Archive for the ‘emotions’ Tag

I Wonder   4 comments

I wonder what it’s like to be normal, to feel the weight of life’s stresses and hardships balanced out by its joys and pleasures.  I wonder what it’s like not to fight against deep misery every day. not feel crushed by the brokenness of the world.  I expect that when the bumps in the road seem small, the catch phrase verses and bumper sticker encouragements have enough lift to clear your axle.  For the average guy, commonsense advice for tackling problems probably works.

My Facebook friends cheer one another on with links to meditations and quotes that inspire them, and I hear one more rousing verse of Kumbaya as their bus pulls away from the stop where I am left standing.  Unfortunately, I can’t even force myself to see my world from this positive perspective.  I cannot “choose” to be happy.  I’ve tried.  I would have to live in denial of my actual emotional experiences, and I seem constitutionally incapable of that.  I can choose to follow God, to trust Him as best I can, and I do, each day in the face of emotional riptides, but it has led to only tidbits and crumbs of peace and joy.

What is it like to feel life is good, expectations and hopes are often satisfied, and goals motivate rather than burden?  What is it like to have all that extra energy, to have room for creativity and exploration and a wide range of possibilities?  I wonder how it changes a person’s perspective, spirituality, approach to the day’s happenings, understanding of others.   Do those folks use that big supply of emotional resources to understand and face into their fears?  At the expense of their own comfort, do they embrace those who are different and disagree.  Do they strip back their layers of self-protection and dig deep into who they really are?  I wonder.

Posted September 16, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

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Thanks for Hurting Me   Leave a comment

Forgiveness II: Other options

My friendships are sprinkled with boredom and surprise, tinged with ambivalence and enthusiasm, stuffed with doubts and hopes, fears and triumphs.  They wander through gardening and coffee and politics, with rants and laughs and confusion.  Relationships are so rich and complex and rewarding.  And they are painful.  That’s the part we’d like to cut out like a tumor.  We commonly assume that pain in friendship is a bad thing, a sign that something has gone wrong, a malignancy.  It certainly feels bad, and so we naturally want to avoid it or resolve it as quickly as possible.  I know I do.  Berly quietly mentions my lateness or messiness and it feels like a bee sting.  My emotions jump, swatting and dodging to protect the softer parts of my soul, sometimes with clenched words, sometimes in the silent safety of my mind, working out feverishly a plan to escape future critiques.

bee sting
In spite of my fears and doubts, I’ve come to realize that the hard patches in our togetherness are quite often the most vital for our well-being and richest for our relationship.  They uncover something important about me, about her, and about us.  They open the way to deeper understanding, connection, and love, greater trust and security with one another.  But this path requires the courage to face into the storm and work through the feelings together, not find ways to side-step the mess or slap up quick fixes.
Pain in relationships can come from so many sources–differences of perspective, personality, priorities, or preferences, unavoidable circumstances and pressures, misunderstandings, bad timing, sensitivity, stupidity.  Notice that none of these things are culpable offenses, not even stupidity, so forgiveness is not the answer.  Close neighbors to forgiveness come into play—patience, humility, acceptance, and benefit of the doubt when the behavior is irritating or problematic or inconvenient to us.  But I think forgiveness uniquely addresses the issue of wrongdoing.  There is a big difference between excusing or making room for someone’s behavior and forgiving them.

patience
Forgiveness is only relevant when someone is to blame, and such a turn must be taken with care since that exit for dealing with relational pain bypasses other options, perhaps better options.  For instance, if the major problem is miscommunication, we prefer seeking clarity rather than blame, at least in our calmer moments.
When one of us feels hurt, it’s best to slow down, breathe, get some emotional space, and try to sort through the feelings, seeking mutual understanding.  This is far easier if we can leave aside blame for the moment.  A rush to judgment sets one against the other, obscures the truth, and slows progress personally and relationally.  I know how hard it is for me to move in a healthy direction when I feel defensive.  In the end, if one of us needs to choose a better course of action (repent), why not start from a place of insight and love rather than coercion and shame?  In our marriage, when seeking understanding is the goal instead of deciding fault, we find that forgiveness plays a much smaller role.

couple

Posted March 11, 2013 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Does Happiness Still Run On This Line?   4 comments

STILL STANDING... SORT OF

HOLDING IT TOGETHER

Yesterday I was so sick at heart I felt nauseous.  Life does not make sense to me right now.  My last few blogs show I am oscillating between anger,  faith, sarcasm,  acceptance, doubt, misery, hope… the only constant is depression, which drains my energy and darkens my outlook.  What used to restore my spirit no longer works.  “Happiness is a choice,” they say.  Balderdash.  You can decide your actions, and to some extent you can direct your thoughts, but you cannot pick your feelings like a vending machine treat.  Some folks find cheer in thankfulness or service or friendship, while others find comfort in meditation or nature.  You can keep an eye out for happiness, but it may not show up at any of these stops.  I don’t control it’s schedule.  I can only wait for it.

