Today is one of those days that are really out of sorts. It could be triggered by any number of things. Two of the culprits may be the dreams I had the last 2 days. The third one be a conversation I had with a friend last night...and there could be more that I'm not aware of...
Yesterday morning my dream was schoolwork related. From what I can remember it started with me helping a mom who lost connection with her young school age daughter as I worked as a maid for her. Part ways through the dream the tables flipped and I was supposed to do the girl's homework and the tone of the mom chilled me to the bone as I was told in no uncertain tones that I had to finish it before a certain time. First off it wasn't my schoolwork so I was puzzled but whenever I tried to speak up the mom wouldn't listen to me. I ended up taking the books and papers upstairs to try to work on it though I knew nothing about it. I flitted from one thing to the next around the room and could never settle down to work on it. Then I woke up as the time drew to a close that I was supposed to be done.
In my dream it just seemed so wrong to be made to do someone else's work. The tone of the "mom" chilled me to the bone. I don't know who the mom was but it didn't quite seem like my own mom.
After I was awake and puzzling over it I'm guessing I triggered the dream because lately I was thinking that it would be nice to get back to working on my 2 "by mail" courses, the one of which I've been working on for the last 6-7 years. Also I was reminded of when I was a child and I couldn't do my schoolwork because of all the trauma and abuse I was trying to survive and nobody took time to try to understand what was wrong. Instead I was punished by having to go without food and staying up late. I do like books and studying but for some reason I have kept hitting a wall everytime I try to tackle any kind of book work, including my budgeting. It is a horrible thing to deal with as it is as though my brain goes off line and no matter how hard I try I just can't seem to make any progress. As I was thinking about the younger me sitting at the table supposed to be doing my unfinished lessons of the day and feeling unable to concentrate and being punished so many times for "daydreaming" in various and sometimes shame-inducing ways, it is no wonder I couldn't focus. First, I was in freeze mode from all the abuse and trauma which makes the thinking brain go offline. Second, nobody had time to listen or try to understand. Third, there were no kind words of encouragement or empowerment, but rather critical and harsh with punishment always looming not far away. Looking back even now, I remember my mom's tone of voice and it makes me cringe and I totally understand now why I couldn't do my schoolwork.
My dream this morning was different. The best I can describe it is that I was living in mansion like group home and then towards the end my now-married cousin was still single and was going on a trip somewhere from the group home. The main thing I remember is the feeling of being lost and wandering from room to room not knowing where I belong or what I'm expected to do. It could have been 2 things that triggered such a weird dream. One is that I've been in several group homes and there is one that comes to mind where I felt lost and I didn't know where I belong. I just tried to meet all the requirements. The other thing that may have triggered it is that a friend is going on a quick trip this weekend and I'm honestly worried for her because it is definitely not something I feel comfortable doing myself alone....
So with these 2 dreams in the background and the fact that I mentioned to someone in conversation last night how I wish I had more friends to do things with but I'm not brave enough to venture out to nearby events by myself, my day didn't start out well. Sometimes I just get so furious and frustrated with myself that I'm not brave or content enough to just go do things by myself, or reach out and be friendly to others, or even just the fact that I have a hard time looking people in the eye because of shame for who I am and that if people really knew everything I've been through they might not want to be my friends either.
This morning was one of those mornings. Of feeling so angry and frustrated with myself. Of feeling ashamed of myself that I find it so hard to talk to people in public or in groups. Of feeling so frustrated that I have no courage or bravery to step out and go to events by myself. Of feeling frustrated by all the fears that stem from past experiences. I just wish they would disappear. Go away. Leave me alone. So I can do the things I want to do...
I was so frustrated. In those moments it is hard to think. All I can see is how lonely I am and how much I want to connect with people. And I despairingly wonder if I will feel so lonely for the rest of my life. In those moments I am ready and sometimes do kick myself and beat myself up for being such a fraidy-cat...
Then for whatever reason, in the midst of all these strong feelings I had this thought: what would it look like if I was to give myself grace and space and not be so hard on myself? I mean, there's SO many reasons why I am finding it so hard to have the courage to try to make new friends...so I thought perhaps I could remind myself what some of those are, so if you are interested, you are welcome to listen in too:
Do you remember how when at 18 you first opened up to a girl in the youth group who was about 6 or 7 years older than you only to have her tell you after a while that she can't handle it? That she can't listen to the things burdening you anymore?
Do you remember how your Mennonite friends treated you when you tried to listen to what God showed you as you studied His Word and you had to choose between pleasing your parents or following Him? Do you remember the painful consequences of that decision? All the friends who dropped you out of their lives as though you had never been in their lives to begin with? Remember the horribly nasty letter that your once best friend sent you to condemn you and to tell you how wrong you were, never once asking to hear your side of the story? Remember how some of your friends, that you thought were your friends, told you to shut up because they didn't want to hear about your new-found freedom in Christ? Remember how you got dropped out of circle letters and how in the creative circle letter you started, for people to share their projects and creativity in, how most of them turned on you and tried to tell you how wrong you are for leaving the Mennonite culture? How they fear for your salvation? How when a person starts making changes and calling it freedom they will eventually come to a place where they wish they could return? Do you remember how not one of them asked to hear your side of the story? How not one of them was open minded enough to hear you?
