Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Reply to a Comment ...

This morning I found this in my "moderate comments' section:

In my experience, a singled out leader who is not being thanked is a leader with issues.Either the relationship is so damaged that thanks will not come, or their will be a catharsis when the truth will come out.

The one thing I do not see on your blog, (maybe I haven't looked deeply enough) is the humility and self questioning of where you may be at fault for this attitude.

Deep self learning is often uncomfortable as we face our less than perfect record and choices.

Without the search, we continue to live half lives in lies never finding out truth and growing.

Are you strong and committed enough Shawn?

Things I think about...Sallie

I read this comment this morning, and for a moment thought about NOT allowing it to be posted, but then I realized that to do so would be enact a censorship that I am NOT comfortable with. I hit the appropriate buttons and let the comment through, then I went and read the Blog offered by the poster.

I'm glad I did.
It inspired me to reply - not as a posted comment, but as a post unto itself, because Sallie's
queries are at the very heart of the issues I feel right now on my journey ... So here is my reply.
DO I have issues?? Absolutely. And I'm in the process not only of owning them, but of also working with and through them where appropriate.
I last night's posting I spoke of my vulnerability in that moment when a Thank You wasn't offered. I know where some of that arises from:
- low self-esteem
- being under attack from within the church
- being undermined by a toxic co-worker
- having foolishly embarked on a battle to win and alcoholic his job back when he was undeserving
- a systemic problem in the workplace that was NOT theological but practical
- the thread of alcoholism running through the dysfunction of ALL of this
- a breaking of covenant on the part of others as well as me
- a tendency by me to overwork to earn approval
- undiagnosed ADD
I could go on ... but suffice to say, I am not only aware of many of my issues, I find that with each passing week I find myself confronted with more, and am seeking out the help I need to grow through and with them ...
So yes Sallie, I am a leader with issues and with a deep self-esteem issue. I know that in that time, when the fire hit because of the internal siege I was experiencing through the toxic behaviour of a co-worker I NEEDED desperately to feel valued and appreciated. What I failed to realize and appreciate was the breadth of lies and untruths being perpetuated by this person, and the willingness of members of the church, the Board AND the community to hold such words as Gospel. I had become an outsider because others wouldn't own the problems in their life, and found it easier to blame others like me ...
Humility?? Well, this is the interesting bit ... it's all in one's point of view. I am intelligent, well read, and able to process things at lightning speed. I am sought out by many within and outside the church for my counsel and my knowledge. When I read something I not only remember it, I am able to connect it to other resources, readings and materials I have encountered before. I also take what I read seriously ...
So I am usually and often regarded as arrogant and a egotistical. The truth is - and I have known this all along - I don't feel it ... inside ME is a yawning maw of low self-esteem. Do I over compensate?? Yes, I do, and that's an issue I'm working on.
Am I arrogant and egotistical?? No I am not. What I KNOW that I do is stand my ground. My way of processing is to go and think about things and come back with my ideas, reflections and opinions formed, and looking for the chance to have the conversation or even argument to hone or alter them. Coming back with my "mind made up" to use the term often tossed my way, intimidates people and causes them to regard me as arrogant, because I seem to "KNOW" what
I'm thinking and can argue or debate it accordingly.
I feel great humility, and great fear as a result of my low self esteem. BUT, I also exist in a time and place where to show any of that vulnerability allows the carrion feeders to pounce. Every word I write here is weighed by people with ulterior motives and toxic agendas. What I write here now, is the fodder of the gossip passing around the table tomorrow. So, I don't openly express my vulnerabilities, my fears and my doubts any more - I can't afford to - not here.
That conversation comes over tea with my friends who have been able to hold up a mirror before me and FORCE me to reflect on my self and my path. I have friends I've come to cherish and value for THAT part of my journey. The counsel I value most of all is that which comes from those who have taken a HEALTHY journey from dependency on alcohol. They have ALWAYS been able to ask the tough questions. And they have been able to help me see the role that alcohol has been playing in much of this on the parts of other parties - I can do nothing about it, but I will never condone it either ...
I'm not afraid of the journey. I'm not afraid of what I'm discovering within myself. I have spent the last three years (probably way beyond that - but my awareness of this is for the last 3 years) on an inward journey of discovery.
Am I a poor innocent victim in any of this?? NO - absolutely not. I'm an active participant.
My issue right now is the scape goating process that is unfolding. The notion that "everything was fine before Shawn arrived" is not only erroneous, it is symptomatic of the dysfunction. I am working on me and my issues every day ... my call now is for SOMEONE in the greater church to unstop their ears and name and perhaps even deal with the systemic problems not only in the Congregation but in the community around us. (Slashed tires, anonymous calls to Children & Family Services with claims of abusing my children, and spreading lies about me are just some of the things engaged in by folks here)
Now is the time to name the LONG-STANDING dysfunction that has been part of Minnedosa United Church. Yet over and over I hear the "if he went, everything would be fine ..." mantra being offered. Instead of dealing with the mess, the desire is to sweep EVERYTHING under the rug again ... Sorry, but the rug is full ... it's time for a major cleaning.
It's time for ALL of us to OWN the TRUTH in its fullness!!!
Now is the time for the Catharsis you mention. For some the relationship is irreparable and broken, but for many it is time to name the dysfunction that pre-existed my arrival here and that has once again reared its ugly head. I'm not looking for an Thank you so much as seeking an engaging of the work that NEEDS to be done. The voices that are being ignored in all of this are those who have walked away because this thing I'm experiencing is NOT NEW to Minnedosa. I meet those people EVERY DAY and they say - "just go, THEY won't change." It is something I reflect deeply on, but right now the Spirit is still urging me to stay and face this ...
I AM part of the problem. I was a fool and an ass. I have spent the last 18 months of my life watching my reputation destroyed, not through my own actions, but through the malicious and toxic machinations of OTHERS. I will own my mistakes and like the 12 step programme suggests, make apologies and amends where it is feasible. BUT right now my issue, and I KNOW it's my issue and I'm dealing with it, is the lack of reciprocity in all of this.
Those members of the Board who have undermined and back stabbed me (and I know when and where it has happened), those members of the church who have continued to perpetuate lies and gossip about me, and those who have taken at face value the lies of a former co-worker - have NEVER been called to task for ANY OF IT. And my question simply is - HOW IS THIS JUST??? Where is the fairness here???
Where is the TRUTH being held to in THIS ????
I know, I hear the voices already - it may not happen. I know that. But it doesn't mean I won't keep raising the question ...
So Sallie, and those taking note to use these words against me later (and I know they lurk here), this is a tiny glimpse of my journey of self-discovery ... it has been incredibly uncomfortable and it has been profoundly painful. I know that I'm not all better - that place may be years away ...
I've dug deeply into myself, my actions, my mistakes ... ALL OF IT!!! ... I, like you, am on a journey ... it has been one needed for quite awhile. I will own the simple fact that I chaff at being the scape goat here ... I have no desire to be driven out into the wilderness so that a group of people who are unwilling to face their lack of this same journey - one you've begun sharing in YOUR blog - can then say "we're all better now!!" The problems in Minnedosa (and in other communities) are seldom so simple ... Driving me out, something wanted deeply by more than a couple of people here will solve absolutely NOTHING.
I'm up for the challenge ... I've been treading this road for many months. I have learned much about my self, and I know I have much to learn, and I'm not trying to get it all done today ... I'll let the spirit continue to guide me where she will ... In the meantime, I seek only a consistency in the Greater Church when it comes to LIVING out its values and its faith.
So, thank you Sallie for your words. I appreciate them. Words of challenge act like a mirror - they make us think, and they make us reflect on things we may otherwise overlook. So, blessings on your journey of healing and wholeness - remember the value of the simple phrase - "one day at a time". I have a friend who tells me that EVERYDAY, and I am blessed by their presence and their challenging wisdom ... I wish you only the same.
Like you, I seek the truth. And every step of the journey I am blessed and humbled by the things I learn and experience within myself ... I'm a better person for it ... BUT ... I won't stop raising the uncomfortable questions, either those within me, or those within the community of faith in which I live ... they are important questions, and like I said - "the rug is full" - both mine and theirs ... it's time to name, own and deal with the truth, and that process begins with ME !!!
And I'm doing the best that I can with the help I need ... The rest in in the hands of my higher power ... where it belongs!!


