Bonfires and Bluejeans

Randoms from my spot next to the fire

Why can’t I be special?

on September 18, 2013
    *disclaimer:  This story is personal.  But it’s mine.  It’s overwhelming, painful, and to a large extent embarrassing and pretty shameful.  I’m sure some will not remember the events the way that I do.  But guess what…it’s my story to tell the way that I remember.  And I will.  I don’t intend to hurt feelings or cause pain…that is the furthest thing I want to do.  But if I do, I apologize.  Please do not judge me, or those who may be involved.  No specific person will be mentioned, nor discussed.  This is just a place for me to discuss events and issues…I just ask that all who read be mature and respectful.  

Have you ever felt as though you were wearing a mask to hide your pain, insecurities, or who you truly were?  For many years, I did.  I wore the mask of smiles and happiness.  I realize that sounds so contradictory, but it is the truth.  Even though others saw me as smiling, happy, and having my life all together, I was crumbling on the inside.  My world was literally falling down around me, yet by the looks of it, I was the picture of pure contentment.  Truth was…I was miserable.

Years of unhappiness due to emotional and mental abuse and control lead to a real internal struggle with who I was…and this wasn’t one of those “needing to find myself” phases.  My problem stemmed from having many of my personality qualities called out as though they were issues needing to be dealt with.  “Why are you so…happy?  You know, you might want to get some help for being so…free spirited.  Don’t they make medication for people like you?”  I seriously began to doubt that God could have loved me enough to give me any good…or at least decent…qualities and traits.  All I was hearing was the bad.  Seriously.  I must have been so absent minded that I couldn’t even show up the day God gave out all the good stuff!  As if…

Hearing how you fail to live up to a particular standard somebody has put out there for you year after year will do a number to your self esteem.  It took everything I had on some days just to get out of bed.  The perceived failures I had committed made me out to be an immature oxygen sucker who shouldn’t waste the time or energy of the real achievers.  Of which I was not one.  It really took a toll on me.  My usual outgoing, positive, and free-spirited personality slowly morphed into a withdrawn, insecure, introvert.  A shell of who I used to be.  A far cry from who I knew God had created me to be.

One thing about mental and emotional abuse is that it doesn’t leave the scars and outward reminders that the abuser intended.  However, it leaves a much longer lasting effect that is seen and felt in any relationship…effects that can be passed down from generations on.  Even through some of the issues I’ve managed to get past in this process, the gradual understanding of who I was created to be, and not what I should have been has been one of the more difficult aspects of my journey.  Knowing you’re marred, or flawed, and it’s something that just can’t be fixed does so much damage to one’s concept of who they are in Christ.  Questions like “if I were created in His image, why am I such a massive failure at so many things I do?  How come I’m continually being asked to change if I was created to be a different way?  Why am I not able to even try my hand at what I want to do…everyone already expects me to fail.  What’s the point?  What’s wrong with me?”  (Don’t answer that one :))  Everyone else had their purpose, their divine reason for being alive, and was using their talents and gifts to make this world a better place.  Me?  I was just struggling to get by so nobody saw who I really was.  God forbid anyone else get close enough to see my flaws.

Through a series of very difficult events and happenings…I found myself away from that abusive relationship.  While many would look at the situation and think that it was awesome to be free from such a negative environment, I found myself spiraling down even further.  I had become so co-dependent on the abusive input into my life, that having none created a drastic void.  The cycle of abuse was very real in my life at that point.  Other behaviors quickly took the place to fill in the void…but the process of self-discovery was already beginning, even if I didn’t recognize it yet.

Rebuilding your sense of self is a drastic, painful and ongoing process.  There is no way to even begin to describe the mental anguish involved with having to change your whole entire thought process…going from all negative input to kinda bad to getting better to somewhat positive to typically good is not a fun process.  I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.  Well…there might be a couple of people.  If you thought about it, you’d say the same thing too.  Right or wrong, it’s the truth.  I would take one step forward and two steps back.  There is no way to even begin to describe how mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted I became.  Looking back, it’s a wonder I didn’t break under the pressure.  God’s hand on my life is so evident during this time, in hindsight.  One passage that has really helped me in particular: 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 “The world is unprincipled.  It’s dog-eat-dog out there!  The world doesn’t fight fair.  But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will.  The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture.  We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.  Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.”  I hate to admit it, but when I really wanted to stoop to other’s immature levels, this verse would REALLY jump out at me!

The long process of building back what was torn down will probably never be completely done.  With the incredible patience of my husband and kids and the grace of my God though, I am starting to see the scars fade.  That’s all I can ask for, really.  I would love to use my experiences to help others caught up in the same difficult situations, so I don’t want to forget about my past experiences altogether.  Having been through such a dark period in my life, I can honestly say it causes me to appreciate the blessings I have in my life so much.  I don’t take for granted for a moment being blessed with a husband who loves me for all I am and what I have to offer.  He appreciates me, and encourages me to remain true to who I was created to be when I fall back into old habits.  He is truly a gift that is so much more than I could ever have imagined or hoped for.

I believe that we all have a choice to make.  Like I told my daughter the other day…nobody escapes life without difficulty.  Illness, pain, loneliness, you name it.  We all have some sort of bag packed with emotions that we carry forward with us.  But…we have to choose to use it to make ourselves better, and stronger.  We will never be done with struggles and trials.  In fact, truth be told, they just get more difficult as we get older and more mature (woo hoo!).  Having a firm foundation on which to base our comeback will not only give us the footing we need when we stumble, because we will, but also help those around us.  And, ultimately, that is what we are to do…learn from our struggles and trials and help others during theirs.

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