Before I begin, I realize there may not be many readers of this blog left. Odds are pretty good that the only person reading these, waiting for some sign from me, is my own mother.
Surprise! I’m not going to apologize. I’ve spent the time being really depressed. It’s not something I have much control over. I’m still trying to figure out what triggers it so that I can be prepared. However, I believe I can safely say that much of it stems from those two little words up there.
I’ve spent a large part of my existence on this earth trying to please the people around me, particularly those I loved and who claimed to love me in return. I say “claimed” because some part of me still holds on to the belief that, like my abuser, that love will cease when they discover how flawed I really am or if I fail to please them.
Even my own father, who passed away in June, just short of Father’s day, had to deal with this particular paranoid fear from me, even though he’d known me all my life. Intellectually, I knew he could never leave me, no matter how many flaws he discovered about me. Emotionally, however, I was convinced that there was something I could do, something I would do, something beyond my control, that would make him stop loving me. He spent four years of his life – four years – proving to me that he loved me unconditionally and that this was a love that would never cease.
Unfortunately, my husband, jaklumen, has had to suffer from this paranoia, too. For the first five years of our marriage I put him through a desperate kind of test that no one should ever have to go through. One thing I’ve learned about married couples, there will be differences of opinion. You’re two different people; two different minds! Of course, your opinions will be different. However, I was convinced that he would leave me if he found out “the truth” and every time we would fight, I would challenge him to do so. A part of me really wanted him to go, if he was going to. Seventeen and a half years later, some part of me still thinks he hasn’t seen the “one flaw to rule them all”, even though his consistent response has always been, with a laugh, “You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”
When I haven’t been trying to make him leave, I’ve been trying to “make him happy.” Intellectually, I know this is ridiculous. People are going to get upset. They are going to feel angry and sad and scared and guilty and really there’s nothing I can do about that. In fact, how they feel has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with me. It’s beyond not my fault. It’s none of my business.
Emotionally, though, I’m stuck. Emotionally, there’s this lingering belief that I have to keep him happy. If he’s not happy, my emotions say, he’ll leave and I don’t want that to happen. So I alternate between trying to please him, and failing miserably, and trying to make him leave (though less frequently now than in the first five years of our marriage). Jak is an awesome husband and father. He’s a good man and has been very patient with me. After seventeen and a half years, he deserves my confidence. Why then, I often think, do I keep getting the feeling that he’s watching me for some excuse to leave.
Yesterday, I got an email from a mutual friend, Tamara Bess. She put together a Relationship Rights Checklist and gave me the opportunity to look at it (you need Drop Box if you want to have a peek yourself). In the email I’m talking about, she mentions her sister. Here’s a quote:
Thing is…she and I have very different, yet similar stories. I almost literally died trying to be thin enough to make myself lovable and she layered flesh upon herself to shield herself from her own pain – the pain of trying to be something she was not.
I read this and it was like a brick striking me in the head. This was me! This is why I’m fat. I’ve been trying to shield myself from the pain of trying to be something I’m not. The trouble with that is the shields you build around yourself tend to keep pain that is born in your soul inside. It ricochets off your walls and hurts you over and over and over until you’re a mess. In short, for me at least, it turns into depression. Until I read that email, I didn’t realize that the soul-deep pain I was experiencing comes directly from trying to squeeze myself into a container that was never meant to hold me.
One of the items on 2btrue2you’s checklist is this:
– You have the right to be different than your partner.
Healthy is: to think, feel and do everything in the way that’s most natural for you.
I’ve spent the bulk of my life trying to fit myself into a mold that I was never supposed to fit, to the point where I no longer really believe in myself any more. I don’t really know myself that well at all. Plus, there’s still that paranoid fear that, if I was my true self, something about that person would chase my husband away.
But then the email said this:
What if you discover that you can be true to yourself and you find that the person you love doesn’t reject you when you bring your real self to light?
The answer, for me, was a combination of fear and hope. Fear, because I’m no longer certain who the real me is any more or even if I had a chance of finding out who she is. Hope, because that’s what I want, more than anything. I want to be able to let go of that awful fear that has poisoned my ability to trust who I really am.
That’s when I remembered something I learned in church. There’s only one person I need to please with my life and that person already knows the real me. He knows me better than I do. That person is my Heavenly Father. I don’t have to change anything to please him. I don’t have to fit into any mold to keep from chasing him off. In point of fact, the whole idea of being capable of chasing him off is so ludicrous I have to laugh at just the thought of it. So, even if I could somehow chase people off by being myself, I could never chase him off, no matter how hard I tried. That’s an important thing for me to remember.
If you’re anything like me, and I’m betting, if you’re reading this, you probably are, please remember, God made you and he loves you just as you are, warts and all and there’s nothing you can do that will ever change that.