Being Honest


This week end ended up for me in a way that has been the most embarrassing  in the time I have been in San Francisco. In fact it is the culmination of my experience in the last year. I feel so ashamed.

Saturday night I got so drunk I took a walk in Marin, and was picked up. I do not remember a thing. When I woke up the next morning a Captain came down and told me “There will be no charges, and all records of you being brought in will be deleted.” Privilege once again saved my ass. Well I do not feel privileged any more. I felt ashamed, embarrassed my friends, and I realized for the first time the work ahead, and what I had been looking at in therapy was really real.

For the first time I really faced the trauma of the past year, and admit I need to squarely meet it in the face. In therapy we have talked about the effect of truma, but I could not bring myself to really recognize the pain and destruction it was causing.   I am putting this on Facebook and social media because I want say I really do not give  a damn any more about what “advice” people give me–for each response that is negative, and that is judgmental, and that assumes one know me is painful, and that I have to listen that “still small voice,” that has always lead me home, and I am putting this on social media frankly to come out with the fact that I am far from perfect, and that all of us are far from perfect, we have warts, and it is accepting each other that we find healing for each other.Until we face that fact we are going to be hurt, and hateful, it is in recognizing each other as fellow travelers on the way that we find healing.

Last June when I accepted the responsibility of being chaplain for a young man on trial for murder my “assumption” was that my friends and others would understand I was just doing my job.

But it brought me back to a time in my first parish, on the first week there,where the “town bully” was shot in broad day light in the middle of the street–and no one saw anything, and no one has ever been brought to justice–I was asked to do his funeral because every other pastor in town refused, and I did the funeral. Afterward I provided pastoral care for his widow and children. For the next year and a half in that town I was shunned, threatened , hated by the towns people. I left there broken.

In the same way through old friends walking away, face book, social media, drop in donations, it began with this decision. I was counseled to let “this person go.” I do not let people go when they are in need of pastoral care, period.  Added to that was that was four deaths, one of which witnessed, and another where  I was there soon after, and holding both in my arms. At night I have night mares of the blood. And than the two surgeries, one of which I am still recovering from.

I have felt like I was drowning for along time,  thinking  of running away,and sometimes even suicide of which I know there is no possibility. So I began smoking pot and drinking heavily, to cover the fear and the pain of being alone. People always comment I know a lot of people and have a lot of friends. I am surrounded by people, people like being around me, but they are not friends, I have few friends, and now they are even less. Life has become very lonely.
This incident has made me hellar lonely, hellar afraid, and as my therapists said the first time “you see what we have been talking about, and you can face it.” He also told me: “It is in these times you know who your friends are, and you also know you have a gift for accepting people as they are.”

And so I get up, and I begin a gain.  I trust in Christ who loves me no matter what. What the future will bring, I do not know. whether it is here, I do not know, but what I know is ministry, and is my call, and I am depressed, afraid, scared as hell, wobbly, but I have to look the devil in the eye and and face the pain, I can not run away from this pain. There are no easy answers, but joy will come in the morning, joy will come in the morning. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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