Hidden in Pain is a unique book. It is not just a spiritual or psychological autobiography, it is the story of Jeanne Miller's search for meaning through out her life span. She relentlessly seeks until she finds her truth.
As written in the forward to her book, "Jeanne Miller is a clinical social worker living and working in the East Texas. I am one of the Episcopal priests that she mentions in her book, and so perhaps I know more than some others of her struggle to “overcome adversity and fulfill God’s purpose,” to paraphrase The Book of Common Prayer. To me, Jeanne is a real embodiment of the archetype of the “wounded healer.”
The author was adopted into an upper middle class Texas family soon after the ending of World War II. It was a family that gradually became dysfunctional during the years of her childhood. Early on, Jeanne began to exhibit what have often been termed, unfortunately, as “birth defects,” among which were dyslexia and a serious hip displacement. Her increasing disability and pain seemed to defy the physicians.
This book is not just a narrative about a faith journey into a condition of being physically, emotionally, and spiritually made whole, (which it is, of course). Rather, it is a kind of love letter to the reader, a love letter teaching us about life, itself. It would be unfortunate, therefore, if the reader were to see the intent of this book as only an ordinary commentary on herself, and that she simply learned how to live properly by means of her sufferings. Facing her suffering, stoically, is certainly present in the author’s life story. What comes through so effectively is the redemptive power of her suffering, and how this power is available to everyone.
Jeanne will draw the reader into deep places of his or her own afflictions through the details of the terrible pain of repeated treatments that often seemed to fail. How would you or I respond if we were in her place? She was tempted on many occasions to lose her faith in God. Would you or I cave in and curse the creator? Those questions followed me as I read her manuscript, and its joyful conclusion enabled me to share, as well, in the forgiveness that she had so deeply needed and wished for.
May you, dear reader, find the steps of your own pathway through life made lighter as you enter into what can only be termed a true healing of the human spirit.
From the forward written by The Reverend Gene Baker, MDiv, MSSW.
Our life is impossible without memory. We are not able to function effectively in the present without knowledge of who we have been in the past. The past is the womb of the future and at each moment, the present is born.
The narrative of your life story is the arena in which God, through whatever means deemed necessary, “acts” to recreate you. Your spiritual life cannot deepen fully without an awareness of a personal story as your history. By what truths do you live? By what truths do you understand who you are? Where do you invest your life during this brief time called life? Are you living the life that you want, or are you living someone else’s for them? By what point of reference do you make your decisions? The self stands at the core of being. It is the carrier of what the soul intends.
This calling to peace in the inner self will not make your life easy or free of suffering nor will it win the praises of your friends or community, but it will fill your life with meaning, purpose and a general sense of the rightness of your life’s path. Storytelling has always been at the heart of being human because it serves some of our basic needs. We have the need to pass along our traditions and our heritage. We need to confess our shortcomings and failings. We need to find healing of present or past wounds. We need to be able to bring hope to a suffering world. We need to connect with a larger community. As a listener of another’s story, I may discover that someone else has a problem similar to mine, and as I hear its voices or read about it in another person’s words, I gain new insights into my own dilemma. Sometimes I hear, or read into, the person exploring resolution to his or her problem, and my own inner teacher is awakened. At the very least, knowing that someone else has a problem similar to mine, gives me a sense of not being crazy and alone.
Because our stories make us vulnerable to having others want to fix us, or possibly, to be exploited by others, or maybe dismissed or ignored as trivial, we have learned to tell guardedly or not at all. Instead of telling our story, we talk about our opinions, ideas, and beliefs rather than about our lives. We discount our struggles as thought they are weaknesses to hide. I am convinced that neighbors, co-workers and even family members can live side by side for years, maybe even a lifetime, without learning much about each other’s lives. As a result, I believe that we lose something of great value. For in truly seeing another person, we are able to understand their situation, and we are able to have a fuller understanding of ourselves. My book has been about my life as an on going process through the painful valleys and back out to the plains. There had to be a death before there could be a birth. There had to be a birth before there was a death. There was order out of chaos. The chaos was actually necessary so that order could be formed. Nothing is considered hidden until it is known. I have become transformed, as I have risked looking at the situation and working through it until I embraced the rewards.
Depending on the developmental stage that I was in, there was available to me levels of understanding that enabled me to grow. I had the opportunity to revisit some of the unfinished business at different developmental stages so that wholeness could be more complete. My life story is always a work of art in motion. As I progress along life’s journey, I continue to see miracles that open my eyes to the wonder of who I am.
"Seeing and accepting the truth that is found through self-awareness has the potential to set us free to live unchained to others or our past. Free to embrace the person that we were designed to be. For me, the influences of early childhood overflowed into adulthood. I emotionally hid from that little girl and symbolically hid her in the closet, up in the attic or in the top of a tree. I neglected her by trying to run away from all the hurts. I ran because I felt I had no human contact to help me along the way. God the Father became the friend who sustained that lonely little girl and raised her into womanhood where she could rediscover the child’s pain. I was so focused on surviving all the different challenges that I lost sight of my talents and innate potential. They remained hidden from me until the challenges were resolved, at which time I awoke to discover the Jeanne that had always been there. Healing of my childhood and the effects those wounds had in adulthood, allowed me to be at one with myself. The warring inside has ended. The running has ceased. The hiding has turned into openness. These changes allow me to risk using the talents that I was born with and to celebrate the life that I was given".
