I love people’s stories. I love reading them. I love watching them. I love telling them. I love everything about them. You know Humans of New York? I. Cannot. Get. Enough.
I think this is the reason blogging appeals to me so much. It is essentially a virtual studio where I can craft my story. I’ve been blogging (on and off) since June of 2007 … so almost 15 years now. For most people, blogging was the thing to do in the early 2000’s, but has long since been replaced by other storytelling platforms. (I know I’m channeling my inner old lady when I say this but whatever. I’ve still never been on TikTok.)
For me, blogging is still the thing. My blog feels like home. I look back on past posts … old ones from when I first met Chris. When we were married. When my dad was sick. When we had babies. It’s like a digital catalog of all the twists and turns and ups and downs of my life. When I read my blog, I feel like I’m reading the world’s most relatable novel. [Featuring me. No wonder I relate.]
It happens to be in a public forum, and of course I love the feedback people sometimes give me, but ultimately that’s not why I write. I write because I want a record. I want my life to have meaning and this is how I find it.
[Just a heads up … I’m about to use words* that I’ve come to understand through months of counseling and therapy work. Six months ago they meant something totally different. I realize that the words I use may mean something different to other people. That’s okay. We’re all on our own journey.]
So in the story of my life, this year — 2021 — might be considered the turning point. (Or at least A turning point.) Twelve years in on this marriage … twelve years of trying to do life and marriage and faith one way, only to come face to face with the hard truth that what we’ve been doing isn’t working. The things that have been “true” about how life and relationships work no longer seem true anymore.
Some might call this deconstruction. It might also be reckoning or mid-life or maturity. Whatever the case, this year my eyes were opened.
Some I know in person, others I’ve just read or listened to or learned from. But every one of these people were part of the cast in my life drama that God used wake me up to my true story. The truth that my view of the world was formed and informed by unprocessed trauma*. That the way I interacted with people and the world around me – controlling, fearful, codependent*, anxious – it was my way of coping. It was the only thing I knew. It helped me survive. But it was broken.
I know that for many of you that know me personally, you might be surprised. I am pretty practiced at presenting myself to the world in a way that looks acceptable. Healthy even. I have a practiced vulnerability that is very carefully curated.
The truth is, for most of my adult life, I have maintained a tight grip on [the illusion of] control in relationships so I felt safe. Only the safety didn’t last so I had to keep finding new ways to feel like things were okay. I was ambivalently* attached to people, so I needed continual assurance that I was loved. That we were okay. That everything was going to be okay. I needed to keep checking. And reassuring. And checking again, just to be sure.
Even in writing that, I can see that to be on the receiving end of an ambivalent attachment is exhausting.
This ambivalent attachment played out in every single relationship in my life. It is how I related to God. To my husband. To my family. To my friends. Everyone had to prove their love to me. Over and over and over again. And no matter how many times they did it, I was still never sure so I kept checking. Are we okay? Are you sure? Are you SURE sure?
43 years of asking those same questions.
This year, beginning with a week in June with some strategically placed people and Holy Spirit directed conversations, the journey towards understanding and acceptance and hard internal work and healing began. (And now … just a few weeks from the end of the year … finally recognizing the deep significance that my word for the year — GENTLE — has for this part of my journey.)
Awareness.Trauma.Counseling.Healing.Story.Trigger.Regulation.Somatic.Implicit. I know those are buzzwords. I know they carry a lot of weight and baggage for many people. They did for me, for many years.
And yet, this year I have discovered a huge amount of freedom in learning what they actually mean. In diving into the past and understanding my pain and wounding. In admitting it existed. In allowing God into the pain so He can heal and redeem it. In being tender and compassionate towards myself. In feeling awe at the journey I’m on.
And here’s where I find such connection in the telling of stories. Because the meaning of our lives life is revealed as we learn to tell our true stories.
Let’s start the next chapter.