audreyb said...

Shawn. I just read your amazing
"95 thesis". Good stuff. Few of us have the insight and guts to honestly say who we are. Most of us can do a resume of ourselves at our best, few of us can be honest about our own failings.

Life is not about never making a mistake. Life is about learning from them. Sounds like you are on the right path. I wish our system in the United Church was more about justice than blame. More about accountability than smothering the problem.

I wish for justice for you and all the other victims of the "energy vampires"

Blessed Be. - Audrey

itzktb said...

I've been reading your blog for over a year, and I must say, I've never felt you to be arrogant or egotistical. I have noticed you complaining about poverty, politics and hatred, and express your opinions about people who have hurt or betrayed you in some way. In addition to that, I've seen countless posts about the love you have for your children, beautiful meals you've made, and expressions of kindness bestowed upon you by your friends. Not to mention the many beautiful photographs of the environment in which you live, the birds and buffalo, the sunlight, the frost. What I see on YOUR blog is YOUR life, and frankly, I find you more self-reflective than most people, always looking to evolve as a human being.

Martin Luther King was a womanizer, Gandhi was a bad father, weren't they leaders with issues? Personally, I'd be suspicious of any leader who appeared to have it all together.

laughing pastor said...

Now that Shawn has done his part....why don't you step up Sallie and own what is yours.

What allows you to post these words and not admit who you are, how you respond, what stands in your way?

Sallie, do you have a solid self esteem? Are you arrogant, egotistical? Do you have issues?

Why is it that to suggest saying thank you is a mark of egotism. Gratitude in it's very nature is humility.

I for one spent a great deal of my life with low self esteem. I over compensated by attempting to blend into the back ground.

I have issues but I have also spent a great deal of time facing those issues and becoming healthy!


shawn said...

I for one, applaud Sallie's courage in saying what she has so far ...

I went to her blog and from what I read I think her action and her words come from a place of courage ...

So Sallie, I for one thank you for your words. They were challenging and they caused me pause - NOT a bad thing to do from time to time ... if and when you're ready to let us know more about yourself, I will be in your corner. But only do it when YOU are ready - you have enough on your plate with your journey.

A Journey I wish you well on ...

thanks again, and Thanks to the other voices who have chimed in here ... I appreciate you ALL!!!

new road seeker said...

hmmm, Mr. Gleeful Clergyman from Texas.... (are you really from the piney woods?)
I did not mean to imply that anyone was arrogant. Are you arrogant?

Just curious.

And thank you Shawn for your courteous and compassionate words.
S. Ledoux
(sallie the soft)