It's like the old 30-day pledge a priest would get a drunk to make to stay off the sauce for a month. Only now I make it to post something new every day for the month of November. Between school and conferences and wild hedonism, I don't see how I'll have time, but I'll give it a shot. Maybe I'll have to cut out the hedonism, though, to make it work.
Theme for the month credit goes to dolphyngyrl out there at the Verbosery in sunny California. She's doing something about truth and honesty, so I thought that maybe one personal truth about me per day for a month would be a good thing to do.
A month of "If you really knew me..." What could possibly be easier than that?
So day one personal truth: I am scared.
A lot of the time I am scared. Mostly I am scared of rejection. Scared of not being loved or liked. Scared of being discarded. Scared of being hurt.
And not just the normal kind of human insecurity scared, but the debilitating, behavior-twisting, really-going-to-be-a-problem-in-ministry-if-I-don't-work-on-it-now kind of way.
My fear if often buried deep where I think people can't see it. My fear is based in what I call original rejection. Like the concept of original sin, in which Christians believe that all infants carry the shame of Adam and Eve's disobedience in the Garden of Eden, I carry original rejection. At 8 months old, I was abandoned by my birth mother.
There are prettier, less harsh words to put around the events of that time, but the fact of the matter is, when I should have been learning primal trust, I learned something else. That security was fleeting and not real. That I could not trust my mother to be there, and that the world was a pretty big and scary place.
Yes, I landed well. Better than the rest of my half-siblings as it turned out, but developmentally, it left a scar that I am only now beginning to examine and heal by rubbing with emotional salve. I was abandoned. When I should have learned love, trust and security I learned abandonment, rejection and insecurity. Those are key things for babies in the first year.
I fear. I fear abandonment, rejection and hurt. In order to protect myself from those things, I project a facade of bravado, swagger and confidence. I protect myself by keeping the world at arm's length, by not letting anyone get close enough to hurt me. Because when people get close, they do hurt me. When I trust people, they let me down. When I get vulnerable, someone invariably pokes me with something sharp. Maybe not on purpose, but when your heart is bleeding, the motives of the one with the lance are really immaterial.
I keep people at bay with anger and sarcasm and humor. Sometimes it works in that they don't get close enough to hurt me. Sometimes it doesn't work quite like I had planned and they reject me as an angry, sarcastic asshole. And sometimes it really doesn't work and they see through it all and name it for the bullshit smoke screen that it is. I can assure you that no emperor likes to be told that she is wearing no clothes, and I am no different than any other. How they handle it when they reach in and touch me determines whether I can handle them in my lives. Some will be loud and call my bluff in a crowd. Those don't last. But the ones who say something quietly, where no one else can hear, letting me know that they know my secret? They have proven that they can see through it, yes, but more importantly they have proven that they can be trusted not to hurt me, even knowing my vulnerability.
That's convoluted, I know, but it's after midnight, and I haven't done this in a while.
I fear. I'm really a big coward. Scared shitless most days. All that noise and bluster is just noise and bluster, covering up a frightened child who has been hurt deeply. I want to learn to trust. I want to learn to stand up for myself and not give a damn what others think. I want to believe in myself and my worth. I'm in therapy now, working through some of this stuff, trying to learn and grow and heal. It's going to be a long journey. I expect it will be a rough one too. This pain and hurt comes out sideways sometimes, and I lash out at people and situations that really are not the problem. Bear with me world. Buckle up.