My Relationships with People and Myself
It is no secret that I have been fighting with myself recently. My fight (or lack of fight?) seems to be a roadblock to CPT, and I have been chewing on this for a few weeks. This Tuesday, we stepped away from the script. We discussed which direction we need to move toward. The door was open to me for discussing my feelings. The problem is, the pain feels so intense I have no idea what I am feeling. I know I am sad. Really, really sad. I have a constant lump in my throat begging me to release the pressure valve. I also have this weight in my chest from not letting it go. I avoided that like I avoid the stomach flu: staying far, far away. I was also given the opportunity to discuss the client/therapist relationship. I guess I skirted around that issue. Instead, I changed the subject to the more tangible issues I am struggling with, including normal daily functioning. I do not want to get out of bed. I do not want to eat or drink. I don’t even care if I live. I am not sure how I got here. I have some ideas, I suppose. These are the things stuck in my throat, the things I am trying to process so the painful spasms are alleviated:
1. The past several weeks I have been keenly aware of a cognitive deficit. In Cognitive Processing Therapy I have been unable to fight thoughts I have about the way I see a really muddy circumstance. I have no idea what the truth is, and it makes how I see myself and the world uncertain. Not being able to fight the thoughts or feelings makes me feel like a failure, but it also further solidifies in my mind that what I believe to be true must be fact.
2. Maybe it is my own lack of compassion, kindness, and empathy for myself that I am projecting on others, but I have felt completely alone while walking uphill recently. I tell someone I am depressed, and they say nothing in response. I need acknowledgement. I tell someone I need help with regulation, and they tell me to fight. I need tangible ways to fight in that moment. I tell someone I cannot eat or drink, and they tell me to eat and drink. I need them to know I am afraid of so much.
3. Finally, I am fighting guilt and shame. This is not new. In fact, this has been a struggle for me for as long as I can remember. It just seems exacerbated recently because I have been more transparent about myself than ever before, feel like I am failing, and cannot will myself to accept myself or change myself. In my life, if I make up my mind to accomplish something, I just do it. But, I cannot figure out how to walk away from guilt and shame. I cannot figure out how to accept myself, expect acceptance from others, or understand God’s acceptance and love for me.
My Relationship with God
A little while ago I attended a ladies retreat at my church. While I sat there, I listened intently as someone I respect discussed God’s knowledge of me. It was a lot to chew, and I have since attempted to swallow it. It has not yet gone all the way down, so I am sitting in pain trying to understand why God has this crazy, intimate knowledge of me and is not repulsed by me. The esophageal spasms are pretty intense.
As I said, there was a lot to swallow, but the important parts are these: God knows my actions (“O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up…”), thoughts (“…You understand my thoughts afar off.”), movements (“You comprehend my path and my lying down…”), motives (“…And are acquainted with all my ways.”), and words (“For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether”). Psa. 139:1-4
You have no idea what words come to mind when I think about that. They are not nice words. They are expletives that could convey panic. I mean, the people who see only some of my actions, movements, and words tend to be repulsed, disgusted, or irritated by me probably quite frequently. Sometimes they may find it hard to love me or like me. It is hard to have patience, compassion, or acceptance for someone when you see their shortcomings, among other things. But God knows those things as well as my thoughts and motives. Those things are extremely private. Those are the things that determine who a person truly is, and those are the things that make me hate myself more than anything else.
But, (this is the part that is stuck in my throat) verses 17 and 18 say this: “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with you.” God knows my actions, thoughts, movements, motives, and words and is not ashamed, afraid, or disgusted by what He knows. He stays and loves. His thoughts about me are loving in an endless and unconditional way.
A Solution? Honesty
I do not believe that I need to dump my actions, thoughts, movements, motives, and words for everyone to see. At least not all of them. I do think I need to make an effort to express myself. For some people in my life, that means I need to set boundaries. For others, I may need to accept their friendships/relationships, and for the rest, I need to take a sledgehammer to the wall I keep rebuilding and get honest about how I feel and what I think. That stuff matters in recovery, and right now I am so hedged in by the walls I have built that I cannot move beyond.
I do believe that I need to dump my actions, thoughts, movements, motives, and words for God to see. All of them. There is this seemingly random section in Psalm 139 that David (the author) writes. He throws in this crazy prayer in verses 19-22: “Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God! Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men. For they speak against You wickedly; Your enemies take Your name in vain. Do I not hate them, O LORD who hate You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.” Throughout the entire Psalm, David writes about how God knows literally everything and loves unconditionally. David knows this and still dumps his thoughts, good or bad, in a prayer (And let’s be honest, David was talking about hating people with “perfect hatred.” How is that good?).