5 janvier 2017

About 2-3 years ago, I was listening to a sermon series relationships and the pastor recommended a book entitled Safe PeopleThe book focuses on identifying and building healthy relationships, from a Christ-centered perspective. While I thoroughly enjoyed the sermon series and thought the topic of the book was interesting, I wasn't up to reading the book at the time. I added it to my Amazon shopping cart so I could remember it and kept it moving. After staring me down for years, I bought the book about 6 months ago and put it on my bookshelf. This past November, I decided to fast as a means of preparing for the new year and picked up the book during my break from social media.

Listen. The book had me in shambles.

It brought to the forefront a lot of things that I had buried and didn't even realize that I was struggling with. The thing is that I have been hurt a lot in life. And while I thought I had dealt with it, this book helped me realize I was reacting to pain, never processing the hurt, and simply moving my emotions aside. Instead of dealing with what was in front of me, I became closed off and guarded. I never saw it as being problematic; I've wrote it off being reserved.

See, the problem with being closed off is that I only let people in who are a closed off as well. People who won't pry and ask me questions because they don't want to be asked questions. As such, I have a phenomenal track record of choosing the wrong people for my life - both friends and lovers. I choose people who don't properly make room for me and don't have the capacity to be the people I need so the relationship goes how I expect - with me being let down and, ultimately, feeling isolated.

So, the for the last couple of weeks, I sought to understand where this all began and when I learned to be this way. In my strolling through memory lane, I learned that I have memories of being let down that go much farther back then I expected. Being ignored and left to play on my own elementary school because I was the girl who wanted to play on the monkey bars instead of hand games and gossiping by the merry go-round. Being an outcast in middle school because I was the only black girl from the inner city. Being smart and selected for the magnet program didn't properly prepare me to be the sole proprietor of kinky coily hair standing out in classroom of suburban girls with sandy blonde hair and the latest fashions. I remember instances in high school and where I tried to share a new crush with friends and they response would be met with "why? he isn't even that cute anyway..."


I don't think I ever deemed those things as being overtly mean but I also can't deny the small pieces of my heart they broke off each and every time. The silent reception or changing the subject and never letting me flesh out the conversation did hurt. In addition, the fact that I never processed them compounded the effects. Soon, I adapted to the poor reception and learned to discuss myself and the things I valued less and less. For me, the long lasting effects is me subconsciously making myself "smaller" or "insignificant". I created this habit of comparing my stories to others to determine whether or not who I am was worthy of conversing about. I'd shrink myself to accommodate others all for the sake of 'acceptance'. And, as time progressed, I'd meet new folks and never share myself because I had now evolved into a being that no longer knew how.

But, sure, let's just call it reserved.

The inverse of this (AND THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART) is that people share themselves with me so I think we're close friends because I know about them but they don't think we're close because they don't know me.

I have been struggling from hurt and abandonment from a myriad of ended friendships and relationships for years now. I was constantly wondering how people who I considered good friends could let me go so easily and internalizing that to mean that I was not good enough. I look back at the those that I perceived as hurting me and its like... "Holy shit! We were never actually friends! These people don't know me and, thus, don't attribute me as adding value to their lives". Which, in truth, I do not fault them for. I realize now that I was just hurting myself.

It's very humbling to reach my current age in life and realize that I have been carrying this burden of pain tucked in the recesses of my heart and, in doing so, tore down my ability to connect with people around me. And by "humbling", I most definitely mean "yikes".

So where do we go from here?

I push myself to speak up more AND address behavior when I feel like I'm not getting the attention I require. I build relationships with genuine people who will poke into my life and not accept the "I'm fine" and "I'm okay" because, in truth, I can feel like I'm "pushing" myself but I really might not be doing enough. Quiet as its kept, I'm good for a feeble attempt.

The moral of this story is I'm probably gonna try to speak about myself more and it's gonna be awkward so work with the kid.

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One final note: I've been struggling with depression on and off since my mid-20s  but I'm now learning that I don't have a depressive disorder. Instead, my depression is a symptom of me not have safe and healthy relationships in my life. The trigger for the depression was a severe case of broken heart in my mid-20s brought on my a succession of failed relationships. At the time, I felt like I couldn't trust anyone and tried to shoulder all that pain (in addition to life's other burdens such as rent, grad school while working full-time, and church responsibilities) on my own. The problem with that plan is the fact that we are not meant to live life alone. My lack of trust and the decision not to share my life and struggles with others in my life was, literally, crushing my spirit. My inability to say "I'm not okay" was having physical manifestations.

So I want to take this moment to encourage you to seek professional help, no matter how big or small you may think your issues are. Stop self-diagnosing based on shared stories on the internet or from stories of those around you. Just because everyone is doing it or living it does not mean that this is how you're story should be. Community is good and important but it doesn't replace professional guidance. Please take care of yourself and remember that you are loved. There are people in this world and in this life who want to make room for you. You do not have to do this alone.

xo,
jana-lynn

Comments

  1. I will always make room for you. Love you!

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    Replies
    1. thank you, my love! i will definitely hold you to this. ;)

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