Praying for Freedom...
Updated: Oct 24, 2022
Freedom has meant a lot of different things to me in my life. Freedom to do all sorts of things, freedom from having to do all sorts of things. But mainly, all of my quests in relation to freedom really all boil down to freedom from myself. This tightly wrapped package of Erin that I feel so chained to, so trapped by all the time. For the most part, I have been exhausted by my struggle against myself. All the things my head thinks, all the sensations that I feel, all the worries that I have, all the insecurity and doubt. But all of that can really be distilled to my struggle to feel and really believe that I am worthwhile in a world where it seems that I have constant and unremitting evidence that I do not. And even that isn’t really true, I think mostly I look for others to confirm what I already think about myself. I am not sure, right now at almost 53 years old, that anyone else really thinks that I am worthless and the way they treat me is and always will be more about them than it is me. But I have until last night, always, and I do mean always, taken the jabs, the quips, the poking fun, the making me out to be the “lesser” one, as manifestations of the lack of worth they see in me.
It happened again the other day. Nothing horrible or terrible. Just family verbal sparring that is sometimes fun except when I find myself on the receiving end of those pokes a little more than I would like. I am apparently an easy target, or I seem to attract people who are just very good at the pithy quip. It is just how it is apparently. Or at least how it feels like it has been. So the other evening I found myself a bit tired of it. And as usual, I lacked vocabulary to say how I felt. When I am overwhelmed by emotion, I shut down. And not only can I not talk about it, I am often not even really sure what it is that I feel.
My typical, habitual response is to shut down and then mount arguments as to why it is happening. And more importantly, what I am going to do to make it stop. Which almost always has to do with me seeking freedom. And in romantic endeavors, I put together a good case as to why this guy just isn’t the “right” one and then, whether I actually leave the relationship or not, I am outta there.
And I am sad to report, that is where I was the other night, on my way out. I was putting together the age old case that has testimony like this:
“Well, I don’t want to be made fun of...I should look for a guy that cherishes me, not pokes fun at me.”
“This feels an awful lot like my marriage - the kids and the man always calling me out on being me, making fun of me and laughing at me.”
“NO ONE really gets me. I am just here trying so hard to connect and I just keep failing, perhaps I just attract people who just want to treat me badly.”
And my all time favorite:
“Since I have a long record of people who treat me like this, this must be how I deserve to be treated...”
That one makes me want to end it all because it is so final, such a complete wrap up. I keep pulling people into my orbit that treat me the same way, so I must deserve to be treated like this...and I hate the way that I am being treated but I don’t seem (look at all the evidence) to ever be able to find anyone who will treat me differently.
Now, of course, I could not share any of this with anyone. If my sponsor had not been on her way to Hawaii, I would have called her because she knows this particular refrain of mine all too well. She has become an unwitting expert on helping me to sidestep the perilous ruin of my own lack of worth wreaking havoc on my current intimate relationships.
But she was not available and I was too upset to really discuss it with actual words. I was completely, totally locked down.
So I went to the beach, and I sat on the sand and I prayed. I searched the nighttime sky for shooting stars, some sign that I was in the right place, that I was worthy. I mean it seems to me that if God will grant you the witness of a star coming to the end of its life, that by definition, makes you pretty worthwhile.
So I sat and waited and mulled over the events of the day, and of my life and tried to find a little peace. One that didn’t have me running from my family and him. And I did what I always did, spent most of my time trying to think of ways to manipulate and control him and her and everyone else on the planet. And I came up with what I always came up with...leave. Run. Seek freedom.
But fuck if I haven’t done this so many, many times. I run when afraid. When I think that what I am getting from others is confirmation of what I already believe about myself: that I am not worthy.
And fuck if I am not so fucking tired of that.
So I did something different. I prayed. I prayed with the prayers I know and a couple I made up. I prayed to see truth, not MY truth, but THE truth. Any truth but the one that wells up inside me and becomes my only reality. And then I sat and waited. I waited for God to reply, because in my experience, God always replies. Infinitely polite my God. And it came, not at first, I had to be patient and sit and wait for God to show me that which I was seeking. But in fairly short order, like less than a lifetime, God granted me the peace that I sought and I was able to return to camp and go to sleep.
I saw three shooting stars last night which is funny because there are three of us on this camping trip. One for each of us. And to me that meant that God was telling me that we are all the same, life forces that have a beginning, a middle and an end. And I am lucky to be here with them. And I am lucky to be alive and in a relationship with someone who most of the time tells me I am amazing and wonderful and that he loves me.
And then it came to me...that what my daughter and guy were doing yesterday wasn’t really about me at all. It was about them and I was taking their behavior and making it all about me. Truly, I don’t know what they really think about me but I know that they love me. I believe that to be true. And so why would anyone who loves another treat them in the manner that I was calling them out for. They were just having fun, lighthearted jabs of love. I was the one that was taking it and making it into something else. And really how I felt was more about the past than it was the present. I was using today’s behavior to confirm an age old feeling that I had/have which is that I am not worthy.
And what God said to me that night was that everything is worthy which would include me despite my arrogance to believe that I am one being on this spinning ball throttling through space and time that is NOT worthwhile.
It was chilly on the beach and al little damp, but I was not cold. I felt alive and invigorated by the feeling of closeness to the Divine. I was touched and loved and supported even when I told myself stories that made me feel so much different.
As I walked back to camp, I did what I always do, dedicated to myself that I would not share this little break down with anyone ever. And here I am writing about it today. But as I neared my “home” I realized that if I truly want to be connected to others I have to tell them all of it. All of me. Who I really am and what I really think and feel. And as terrifying as that is...it is ok. They will either be able to handle it or not. They will either understand or they won’t. And that is just ok. Really.
What I learned that night on the beach is that I am backed by the universe, the Milky Fucking Way, sat with me and told me that I can have the courage to say what I feel in the moment, sometimes though I have to let it percolate for a bit, to ventilate so that it doesn’t come out all accusatory and sideways. So that I don’t inflict trauma and damage onto those I love, because they too have these back stories that are filled with doubt, insecurity, trauma and pain. The too want to be loved, adored and cherished. And perhaps, maybe they too are afraid to speak up. And even though I so want someone else to be the brave one, the one that risks it all and puts it out there, sometimes it has to be me. And sometimes it has to be me stopping the stories that I tell that myself about myself that are awful, and then looking to confirm that in the treatment I receive from others. I have to be the one to stop. Me. I have to do that.
The next day I talked to him. I told him how I felt. I shared with him all my insecurity and doubt and fear and pain. And do you know what he did? He listened. He hugged me tight and loved me right through my insecurity and doubt. He didn't tell me I was over reacting, even though we both knew that was true. He listened and he cared and he showed me that I can trust him to tell him these things, in fact, he even encouraged me to do this, always.
I turned a corner in my recovery and life the other morning. I didn't listen to all the false evidence appearing real, and instead of turning away, I turned towards. And that has made a huge difference in my life. I feel closer to him, to her and to myself. I feel closer to God and to be present in my life. I healed something within me that has long sat in a place that only brings destruction. I prayed for freedom and I got it...not from him or her, but from myself. And as I am learning, sometimes that is the best freedom out there. Freedom to have a new experience with yourself. Freedom to see that it isn't really everyone else that doesn't think you are worthy, no, just you thinking up shit and projecting that onto others to sabotage the wonderful connections that make life really worth living. I prayed for freedom and I got it while sitting under a starry sky on a sandy beach living this most amazing life. Sometimes it just doesn't feel fair or real...but fuck if I am not grateful every single moment of every day.