A Struggle

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,

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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?

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12 thoughts on “A Struggle

  1. Dear Friend,
    I can honestly and whole heartedly say that I could have written this. From the teenage experiences to the inner voice. Even comment from an impressionable age can define such a big part of our lives, but we can rewrite the script. I have only recently learned how to combat this and that it is a true spiritual battle.

    I have been working for over a year in a deliberate way, to retrain my brain and heart. The first step is action, not belief. I learned to dismiss and reject thoughts that came to me by saying “isn’t that interesting” or “that will not define me” and letting them pass through without importance. I had a tendency to analyze everything that came to my brain. I learned that this just gives them more power. “Dark thoughts” that logically I can say do not come from God, they also do not come from me (whether that is true or not is not the point.) You can take it a step further and say “where do they come from?” but that would give too much power to them. Do you want to give the enemy that much power?

    You have been created beautiful on the inside and out and the housekeeping that has to be done is just the removal of dust and darkness that does not belong there. Unlike actual housekeeping, the removal takes place when you focus on the parts of the house that are not dirty and not messy. Let the light in, open the blinds and sit peacefully in the uncluttered corners. In the mind the dust and dark is removed by the practice of dismissing them.

    One very dark day I had, over a year ago, I was praying so hard and in such despair. Normally, when I go to the bathroom to cry it must be really bad, but this day answer came in a glimpse in the mirror and a revelation of the way the Lord sees me. I sit here crying even just remembering that moment. The overwhelming LOVE that I probably couldn’t have even handled more than a glimpse. The Lord loves you this way too. He sees you for the light He has placed there. Embrace that and reject the rest. Healing is not just a surrender to the light, but a rejection of what is weighing us down.

    All my love, Sara

    • Sara,
      I don’t know what to say. I know that you are right, and I have experienced freedom from other lies I have believed over the years, but this one is hanging on stubbornly. I guess that’s why I needed to write about it. Bring it into the light, like you said. Let the sunshine in to bleach it out and burn it down so it can be swept away like so much dust and ash.

      I want it to go away, so I can be free from the pride it triggers. The pride that “I’m the only one” or that “I’m unworthy” or whatever… I think you know what I mean.

      Thank you for speaking words of life into me today. THANK YOU.
      Love,
      Tiff

  2. That’s the best part! We are all unworthy and we are all the only ones that have gone what each of us has gone through. However, despite all this, we are LOVED and we are not alone. We have been given each other to uplift. Thanks for opening up and giving me the chance to be your friend.

  3. Girl, you do take the long way around! I love you because you are too soft. So there. I feel like I am safe with you. There is a good reason for a personality like yours. You going to deliver babies with a club? 🙂

    However, I think the main thing is that you are asking self and others. We don’t know!

    We are to (with thanksgiving) make our request know to God! He knows.

    And how easy to skip the “with thanksgiving part”!

    Give thanks in all circumstances, Tiff. Thank Him for mean girls. Thank Him for people who don’t notice when you feel as if you griped too much. Thank Him for days when no one gripes, accuses, forgives, or anything, and you cna just rest. Give thanks in all circumstances. Accept all as a gift from Him, to form you, gudie you, strengthen you, train you, exercise you.

    He will show you later what He was about. Not before. ❤

    • I do tend to take the scenic route, don’t I? Too often, usually, but hey. It’s definitely part of my wiring. The good thing is that when I do come around, I tend to stay that way, which is good, right?

      I don’t mind being soft at all. I’d rather be tender. I just don’t like that I walk on eggshells unnecessarily, always more afraid of saying the wrong thing.

      And you are right on, as usual. I decided to put into practice some thanksgiving for all of this this morning, after reading your exhortation. Thank you for your words of wisdom, my friend, and for sticking with my ridiculous blog all this time. ❤

      • NOT ridiculous!
        What’s ridiculous is my TYPING in that comment above. Haha! I cannot believe I left all those typos up there! Now, I’m double checking and I hope this is correctly done! 😀
        Love ya! Love your writing!

      • Hahaha!!!

        I just posted a book review, and referenced George Orwell’s “1985.” *facepalm*
        Typos happen to all of us, and truly, those don’t matter nearly as much as the heart of it.

        Love ya back! ❤

  4. Letting the light shine on the problem and letting others in to help you see the truth from the lies is good. I find that I still am surprised by the fact that people rally like me and want to spend time with me, but when I realize that that is what I am thinking I am able to see the ridiculousness about it.

    I was actually telling my girls last week about a art student friend of mine who invited me to go to the coast with her because she wanted to spend time with me, and how I was stunned that that could be true. But upon looking it straight in the eye I could except it. It may sound arrogant but I would want to be my friend. I really like who I have turned out to be, warts and all.

    You are one of my favorite people! That is the honest to God truth. Why? Because you care so much about the feelings of others. Because you are real! Because you have faults and are willing to bear them in front of others. This makes you approachable and lovable.

    This is a truth that I have found in my many years. People are all messed up! The ones who have it all pulled together are the ones who are the most messed up because they are still hiding from people. Making mistakes makes us real. learning to laugh about and share our faults and struggles with others, helps them to realize that they can do the same.

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