For some years now I have found consolation in discovering and working to heal my soul’s wounds, but I cannot get at the root of my current turmoil.  That process simply doesn’t work for me now.  Kimberly and I have also solved our conflicts by talking through our issues, but since we can’t make sense of what we are going through now, that approach doesn’t work.  When my emotional energy is dragging, I don’t have enough flex in my shock-absorbers to cushion the bumps, so I’m easily disheartened or hurt or agitated, and Kimberly feels it more sharply because she’s also deflated.  The proverb “as iron sharpens iron” has been profoundly true of us through the years, but during this season it seems often to be “as iron notches iron.”  We need to find a new way of supporting ourselves and one another.  I know we will find a way, we always do, but in the meantime it is painful and discouraging.

Posted February 7, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

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Fixing Sandy Hook   Leave a comment

My first feeling was horror, quickly followed by outrage, and then a creeping sense of helplessness: horror for how many and how young the victims; outrage for the unprovoked, extreme violence; and helplessness because it was inexplicable and unpredictable.  As a red-blooded, American male with an overblown sense of responsibility, my powerlessness is the most frightening of these emotions, so I try to get passed it as quickly as possible (though I would not have admitted this even to me most of my life).  The way I protect myself from horror is to let my outrage stir me to resolve, to make sure such a terrible thing never happens again.  In other words, the quickest way for me to escape those wretched feelings is to jump passed them into problem-solving mode.

My gut response to natural disasters or unavoidable accidents is quite different, much simpler and cleaner.  I move easily into grief and solidarity with everyone since we are all in it together.  There is nothing to examine and correct.  I am responsible for nothing, and can simply feel. This acceptance is typical in fatalistic cultures, even for calamities that are preventable, but that seems like a defeatist attitude to us Americans.

As a nation carved out of the frontier by pioneers, we are very gifted at overcoming adversity with our “can do” spirit.  We are independent, pragmatic, self-confident, and creative… so much so that we see everything in the light of problem-solution.  We are able therefore to use action to largely override any feelings that crop up.  In fact, feelings themselves are often seen as part of the problem that needs fixing.  We tend to deal with insecurities by taming the situation.  We are a nation of controllers.  We take charge of ourselves, others, and our environment.

Within hours of the Newtown massacre, some of us were demanding solutions: better school security, more gun control, better ways to identify and fix those with emotional issues (or just as vigorously rejecting these ideas).  “We can stop these killings;  we can fix this,” we told one another.  No.  We can’t.  We can limit violence in various ways, but we really are not in control of what happens on this old earth.  The most we can do is influence it for the better.   Malicious, unprovoked, random violence is an inescapable part of our broken world, and embracing our sense of vulnerability and fear might be a good place for us to start.

I am a particular kind of controller.  I gain a sense of security by figuring things out.  I am at my most vulnerable when I am confused or stymied.  I often “resolve” my feelings of powerlessness by sorting, categorizing, and explaining the situation–intellectual escapism.  (I guess this blog is exhibit A.)  When I am lost in the maze of life, I fall easily into depression.  But choosing a sense of helplessness rather than avoiding it can be my way into grace.

So in my next blog I will get out of my head and into my feelings.

Posted December 18, 2012 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Sucked Empty by Goodness   1 comment

I did not mean to suggest in my last post that our long, long lists of good behaviors are not in fact good.  I simply want to point out that they are not paramount.  Brushing our teeth, paying our bills on time, making soup for our sick neighbor are all good things, but the phrase, “the good is (sometimes) the enemy of the best,” comes to mind.  This aphorism is usually used to promote even higher, more taxing behavioral standards for ourselves, but I would use it to change the value scale altogether, to set a higher value on heart issues than behavior.

