Hi all, I've recently been diagnosed with autism, which has helped make sense of much of my life.
However, the rector of my C of E parish church of 2 years, St George the Martyr Southwark, has recently conveyed at the start of March through the Diocese Safeguarding that he is no longer willing to support me in any way, in conversation, in prayer, in blessing (this was about 2 weeks before Covid measures here and has nothing to do with Covid). This led me to attempt to kill myself because I just couldn't cope.
This came as a complete shock to me as immediately up to that point of complete withdrawal, he'd consistently supported me for two years in weekly pastoral meetings, in being available for conversation, prayer and blessing after services and even phone-calls when I'm overwhelmed (as he still does for others). I've since learnt from a meeting with the Diocese that he'd been in constant 'confidential' meetings with the Diocese about being no longer 'able' to support me, despite my needs being non-confrontational and non-violent, even as he reassured me of his commitment to "walk with you always" and "I just wanted to repeat my willingness to support you", in speech and in writing as recently as late February. Now that I'm not allowed to contact him in any form, I'm not just unable to learn why he's done this to me but have been utterly depressed about being excluded from the same level of pastoral and spiritual care he still gives others, not just those with physical health needs but even ordinary people. The worst part is that because of Covid, he is now offering church members remote pastoral support by phone. Because I'm still on their mailing list (because by church law I'm still on their electoral roll), I got the email detailing this new measure of support by phone. However, when I tried to clarify this, I got an email from the Diocese expressly stating that this measure still excludes me, and that this offer of pastoral support is given freely to everyone else who have been worshipping at St George's with the specific exception of me. (Anyway, I later found out through someone who took me out for lunch after this happened and helped me process things a bit that this priest is just someone that I should never have trusted. I didn't know this because I never got involved with church management but apparently he's known to those involved in the church's management for constantly changing his ideas and behaviour, breaking promises and saying different things to different people, someone I should never have called a priest. But what's done is done.)
After learning about my autism diagnosis while in hospital from my suicide attempt, I've since tried to look up how to cope with a change as sudden and devastating as this (sudden, complete and inexplicable withdrawal of two years of consistent, reliable trust and support!). I read that I should find a 'new normal' as soon as possible but with Covid this is impossible as I can't get to know a new church and clergy because churches are closed.
Can anyone help me? It's so painful being surrounded by memorabilia (photos, confirmation cards, books) of my time at St George's, particularly that priest's support, knowing all that's come to an abrupt and inexplicable end but at the same time removing them would only make it worse by their noticeable absence. I'd appreciate any tips you can give. Every day I'm just fighting for the will to live. I really can't deal with something so abrupt and inexplicable as this. If it helps with your advice and tips, I have a further, older diagnosis of EUPD (the new term for BPD).
It is not unusual for Autistic people to be rejected by people because we are misunderstood.
I think you should get rid of all the memorabilia reminding you of St George's and look in any emails they've sent you if there's something in it where you can click on it to stop being subscribed to them or to get off their mailing list.
What you're going through reminds me of when former friends of mine or professionals who helped me suddenly cut off contact and wouldn't speak anymore. I had no choice but to let go. If I carried on trying to talk to them I would just keep being rejected and get hurt even more.
I'm sorry that this has happened to you. Are you able to talk to your GP about how you feel?
Thanks very much for your reply. I wish getting rid of those mementos would help but I thought about it and it'd only make it worse. They mark important things in my life (baptism, confirmation) and it's just so hard and unfortunate that priest features in every single one of them. As for the mailing list, it comes from church law - I'm legally part of their electoral roll which hasn't been renewed this year, and thus their 'cure of souls' so naturally I'm in the mailing list. And staying in it and receiving those emails serves as good evidence for any future investigations into this of the overt discrimination of me versus the support and resources offered to others. I have from my own experience regretted deleting/throwing things out because when I needed some evidence of this 'priest''s continued promises and support of me through texts, and his claim that I was completely not following his constantly changing texting rules (a false claim), I found that I'd deleted them out of such pain and couldn't present them as evidence to the Diocese.
