“To study psychological trauma is to come face to face both with human vulnerability in the natural world and the capacity for evil in human nature. To study psychological trauma means bearing witness to horrible events. When the events are natural disasters or acts of God, those who bear witness sympathize readily. But when the events are of human design, those who bear witness are caught in the conflict between victim and perpetrator. It is morally impossible to remain neutral in this conflict. The bystander is forced to take sides. It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the person stand by and do nothing…the victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering.” – Dr. Judith Lewis Herman
She’s right. It’s true. And if I hadn’t been on the victim side of this coin as many times as I have, I would probably be right in line with the bystanders who successfully pretend it isn’t real. One of the side effects of encountering evil in the world is that it opens your eyes wide to the suffering happening all around you. And once your eyes are open, you really can’t close them again. It’s kind of like waking up from the Matrix. You take the red pill and you go deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. The more you see, the more you experience, the more you suffer. And you can’t go back and take the blue pill. You can’t reverse the domino effect. You can’t forget.
Suffering is a difficult subject to address, especially when you throw God into the mix and then try to figure out how it all makes sense. Believe me when I say I don’t feel qualified to speak to the subject. I used to be too afraid of God to get angry at him directly, but in the last few months I’ve made up for lost time. It’s been awhile since he’s gotten anything besides anger from me. That may be wrong and it might disqualify me from being able to speak on the subject, but I want to talk about it anyways.
I don’t know a lot, but I know a couple things. I know that suffering is real and that everyone experiences it in different degrees. I also know that denying, ignoring it, or trying to forget it without healing are really unhealthy ideas.
“War and victims is something the community wants to forget. A veil of oblivion is drawn over everything painful and unpleasant. We find the two sides face to face. On one side the victims who perhaps wish to forget but cannot. And on the other, all those with strong, often unconscious, motives who very intensely wish to forget and succeed in doing so.” – Dr. Judith Lewis Herman
Being a victim of tremendous evil and then, when you need support from others in order to recover you get dismissed or ignored…that is itself a compounding evil. Compounded trauma. And I don’t understand why God allows it. I don’t know why God allows more suffering for some than others. I don’t understand why He allows so much darkness to endure for so long without a light to guide the way. I can’t pretend to know why He allows some to disintegrate into a shadow of a person without stepping in, showing up, or making everything right again. Maybe He does, but it just takes longer than we want it to. I can’t pretend to really know much about His purposes anymore.
But I do know that even though it feels like my body and soul are wasting away to death and destruction, my eyes are more open than they’ve ever been. I see and feel not just mine, but other’s pain in ways I never did or could before. I see the delusions and denials of the world more than ever before. And I feel a rage towards it all that I’ve never had before.
If anything is for sure, I swallowed the red pill…and there’s no turning back.