I am not sure what’s going on. But anxiety and depression are still trying to weasel their way back into my life. I’m always ready to cry. I can’t read the news because the terrible stories make me feel hopeless about the human race. I can easily get worked up into a panicky mess when I think about all that is wrong with life or all that could go wrong. I wake up many days feeling bothered by things, by life, like there is something that I should be upset about but I can’t really figure out what it is.
And I’m not sure what to do about it or how to fix it.
I pray and read my Bible and read my encouraging Christian books. And honestly, things are going okay in life, so it’s not like I have some major tragedy breathing down my neck (Thank God!). But it’s more like a phantom fear that hangs over me every day. The feeling that things are not what they’re supposed to be. And how do you fight a phantom fear?
I don’t know.
I’m gonna guess that some of this has to do with not really talking about what the last year or two has done to me, how much it wrecked me and ruined my desire to enjoy life. And I still struggle because I can’t talk about it yet. That’s cryptic, I know, but I can’t really open up about it yet for certain reasons. And I guess I really want to be able to talk it all out. But since I can’t, it creates this unresolved tension. And I feel it every day.
Plus, I still ache from having my oldest friend (my only friend at the time) stop calling me after I stepped in to try to support her crumbling marriage. There are no bad feelings between us, but she stopped calling because she thought she had been complaining to me too much about it all. But I never thought that. And I really was trying to help by saying the hard things that needed to get said. But as a result, I lost a friendship that I desperately needed. And I’ve never really recovered from that loss.
I think losing that friendship caused me to reevaluate so many other relationships in the past and to see them in a new light. These were times in the past when people just didn’t seem to get me or my way of doing things or when I seemed to be the odd person out. But I just figured that other people didn’t understand or that I was being treated unfairly or that the problem was with other people. And then there were times when it seemed like I fit in perfectly and like I was intelligent and helpful and that everyone appreciated it. I was confident that I was doing okay and that I had a place in this world, with others.
But reevaluating all these moments against the backdrop of “You’re such a loser that even your closest, oldest friend would abandon you” made me begin to see that maybe it wasn’t everyone else. Maybe it really was me all along. Maybe I was never more than some pathetic joke, no matter how helpful or intelligent I thought I was.
Maybe I am always the misfit. The screw-up. Maybe I’m not worth sticking with, unless it’s for pity’s sake. I have nothing to really offer a friend. I mean, I used to think that I was good with words and that I had insight and wisdom and could encourage others. I used to think that I was a valuable friend to have. But when my oldest friend could walk away from me that easily and when dozens of people that I shared my blog with won’t read it then I have to conclude that I’m not who I thought I was.
My self-view had been shaken up terribly bad and I have been going through a huge identity crisis.
And it’s making me pull back even more from people. When you feel like you have nothing to offer . . . when you begin to realize that you might not have been as wise, inspirational, insightful, or helpful as you thought you were . . . when you begin to apply “you were such a joke and you didn’t even know it, no wonder people don’t value or respect you or stick with you” to all of the moments in your past, it really does make you want to pull back from everyone now.
I mean, what if all the things that I think sound helpful and wise really do sound like idiotic gibberish to others? (Crazy people don’t know they’re crazy, right? They think that what they’re saying sounds completely logical and wise.)
Or what if I come across as a smug “know-it-all” who always thinks that I have the answers and that everyone should listen to me? I can’t stand those kinds of people. But what if that’s me? I mean, the very fact that I keep writing stuff – even though no one reads it – shows a level of self-absorption and self-glorification, as though I continue to think that the things I say are worth listening to.
What if - when I am talking to others and think I am being helpful or intelligent or encouraging - others are just looking at me with smiles of pity and thinking, “We’ll just wait for her to shut up . . . and then we’ll go back to talking to those who really matter”?
This whole “self-reevaluation” thing has led me to not want to talk to people anymore. It’s hard to talk to people now. When I talk too long or share things about myself or talk too confidently, all I can think is, Shut up. Shut up now. They don’t care. You’re making a fool of yourself!
And yet, not talking is pathetic, too. So what do I do?
I don’t know how to fix this kind of broken self-view. (Or maybe it’s that I don’t know how to adjust to this accurate self-view.) I don’t know how to enjoy people or friendships anymore. I try to make sure to keep the focus on others, to meet their needs, to let them talk about themselves because . . . who really wants to hear what I have to say anyway!?! It’s hard to feel like you deserve to be listened to or cared about when you feel this way inside.
I was brought to tears the other day reading a line in The Dusty Ones by A.J. Swoboda. He said something about how everyone has a deep need to be touched. It made me almost begin crying because I thought “That’s what it is!” That’s what’s been so off in my life lately. I have been aching to be touched. Not physically, but relationally. I have been aching to have people really see me, to reach out and touch my heart, to let me reach out and touch them. To really connect with others. To be seen and known, even with all the messes in my heart and life. And to be loved and valued anyway. To know that I matter, that I am not some off-the-wall loony who should be living all alone in a cabin in the woods on some mountain, carrying around a shotgun and yelling at others to get off my property.
[When your own father never really cared to know you or knew you enough to care about you, it’s hard to feel like others should have to. And incidentally, he lived all alone in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. (But he wasn’t a loony. He was a nice, quiet, gentle man.) And other than his neighbor and his other daughter who had flown in to be with him just before he died a couple years ago, there was no one else there with him when he died and was buried in a handmade coffin on his own property. No goodbyes, no funeral, no nothing. And sadly enough, I never cried. Because we never really knew each other.]
Anyway, I am not sure where to go with all this or what to do about it. I just know that all I can do is wake up every day and say “I need You, Lord. Please, help me.” In all of this, the thing I have learned the most is that I am broken. And that it’s okay to be broken. And that I am in desperate need of God’s presence and care and grace. And I guess that’s a pretty good lesson to learn!
I’m gonna be okay. I know it.
- Heather K (Joshua 24:15, Psalm 46:10)