Monday, December 1, 2014

Living Outside Reality: A Guest Post by Deanna Doss Shrodes

“I’m not saying any of it is untrue. I’m just uncomfortable with it.”

This was said to me by a family member when I wrote my story (which is now being released by Entourage Publishing as a memoir) on my blog, last year.

While the response to my story was overwhelmingly positive to say the least, there was a family member who was unhappy. No one accused me of stating untruths, at all. In fact, I offered to immediately remove anything that  was untrue if it was brought to my attention. (I am aware of no untruths in my story then, or now.) I was assured, it was all true. They just didn’t like it.

I have learned since then that there are plenty of people who believe their own discomfort is reason enough to silence others. In spending many hours pondering this issue here is what I’ve landed on. When people tell you that what you are stating about your personal story is all true, yet they ask you not to voice it, in any form (especially publicly) what they are saying is this:

“I’m not living in reality or ready to live in reality. Please leave me in my undisturbed bubble so I can go on denying reality.”

I don’t pose this question to be mean or even the slightest bit disrespectful. But, how can one see this posture as anything but making a conscious choice to live outside the realm of reality? If one speaks truth and especially one’s own truth, and is asked by others to refrain from sharing that truth, does that not speak of the fact that the person asking you to refrain is living somewhere other than reality?

Surely it indicates they are living in a place of pain and discomfort, not ready to face reality. But does this mean they should hold others hostage with them in the process?

When I was wrestling with a family member's plea for me to stop sharing reality on my blog, I had a cup of coffee and conversation with Felicia Alphonse, a woman in my church who just happens to be a therapist. I asked her opinion about whether people should share personal truths even when they are unsettling to others in their lives.  Tilting her head to the side and taking a moment to ponder she looked at me and said, “You have to heal…” and I said, “Yes…okay, and…?” She went on, “An important part of healing is speaking the truth and leaving secrets behind. It’s unfortunate that some are uncomfortable with it, but the bottom line is – you need to heal.”

The conversation with Felicia was really key to my decision to continue being as open as I have been on my blog, with my legal name attached to all my writing.

It was a key conversation in deciding to go forward with my book when I was presented with the opportunity.

There are times others in our lives are not ready to live in reality.

But if we are desirous of healing, it doesn’t happen with cover-up.

Covered things don’t heal well. Just try keeping a bandaid on a wound forever and see how well that works. It doesn’t. You have to expose the wound to the air at some point in order for the healing process to happen.

I understand why many people want to live outside the realm of reality. When you first face truth, it has the power to slay you. I spent many a night crying in the bathtub or unable to get myself together enough emotionally to face friends. The grieving process is challenging. But ultimately, facing reality and living in it has enabled me to live the beautiful life I’m now living.

I wouldn’t trade living in reality. It’s not easy to get there but so worthwhile once you do.

Deanna Doss Shrodes is a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God and has served as a pastor for 27 years. Currently she serves as Women's Ministries Director of the Pen-Florida District of the Assemblies of God. Deanna and her husband have been married for 27 years, have three children and live in the Tampa Bay area where they serve as lead pastor of Celebration Church of Tampa. Deanna speaks at churches and conferences internationally and is also an accomplished musician, worship leader, songwriter, and certified coach. An award winning writer, she is also a contributing author to Chocolate For a Woman's Courage, published by Simon & Schuster, a contributing author to Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption from a Place of Empowerment and Peace published by CQT Media and Publishing, Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age published by Entourage Publishing, and the author of the book Juggle:Manage Your Time, Change Your Life. Adopted in 1966 in a closed domestic adoption, she searched and found her original mother, sister and brother and reunited with them in 1993. Deanna blogs about adoption issues at her personal blog, Adoptee Restoration, and also serves as the spiritual columnist at Lost Daughters. She leads a support group, Adoptee Restoration Tampa Bay, for adoptees in the Tampa Bay area.