Last night I attended my NAMI group at Good Samaritan Hospital. I realized I’d been attending for a year now. Yay! It’s been a very important part of my recovery and stability this year. I can count on understanding, sympathy and strength from friends who also live with and struggle against the invisible enemy, mental illness.
This past winter when I was having an identity crisis, I was able to share with them about my dilemma of separating my public persona of pastor from my self-image as a person. I shared my grief that I couldn’t return to parish ministry. I began sharing how dead my spirituality felt, and therefore how dead I felt inside. While the group listened attentively and provided support, I got the distinct impression from the facilitator that NAMI was not the venue for bringing up faith issues.
Last week I found out that my regular spiritual highs and mystical closeness to God have been fueled by the mania pole of my bipolar disorder. In shock and grief, I shared this briefly with my NAMI group but didn’t go into detail. Over this past week I have talked with friends about this new knowledge about my disorder. I find I need to keep expressing my shock and grief because my spirituality used to be the basis for my self-image, and I’m now thrown into a new level of identity crisis.
Last night I needed to talk more about this identity crisis. But based on that experience in winter when it felt the facilitator didn’t want us talking about faith, I didn’t share it. I felt I was being inauthentic, which I haven’t done before in that group. And I mourn that maybe that group can’t help me with that.
Can you help?
I’m wondering if a focus on the divine feminine will help deepen faith that has been interrupted. Not gender neutral God to cover up patriarchal God, but feminine images, traditions, language. Sometimes (always?) traditional church isn’t able to move past gender neutral language, and many times folks in the pews can’t move past masculine images and language.
Something to think about.