Do you remember the employer and his wife who was so nice to you and gave you a listening ear and love like your parents never did only to turn on you in the end and scold you for three hours in the office that was technically no longer theirs because they had sold the business to another person? Do you remember all the confusion and turmoil their relationship caused you? Do you remember how they told you that you aren't a Christian because you didn't smile enough? And because you were spending your breaks alone ,crying, trying to deal with all the feelings of grief and confusion caused by the way they treated you, and feeling so alone because your church was 3 hours away and with them leaving the area you felt like you had no one?
Remember the church you were going to three hours away every weekend you possibly could only to eventually realize that they were not your true friends because you didn't know if they talked behind your back like they did for others? Do you remember how it felt like you could never meet the expected standards and how you gave and gave to the church until you didn't even have enough money to get enough gas to get home? Do you remember the many hours and miles you drove just to try to find a place to belong only to realize that none of them where truly your friend but that they only seemed to care about having a great time at church and to criticize those who couldn't meet all the requirements? Do you remember how your pastor's wife told you that she would about fall down and die if she saw you with earrings and pants on in public? Do you remember how spiritually starving you were in that place because it seemed the most important thing was to have emotionally high services but no doctrinally sound preaching? Do you remember how nobody checked up on you after you stopped showing up at church?
Do you remember the next church you tried and how some of the ladies so warmly welcomed you only to drop you out of their life when you told them that they didn't understand what you're going through when they tried to tell you that a little more prayer and worship would fix you? Do you remember the pastor who refused to listen to your concerns and tried to manipulate you into a face to face meeting when you had specifically told him you can't because it's too similar to another abusive situation? Do you remember the lady who you had done so much with indirectly told you that you aren't spiritual like she is and that unless I don't come back to church we cant be friends anymore? Do you remember how nobody wanted to hear your side of the story? That nobody had enough compassion to care about what you were going through and how hard of a decision it was to stop going to church? Do you remember the lack of support when once again you didn't meet the unspoken requirements of the church body?
Do you remember the many many friends that you once thought you had only to find them all disappear when you didn't measure up to their requirements or expectations? Do you remember how only one person out of all those many people asked to hear your story? Do you remember all those times you tried to be friendly and make friends only to have them turn their backs on you when you needed support? Do you remember how burnt out you felt by the time you started going to your last church and how you have never fully recovered from how your former employer and his wife treated you?
Are these things that you have been through painful enough to cause you to deal with all the terror, shame and anxiety that you now have to deal with every time you think of starting a job or going to events or trying to make new friends? Do you think that someone who's been through all these things would be wrong/ bad/ should be ashamed to feel all these things that you feel now when you try to find to courage step out...alone? Is it any wonder you have these overwhelming feelings that make you so furious and frustrated at yourself...because you find it so hard to reach out? To try once again to make new friends? To find the courage to go to events alone? Is it any wonder you struggle so much to trust anyone? Or that you are afraid to share anything about yourself for fear that it will be turned into a knife to stab you in your back? Is it any wonder?
Is. It. Any. Wonder???????
No. Not. At. All.
Can I be kind to myself and have compassion for myself because of everything I've been through that now makes it excruciatingly hard to do things I once enjoyed?
Can I give myself space to heal and not force myself before I'm ready which would only prolong the healing process?
I want to.
Can I accept the loneliness and see it as better than an abusive relationship?
I want to.
I've just got all these huge feelings inside of me that I wish weren't there:
Desire for connection.
Desire for friends to do things with.
Desire for income.
Desire to work on my dreams.
Desire to trust.
Desire to feel safe.
Desire to be accepted right where I am.
Desire to heal.
Desire to grow.
Desire to try new things.
Desire for so much more...
When all these whelm up at the same time it makes a jumbled mess inside of me. I have so many things I want to do or work on and it freezes me up, making me worth nothing. And if I try to do anything (like today I went shopping to see if I can find things to resell for some income and instead came home with things I didn't need) it usually doesn't go or end well and then it's hard to not just beat myself up for it. It makes me miserable.
I am miserable right now. Irritable. Out of sorts. I'm trying to give myself some space and compassion. It's so hard to do. To be kind to myself. To accept that I've been through horrible stuff, more than a lot of people. And to give myself the space to feel all the feels because of what I've been through.
The healing process is hard. It takes so much longer than I want it to. But I need to remember to take one step at a time. It won't help to beat myself up. It won't help to criticize myself. Or condemn myself.
I am a survivor.
I am a warrior.
I have been through so much.
I am choosing to heal.
It won't always be easy.
Giving myself compassion will make the journey easier.
To do that though is easier said than done.
And that's what counts.