In Which I Try Not To be Afraid of Myself
"And if all I can think about is people yawning at my vulnerable dreams with their big eye-glazed stares, and my natural response is to kick, kick, kick at myself because I don’t want to be yawned at or glazed over, or be different than what is normal and convenient and that for which people have the patience for, then what, oh what, am I missing of my one true self?
What would it look like to be untamed, vulnerable, running wild, brazen, free?"
What would it look like to not be ashamed of my needs, of my gifts, of my untamed parts, of the whole self that God has made and is making? What would it look like if I didn't apologize so often for things that I shouldn't be apologizing for?
The words of this quote really spoke to me today.
Because when you grow up reading the unspoken directive that screams from between the lines that you are a problem and you're only loved when you're perfect (as if perfection actually possible), it's hard to learn the truth, later, that it's normal to have needs. That it's normal to have expectations, that relationship is not a one way street of you hiding and wincing and trying-to-measure-up. That there is give and take.
That it's okay to need to feel loved by the one(s) you love.
Since Eve died, I have been learning a lot about myself. Of where I came from and just how deeply that has affected me, from big decisions to the small nuances of everyday behavior. I already knew a part of it, learned painfully in the grip of an eating disorder and its treatment, but grief is teaching me more.
More about God. More about what's important in life, about priorities. More about the kind of woman I am, and was, and want to be. More about how I should treat others and how I should be treated, and not treated. More about human dignity. More about needs.
And today I realize that even though God is growing my soul through my sweet girl's death, I still hide. I still long to just fit in to appease the voices speaking in my ear from years ago that play and replay in my head even though I pray for Him to stop them, please, instead of daring to try to be the woman that He had in mind and stick out in the process.
I second-guess God, and myself, and my loved ones. I apologize too often for things that need no apology -- like having a scarred and wrinkled forehead, and needing to be touched, held, sometimes. I apologize too often for speaking my mind with respect and love. For honoring my body's needs, and my heart's. For being honest about how much I miss my daughter, and how hard this pregnancy has been. I feel guilty with every decision made that honors what I need, and what my family needs.
And that's on top of the guilt I feel for the selfish decisions. For the fear-inspired actions or non-actions. For the mistakes, the willful and the accidental. Guilt that makes more sense.
This guilt for the things that warrant no guilt, it makes me afraid. Afraid of myself. And I'm tired of being afraid of myself. Of not being confident enough in God and the way He made me.
What if I didn't apologize so often? What if I courageously believed in my right to make nourishing decisions and to stick to those decisions? What if I even more courageously fled to the only One that's really in charge of this mess for the decisions that end up being not-so-nourishing without the flagellation from myself and others? What if I didn't live only to please and appease people I am not meant to to live for? What if I didn't live only inside these certain lines as I was trained to do, but lived first for Him?
The possibility, it excites me.
And it scares me, because I don't know how I'm supposed to find out. It seems like I'd have to chew through the bars around my heart first to set about discovering the woman that I might be in Him alone. And even though those bars cut deeper into my flesh with every blood beat and infection has set in more than once, something about them feels safe.
Who would I be, unmoored from hurt and fear?
I don't even know if these words have value, if they can be described as anything but egotistical, delusional. I can't trust my own questions. Are they blasphemy or the beginning of something lovely? Am I running forward, toward Him, or merely agitating my hamster wheel? I have no idea.
But it's something. I'm trying to pay attention.