When I stop to compare how I treat friends with how I treat myself, I am often dumfounded at how disrespectful, rough, and unsympathetic I am to myself.  I would never tell a friend what I tell myself.  If a friend called me and said, “I’m really hurting right now, do you have time to talk?” I can’t imagine responding, “I’m not free right now, I have to cut the grass,” or “Really the only time I have to talk is Thursday 6-7.”  But that is exactly what I used to tell my own soul many times every day.  By the way I treated it, I was basically saying, “Shut up!  I don’t have time for you!  The dishes are more important.”

Over the last several years, I have worked hard at sloughing off responsibilities that made my soul feel it was of less value than some task.  Of course, this list is unique to each person.  For instance, skipping a meal in order to finish a project was never a sacrifice for me–but I did often suffer by driving myself to grind through a project when my soul was weary of it.  To each his own.

Many of you would be surprised at the things that distress me, and perhaps shocked at some of the things I have chosen to offload from my list of duties for the sake of my spirit.  Filing my annual taxes is always troublesome, and while I was still single, sometimes distressing.  As April 15 drew closer, my distress increased, but I had no emotional energy to force myself to complete them.  So in an effort to give my soul breathing room, I chose several times to file my taxes late and pay the resulting penalty.  Poor stewardship?  Of my money, yes, but not of my soul, and my soul is more important than money.  In fact, what more valuable investment than supporting my soul…so I guess it was financially good stewardship as well.  Thankfully, that spring dyspepsia is now eased with the presence of a life partner.

God gives us the strength to fulfill his call, but does he give us the strength to fulfill the calls of social norms or family expectations or friends’ needs?  I have too often assumed that my soul’s cries for help were the voice of temptation rather than the voice of truth, the voice of God calling me to rest.  Pain is the body’s signal that we should stop.  If we listen to it as a practice, then sometimes choosing wisely to override it can actually benefit the body, but if we typically ignore the pain signal, we will tear down our bodies.  I believe the same for our souls.  It knows better than our brain when something is amiss and needs addressing, and if our inclination is to ignore it, we tear it down.

BE AS GENTLE TO YOUR SOUL AS YOU ARE TO YOUR FRIEND'S

Posted April 1, 2012 by janathangrace in Personal, thoughts

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  8 comments

I feel so very tired, weary of life, confused about how to respond in a healthy, soul-affirming way.  I’ve tried ineffectively to look for the root of my current depression so that I could apply grace to the wound, but it eludes me.  It seems that all I can do is learn to accept my condition with patience.

Posted January 16, 2012 by janathangrace in Personal

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The Dark Road   1 comment

This is a powerful picture by a poet/author of the struggle of depression.

It’s the other pole of life, the negation that lives beneath the yes; the fierce chilly gust of silence that lies at the core of music, the hard precision of the skull beneath the lover’s face.  the cold little metallic bit of winter in the mouth.  One is not complete, it seems, without a taste of that darkness; the self lacks gravity without the downward pull of the void, the barren ground, the empty field from which being springs.

But then, the problem of the depressive isn’t the absence of that gravity, it’s the inability to see–and, eventually, to feel–anything else.  Each loss seems to add a kind of weight to the body, as if we wore a sort of body harness into which the exigencies of circumstance slip first one weight and then another: my mother, my lover, this house, that garden, a town as I knew it, my own fresh and hopeful aspect in the mirror, a beloved teacher, a chestnut tree in the courtyard of the Universalist Meeting House.  They are not, of course, of equal weight; there are losses at home and losses that occur at some distance; their weight is not rationally apportioned.

My grandfather, whom I loathed, weighs less to me in death than does, I am embarrassed to admit, my first real garden, which was hard-won, scratched out of Vermont soil thick with chunks of granite, and a kind of initial proof of the possibility of what love could make,  just what sort of blossoming the work of home-keeping might engender.  Sometimes I seem to clank with my appended losses, as if I wear an ill-fitting, grievous suit of armor.

There was a time when such weight was strengthening, it kept me from being too light on my feet; carting it about and managing to function at once requred the development of muscle, of new strength.  But there is a point as which the suit becomes an encumbrance, somthing that keeps one from scaling stairs or leaping to greet a friend; one becomes increasinglly conscious of the plain fact of heaviness.

And then, at some point, there is the thing, the dreadful thing, which might, in fact, be the smallest of losses: of a particular sort of hope, of the belief that one might, in some fundamental way, change.  Of the belief that a new place or a new job will freshen one’s spirit; of the belief that the new work you’re doing is the best work, the most alive and true.  And that loss, whatever it is, its power determined not by its particular awfulness but merely by its placement in the sequence of losses that any life is, becomes the one that makes the weighted suit untenable.  It’s the final piece of the suit of armor, the plate clamped over the face, the helmet through which one can hardly see the daylight, nor catch a full breath of air….

