Growing up as a doctor’s daughter, I learnt that the world was divided into ‘doctors’ and ‘patients’. There were people who needed help and people who gave help. The doctor’s job was to be always there for the patients (in those days, a GP was 24/7 ‘on call’, and the family dealt with the phone calls), so he should never get sick himself and, if he did, he was to get out of bed and see his patients as soon as he could stand up.
One thing that this trauma journey has taught me: we can’t divide the world like that. Everyone is a patient (needing other peoples’ help) and everyone is a doctor (with something to give others). It’s one of those things that I knew in my head but that hadn’t really got to the rest of me. I’d always seen myself as a ‘doctor’.
I’d certainly needed help and sought help and received help. So what has changed? Maybe it’s that I now realize that being a helper and being a helpee are not two modes of being that happen at different times, but all part of being one person. ‘Splitting’ roles/persona is a classic traumatic coping mechanism, of course (must write on that sometime), but there’s something deep about understanding my humanity here.
And there is also something about how I feel that other people see me. Can they see me as BOTH someone who needs support through the trauma journey and might react very strangely in some contexts AND someone with a great deal to offer? My analogy is the Paralympics – people doing amazing things despite a ‘disability’. But there is no ‘Paralife’ or ‘Paracademia’. And things feel so competitive!
I am thankful that there is no division of humanity into the good and the bad, the sick and the doctors, the victims and the oppressors: we are all, in some ways, all of those, and our amazing Lord sees us as whole people and loves us. It is not only that He can deal with both strength and weakness, but that His strength is ‘made perfect in weakness’.