I experienced another healing recently. My husband helped me get to it. I love Darin. That’s a good thing since we do want to remain married. He also loves me. I put him through some challenges from time to time. The other day was an example. I can’t really remember what precipitated our exchange, but I was experiencing some difficulties with a couple of my close relationships and it was causing me a great deal of emotional distress. He was trying to help me work that out.
Oh, I remember now. We read books together in the morning over coffee. Actually I read them out loud and he listens. It has to be that way because I fall asleep when someone reads to me. Or my mind wanders. The only time I can listen to the spoken word for more than a couple of minutes is when I am doing something physical, like when I’m making jewelry. I listen to podcasts when I am making jewelry and I listen to audiobooks when I want to take a nap. Anyway, I digress.
So we are in the process of re-reading “Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?” by Gary Thomas. I know, that sounds like something that would not be fun to think about. But it’s actually a really good book with a lot of great thought-provoking ideas. Something about the passage we read the other morning made me realize that I struggle with my close relationships. I was specifically thinking of some female relationships. I went back and looked for what part of the book sparked this feeling in me but I can’t find it now. It must have been only for that moment.
So I confessed to Darin that morning after I finished the chapter, that I struggle with my close relationships. I would rather withdraw than walk through the conflict and hurt of getting past a difficulty. Of course, he already knew that about me, very well. And he was pushing me, as he often does, to look at my sin and excise it from my life, like a tumor that you cut out and be done with. I was trying to explain to him that with my people interactions it is just not that simple. The hurt that I feel when some of my close relationships are going sour is so very deep that I feel the instinctual need to protect myself by withdrawing behind a stony fortress in my heart. Then, I get stuck there. It’s like being in a dungeon. I know I have the key to the door somewhere but I can’t get to it because I am wrapped in chains and I don’t know how to get the chains off of me.
So even though in my heart of hearts, I want the outcome to be that I am spiritually mature and the initiator in mending relationships as the matriarch of the family, many times it hasn’t played out that way. The pain is too great. I was trying to talk my way through that but Darin was kind of pushing back against me. So we had to have a long and mostly unpleasant conversation about how I was feeling about his pushback and how he felt like it was the best thing for me. We went back and forth on this for quite a while and I am so appreciative of his patience. Part of the problem was that I couldn’t fully express what I needed from him because I wasn’t sure where God was leading me in this self-discovery.
He even asked me if I wanted him to just be quiet while I talked and I couldn’t say yes to that. I guess in my heart I think that if he is silent he may not be listening. I’m all about that active listening. I really do want feedback because it lets me know you heard me and hopefully that you get me. But I guess I really did need him to just be quiet while I talked it out because somehow we got to that finally, after continuing the discussion the next day. Yes, this discussion took more than one day to complete. I’m sorry Darin. Thanks for putting up with my neuroses.
Through our process of push me – pull you and a lot of tears and frustration and more talking out my feelings about the difficult relationships and exploring where the pain was coming from, and Darin being exhausted (sorry love), I was able to finally discover the source of my angst, which I pinpointed in an exact scene in my past.
It was during my time of homelessness in Altamonte Springs. Things were obviously not going well for me and I decided that maybe I could make amends with my mother. She’d moved to the other side of the town. I wrote her a letter and found a way over to her apartment, planning to read the letter in hopes that she would forgive me and take me back.
There was a woman there with my mother and to this day I don’t know who she was. I can’t even remember what she looked like. I don’t remember exactly what she said. But I remember how she made me feel. I had been allowed into the apartment, the woman sneering at me and my mother sitting on the couch with a strange look on her face. I don’t know if she was drunk. She probably was, unfortunately.
I stood in the center of the room facing my mother and read the letter, asking to be allowed to come home. My mother didn’t say anything but the woman with her started berating me with profanities and curses, telling me to get the hell out, that I had a lot of nerve coming and disturbing my mother, that I would never be allowed to live there and I should be ashamed of myself for asking.
When I left there, I felt like I had somehow committed a sin so grave that it could never be forgiven. I had had hope before that I could somehow mend the relationship with my mother. But at that moment, I felt like I had no hope at all. I was utterly on the outside, unwanted, despised, and just so very wrong.
After the words and the scene came tumbling out of me, the tears came to wash away the poison left behind by the exit of that burden from my spirit. It was a holy experience for me.
In looking back on this moment and expressing it in words, I was able to see, feel, and understand the momentous impact of that day and to forgive my heart for returning to that scene every single time I had a difficulty with the women in my family or circle of friends. Whenever conflict arises, a primitive part of me returns to the scene of my utter humiliation that day in my mother’s apartment. This happens especially when I sense that two women are somehow “against” me or “for” each other. I just want to run, extricate myself from the situation as quickly as posssible, and hide away in a hidey hole somewhere where I cannot be found. I want to run to things that are harmful for me. I stop wanting to care for myself. I start to believe that I am all the horrible things that woman said I was almost 40 years ago, things that my mother confirmed by her silence that day.
When I gave form to this primitive emotion by expressing it for the first time in words, I experienced a new level of healing from my past. And it diffused the power of the memory so that it no longer held sway over my inner emotions and my knee jerk reactions to those emotions.
I didn’t consciously realize this at first. I just knew that I felt better after talking through my feelings and having Darin there to just listen. But the next day I was able to interact with the very two people who I’d been struggling with, and the angst and pain was gone. My interactions were freed up, and I knew that the spiritual and emotional infection had begun to clear. I could separate what had happened to me from what was currently happening and deal with it in a rational way.
There is something powerful about verbally expressing our pain and our hurtful experiences to another human being. Something about taking it out of the theater of memory and into the present, can greatly lessen or even break the hold it has on our heart, allowing us to move forward in healing and progress toward emotional and spiritual maturity and wholeness. Someone you trust in your life can make space for you to release these toxic memories. Someone who can just listen and not judge, someone who can offer you a hug, a sincere point of contact, and full acceptance of you – that is the person who could usher you to the next level of healing.
Image courtesy of Priscilla