A follow-up to this post.
Okay, I lied. I do still feel guilty about some of that stuff.
As a direct result of that incident in high school, in which I experienced a very literal shunning by my closest, dearest friends because I “complained too much,” I now fear to say what I really think about anything to anyone, ever.
I will not deny that I likely was too complainy at the time, (hello, teenager) but I honestly don’t know. It could have been that my personality rubbed the ringleader of the action the wrong way, because she did permanently shun me only a few years later for something she read into something I wrote online. I can honestly say that in that incident, I was at zero fault. (This particular sentence is very difficult to write, because my desire is to carry as much blame as possible for what happened, when in reality, it probably had very little to do with me, and more to do with a simple lack of chemistry.)
As much as I talk, I now say far less than I really feel. Nearly always.
I fear to share the depth to which my faith in Christ goes, because I don’t want to be “that annoying religious girl.” (Another thing I was regularly accused of. “Not everything has to be about Jesus, Tiffany, GOD.” An actual quote I remember vividly.) I am ashamed of this, and I’m working on it. Pray for my boldness to grow.
I fear to use hard words when I can soften every blow, even if I know the hard words will be more effective, and even more truthful or helpful or useful. Because I care more about how the person perceives me than about whether I conveyed my feelings or my opinion or my asked-for advice accurately. I call this “being kind,” to help myself live with it.
I fear to confront someone when I know they’re in the wrong, and I am in a position to call them out in love. Meaning, I have earned the right through relationship, or direct inquiry to give my input. So, even when I am directly asked, I struggle to say the words, “I think you’re wrong about this, and here’s why.” I may go as far as to say, “Have you considered an alternative path?”
I have asked others how to talk to someone about something difficult, but I rarely follow through, because I fear that I will cross the line. Even though I cognitively know that I won’t. That I can trust their love enough to handle when I must ask for something I need, or when I want to take a different approach, or when I think they should think about something differently. I so fear losing someone, that–while I would never lie to them–I may withhold my true thoughts because I know it would hurt.
I think the only person who might know my real, gritty, raw opinion on anything is Levi. He often tells me that I am “too nice,” and I’ve always dismissed it. But I think this is what he sees me doing. I’m not exactly a “people pleaser,” but I sure as heck don’t want to drive them away. I suppose it amounts to the same thing.
There are plenty of people I have opened up to, sure. I can say I’ve even been vulnerable with many of you. If you’ve ever seen me cry, or get cranky about something, you’ve seen my vulnerability. I’m getting better about letting others in, but it’s still incredibly hard to let people see the “controversial” side of me.
I deeply fear rejection. And I look back on those times when I am vulnerable, and I regret it. I just “know” that now that a person has seen the “real me,” that I can henceforth only be a polite acquaintance. Someone they are kind to because of their character, and not mine. And in some cases, I’m sure that’s true. (You can’t please everyone. And that bothers me. Oi, I’m hopeless, I think.)
But my fear of this rejection manifests in that I don’t fully believe, not really, that anyone can really just love me for who I am, warts and all. In spite of blatant evidence to the contrary.
And that is my dilemma.
This is where I find myself. Deeply loving people, and being deeply loved in return, and not quite believing that I am.
It’s not that I believe people are faking it. I wouldn’t go that far. And if you love me and are reading this, please know that I fully accept what love you give me, in whatever way you give it to me, and I feel honored and blessed to be loved. It’s when I am alone in the dark, and my mind wanders, that I question all of it. And it’s through no fault of yours. You are the solution. I am the problem.
Here it is. My struggle.
Why would anyone love me?
Just this Tuesday, when I was coming down with a virus, but thought it was just a hardcore tension headache, I was particularly cranky, and I fell to complaining pretty vehemently to my dearest of friends.
Later, when I was in the midst of fever and aches, I could not get over it. I raked myself over the coals for letting go that way. “I was so bitchy! What is wrong with me? Why does anyone put up with me? Why can’t I just shut up?” (Those were the literal words in my head–and I’m not going to apologize, because I need to be fully honest, if I can. This is very hard for me, so I’m asking for grace.)
Of course, I tested the waters with friends who checked in on me. “I guess that’s why I was so bitchy the other day. Sorry about that.” They all insisted that I wasn’t that way, and on the surface, I accepted their grace. But that grace wasn’t allowed to penetrate very deeply. It only cemented my conviction that my friends are kind, and I am dirt. I am an annoyance. A buzzing fly. A dripping faucet. A whole lot of white noise best ignored until useful. I do not deserve the love of my friends, and I am lucky they put up with me at all, let alone love me enough to continue spending time with me.
This. This is why words of encouragement and love overwhelm me. I cannot deny someone’s love for me when they put it in writing. There it is, in black and white, and I must accept it or call them a liar. Which, of course, I would never, ever do.
And that’s my story.
I have to stop here, or I will burst into tears.
And I’m not even going to proofread because if I do, I will delete it all and run away.
I admit I am ashamed of all of this. And I ask forgiveness from those of you for whom this might cause pain. It is not your fault. This is all me, dear ones. I covet your prayers.
Grace & Peace,
PS: I cannot be alone in this, either. Please share your struggle below–let me know I’m not alone. I don’t want compliments. I want comrades-in-arms to fight these lies. Can we fight together?