After years and years of resisting, of reaching toward affirmation, of figuring that there must always be a findable path, a possible means of negotiating against despair, my heart failed.  Or, to change the metaphor, we could say what quit was my nerve, or my pluck, or my tenacity, or my capacity for self-deception.

Posted November 3, 2011 by janathangrace in Reading

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To Hope or Not to Hope?   Leave a comment

Mark’s beloved dog Arden, a lab mix, is sick with perhaps a terminal illness.  One option, says the vet, is to keep an eye on him and hope for the best.  Mark writes about himself and his friend Paul:

“Emily Dickinson says that hope, that thing with feathersThat perches in the soul, cannot be silenced; it never stops–at all–but because she is a great poet, in a little while she will say a completely contradictory thing.  She who felt a funeral in her brain, the underlying planks of sense giving way, most certainly understood depression and despair.  Perhaps even in her famous poem figuring hope as a bird, she hints at the possibility of hope’s absence, since if hope has feathers, it is most likely capable of flying away.

“Paul has a bracingly Slavic attitude toward hope.  His ancestors starved in the fields outside of Bratislava, between plagues and invasions, and their notion that hoping for a better future would have been a costly act of self-delusion seems practically written into his genes.  He would agree with Virgil, who says in his Georgics, “All things by nature are ready to get worse.”

“But this is ultimately something of a pose, a psychic costume for a sensibility no less vulnerable than my own.  He believes that low expectations about the future will protect him—whereas I, six years older and thus a child of the sixties, can’t stop myself from thinking, perhaps magically, that our expectations shape what’s to come.

Though it’s true that I, who am more likely to hope overtly, publicly, am also more likely to crash the harder when that hope is voided.” Mark Doty in Dog Years.

Stoicism and hope can each be coping mechanisms in the face of potential disappointment.  Conservative Christians tend to blame the stoics for having no faith before the disappointment and blame the hopeful for having no faith after the disappointment.  That seems unfortunate to me because I believe neither perspective is inherently godly or ungodly, that belief or unbelief can be just as certainly present in both views.  There are advantages and disadvantages to either outlook, differences in personality that can be embraced as each valuable in its own right.  Our American society has a strong commitment to happiness as a value, even a fundamental right… it is written into the preamble of our founding document as a nation, so optimists are consistently lauded in every niche of our society (except art, where it is often seen as disingenuous).

A January 17, 2005 Time article reports a revealing psychological study “In the late 1970s… most therapists took the Freudian view that depressed people–and by extension, pessimists–were out of touch with reality.  It made sense, since depression was considered an aberrant mental state…  In carefully designed  [seminal] experiments, psychologists Lauren Alloy and Lyn Abramson sat students in front of a panel featuring a green light and a button that they were told would activate the light when pressed.  In fact, the amount of control students had over the light varied from 0% to 100%, with many points in between.  When  they were asked how much control they thought they had over the light, the answers surprised the psychologists.  Optimistic types (who scored low on tests for depressive symptoms) consistently overestimated their influence.  By a lot.  On average they believed they had 60% control even in sessions in which their button pressing had purely random effects.  ‘The nondepressed had an illusion of control when in fact they had none,’ says Alloy.  By contrast, more pessimistic students (those who had more depressive symptoms) judged their performance more accurately.  The finding that depressive types were ‘sadder but wiser,’ as the researchers put it, rocked conventional thinking in psychology.”

The article goes on to explain that optimists showed a more accurate estimate of other folks than did pessimists (who thought others were more in control than they themselves were).  I expect that the presence of faith plays out in different ways in each personality type and is not simply present in the one and not the other.  Hope may come from many sources other than faith and may be a coping mechanism to stifle insecurities.  Stoicism, even pessimism (expecting negatives), may be the result of faith in openly acknowledging one’s insecurities (which takes a great deal of courage).  May we all find ways of appreciating and benefiting from one another’s differences.

EMBRACING DIFFERENCES

Posted October 29, 2011 by janathangrace in Reading, thoughts

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Chased into the Harbor   2 comments

GOOD TO SEE YOU... FINALLY

 If Kimberly’s reactions had not provoked mine, I could have avoided my negative feelings and the issues behind them, but I and my relationships would have suffered.  I needed her insecurities to push mine out of the shadows.  From a hundred examples of this, let me share in this post one of our early conflicts.

