Listen, to be clear upfront, I am not one of those people who truly believe I am woman, hear me roar.
But I do believe that God created me – just as he has created every other human – with thoughts and feelings and agency to live my life and speak up for what I believe is right.
I believe that deep, deep down.
And yet, somewhere along the way, I have recoiled back into my shell.
I don’t know what’s going on. But I know that I say, at best, 25% of what I’m thinking or feeling these days.
I’ve been saying that it’s because with maturity, we learn we don’t have to say every single thing we’re thinking. And that is totally true. (Yikes, I’m glad I’m no longer the teenage and twenty-something version of myself. You’re welcome, every person in my life.)
The things I have said that I should not have said could fill a book, a very, very large book.
But then I went to AlAnon (and realized I wasn’t at fault for every single bad thing in my childhood and marriage, how about that?)
and went to a counselor (and discovered my abuse)
and went through a soul-baring reconciliation attempt (that splayed everything about my life and heart and mind and marriage out in the open)
and then I went through a divorce (that I wasn’t sure I’d ever recover from)….
And my voice started coming out.
And it was scary and liberating and weird.
Fast forward a few years though…and I’m cowering again.
I’m not saying the things I want and need to say to the people I want and need to say them to.
I say them to other people, but not to the people where it can make any difference.
Or if I say them, my voice is shaky and I cry and I backpedal.
Or, I just don’t say what I need to say at all.
I’m not free anymore.
I don’t know how this happened. I don’t know how I let this happen.
Here’s my pattern:
So something happens that I don’t like or someone says something that hurts me. (I have a sensitive heart so this can happen frequently.)
And I just take it. I just absorb it into myself.
I acknowledge to myself and Jesus (and sometimes to another person, but usually not the person in question) that I didn’t like that thing, that I was hurt.
And then I tamp it down. And ask Jesus to help me let it go.
And I don’t address it in a way that can prevent it from happening again or that points out to the person that they were hurtful.
And I move on.
Which, you know, means usually that it festers and I keep thinking about it and resentment builds up.
And I somehow, usually, turn it around on myself…well, you didn’t stick up for yourself or say you didn’t like the thing that just happened or say, you know, that’s actually a lie, and you kinda are the thing they said you are, so…
…so it’s all your fault anyway and you’re not great at being human so just suck it up and let it go and try not to keep screwing up so dang much all the time, Beth.
I wrote in my journal this morning: I don’t like myself.
That sentence shocked me. What I meant was that I don’t like this cowering woman I’ve become again.
I was telling someone recently that though turning 30 kinda freaked me out and 40 kinda freaked me out, 50 isn’t freaking me out.
And this person replied, “That’s because you’ve got your sh*t together.”
I just laughed because bless their heart, this person doesn’t know me at all. My sh*t is nowhere near together, it’s not even funny.
I’m still back untangling knots from when I was a kid. At almost 50.
And I really thought that somehow, at my age, I just wouldn’t care so much anymore. About what other people think of me or say to me.
But I still so totally do.
The thought of any person on the planet not liking me makes me sad.
The thought of any person in my inner circle being mad at me makes me cry and sick to my stomach. (Even if I did nothing wrong, even if they are the totally wrong person.)
So, I apologize a gazillion times and I’m not myself with most people and I say yes when I want to say no and so much of my life is out of obligation…
And I can’t keep doing this.
I’m so sick and tired of all the shame I’m carrying around, as if I’ve made worse mistakes than every other person on the planet, as if I make more mistakes than any other person on the planet.
I haven’t! I’ve made the same quality and quantity of mistakes as every other person. YOU ARE NOT BETTER THAN ME AT BEING A PERSON and I AM TRYING SO HARD EVERY DAY JUST TO BE A GOOD PERSON AND NOT HURT ANYONE, I want to yell.
(I recently told my husband that my headstone should read: She tried until she died.)
I’m just exhausted. I can’t keep doing this anymore.
I know Jesus loves me no matter what, all the time. But I’m exhausted from trying to win everyone else’s love and approval, exhausted from trying so hard to rid myself of the disapproval and disappointment I carry around, of second guessing every word I say or didn’t say.
Something needs to change but I can’t quite figure out what just yet.
Because here is what I so desperately want: I want to be who God intended me to be, with every person in my life, whether they like me or not.
I’m back in counseling and it is helping.
Starting to say these things out loud to a couple people who love me is helping.
Repeating this every morning is helping: I am the unconditionally beloved daughter of the Father God and he is smiling over me. I came into this world and I started this day already completely loved with no other loves to beg for and nothing to prove to anyone.
And I’ll let you know what else ends up helping. In the meantime if this sounds like a struggle you have too, join me in WholeHearted as I try to keep working all this stuff out.