"Suffering is a great teacher,
because you never know what you might become
after you work through it,
which is why every life is worth saving."
Dr. Sheldon Wallace (Private Practice)
I kind of got hooked on the show Private Practice since a local channel has been showing reruns. This quote was in an episode I watched tonight as this Doctor was talking to a patient who survived his suicide attempt. This whole journey is a process... I've known for a long time that there was a lot of "stuff" that needed dealt with in my life. However, it took two nearly fatal blows - my fiancé walking out of my life with no explanation and the church family and family that had been closer to me than my biological family cutting me off after demanding unreasonable things from me in a time of great crisis in my life - to get me to counseling and it has taken over 2 years to get me to where I am now... finally ready to go through something I've been avoiding for months.
This all might sound odd to someone who has never been severely traumatized as a child and it might not make sense to everyone, but this is my journey and it doesn't even make a lot of sense to me sometimes. However, one thing I've learned - even though I am a 44 year old grown woman who has grieved the loss of the mother she never had and has sought to be strong and just move on with life - there is a little girl inside of me who has been hurting for years. I've been protecting her the only way I knew how... I've been strong, I've been tough, I've held my head up knowing that the abuse I suffered was not my fault, that the way I was treated as a child - being forced to grow up way too fast - was wrong and I have been determined to be a productive member of society. I have thrown myself into ministries trying to give to others and serve others because I knew it was the right thing to do and because I wanted to help... it's all I ever did - I had to help my mother when I was 12 -16 years old... I had to be the strong one... I had to be the caregiver, so I grew into an adult who has sought to be a caregiver. I always want to take care of others, to help others, to fix problems - and all the while there's been this little girl inside of me who I thought I was protecting and all she really needed to do was to grieve. She was robbed of her childhood. She was abused - sexually and emotionally and she didn't have a mother who protected her, she was forced to take care of her mother when her mother should have been taking care of her. She didn’t get unconditional love. She was always made to feel like she was never good enough - like she couldn’t do anything right. She was made to feel like she was completely inferior.
Another quote from that show I came across was in the series finale... again from Sheldon. He was talking to his girlfriend who was dying of cancer who tried to get him to walk away because she didn’t want him to have to go through all the suffering of her final days. He went and found her after she walked away from him, because he wouldn’t walk away... and he said this:
"You don't get to tell me to walk away,
and you don't get to tell me that this is your journey and not mine.
I'm on this road. I've been on this road for 56 years, all by myself,
and then you showed up on MY road.
And that day, and every day since have been the greatest days of my life,
so I am NOT leaving you. And I'm... I'm happy to change diapers
and to wipe drool, and to hold your hand,
'cause I WANT to take care of you. I'm honored to take care of you.
Your last days will be precious, and I'll cherish them.
And if you're too far gone to remember my name, then I'll remind you.
But you deserve to be loved, right up until your very last moment.
You deserve to be surrounded by love.
You deserve to have the face of the man who loves you
be the last thing that you see.
And I deserve the chance to love you for as long as I can or as hard as I can.
So I am not walking away."
Dr. Sheldon Wallace (to Miranda in series finale of Private Practice)
Sherri - the little girl Sherri deserved to have a mother who loved her like that... who would be willing to not walk away when things got tough. No, she never physically left - but emotionally she was never there when I needed her. The love shown in this quote is an amazing love - a love that I hope to one day have... but that’s for another post.
When I think about all this little girl went through, I’m amazed she survived... but she did survive. So, tonight.. or this morning, rather, I am beginning to let that little girl grieve. She is sad tonight - she is shedding tears tonight over what she never had... over what she deserved to have. She is beginning the grieving process. I am not protecting her any more - that’s not what she needs. She needs to grieve so that I can truly let go and move on. All that I’ve been trying to protect, has in reality been hurting me. And now I need to allow her to go through that suffering Sheldon talked about in that first quote - it is a great teacher and by going through it who knows who I will become when I get through it? Only God knows. I have to trust Him that who I will become will be a much healthier and happier Sherri... a Sherri who can allow her pain to not be wasted, but to work for God’s good and His glory. However, grief is a process and tonight is only the beginning. Letting the little girl in me begin to grieve... breaking down some of those protective walls... allowing her to feel sadness over what she didn’t get as a child... it is a beginning... it’s a start and I have to start somewhere.