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Hello everyone! I know this is not the blog you were expecting. I will finish my series on men and women in the coming weeks. I need to convey some different thoughts this week – thoughts, fears, and pain that have been buried a long time. To be completely transparent, the last few weeks have been very hard for me. I am thankful for a wonderful support system and a God that never fails us – without those two things I'd be lost and I believe in a very dark place right now.
The reality is I've been soul-wounded for a long time – wounded emotionally and infected with the fear and shame that came with that soul wound. The last few weeks the reality and pain of this wound found its way to the surface (they always do) and the time has come to deal with pain I have not wanted to look at much less say “this exists” out loud. I've been “walking wounded” pretending the pain and infection would just go away if I ignored them long enough and fake smiled my way through life. News flash – they don't. Eventually, you have to face your wounds. They come calling to you whether you like it or not. They show up at really inconvenient times and in ways you can't ignore them anymore. They can be triggered by the things or situations that hurt you the first time or by seemingly insignificant things that don't seem related. The next things you know, you can't speak or express any feelings because you no longer have any capacity to do so. You just shut down and you stop coping - in other words you freeze. This was me about three weeks ago. I have missed work because I had no capacity to deal with it. I have sat in my office at work crying uncontrollably both to caring co-workers and friends. I've sat alone crying uncontrollably both at work and at home because I could no longer ignore my pain, my fear, and my shame. They boiled over in my tears. Their reality came with a vengeance. Their reality came with depression and the want to run away from my life (and a high level of anxiety I have carried for a long, long time). All of this is true despite my not wanting it to be true. Bare with me – I have more to tell you and yes, there is a light on the other side.
I know I have not written something so raw in a long time. I debated writing about this as I'm still working through some of it (and letting go), yet I can't shake the feeling that this is for someone else too. Someone has a wound they must face. Someone has fear and shame eating them from the inside out. Someone else must let go!
Betrayal. Abandonment. The lie that “no one fights for you.” Soul wounds – my soul wounds. All of them wrapped together in an ugly package. You would think (and this is what amazes me about the human condition), that after writing my book and almost 10 years, I would have dealt with all of the mess from my last marriage and other lies I'd believed in my life even before that time. The truth is we are multi-faceted, complicated human beings. We can hide a lot of our feelings. We compartmentalize our lives – I compartmentalized these wounds away. I know this because I have not addressed them in any other writing until now. We can live with a lot that isn't good for us. We do this is an attempt to manage our lives and call it “good” but God doesn't call it good. He calls it pain and heartache. As of this experience, I call it a “ticking time bomb.” This “bomb” will go off and it will go off when you least expect it to and where you least expect it to I can assure you. Mine went off one Thursday afternoon at work. I could not think or even speak. I closed my door, called a trusted friend and could barely talk at all. I had experienced a betrayal of confidence in my personal life and the “bomb” exploded. My old betrayal wound was before me and there was nothing I could do about it. Some would say this is an “emotional letdown” as result of the pandemic - that I had unresolved emotions pertaining to the pandemic. I believe the pandemic kept me busy for two years, busy enough to ignore my infected soul wound that had been growing for some time. Busyness will do that – keep you distracted and in the process keep you chained to your wounds and the lies that go with them.
I would have to say at this point that the person who betrayed my confidence did me a huge favor, even though that was still painful. Their actions caused a situation that made me stop long enough to look at what was happening in my heart – examine the why of what seemed to be an intense, over-reaction to a betrayal of confidence. I say this because I have never been so upset I could not talk or even express my feelings – not even after Jeff died and his betrayal was far worse than just confidence.
The next day, I had another emotional meltdown and thank God for patient, caring co-workers who will tell you the truth is all I have to say. I decided that night it was time to start praying and just get really honest with myself and God. I could not go on like this. I needed help. I had been depressed and depression only gets worse if left to its own devices. I have not cried like I cried that night in a long time. I started writing down and telling God every feeling I'd ever had about my late husband's betrayal, abandonment, and feeling I wasn't worth fighting for (and basically unloved). Tears, prayers, and simple acknowledgment of our feelings are so healing. So is writing – it puts the things of this life in a form you can understand and relate to for you, and writing makes it real to you. Now please don't misunderstand me. I didn't magically and suddenly get over everything (that's not how this works). I am currently in counseling and there are still some things I want to talk out with someone who is removed from the situation. What I am simply saying is this, acknowledgment is key to starting the process of healing. Being honest with yourself is step 1A. Running to the One who can heal you instead of from the One who can heal you is step 1B. Clarity comes and boy does it come! Stay with me!
This Wound is not My Fault: The Role of Fear and Shame
Enter fear and shame. One of the biggest lies I believed for a very long time is that my late husband's betrayal, abandonment, and his lack of fighting or me where my fault. I did something to him to deserve it. I was being punished. When I took on a fault that was not mine to have, fear and shame made their debut. Fear and shame are always tied to lies! I have been ashamed of who I am as a result until this writing (and within the last week or so) – yes friends and family I've been a good actor for too long. I'm tired of acting and I won't do it anymore. I have hidden behind fat and weight loss and gain over the years because I was ashamed of and hated myself. This was my way of punishing myself because after all, I deserved it. Yes you read that correctly, I hated myself and punished myself. This self-hatred has been tied to many a bad decision at times. This self-hatred (and self-punishment) has fueled addictions of various kinds, most of all food. Shame also led me to believe I did not deserve a good man – because after all, it was my fault the first time it didn't work out. Shame had set me up to miss a good man because after all, I didn't deserve one! Shame is a liar!
The fear has been worse! I have been terrified of another serious relationship – absolutely terrified. I have been terrified since my husband died – terrified of constantly fighting again with someone that I love, terrified of psychological warfare (until you've lived with that you have no idea), and terrified of cruelty. I have been terrified because, as I believed this was all my fault and I deserved it – I believed all men would be just like him. They could not be trusted (you have no idea how much this explains a lot of the trust issues I have been working through over the years since his death). I would run scenarios through my head about how a future relationship might go when I would hear things from others. Those scenarios weren't even based in reality but fear makes the imaginative seem so real. Fear would always have me believe men were the enemy or they would inevitably be, in the end. I have come to realize that fear really is False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR). Ladies and gents, if you are specifically struggling with fear in this area – men and women aren't your enemy – fear is your enemy. Fear is a liar!
The Light of Perfect Love
Fear and shame are not friends. Friends don't make you hate yourself or others. They don't sow distrust. They don't lie to you. I have to let them both go! I have to give them to the only One who could handle them and did so on the Cross (Hebrews 12:2). I know that sounds too simple - “just give it to Jesus.” Faith tends to be simple. If I want to live the best life God has for me, I can't do it with fear and shame wrapped around my ankles like deadweight. I can't live the best life He has for me with wounds and emotions I haven't acknowledged nor let Him heal. Ladies and gentlemen, it won't work without Jesus. He can handle my fear, my shame, and my wounds – I can't. He can handle our fear, our shame, and our wounds – we can't. He has already paid the price! His perfect love casts out fear and shame (1 John 4:8, Romans 8:1, Isaiah 54:4, Zephaniah 3:19, Hebrews 12:2)! His perfect love heals our wounds (Isaiah 53:5)! I choose to walk in the light of His perfect love. I choose to take responsibility for my own healing in these areas and not live in the victim-hood of what someone else did or didn't do to or for me. I choose to let go and let God – for real, not just as a cute cliché. I choose life!
What are you waiting for? Let go!
Loving and letting go,