walnut tree his father had planted near the front gate. He planned on retrieving it later but he forgot about it.
As he grew into a man, the tree grew up and around the wedge, hiding it completely. Grown in and healed over, the wedge was still in the tree when a major winter ice storm came.
One night, one of the three major limbs split away from the trunk and crashed to the ground. This so unbalanced the remainder of the tree that the entire thing split apart and fell down. When the storm was over, not a twig of the walnut tree was left standing.
Early the next morning, the farmer went out to mourn his loss when his eyes caught sight of something in the splintered ruin. ‘The wedge,’ he muttered regretfully. ‘The wedge I found in the south pasture.’ He knew why the tree had fallen. Growing inside the trunk, the wedge had prevented the limb fibers from knitting together as they should.”Normally, the big walnut tree could easily have borne the weight that formed on its branches from the winter ice storm. It was the iron wedge in its heart that destroyed the tree.
This specific article was about forgiveness. Obviously there are other hidden wedges that can destroy individuals, relationships & families.
The point of this article is to act as an introduction to Part 2 which will detail the neglect and abuse I suffered at the hands of almost every adult that was supposed to be there to protect and help me. Part 2 is meant to help me heal, expose hidden wedges that have been destroying me and my family (parents and siblings), and to expose the evil members of my extended family who believe pedophile-grandpa when he claims that it was all my fault and he was innocent.
“Well, why not just share this with your family then?” Because the specific wedges affecting my family are the wedges of denial and ignorance. I have a background in filmmaking. When you make a film and you love it, you develop denial and ignorance of the film’s flaws. You lose objectivity. The cure? Watching the movie with a group of other people. They don’t even have to say anything. Just knowing other people are seeing it helps you see in it in an all knew light.
In the mean time, here’s some light reading to help prepare you for my next article:
CLICK HERE to read Part 2.
© 2018 Andrew Cengiz