When Kimberly and I started dating, she was living in Lynchburg and I in Arlington (of cemetery fame).  Once a week I drove the 6 hour round trip to be with her.  Occasionally she would drive to Arlington.  I went to Lynchburg to spend the day with Kimberly, and I expected she would do the same when she visited me.  However, she had other friends in Arlington with whom she wanted to connect.  I was disappointed when she went off in the afternoon to visit her friend, and when she came back late for the dinner I was cooking, she could feel the cold winds blowing.  I was quiet, polite, distant.  She could have just ignored it and I would eventually have warmed up again, but instead she asked what was troubling me.  I tried to pass it off, but eventually replied.

Me, a bit resentfully: “You said you were going to be here by 4 o’clock.”

Berly, defensively: “I know, but my friend needed a listening ear.  I called you as soon as I could.”

Me, exposing the bigger issue: “When I come to Lynchburg, I spend the whole day with you.”

Berly: “You don’t have any other friends in Lynchburg to see.”

You can imagine the next two hours of conversation as I explained how reasonable my expectations were in the face of her uncaring behavior, and she explained how she could care about me without meeting my expectations.  Even though we were both defensive, we tried to hear and understand one another over the cacophony of our feelings.  We slowly came to realize that I place a high priority on time spent together, that this is my gauge of how much someone cares about me.

Now, unfortunately, I must digress to clarify how our approach differs from other approaches.  Let me first contrast it to the “apologetic fix,” the resolution of choice in my family of origin.  The conversation would have gone:

Me, a bit resentfully: “You said you were going to be here by 4 o’clock.”

Berly, apologetically: “I’m so sorry.  I should have been here on time,”  followed by an effort to be sweeter and more solicitous than usual to win back my favor.  

That would be it.  We would both feel better.  The resulting “peace” would be a sufficient reward, tricking us into thinking we had a healthy, happy relationship.  Berly would realize my expectation and shape herself to conform in the future, not out of love (since she was responding to my shaming pressure), but in an effort to keep the peace.  She’d “should” on herself to reduce her insecurity in my conditional love.  

The second, more discerning approach would simulate our actual conversation, and Kimberly would realize time spent together was my “love language,” so she should do what she could to satisfy this need of mine.  That would be the end of it.  Conflicts would arise to the extent she failed to meet my expectations, but she would keep trying to adjust, reminding herself of my need and becoming more sensitive to it.   This second approach is more healthy because it does not depend on shame as the motivator.  In fact, the motivation can be from genuine love if the one who changes can do so without much personal cost (if it does not feed her insecurities).  Notice that in both these alternate approaches the resolution is fairly simple and straightforward and depends on conformity to expectations,  my underlying insecurities (if there are any) stay hidden and unresolved.  The more the expectation is legitimized, the more the one conforming will see it as an “ought,” and such an obligatory response easily usurps a genuine love response.

Kimberly was unwilling to deny her own needs and feelings to satisfy mine.  She stood up for herself in the face of my resentment.  This only increased my insecurities about her lack of love for me (as I perceived it), and when my fears were exacerbated, I could see my issues more clearly.  I realized that my anger was not a simple reaction to the current situation, but was protecting me from experiencing  the underlying raw fear of not being truly loved, not being truly lovable.  Kimberly could easily relieve my insecurity in relationship to her by spending more time with me, but my fears would remain and continue infecting other relationships.  I would keep protecting myself from others by blaming, pressuring, loving conditionally when I felt devalued.

My true need is not for friends to choose my company more often so that I feel loved.  Trying to resolve my insecurities at this level will only block access to my deeper need, fears that I am unworthy of love.  What is the source of this insecurity, what subconscious ideas are keeping me trapped in fear, how do I bring healing to this fundamental place of need?  If I fend off my fears by enticing others to give me more quality time, I will never look for the answer to these questions.

Fortunately, Kimberly’s issues did not allow her to salve mine: if she agreed with me that she was not enough, she would be denying her own needs and feelings.  Unfortunately, given my presuppositions, I could not rationally separate loving someone from taking care of them.  The first resulted in the second, otherwise it was fake.  I did not disagree with Kimberly, I simply did not understand her.  But I kept trying until I slowly realized that her gibberish was crucial to the healing of my soul and relationships.  I was trapped in a world where others’ responses decided my worth.  What I needed was to discover unconditional acceptance, to unhitch my lovability from how others did or did not love me, and hook it to a love that is unwavering and limitless towards me no matter how “unworthy” I may be, a love that is not drawn out more by my worthiness, but that proves my worthiness by loving me despite all.

