Wednesday, October 02, 2013

tight corners, feelings and self-talk


It’s always been a little been hard for me to be truly authentic with people when I feel hurt by them.
Much of this is part of my own story, going back years and years of being taught that I was too sensitive and therefore, my feelings about things were not only “over the top” and “dramatic”, but also not relevant and necessary to have.

So I shut down.

When someone hurts me, I bottle up every emotion experienced and tuck them away into the smallest and tightest corner of my soul. For years, I assumed this was the best way to operate in order to be a functioning citizen of this world.

What this told me, inadvertently, was “don’t bother anyone with who you are… just get out of the way.” This has led to much heartbreak and relationship deficiency. I’m truly sorry to all the people who have chosen to stick it out with me and be a friend. It cannot be easy. Many of the great have tried and fallen in the process.

This has also led me to, throughout my day, talking to myself in strange ways. When a car comes up behind me because they are driving faster than me, my self-talk goes something like this: “I’m driving the speed limit. They can’t be upset at me for going too slow.”

Or when I stop to look at the selection of vegetables in a grocery isle and someone is coming from the opposite direction, I move my cart toward me as far as possible and say to myself, “They can’t be angry with me that I've slowed up their passing through; I moved out of their way.”

I've not written about my self-talk at all here, and it’s partly because I’m still processing and paying attention to how it works in my life. My therapist in seminary gave me the assignment of playing close attention to how I talk to myself, and all I remember was talking in lists of things I had to do. But, then, at that time I had three jobs and was going to school full-time.

But since then I still occasionally work on listening to my self-talk. And what I shared above is by far the most common kind. It sounds so ridiculous to write it out, but it’s never felt ridiculous for me to say it… to me. Because all I've ever understood in this world is that my presence in it is a bother to others and that I should do what I can to justify my existence here.

yeah.  so… there’s that.

All the things in life that hurt me and pain me (and so much of which is the result of my motivational gift of mercy) have, for so long, been feelings I've turned numb toward. I've not dealt with them, and kept them back in that tight corner. And now that I am trying so hard to come out of this, in an effort to be more emotionally and spiritually healthy individual, I find myself “feeling” my emotions in a strange way. (If that makes any kind of sense.) Today, after a few days of some trying and difficult ministry work, I was feeling panic. Not it an overly dramatic in-the-moment kind of way (which rarely happens to me, but does sometimes. I’m pretty even-keeled.) but in a pit of the stomach, “I don’t know what to do with my feelings right now” kind of way. Some wise and thoughtful friends talked it out with me on the phone and I was able to organize my thoughts. I can honestly say that I've never processed my emotions like that before.  Ever. I hope and pray this is a victory for my healing process, because taking my feelings to others is a step toward acknowledging that they matter. After years of being taught they don’t.

Wrecked by the ravages of the Fall. But searching to find hope in Jesus’ redemption of me.

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