Seen, Known, Loved
I had kept secrets, the kind that I thought I just couldn't tell anyone because I was so afraid I would be rejected. I would share just little snippets of my troubles but hold back that last 2%. And I was dying inside. Dying to be accepted. To really be known. I'm talking the things I wasn't even willing to tell my best friend. I was so full of shame and just believed that letting the story come out would cause way more pain than I was already carrying.
So many of us don't give ourselves completely to our relationships because we have so much fear. What if my worst nightmare comes true? What will happen to me if.....? I'm so inadequate at my job, I'm probably going to get fired any minute. If he really knew what I was thinking he would leave me.
For years I struggled with really allowing anyone to know me. And then I just got tired of pretending. Pretending not to need anyone. Pretending that by hiding I was avoiding more pain. Pretending that hiding kept me safe.
We were struggling in our marriage. To be honest, I thought that I was wanting to be done with it. After 25 years I was tired of hiding all the hurt and pain (so much of it self inflicted because of the lies I believed about myself) and was ready to give it all up. John was "fine", he didn't think there was a problem. Wanting to go to yet another marriage counselor (We went to our first one before we got married, and so many others over the years) seemed to be the last thing anyone would want to do, kind of like, "hey, lets just pull a few of our good teeth while we avoid fixing the decayed ones". . So when I boldly proclaimed that I knew neither one of us was really that "happy" or "fine" and that it was either one more effort with a new counselor where I started to become really honest with myself, John and the counselor or the only other option I thought was available at the time was to seek a divorce attorney (boy I didn't believe that other options were available at the time) well neither one of us were very happy or fine about the entire messed up thing. But we decided to go to someone new and to be completely honest, this new guy looked and sounded like Mr. Rogers and I thought, there is no way John is going to connect with this guy and this probably won't work for either one of us. (I'm glad I was so very wrong-who likes to admit that?).
I started to get real. I confronted all of the pain that had been hidden away. I started to get a little loud about all of it. I was not calm or kind. It was not pleasant and so many times I left that office thinking, yep-this is just not going to work.
I told the counselor that there were certain things I had experienced in counseling before that were not allowed this time around. The issue was I wasn't completely honest the last time around, and I felt wounded when I did speak up so I would just shut down and pretend everything was "fine" again. I needed to be able to be 100% honest in a safe place without someone telling me I needed to just be a more biblical wife. I was angry. And for the first time in our marriage relationship I allowed that anger to come out.
You know what happened? (This was not a quick epiphany as we were in counseling twice a week for over a year) I discovered that I didn't really trust John's love for me. And underneath that was a lack of trust in God's love for me. My mind was blown! I've since learned that I had the worst sort of imposter syndrome you could ever have-I didn't believe anyone could love me, no one really wanted me.
I had identity amnesia, I forgot that I was a child of God and forgot that God is almighty in power and glory and love. That He created me with a purpose and a value that I had very little trust in. As I started to view John through the lens of God's goodness and love I slowly started to believe that what he was saying to me all those years, that he loved me and had a desire for our marriage was true. Better yet I started to believe that God loved me just as I am, that His love is good and kind and without condition.
We may be human and our instinct is to place conditions on other people in order to try to control how we are loved, but God's grace and mercy teach us how to love unconditionally. This includes learning how to love ourselves.
I am more honest and authentic with who I am and some times I'm really loud about it.
I no longer fear that I will be rejected (now sometimes I may be misunderstood but that is never my issue but the person who's thinking may not be fully in the best position to see me completely). Because I take the time to realign with who God is and who He says that I am. I work daily on renewing my mind in light of God's word and I work really hard at discovering my own thought errors, interpretations, of who I think I am.
Who I decide other people are depends a lot on how I look at them. When I see them from God's design I am in awe and have kindness and compassion towards them. I'm not perfect, I slip back into old patterns quite often. But now because of the work that both John and I were committed to do on the first day of the last marriage counselor we will ever need to go to (I believe in tune ups so we know we will always go back to the guy in the sweater, with the soft voice) I can with a sense of surety know that I am loved. I am known. I choose it.