And I need that divine love shown to me, however limitedly, through the heart of another in my world… the very thing which is Kimberly’s amazing gift.  She is committed to accepting me and loving me for who I am, the good and the bad, the broken and partly mended, the prickly and tender.  She shows me God as the Gracious One that he is.  When I share my fears of being unworthy of love, not as a means to manipulate her, but simply to share vulnerably, it opens wide the flood gates of her compassion for me, and slowly I begin to see that I am lovable despite my many shortcomings, that my woundedness does not invite shame but sympathy.  This peace and joy touches the deepest reaches of my heart and begins its healing work.

Something tells me we'll find a way.

How I Cope   3 comments

PAIN

Before I share how Kimberly and I grew in our wonderful, painful, scary and supportive relationship, I need to give some context regarding our perspective on coping mechanisms.  

All of us are wounded because we are born into a broken world with broken people and broken relationships.  In order to survive emotionally we develop methods for protecting ourselves.  These include the happy face, the sad face, the angry face, the cute face to hold off the dis-grace of others.  We use control, manipulation, confrontation, and every other form of avoidance (procrastination, withdrawal, acquiescence, drugs).  The list goes on.  We use these methods unwittingly, settling into a pattern that works best for each.  Many children would be emotionally destroyed if they found no means to cope.

I was at one time convinced that coping strategies were evil because they shielded us from the truth and taught us to live a lie.  They do shield us from the truth, but this is not necessarily an evil.  As Jack would say, “You can’t handle the truth!” or in Jesus’ words, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.”  Our coping mechanisms act as crutches, and if we see them as such, we can slowly mend and get back on our feet.  The problem comes when we either deny the injury and pretend we have no crutch or stop going to physical therapy because it is too painful and decide we’ll just sign up for a disability pension.  I used to try talking people out of their coping mechanisms, kick their crutches out from under them so to speak, until I realized how powerfully beneficial these protective shields are.

My major coping mechanism for feeling better about myself is trying harder.  I thought I was practicing discipline, obedience, godliness, but increased effort was really my means to block a sense of shame and unworthiness.  I only discovered this truth because my method of coping didn’t “work” sufficiently–I still felt too much like a failure.  The more energy I used to escape my negative feelings, the more I realized it wasn’t working, that I could never make it work.

Once I realized that this was a coping mechanism, I tried to “overcome” it.  It was a lie that I had to cast out…  only it had stopped deceiving me once I recognized it for what it was.  When I realized it was a crutch, I could use it as a crutch.  For instance, I feel inordinately bad about failing to meet expectations (the inordinate part is a major clue).  When I did not recognize this as a coping strategy, it controlled me subconsciously.  Now that I realize it is a crutch, I am tempted to throw it down, but the problem is not so much my behavior (trying harder) but the reason behind it–working to earn my worth.

The Dark Hand of Shame

So my second temptation is to maintain my hard effort while changing the underlying thought patterns, but the effort itself supports the wrong mindset.  I am running late for a meeting, and as I drive I tell myself, “It’s okay.  Everyone is sometimes late.  Calm down,” but all the while I am driving like Jehu.  I find that I can’t maintain the same level of diligence without operating out of a sense of urgency, a drivenness that comes from my insecurities.  The more I try to give myself a break, the less I meet expectations, and the worse I feel about me.  These voices of condemnation have indoctrinated me and shaped my feelings, and barring a miracle, it will take a long process of reorienting my perspective.  In the meantime I do not have the emotional resources to simply stop all effort to meet others’ expectations and hold back the resulting flood of shame.  I would be overwhelmed by the voices against me feeding my shame.  My coping mechanism allows for my frayed emotions to be soothed as I slowly push into my fear and break free.

So I take baby steps, put a little weight on the foot.  I put in a little less effort while working to offload the shame that I would normally feel, turning a little more towards grace.  I share with others my fears so that their power is reduced.  I find gracious people to support my faltering faith.  And slowly I find myself growing whole from this deep wound.  Healing of long established problems, both physical and emotional, takes a lot of time, gentleness to the injury, support and protection.

Posted October 5, 2011 by janathangrace in Personal, thoughts

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