There is so much that I want to say. There is so much bubbling up inside of me. I just don’t know where to begin. I’m afraid that once I open the flood gates, they will be impossible to shut. I am scared that I will find myself trapped beneath a whirlpool of swirling emotions which I won’t possibly be able to manage. To drown under such a load which, to others, may seem like nothing would be shameful. But what is shame? Is it different to everyone? Is it based on our morals, or experiences, our history? Is shame learned? Or is it something that we’re born with in our gut?
I believe that shame is learned. I believe that guilt is in our gut, but shame is learned from the way we are treated and how we are raised. I am filled with immense, crushing shame some days…over things I can’t even identify. But that is a coping mechanism – the drown out the noise, sit still and look pretty, with my mouth taped shut, type of coping which ultimately does more harm than good. I am tired of living my life in such a way that I am too scared to speak. I am tired of letting silences define me and of letting gaping holes grow between me and what I love and value. I am tired of going through the motions of doing things I think I’m supposed to do, not because I want too, but because I think I have too. Who is running my life? Because it sure as hell hasn’t felt like it’s been me, lately.
Rachi met three dogs on her walk today. As I watched her interact with these sweet pups and I made small talk with their owners, I realized upon my return home that I now know three dogs names and I never did ask the person what their name is. And so, I realized I missed the opportunity to form a bond with three humans who are immensely different from myself – carrying different loads on their shoulders and working their way through different problems. There is no such thing as an easy life – for anyone. As I walked through the neighborhood next to my apartment, I was noticing people in their windows (it was dark and so wherever there were lights on inside, I could see people). One man was bent over his sink with his head in his hands. One woman sat at a piano. A family sat around a table. A young girl and her mom sat together on a porch swing. I realized how little I know about the lives around me.
This got me thinking – I could tell you right off hand of my three closest friends. It would definitely surprise you….two live in Virginia, not where I grew up – but other parts. One lives in Indiana. I have a friend who spent all summer traveling Europe, a friend who just received great news about a job in Chicago. I also have sadder stories – a girl I attended high school with, just a year older than me, passed of cancer 2 weeks ago….multiple friends in Denver’s ACUTE center, fighting for their lives. I have a friend who lives with regret over the occupation she pursued. I know a lady with a broken arm and an even more broken heart. And still…I have friends who have just gotten married, friends who have had babies, friends who are trying to work their way up the ladder at work, friends who are simply trying to live paycheck to paycheck and not quite making it at the end of each month. I have friends whoa re falling into love and friends who are falling out of love. But the point is this: we know so little about the people around us…yet somehow we allow the ones “closest” to us to define and shape how we live our lives.
How have I let so many chances to love people pass me by while being so consumed with the people who refuse to love me for who and what I am?
I give so much of myself to other people – but I’m not giving those pieces of myself to the RIGHT people. Who am I living my life for? When you lose so much of what you want in order to please others you eventually lose who you are. I want to live in a way that I can reflect on and be proud of – not a way that leaves me wondering where on earth I went wrong.
This all comes to the forefront because as I was on the way home from an appointment today, a song came on in the car that I used as a high school graduation video. When I look back at my high school self, I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. I was doing so many things people I felt like people expected me to do them. I didn’t know how to say no and I didn’t think that I was allowed to say no. I had no sense of identity and I felt so lost and alone because I was constantly trying to please everyone around me – and everyone around me wanted different things. I was a fish out of water – flailing helplessly and gasping for air.
So, how does this all fit together? The truth is that I’m not really sure. I have so much to say and I’m so quick to just push it out there into the open that I don’t really know if any of it makes sense or not. I do know that I don’t want to be the same girl I was in high school. I don’t want to be the same girl I was even a year ago. I want to give up on people pleasing and I want to forgive myself for the years I wasted trying to force people to love me. The truth, and I hate admitting this, is that I am still angry – even after all these years and the thousands of dollars spent on therapy – and I am full of shame still over the way my family fell apart. I am ashamed that I could never fix it, even though I know that logically, that wasn’t my place. What I am most ashamed of though, and most angry about is how I let it consume me, taint my view of future relationships, mold my heart, and separate me from the love of Christ.
As I look at the semester ahead, I feel very overwhelmed (excited, but overwhelmed) by the amount of work ahead of me. I’m anticipating all the school work that I know will undoubedtly pile up very quickly, but I am also anticipating all the emotional and spiritual growth that I know God has planned for me.
See, through my healing process (and yes, even though I scream, cry, and angrily bang out posts like this on my keyboard, I am still making progress where healing is concerned) I have come to know and believe that God loves us just as we are – but God also loves us FAR too much to leave us as we are. And so I am zealously and anxiously anticipating great change and growth in the coming months and that is both terrifying and exciting. I know that God has placed me here with a purpose. God gave me all these passions that I have no idea what to do with, He gave me life, He gave me light, and most importantly – God gave me the capability and endurance to strive for healing and to learn how to love all over again.
I have been hurt in the past, but the past doesn’t have to predict the future and I know that God will teach me how to love people around me like they need to be loved. I know that He will also teach me how to allow people around me to love me like I truly desire to be loved.
So, here’s to great hurt and even greater healing – because the master creator made us all and He will make us whole again through love.
“Eventually, the burning not only revealed new light, but turned over new soil, and, with new seeds, it brought love and renewal.”
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”
― Leo Tolstoy