Wednesday, December 23, 2015

no longer and not yet


The last six months have been about the space between the “no longer” and the “not yet” for me. Have I honored that space? Not hardly. I screwed a lot of things up. Perhaps I handled it as best as I could have expected to handle it, without ignoring what I was going through completely. I could have compartmentalized it, moved on without grieving and just pulled myself up by my boot straps and plowed forward.

But I didn’t.

I think I fell somewhere in between honoring it and ignoring it. I was very aware of the place, and I tried on some level to grieve. The hard part for me was that life still had to go on, and things still happened around me. And I was not in any kind of emotional place to deal with them well. I sought counseling from a few places and people. I tried to be aware of my emotions and my pain without trying to give them more attention then they needed. The last thing I wanted was to become a martyr. The counseling helped… but time ultimately was the most effective thing in helping me through the grief.

There were a lot of layers to my emotions and what I went through. And as life continued to happen around me, more layers were added. I didn’t deal with things as myself, because I simply wasn’t myself. I was a new version of myself, almost a hollow version of who I had become, beaten down by so many things that caused me pain.

One day in the car, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by everything I had to deal with and I remember having this image of me sitting on a chair in the middle of a tornado.  I felt like everything was happening around me, and everything was happening to me. I was not in control of a single thing – things were just happening to me. It was all I could do to merely react to this tornado, rather than act with any kind of intentionality.

And that’s what it was like. For months, all I did was react. There was an overwhelming amount of change in my life – and only about two things in my life were stable. When your life is in an uproar like this, acting doesn’t feel possible. For me, reacting was all I was emotionally capable of. As things ended: a job, a home, a friendship… as those thing become the “no longer” in my life, I am still looking ahead to what is “not yet,” hoping it will be better than what no longer is. Because honestly, going through all of that was really awful. It was a lot of loss that I had to go through alone.

I am moving on to another season in my life. I am looking forward to this one, and may I be ever mindful of the space between where I just was and what is to come.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

the "INFJ Door Slam"












One thing that INFJs tend to do is read a lot about their personality type. Because we are rare, that also means we are difficult to figure out. So reading to try and understand ourselves simply goes with the territory.  Today I was reading about the “INFJ Door Slam”. Here is part of what I read:

There’s this thing called the “INFJ Door Slam.”  People talk about it.  Other personality types trash it, but few people try to explain it in simple terms.  It’s different for everyone, no doubt, but in simple terms…
The INFJ door slam is what happens when we are burned out by unresolved emotions, so we resolve the issue by deciding that the relationship is over.
INFJs are deeply emotional creatures.  We don’t feel as much as it looks like we do (that’s mirroring, which is a whole other topic), but when we feel…we feel deeply and fully.  That means that we burn out.  If we are emotionally toyed with, abused, or overloaded, and there is no end to the emotional assault in sight, we have to do something.  Unlike some other types, we cannot simply live with or ignore that emotional onslaught.  We crave resolution.  If we cannot get it - whether it is denied or the situation is just ignored - we resolve it ourselves.  Frequently, we resolve it by ending the emotional ties that overloaded us in the first place.  The INFJ door slam is not some abusive act of anger.  It is not an act of revenge.  It is an act of self-preservation, and once those emotional ties are severed, it is almost impossible to re-attach them.  If your INFJ is angry or crying, things can be repaired.  If they’re coolly friendly and ambivalent…you may have a door slam problem. 

I’m not one to burn bridges. I find that idea lacking grace – and I don’t see that in the gospel. So the attitude of this door slam, almost a “you are dead to me” mentality is part of my personality type I don’t particularly identify with. Most of this is because I find it difficult to connect with people, so when I do connect I don’t want to let that go easily. I have a small amount of friends I am close with, not a large amount of friends I share everything with. I invest in that small number of people, and to slam the door to them after investing all that emotional energy seems like a terrible thing to do, to them and to myself.

However, if you read between the lines of this short description, you will see that the door slam is about resolution. I really zeroed in on this today, because when there is something in my life that is open-ended, it feels like torture (for a first world basic white girl, anyway). There have been times in my life where there is no resolution and it actually feels like tiny bugs are crawling under my skin when I think about it: this lack of knowing – this lack of understanding. It’s emotionally painful for me when something isn’t resolved, and especially when I can do nothing to resolve it myself.

So in a way, forcing a resolution is like a door slam for me. I did this a few months ago, hoping for very different results than I got. It wasn’t intended to be a door slam – it was actually an act of reaching out, meant to reassure but also to elicit a reaction when nothing I’d done up to then had garnered one. This type of reaching out was extreme for me, but I was desperate. The tiny little bugs of an unresolved friendship were crawling and crawling and one night I just couldn’t take it anymore. The other person held all the control and I was frustrated that I was being held in limbo, when the last words said to me were, “I just need some time to figure this out.”

I was in a holding pattern for a long time, and I honored that request for time for months. And then my INFJ door slam came in the form of a forced resolution, which resulted in a lot of misunderstanding. But when a person refuses to communicate and I, the over-communicator, is communicating too much, I felt I had one last choice. So I resorted to it.

I regret it, because it hurt the other person, and they are refusing to allow me to make it right. But on the other hand, I was so relieved when it was all over. I finally had an answer I’d been waiting for months to get… and a 1,000 pound weight lifted from my shoulders. 

I still don’t believe in burning bridges. I believe in grace, and I am still learning what it looks like to extend it the same way Jesus does to me every day. But I’ve learned the unfairness of making someone live in limbo, and so in a way, the door slam is still about grace. For myself.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

i was wrong [portrait of an apology]

It’s hard to be remembered for something you did wrong. I’m sure a lot of people in the public eye feel this way… presidents, artists, CEOs. When you’ve filled your life with a lot of rights (and a lot of wrongs) it’s hard to think that you’ll always be remembered for the wrong… And not the rights.

_________
I was wrong. I am sorry. (I’ll be honest, I just can’t say the third part of this statement right now.)  I could say a lot of things to try to explain myself and defend myself, but what would the point of that be? It matters not what my intent was, what the misunderstanding was, what the miscommunication was. What matters is that I undid a heart. That’s never ok.

I will never get the chance to make this right. That bothered me at first, but it’s settled (if somewhat uneasily) in my mind now. Because that is a measure of control you wish to have over the situation. I completely understand that. I wish it didn’t mean you remembering me for the wrong I did. But I can’t do anything about that. I can only pray that the hurt I caused will fade in your heart someday.

I wish I could say that I never meant to hurt you. But I think maybe I did. I was hurt, and trying to be kind and gracious didn’t work for a very long time. So I tried another tactic. It got a response, just not the one I wanted. What was meant to reassure ended up in despair. I can never take that back.

There is a lot I’m still confused by. But none of that matters, because I am not confused about how I made you feel. I will never forgive myself for that.

They say that when a person goes through a trauma the way they behave is significantly altered. I wish I could just blame the trauma, but the fact remains is that my choices are still my choices. While I used to be an Elinor, I suddenly became a Marianne. What I did made you never want me in your life ever again. While that has not been hard to accept - it felt like it was a long time coming - it has been heartbreaking to know that reconciliation is the heart of the gospel, yet I will never be able to reconcile with you or redeem what I did.

 _________

It’s hard being remembered for what you did wrong. It’s also hard to live a life without grace. I pray for grace to penetrate our hearts…  For us to learn how to offer it to ourselves, more than anything. We have never been very good at that, have we? But grace stands at the heart of the gospel. So I pray for grace.