On Friday night I had my final presentation in my family therapy/pastoral counseling class. It was an indepth analysis of all of my family’s history and dysfunction color-coded and graphically represented in a genogram. I’ve done some of this before so i thought I was ready.
I’ve spent the last three years of grad school dissecting my life – the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve written papers on the trauma, prepared workshops based on my experience and practiced cousenling others. But I have never had to stand in front of 30 strangers and say out loud the different things that have happened in my family’s history and in my life.
I thought I would be fine given my own personal therapy and everything I just described. I thought I had worked through the emotion attached to it and would be able to do it focusing on the resilience, developed resources while being honest and professional.
I don’t even remember what I said. I had a cheat sheet listing several elements I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss but other than that – no idea. I love public speaking, but this time was different. It was ultimate vulnerability in front of strangers – not just presenting facts, theory or speculation. This was my life and my family heritage laid out for all to see.
I thought about holding back but knew that there is a lot of healing that comes when you give words and voice to your story. I have never said out loud to anyone, other than my therapist about some of this. Granted, I didn’t go into graphic detail but I talked about the family legacy of adultery, abuse, alcoholism, unavailable men, co-dependent relationships, etc. WOW! I was also able to speak about the history of strong, independent women and the blessing that my mater great-grandmother spoke over her son and his family for generations to come. I also recalled how my parents have stopped many cycles and worked hard for our lives to be different. It’s not all bad.
Maybe I remember more than I thought. But I underestimated the power of my story, emotion and all. I came home and just cried. It’s hard to sit with some of it but I’m glad its out there. I’m anxious to see how God uses it to help someone else.