(by M.C.E.P as shared with Elena Huegel)
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
My healing process began in 2010. I was finishing my last year of college and travelled to the Shalom Center for the first trauma healing and resilience development workshop.
A whole new world opened up before me at that workshop! I was fascinated when I learned about our reactions to a traumatic event. I began to remember many things, especially that day when I was in the university cafeteria and, for no apparent reason, I began to tremble, my knees went week, my heart began to beat crazily, and I began to cry. I was not able to control my body, as if I had entered into a place where I could not find an exit. I had felt the same way many times before: the emotions and sense of helplessness coming out of nowhere again and again. I felt angry at myself as well as defenseless. The things that happened to me didn’t make any sense. Every day I felt more unstable, as if my life hung from a thread, and I panicked thinking that the thread could break at any moment.
That first course was a blessing. I decided to investigate all I could about myself. About a month after that first course, I faced one of my deepest fears. The earth roared and trembled for over two minutes in a devastating earthquake. I did not know then why I had always been terror-stricken even at the thought of an earthquake. I had never been in one before. In the constant aftershocks, months after the earthquake, I fell deeper and deeper into my fears, loneliness, and uncertainty. If it had not been for the gentle care of the Shalom Center staff the night of the earthquake and afterwards, perhaps I would have withered away. The thread was on the verge of breaking.
For three months after the earthquake, I lived locked up in my house without sleeping, over eating and crying at every aftershock. I doubted my faith; I never stopped believing in God, but I could not put my belief into any action. I felt terribly guilty. The only moments I was able to sleep were when my mother embraced me. I felt as if I were reverting to my childhood.
The cloth that our Lord wove out of that fragile thread turned out to be incredibly beautiful. I did stand by myself again. I did believe again. I didn’t let my fears stop me. I kept searching for answers.
Some years later, I was sitting in front of the waterfall and deep pool at the Shalom Center when an answer came to me as if it were a beautiful weaving that enveloped my whole being. It was that answer which freed me of my fears, stood me up, and kept me walking on this path of healing.
There, in front of the waterfall, I told Elena what I had learned about my mother’s pregnancy. She had suffered deeply during the months during which I was formed in her womb. My mother told me she had been ordered to bed during the last three months of her pregnancy for fear that she would lose the baby, but her family situation forced her to continue working. My mother and I, however, fought for life. I clung to her and she to me. God held the thread that kept me tied to my mother’s womb during those long difficult months. I understood that it would not be possible for my mind to remember all that happened; my body bears the memory of that traumatic process.
Today I am still learning with all the tools I have received during the Roots in the Ruins: Hope in Trauma courses. I am accepting my past but with deeper faith and the conviction that I will keep growing. I will not forget: I am fearfully and wonderfully made!
Elena Huegel serves with the Pentecostal Church of Chile (IPC). She serves as an environmental and Christian education specialist. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.