I found this old journal entry from a while back. It was amazing to see where I was and how far I’ve come. It made me appreciate where I am today.
I have been so closed off, afraid to reach beyond my borders, afraid some one will see…me. I have pulled in, like a hermit crab that has outgrown his shell. Trying to hide from the world, lest it judge me. The verdict will certainly be… not good enough. I have been afraid to sing out, to open my mouth and my spirit to say who I am, how I feel, and what I want. What if I offend? What if I make someone angry? I have been so hurt by exposure that I galvanized my outer edges and built titanium barriers around my heart. In the process, I lost the ability to feel life. I could not feel love, joy, happiness, hope, nothing. The funny thing is, I could still feel the hurt, the sting, the soreness. The pain hasn’t gone away. I locked it all inside with me, with my tender, torn, and beaten heart. My only companion for all these years has been my pain. At least that is one thing that was always mine. No one could judge it. No one could diminish it. No one could take it away. The one thing I have been sure of is my pain.
Today, I sang. I sang loudly. At first, it was as if I didn’t know how to sing out loud. Then, I realized how unfamiliar it was. It had been more than15 years since I felt safe enough to really sing. Since that time, I always held back. I always monitored my voice, and never allowed myself to invest any emotion in my singing. If I did, I always cried, and stopped singing. I get the message now. I was crying when I sang because my spirit so wanted to sing out with the full emotion of my heart, without restriction.
That is the story of my life. I got hurt early on and started holding myself back, investing less and less of myself in everything I did and every relationship. The distance I have unwittingly put between myself and the people in my life has made me feel empty, lonely-which I deny really well-and like a third-party observer, not a participant. I cannot feel the love that my husband, my children, my sister, and my friends have for me. I love, but it is more like appreciation. I don’t feel love. When I hold my 3-year-old son, I feel a depth of gratitude. I know I love him. I tell him I love him. But I don’t really feel it. He loves me so very much. No matter how much I want to, I cannot receive his love, though I am deeply grateful for it.
I remember when I was a little girl listening to music with my best friend. It was so liberating to sing and dance. It was a wonderful escape from the world. I felt so completely free. My heart and spirit poured out freely and joyfully. Then my trust was crushed by my “friends” and my mother. From that moment on, music was my private healer. I sang only for my own comfort and only in private. I still lost myself in the music and felt momentarily freed from the pain in my life. It was an intimate, safe harbor in the midst of a sea of fear and pain. Even then, in my teens, involuntary tears would stream down my face as I sang. It was cleansing. I never knew what was making me cry, but I always felt better afterward.
For many years, I have not listened to the songs I loved in the past because they brought back memories and hurts of the past. Now when I hear them again, I remember who I was, how I felt, what I wanted, what I was doing, and what I feared. It seems a lifetime ago. I can see how each stage of my life had its joys, its hopes and dreams, and its out-of-the-blue disasters. I was never able to reach out fully and grab hold of what I wanted. I always held back. They say, “You can’t steal second with one foot on first.” That’s what I have been doing my whole life. One foot in fear and one in hope, daring to dream, yet clinging to my fortress walls. That hope, so many times, has felt like I was hanging on by a thread to sanity and life itself. Giving up has never been an option. It is not in me to quit. I had to keep going, keep moving, keep doing. It just had to get better. I just could not accept that life could be nothing but pain, suffering, disappointment, frustration, and failure. Something inside me told me that this was just not true. Yet all around me, that’s all I saw.
Shame. That’s where it all comes from. Shame. Now, that’s a touchy subject. The seeds of it go back beyond my memory, even beyond the blackness that keeps my childhood from me. I have no recollection of the beginning of my sense of shame. I know my mother did not want to have me. The stigma of abortion in the early sixties may have saved my life. I always thought I was an unwanted burden on my parents. My older sister made it clear from the beginning until adulthood that she did not like me or want me around. I was a disappointment to my parents in school. I was chubby, awkward, and excruciatingly shy. I was afraid of everyone and everything. I found my solace in the woods, walking paths to nowhere, watching red-winged blackbirds light on monstrous cattail stalks. The onset of night was always a relief. In the darkness and silence, when the world was at rest, I was safe. My heart reached up to the distant stars and I wondered who left me here, why, and how could I get back home. This world seemed so foreign to me. I never felt like I belonged here. I definitely did not fit in with my family. I was an outsider in my own home, and at school too. The loneliness pierced my soul. It still does. Only now, I have such tall, thick, wide, impenetrable barriers around my heart and soul that I rarely feel it. I tried to fill the emptiness inside me in many ways.
First it was exercise, then men, then alcohol, drugs, different men, work, TV, various studies, anything to make me feel happy, or not feel at all. Finally, going to church, reading the Bible, and praying made me feel something good inside. I had a deep yearning to know God, not just to worship God. I wanted an intimate, personal relationship with my Source and creator. I didn’t want alcohol anymore. The drugs only worked for a few months. I had enough of men. Exercise and strict eating lost its luster long ago. Over-eating only brought temporary joy, followed by guilt and regret. Smoking eased my nerves, but certainly didn’t fill the void. Praying for others made me feel good. It gave me a sense of connection to others. Forgiveness brought some healing and made me feel like a better person. There were some answers to my questions of life in the Bible, as well as guidance in relationships, service, and conduct. The problem with finding God was that I also found myself, and I didn’t like what I found. Looking at myself and my life was difficult and painful. I had to take it in steps and stages.
Self-discovery began with a commitment to heal the source of all my pain and sadness, and a great deal of trepidation. So much of my life had been buried in a cavern of eternal darkness. The search for the truth began with the people in my life and pivotal events. Regrets and resentments were so much easier to remember than successes or happy times. Each memory revealed another. Fears were layered upon fears, hidden by blankets of guilt, regret, and shame. Feelings of failure were everywhere. I did not live the life I thought I lived. I was not the person I thought I was. For most of my life, I was not a person at all. I was a walking, breathing bundle of fear and pain. How I touched anyone’s life in a positive way is beyond me. That I survived over 40 years is downright miraculous. Yet, here I am, a person, participating in life for the first time. Finding out who I am, what is true of me, and what is not. There is more of what is not true that is visible now than what is true, but I am making progress. A light glows inside me, like a candle in a distant window, guiding me to the truth. I know God is there. I know love is there. I know who I really am is there, in brilliance, in grace, and in perfect, radiant truth. Day by day, I unravel the fallacy of my life to reveal more of the wholeness, harmony, and beauty that it was meant to be.
Standing in the rubble of broken barriers, finally feeling the sun,