I am not writing anything here for shock value, or to provoke any particular reaction. I am writing because my secrets have remained hidden for far too long. I am writing in the hope that others who have kept similar secrets might take something from my experience and feel strong enough to speak out and in doing so begin to heal. I am not writing with any intention of identifying any individual, or exacting revenge. I have deliberately not included a single name in the account of what happened to me.
Please be aware that although I write about the abuse I’ve suffered at different times in my life, I do not include details. Firstly, I cannot bring myself to write them, and secondly, the details do not serve a purpose here.
This, sadly, is my truth.
For the majority of the population of the UK, 2020 proved to be a year difficult beyond their wildest dreams. Nobody could have predicted the global pandemic, which changed life for us all. As REM belted out regularly on my Spotify playlist, it was “The end of the world as we know it’. 2020 was the year life would change for us all, but for me it was to become a living nightmare for a completely different reason.
Maybe I should have ‘read the omens’ back in January, when I received an email from my Archdeacon. I was the vicar of a small parish church and he was informing me that there had been a complaint made against me. The complainants were from the parish and their issue was with regard to my involvement with the local Music Festivals. Basically didn’t believe that, as vicar of the parish, I should be associating myself with the festivals. The village was divided in its view of the festivals and as far as this group was concerned, I was associating myself with those who drank alcohol, took drugs and were just generally undesirable in their behaviour. It was true, in the fact that for the past five years I had spent time at each of the festivals at the local farm, volunteering to serve behind the bar, leading Sunday Worship and most importantly, making myself available for anybody who needed to talk to me, or have me pray with them. It was, by enlarge, a large a quiet ministry, offered to anyone attending the Country, Rock, or Hacienda style festivals, which have taken place on the farm at the far end of the country park, situated in our village.
Over the years I have walked alongside the bereaved, the hurting, the abused, those who have turned to drugs and drink, those suffering from PTSD and those who have previously attempted to take their own life.
For me, the work at the festivals, has been simply answering a call and doing what I believe Jesus would have done. Meeting people where they are and drawing alongside them has always been. It is truly where I believed He would be and to be honest, I recognised far more of the suffering than those I ministered to could ever have imagined…
Whilst the complaint was deeply upsetting, it actually had nothing to do with the real reason 2020 was turning into a nightmare. There was a growing pressure within me and it was only a matter of time before it came to a head and erupted. In retrospect, I can see that now. The manner in which that eruption happened though, surprised everyone, even me.
It was an afternoon in mid February and I was in a meeting with the Archdeacon and a group of local clergy. He had called us together to talk about what was happening in our individual churches, and what our area of the Deanery (a cluster of local churches within a Diocese) might look like moving forward. It was not a stressful or unusual meeting, but when posed directly with a question by the Archdeacon, I suddenly couldn’t engage. I was completely disengaged, not just day dreaming, but completely unable to connect. The questions flew into my head: What was I doing? Why was I here? It was almost as if I was standing outside myself and the meeting of clergy.
I just couldn’t do this. My personal life was in utter turmoil and I didn’t have the headspace to deal with a discussion about the future possibilities of our local church communities. Something had snapped within me.
“I’m sorry, I can’t do this, I can’t deal with this at the moment”, I found myself saying, as tears filled my eyes. I was acutely embarrassed, and the clergy around me looked bemused and concerned.
The Archdeacon addressed me directly.
“Would you like to talk to me in private, Lynn?”
The tears that had been brimming my eyelids coursed down my cheeks as I nodded. Needless to say, the meeting drew to a swift close.