St George's and its church life was one of my 'obsessions' for two years that I now know is part of being autistic, so I'm not sure if this is comparable with your friends cutting off contact. There was a long period in those 2 years where I got involved daily and even outside of this period I was heavily emotionally invested in its community. I even had my recent birthday celebration there, where this priest happily got me 2 cakes, for which I was so grateful, and pictures were taken (which for some reason no-one is sending me) and it was a very joyful event. This was early February. There was absolutely no sign of his wavering of his support.
As for my GP, the practice at my university said that she's too overwhelmed with patients and it's best that I change GPs, otherwise I'll have to wait more than a month. So I had to change my GP too. And I'm not sure what the new GP can do about this other than prescribe me anti-anxiety pills, which are a temporary solution to a permanent problem.
That's why I'm so helpless right now and really have no idea how to cope.
these things are really difficult but part of being autistic. I imagine the minister is scared of being implicated in any suicidal event. so what are your choices
1. start at another church
2. come to terms with being a peripheral church member
3. Find other interests to take you away form Church.
4. I am retired GP and would be happy to talk if you send a message
I'm so sorry to hear you're struggling and that this support's been withdrawn. If you're ever feeling suicidal again, please call someone (e.g. The Samaritans, or 999 if you're in immediate danger) to talk about how you're feeling.
If you're finding it hard being unable to attend church services at the moment, I believe that the BBC are going to be live streaming some church services while people are unable to go in person. There are also radio stations, such as UCB, that provide constant coverage.
In terms of the situation with your current church, perhaps you could do some background research on other churches in your area? You could perhaps contact them and express your wish to join the congregation once the bans on mass gatherings are lifted, and it might mean you can access some of the support they're currently providing (e.g. if they're also calling people to provide support).
I hope you feel better soon and find a way to move forward.
Thanks very much. Because of Covid, option 1 isn't possible at the moment. I just can't cope with option 2 as it makes me feel like an utter outcast and more worthless than others. I'll message you to ask for more advice. Thanks again!
Thanks for your reply. But it illustrates precisely the trap I'm in - I've already set my heart on a new church and was going to start going there because I already know clergy there, until this Covid thing came up and churches closed. I've tried to contact the clergy to join the church remotely but haven't gotten a reply. I know churches are offering support to those known to them only, so it's very hard for me to invite myself into their care. Maybe I'll try contacting that new church itself instead of through the clergy I know and ask if they might take me into their mailing list.
It's such a shame that everything's shutdown when you need it the most. I hope you hear back from the clergy at the new church soon.
Contacting the church itself and asking to be added to the mailing list is a good idea - sounds like a good starting point.
I'm sorry your going through this right now. Firstly a warning as your going through this your vulnerable right now. This is the internet and people arent always who they say they are even if they throw in they used to be a gp one day anaethatist another then tried hiring hit men (see previous posts) be careful. Dont pm anyone just message on here.
We live in a horrible world right now sadly.
Samaritans are still available I think, theymay help during these times, you dont need to only call when your suicidal. I too attend church and i try to remember their all NT so mostly dont understand my way of thinking. It hurts to br rejected but try to see it as they dont understand. It's a communication difficulty alot of the time. Does anyone know if the NAS line is still up and running? They could direct you? Please take care of yourself
Good point duck bread. Theres alot of church related streaming right now. I know theres even organ music streams too
Good advice, thanks! Especially as I'm new here. About the church not understanding - I think that's gone beyond that. I've explained in the meeting with the Diocese my condition and that priest knows very well that this is overt discrimination, as I'm not asking to be treated as a 'special needs' person and cared for more, but merely to be cared for on the same level as everyone else, even the NTs. But yes there is a point in saying he doesn't want to be implicated in another suicide event, though if that's the case he should've made that reason clear instead of telling the Diocese, and the Diocese telling me, this was all 'in my best interests' instead of his. I tried so hard explaining in the meeting that being part of St George's wasn't making me more suicidal but less - I'd be dead by now if I weren't part of it and certainly being cast out of it like this is putting me at a much higher risk of crisis.
I didn't know there was an NAS line. I'll look it up.