And so here it comes – the feeling almost too difficult for words to describe…a sinking in the pit of my stomach, a searing burn in my chest, my mouth waters like I’m about to throw up, my vision starts to blur. All the words left unsaid:
You don’t matter to me.
You aren’t worth it.
You aren’t good enough.
I’m not proud of you.
You are just a pawn in my game.
You are worthless.
You are too much. But never quite enough.
You don’t matter.
You don’t deserve the things you think you’ve earned.
I’m ashamed of you and who you are.
I’m mostly frustrated with myself, honestly. I can’t believe I’m still allowing another human being to have so much control over my emotional well being and state of mind. It’s hard though – when someone was your very best friend for the first 13 years of your life. When You saw them every single day, you loved them, you felt loved by them, you shared all your secrets, all your dreams, they stood up for you and gave you advice as you stumbled your way through the far-too-complex struggles that come with elementary and middle school mean girls. Every holiday, every performance, every concert, every award assembly, every violin lesson, every snack time after school, every weekend – arts and crafts, cooking, catching and saving hurt animals, collecting acorns in the yard. What do you do when someone who was your biggest hero takes your heart and throws it against a brick wall, watches it shatter, and then turns and walks away?!
I still have nightmares, dissociative episodes, flashbacks involving moments with you. August 2009, I will NEVER forget the sound of your voice as you snapped at me, “You are an awful sister. Your big sister deserves all the things you’ve just been handed in life. You are so selfish and conceited. It’s disgusting.” I could literally feel your breath on my face and see the anger in your eyes. I know now that you weren’t even truly mad at me that day, you were mad at my parents. But to my 15 year old mind, it felt like the wind had been knocked out of me and I couldn’t make sense of it all. February 2007 – my 13th birthday dinner was the night the switch was flipped. You loved me when we sat down to dinner and then throughout the conversation something happened and at the end of dinner you were a completely different person. Angry, frustrated, mean, judgmental. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Again, I know now that you were angry with my parents – but it felt so personal because you took it out on me. All of the sudden, one of my biggest supporters, one of my life-time heros just…disappeared. No longer attending concerts, celebrating victories, doing arts and crafts, spending time with me. I watched my mom burn your letters in the fireplace as tears ran down her face. I listened to my father’s frustrated whispers as he vocalized how angry he was(is) at the way you’ve treated our family. I had to try to understand why you still supported, loved, and showed up for my sister but suddenly acted as though I wasn’t even alive. It was like mourning the dead – except you were still so very present. I struggled silently through guilt, shame, disgust – always wondering why you stopped loving me, why I was never good enough, what had happened? I tried everything I could to fix it – to make you love me again, to make you proud. I wanted our little family to go back to the way things had been.
But it wouldn’t. It couldn’t. And so the first 13 years of my life felt unreal – like a lie. I had no solid footing to stand on because I didn’t know what was real anymore. Suddenly I was unable to trust any other human beings, I felt as though I had been robbed, lied too, left out in the cold. I watched as all this pain came rippling to the surface – my mother suffered IMMENSELY and so did the rest of our family. I became angry and silent and isolated. I couldn’t fix it. I couldn’t be good enough. I couldn’t make it go away. No matter how hard I tried to be perfect, tried to perform, well, tried to give you something to be proud of me for…nothing worked. So I tried to disappear.
That didn’t work either. And now I’m sitting at the kitchen table in my parents house, tears running down my face because I realize how much of my life you stole from me. I’m still angry. I’m still hurt. But I want you to know that I’m choosing to forgive you. I’m forgiving you so that I can move forward with my life – so that I can build a family and relationships on solid footing – the footing that you had previously stolen from me.
Lynchburg is not my home anymore. I may know my way around these streets, I may still have friends who live here and all of that is fine. But, if I’m being 100% honest, I feel completely sick when I enter this city. It subsides once I’ve adjusted a bit to being here, but I literally can’t stand the associations that I have with this town. I love it for it’s good memories and I am able to acknowledge that it’s a great place to raise a family. However, I drive around, I walk into familiar places, I sit in my own house and I can feel the situations and memories sneaking back in. Sometimes I feel like I’m reliving them.
I feel like someone walked into the little life I thought I was building for myself and trashed it – graffitied the walls, punched holes in the ceiling, scratched up the floors. I feel like I have been robbed of what I thought was true…all the things I knew and believed feel like they were lies. I know that’s dramatic and not 100% reality, but that’s how it FEELS.
I don’t know what to do because I have tried for so so long and I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted with putting on a show, pretending that it doesn’t matter, pretending that I’m fine, that I don’t care about all the time and all the things you’ve stolen from me. I do care. And I hurt, immensely. I’m tired of apologizing for living my own life, for walking away from you and from all the pain you’ve caused. I’m tired of coming back and tip toeing around you for fear of you self-imploding and leaving a mess that, once again, I have to clean up.
So here’s the truth:
YOU were wrong.
YOU hurt me.
YOU made bad choices.
YOU are continuing to choose to not be a part of my life.
I love you but I don’t have to like you. I don’t have to keep coming back to you and allowing you to twist the knife farther and farther into my back. I can walk away. I can do my absolute best to remove the knife and allow the deep, DEEP wound to heal. I can let you know that you’ve hurt me – even though I know you’ll never see it. I can also let you know that, even though it is so excruciatingly difficult, I am choosing to forgive you. I wish you only the best in this life and I pray for you every single day. I want you to be well and to live fully – even if it’s without me. I hope you know how much I love you…all I ever wanted was for you to love me and be proud of me. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that, it’s not that you don’t want too, but for whatever reason you simply aren’t capable of loving me and being proud of me in the ways I feel I need.
I have a tribe of people who love me and who support me in all the ways that I need. I will never quit believing that, despite all this pain, brokenness, and hurt, I am still one of the luckiest girls alive. I am going to lean into the tribe God’s surrounded me with and I am going to do my best to allow them to love me in all the ways I need and in all the ways that feed my soul. I’m making the conscious decision to let love win. God is tearing down the walls of my heart and breaking the chains. It’s time to lay down my weapons and let love win.
God tells us that we are His children. We are His. He loves us, unconditionally. We don’t need to do anything to earn His love. He offers us grace, not because of anything we did or didn’t do – but because He loves us.
We are loved.
We are known.
We are worthy.
He tells me.
He tells us.
We are His – forever and ever. No matter what anyone else says or does…Jesus died on the cross. The victory has already been won.
When the world shouts and screams that we are nothing, useless, worthless – God will declare that we are everything, loved, worthy, and fully known. I’m trying to remind myself that’s all I truly need.
“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.”
― John Green
“Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.”
― Og Mandino