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Ambivalence, Disappointment, and Getting Off the Dysfunctional Merry-Go-Round




Hello everyone! This blog has been a few weeks (and probably months) in the making. In order to write about my disappointments and my ambivalence, I had to decide to face them and feel them. To be completely honest, I have been feeling them and facing them up to the penning of this blog on 3/29/2024, Good Friday. A coincidence? I think not. Death has to come before life. These things had to die. I have held them for too long. They had corrupted my thinking for so long cynicism began creeping into my life. I came to believe that I would always be disappointed by people. I had begun to believe that everything or everyone I tried to love would simply die or leave me in some other way. I was afraid and because I was afraid, I wanted more control. I periodically disconnected from people and my feelings. My heart began to harden. This drove me to the same patterns I have written about recently in my past blogs and that I will briefly address here for context. I encourage everyone to go back and read the more in depth blogs when you can – they will not be easy reads just as they were not easy to write. I can tell you facing my disappointments and my ambivalence has been very hard these last few weeks. Tears have flowed many times. This is the first time in my life I have actually been able to articulate exactly what was happening in my head and heart. I want to begin with a little history. If we know what has shaped our disappointments, we can go back and deal with the source.



Where Did This All Start?


My disappointments began as a six year old girl. My dad, of no fault of his own, had a civilian job with the government that kept him away for many years, sometimes 250 out of 365 days a year from the time I was 6 until age 11. My mother did her best to make sure my brother and I knew he would come back but his departure always loomed in our minds. Many times, he'd be home for a weekend, only to be gone for a week, two, or three again. My 6-7 year old brain decided he must not really like us or he'd stay around some more. I can remember pedaling my hot wheels at the age of probably 7 or 8 and thinking to myself, “I wish he'd just stay gone. I can live without him. I've had to for awhile now.” What I did not know at the time was this was disappointment setting into my head and heart about not just my dad but men in general. At the age of 7, I became ambivalent where men (and honestly my dad) were concerned. I decided, or should I say vowed, that “people (particularly men) were going to disappointment me and go away so why bother getting too attached or letting it bother me.” Kids are resilient so they will go on with life with their little hearts broken. I did. I put 7 year old Elizabeth away. Modern psychology would call this an exile. She was not good, something was wrong with her because dad had not been around. This childhood disappointment (exile) and vow set me up (or shall I say laid the foundation) for the patterns that would consume my adult life after college.



Follow the Breadcrumbs


In my teen years, I was mostly ignored by my male peers (or teased) as I was very intelligent and basically would not put up with their foolishness. These wounds further entrenched the disappointment of 7 year old me and I took two more vows, “well if you can't handle me then I'll fix it so you won't have to handle me” and “I have to make people happy for them to like me and stay around” (no matter how much it hurt or was bad for me). Fifteen and 16 year old me were disappointments. They weren't good enough so I exiled them too. Each time you exile a part of yourself, your heart is broken again and so is your soul. I trudged on once again with a broken heart. These vows and exiles would fuel many harmful things in my adult life - over eating, under eating, my persistent weight loss and gain in my adult life, extravagant spending, cutting off all my hair, further distrust of men in general, not caring whether I was attractive, and eventually out of desperation and learned co-dependency, I would marry an abusive man. After yet another disappointment and his death, I vowed “no man will keep his promise or take care of me so I should not expect that from them.” This vow nailed the coffin on my heart shut and further hardened my heart. I was 37 years old and reeling. I was angry and just knew I was unlovable and unwanted - or so I thought.


I simply shut my emotions off where my disappointments were concerned. I did not want to feel them, I had a life time of them and they were too much to bare. To be quite frank, I had serious doubts about marriage and resented that my life had not worked out like I planned. The patterns I have described would continue for 9 more years – all the while I maintained a demeanor of composure and “having it all together” like a “good Christian woman.” I was shall we say, functional and hid the cracks in my armor very well. Yes I went to therapy for grief and abuse. However, I had never dealt with my own story or co-dependency. I had never dealt with years of buried pain and disappointment. I may have fooled others and myself, but I did not fool God.


By 2023, I had major disappointments with the Church as a whole as well – some of them legitimate, others fueled by my personal disappointments. I had what I would call a “Freeze” emotional reaction to betrayal in late March/early April of 2023. I could not speak, think, or feel anything. I simply shut down. I could not even cry. This frightened me and I thank God for healthy fear. I went back to therapy and started finally dealing with my story thanks to a wonderful therapist who knew how to ask the right questions. There's more, keep reading. In November of 2023, after yet another pattern decision had not only caused more pain for me and others (and another absolute shut down of my emotions) but left me questioning everything I had been doing for 6 months, I was invited to group therapy related to co-dependency after my therapist started digging a bit. I would finally deal with my co-dependent tendencies from November/December of 2023 to February/March of 2024. I made a decision to get well and deal with patterns, idols, my deep pain, and the tending of my disappointments and ambivalence. If I'm being honest, these things had affected my adult relationships, my body, how I saw the world, God, and other people for over 25 years. I was 47 years old and it was time to end the insanity!



Getting Off the Dysfunctional Merry-Go-Round (e.g., Your Perpetual Ride With Patterns, Idols, and Pain)


How does one get off the dysfunctional merry-go-round? You start by acknowledging that doing the same things over and over again is absolute insanity. You will die on that merry-go-round, either literally or figuratively or both. I was dying whether I looked like it or not. You surround yourself with good friends who will love you and tell you the truth. I have been blessed to have such friends that I can tell hard things to and they still love me. You take an honest and painful look at your own heart. You take inventory of how your pain has affected other people negatively, and then you try and make those relationships right if you can. You sit with your disappointments and you feel them! You will find that your disappointments have affected you more than you know! This part will suck. You will get angry and you will cry. Some of you need to cry a river because you haven't cried in so long you don't even know what that is or what it means anymore. You have shut yourself off for so long trying to protect yourself from pain that you have inflicted more pain on yourself. I have lived this! No one knows what I have cried, screamed, and whispered to the night except God. Perhaps it's time you cried and screamed out to God with all of your disappointments and pain. He can handle it. You know and I know you've tried everything else because I did. I know not everyone reading this may be a Christian or be interested in Christianity but I can tell you without Jesus, God, a Higher Power, or whatever you want to call him; I would probably be in a hotel room drunk somewhere right now because for one, alcoholism runs in my family as a way to cope (I've had three alcoholics in my family), and two; despite what you may think or see if you know me or don't know me - life has been too much at times these last 10 years. If I didn't have him to take my pain and disappointment to (as well as good friends, therapy, mindfulness, music, and art – all of which he gives us), I would not be writing to you today – of that I can assure you!



What's Next?


Joy - that is what's next for me! Why? Because I not only choose it but I have yielded my pain to the King! I am done tending my disappointment and ambivalence! I am done with toxic vows! I am done nursing my pain, my idols, my patterns, and lying to myself about how good and okay I am when I know damn well I'm neither good nor okay. I am tired of the merry-go-round! I am jumping off! I am tired of the death of the past and I am ready for the life of the future! I am tired of hurting other people because I was hurt. You have to get tired! Are you tired yet? Are you done with the insanity yet? If you are tired of the same old mess, different day, make some different choices. Go to therapy, surround yourself with new, better friends, mend a relationship, change your mind, end a toxic relationship, take care of your body, try meditation/mindfulness, go for a walk, paint something, read something helpful, try Jesus. What do you have to lose other than what you have already lost and/or continue to lose? What do you have to gain? Everything you lost and then some!


So my friends, what's next for you? What do you choose?


Ephesians 3:21;NIV Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.......




With much joy,




Elizabeth


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