My heart is scalded. Like when you drink your tea (or hot chocolate or coffee . . .) before it’s cooled off, and you feel like the top layer of skin has been peeled off. That’s happened to my heart. Somehow it got dunked in a bucket of boiling water, and now it’s numb and burnt and raw, all at the same time.
It’s the result of a lot of things, really. Wanting to be right but not wanting to upset people. Conceding so nobody else gets their feelings hurt. Speaking up when I should keep my mouth shut. Keeping my mouth shut when I should speak up.
It doesn’t help that I’m good at upsetting people. Or maybe it’s just specific people, maybe it’s just a certain personality type that I don’t mesh with well. I don’t know. But if that’s the case, then there are a lot of people around who have that kind of personality because I feel like I’m always walking on eggshells. Like I have to watch what I say and what I do because I might annoy or upset the people around me.
A lot of that is in my mind, really. I’m overly concerned about other people’s sensitivities because mine have been trampled so many times.
It’s ten o’clock at night right now. I’m alone in the living room, well – alone with the dogs. And I’m trying to heal my heart by my own power when I know that there’s only one way this is all going to get better.
It’ll only stop hurting when I surrender.
I thought I had. I thought that I’d given it all up, and I did, but I guess I keep picking it back up. The bitterness and anger and hurt and sorrow somehow keeps burrowing itself back deep into my heart, even though I’m trying to give it up like smokers try to give up the cigarettes. They just keep going back for more, though, because it’s addictive.
It’s like in “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. There’s this one chapter we read for English last week and it was all about the weight of their physical burdens versus the weight of their emotional burdens, and the emotional burdens always weight heavier because they’re far more difficult to get rid of. You can’t just drop regret and guilt and shame like you can drop a knapsack at the end of the hike.
That story hit me hard. I want to say that I don’t know why, but I do. I haven’t been in a war; I haven’t served in the army or the navy or any of the other branches of the military.
But I can relate in that I know how easy it is to cling to emotions, even the painful ones, because it’s familiar or because you don’t know how to let go or because it keeps you connected to something you’re not ready to let go of or because –
There’re lots of reasons.
I come from a family made up of people who love to have the last word. They like to end the argument, whether they’re right or wrong. I don’t know what it’s about, maybe it’s like a high, knowing that you left another person without a response, cutting them down to size.
I honsetly don’t care about being right. I just try to avoid conflict. I really, really, really hate conflict and anger and loud, sharp voices and that hard light in an angry person’s eyes.
Where do I start?
Ten years old, another young lady lecturing me like she was my mother for singing a song with the word “hell” in it? For cursing when I fell off the stage at the theater and twisted my ankle? Or eleven, constantly told to be quiet because I wasn’t demure and meek and radiantly joyful like little girls were supposed to be?
Twelve; told to borrow a dress for church service because my pants were deemed too tight. Wiping my iPod of most “secular” music. Being told to “calm down” and to “shut up” because my energy and joy came across as obnoxiousness, as a distraction and imposition.
Thirteen; Fighting desperately to fit in with everyone, trying to adapt, to appeal to whoever I was around at any given moment. Floating between different groups of people, shifting between personalities just to try to find someone who might like me enough to stick around for a while.
Fourteen; watching my closest friends walk away from me and towards more “like-minded” people.
Fourteen and breaking apart on the bathroom floor, wanting nothing more than to not exist for a little while, because people left when you weren’t good enough, and how could you ever be? Fourteen with baby fat and acne and bruises on my thighs, on my knees and hips and shoulders, where people wouldn’t see them, where they couldn’t tell that I wan’t brave enough to not take my anger out on something. Fourteen with a black heart full of hate.
Fourteen, fourteen, fourteen.
Fifteen and rebuilding broken relationships. Fifteen and learning to love myself. Fifteen and still broken, but trusting God to put me back together. Trusting, hoping, and praying for grace.
Fifteen and sixteen and seventeen. Healing. Forgiving. Loving.
Eighteen and hurting, but healing. Eighteen and vibrant, bubble, still slightly obnoxious. Awkward as heck and all too aware of it. Sunshine. Confident, not in who I am but in who God is leading me to be.
I don’t know where I’m at. I don’t where I’m going.
And I’m finally okay with that.