Professional Reviews Carol Sheffield Greene, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, Spiritual Director and Co-Director, Center for Christian Healing of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, Texas
“The mystery of transformation insists that we honor the depths as well as the heights of experience. The painful process of healing contains the paradox that we must first accept the wounds from our past and for a time even allow ourselves to become immersed in them in order ultimately to become free of them. Hidden in Pain is about transformation and healing, both for the author as well as for the reader.
Jeanne’s story offers each of us an encounter with the magic of relatedness, thus fulfilling in part her vision of the web of connection that exists through all of creation. Disconnection, isolation and alienation cannot stand as we engage with her story. My personal story is expanded and deepened as Jeanne’s experience becomes a part of my own journey.
Hidden in Pain touches us at the deepest level – at the level of the journey into Christ, a journey that includes suffering. Each of us must submit to the cross in following Him. Jeanne’s story demonstrates that we are not alone. Our Lord is with us and reaches to us in our waking reality as well as through our dreams. Thank you, Jeanne, for sharing the dark as well as the light in your journey. As the meaning of your name implies, God’s grace truly is with you and manifests to others through you.”
Mary Ann Reed, PhD, LMFT
“In writing Hidden in Pain, Jeanne Miller captures and models for us that universal process of healing that moves us out of victim-hood through forgiveness and growth into the full life God intends for each of us. With honesty and personal accountability she traces her movement from “Why me?” to “What was I to learn from this?” to “God, what are you and I going to co-create?” Listen to her life; it is a clear testament to the holistic workings of body, mind and spirit.”
Deborah Cover, MS, LMHC, and Spiritual Director:
“I found it hard to sum up Jeanne’s book in just a few words or sentences. They hardly seem to do it justice. I think about all she went through in her extraordinary inner life of visions, path finding, illumination, and pushing through the pain, and I know the incredible fact that she was still able to carry on an active outer life of service to others at the same time! Amazing! Burdened with disabilities, abuse, and addiction, by all rights Ms. Miller should have been swept away in loss, grief, and pain. Instead, she passionately chronicles how the human spirit is transformed through a stormy love relationship with God, courageously recounting her journey as a testimony to hope for all who suffer.”
AuthorsDen Review by Jacqueline Aguilera
An unexamined life is a barren wasteland. There is much to be discovered when one risks looking within… (p. 183)
Jeanne G. Miller’s Hidden in Pain chronicles a personal journey with an invitation to step into the future by truthfully, and painfully, examining the past. Much more than a collection of memories, the book is a servant’s offering, giving the reader an opportunity to explore the depth of what it means to walk by faith not by sight.
From the day she protected her sister and herself from a raging bull, Miller became a leader and herald, but while initially she understood this appointment to be the hero, as she refers to herself, life’s challenges told her otherwise, or so she thought.
A chain of physical, psychological and spiritual hurdles would influence her entire life. At first she sees these events as hindrances but later discovers them to be keys to finding the meaning and ministry she was always intended to lead and bravely herald to all who would hear and read.
From birth, Miller is challenged. The primary relationship in any human being’s life is severed as she is given away by her birth mother. This sets up a series of perceived rejections and disappointments that the author personalized. She became defined by all that made her life seem less than desirable.
While she notes that her mother made sure she understood that being adopted meant she was chosen, chosen for what remains the long term question as she continues to face soul wrenching challenges. Rejection from birth seems like a lifelong burden in and of itself, but this is only the beginning of her journey. At four years old, she has an accident requiring a traumatic plastic surgery procedure.
Illness alone is a trial to endure. Jeanne makes this quite clear. Yet, she takes the extra step in telling her story. She takes us by the hand, like she would have liked so many others to have done, and walks us through the before, during and after of what it means to suffer with pain and illness. All the difficulties of begin judged, humiliated, taken advantage of, being misunderstood, and the frustration that comes with illness is explored in such honest detail that part of the hidden pain is what can only be found by reading what is “hidden” between the covers of Miller’s book.
Nothing is held back. Jeanne candidly shares all the Job-like events of her life that like a doomed house of cards fall one by one until, like the pile of cards, she is left in shambles. From Dyslexia, rape, alcoholism, divorce, losing her mother, struggles with her sister, emotional traumas at the hands of those who are suppose to be allies and guardians, the betrayal of her own body against itself, Miller gives us the spiritual dilemma that everyone faces at one time or another in their lifetime. To hang on to faith when it seems that no one is there, not even God, is the real question and answer, according to Miller.
Miller writes with humble wisdom, sharing her story in enough detail that helps her readers begin to feel on levels that perhaps they had not considered before. The pain we all disguise in casual smiles and the costumes we wear to hide the broken pieces within are spread before the reader in words that inspire hope and healing. The physical, spiritual and emotional hurdles are unfolded and revealed as steps rather than stumbling blocks, and by the end, readers find that this is only the beginning, not only for Miller but for themselves, if they not only read the message but take up the challenge she presents as well at the end of the book.
If you are ready to openly explore another’s life, to be open to the possibility that hidden within pain is the potential for healing, then Jeanne Miller’s Hidden in Pain is ready for you. Take the literary hand she has extended to you, and begin your first steps towards a new way of looking at, and living, your life.
Reviews for "Hidden In Pain: a life story of personal transformation"
Your book sounds very interesting, and I made sure to put it on my library list. I've got someone I need to give it too, also. Maybe your inspiration to write it is for that reason, along with the healing that it must have given you.
This book sounds like a very inspirational one. I can easily relate to the author. I have also experienced things that left me emotionally shattered and broken; but, God took the broken pieces and made somthing special out of it.
A very direct and honest story involving adoption, dyslexia, abuse, which moves progressively through an often painful landscape to deeper cleansing experiences. Miller has taken up the professional mantle, and goes where few professionals dare to tread.