Weeks after the nighttime revelation of which I spoke in my last post, realization dawned that the board was my dad and his presence was still oppressing me. Deep gut-wrenching anger and hatred towards him began to well up inside me. But, before delving into those feelings, I would like to explain how my understanding of the plank’s meaning came about. Here was my train of thought:
I began by wondering if the board was constructed by my child as a shield to ward off the pain of my dad’s sexual abuse and the many other detrimental patterns of my family of origin. Then, when anger and hatred began to well up inside me, I began to visualize hurting my father…kicking him, beating him, scratching him. With this understanding of the extreme loathing and animosity I harbored toward him, the question came…could my emotions be the board that was suffocating me and causing so much physical tension and anxiety? As I turned this over in my mind, I became aware that the board had seemed to come by its own volition; I had nothing to do with its appearance. While contemplating this thought, a new picture appeared: the plank began forcefully moving against me, and I had nothing to do with its action. Internally rebelling against facing the truth and not wanting to be placed once again in that frightening room which held my father’s bed, I reluctantly allowed God to help me see that the plank was a representation of my father and his sexual abuse to my small toddler’s body.
The next phase in this process took me down a curious route. I tried to imagine singing (which is something that is difficult for me to do, even though I have been developing my voice for many years), and I couldn’t. I imagined trying to do anything that I loved, and the same thing happened. (While writing this, I am realizing my father’s abuse destroyed my ability to be myself…I will dig into that in another post.) Following those musings, an image came to my mind of what I was like when I was with people…I embraced the board, and it was absorbed into my body, which meant I was frantically trying to pretend to be someone other than the pain filled person I was…someone I perceived they would love. Then I pictured the way I functioned when by myself, and I saw my arms crossed in front of me pushing with all my might against the weight, holding the plank about 8 inches from my body. This turned my thoughts toward the constant tension and discomfort in my lower back, shoulders, neck and arms. I have always guessed many of my physical problems were connected to my dad’s abuse, and these images confirmed that belief. The stress of my child’s past was still reflected in the way I carried my adult frame.
Why was the board distinctly plywood ? That question continued to niggle in the recesses of my brain as these reflections unfolded. It seemed odd that such a seemingly unimportant detail was so clearly significant. As I scrolled down the computer screen searching for images to illustrate this post, the pictures to which I deeply responded were those in which beautiful light wood veneer covered the plywood layers beneath. Thinking the appearance of the board should reflect the ugliness of my dad’s deeds, I rejected them and continued my search. Yet, I was unable to settle on one; the representations I chose never seemed entirely appropriate. Viewing photos again which portrayed the original concept of a board with a pleasing appearance provided the catalyst needed for the puzzle pieces to fall into place in my mind. The beautiful veneer depicted the decorative covering my father presented to the world; the layers beneath were the unmasked realities of his life.
Where will this path of awareness lead? Ultimately its destination will be healing, but the immediate outcome of these realizations did not bring relief from the oppression and pain which continued to weigh heavily upon me. I got up from the kitchen table where my head had been resting on my arms during this process, and began to again slog through the day. Meeting a friend that afternoon to share our lives with each other and to seek God in prayer provided a thin ray of light in an otherwise gloomy day. In the past, God had chosen to work in us during those times together, relieving burdens and bringing healing; perhaps that would be His course of action today. Tentatively hopeful, I headed to her house.