Upon reading “Lifting the Veil,” a prayer in Iyanla Vanzant’s Daily StimuMail, I was reminded of my reluctance to look within myself for the reasons why I was always feeling so bad. It just seemed easier to find ways and things to block the pain and discomfort, to blame folks, work, and circumstances for it.
I happened to be in a relationship when things began to change, and I had started looking to him for comfort. I needed him to assuage the sadness I was feeling; I needed him to be my “feel good”; I needed him to be my “fix”, the Bandaid, as it were, for the wound that was at the root of the problem.
I needed that fix from him all the time and when he didn’t come through, I was sad, my heart ached, I was even immobilized sometimes. “How could he treat me this way?” I cried. “How can he be so cold and unloving?”
The truth, though, was that a Bandaid wasn’t the answer to my problem and being my Bandaid wasn’t his responsibility. I didn’t come to that realization, though, until a few days after I did something that was totally out of character for me.
For reasons I won’t go into here, he had refused to talk to me for an entire week. That one week seemed more like months to me so that Sunday, I showed up totally unannounced on his out-of-town doorstep. I’d awakened that morning resolved to see him, to make him talk to me, to get my fix, and not once during the hour and a half drive did I consider the absurdity of what I was doing. It may not seem absurd to some, but to me, it just wasn’t something I was in the habit of doing in relationship…had never done, in fact. So yes, this was totally out of character for me. Hmmm, as I think about it now, maybe even that behavior was symptomatic of this issue, wasn’t it?
Anyway, he wasn’t home when I arrived, and it was a movie and several miserable hours later before I finally saw him and worked things out. The relationship survived my brief foray into “madness”, yes, but the day revealed that something was terribly wrong and needed to be fixed.
During the drive home, I finally asked the pertinent questions: “Why did I do that? Why did his rejection hurt me so deeply?” “Why was everything hurting me so deeply?”
I had noticed over the years that even though his rejection was devastating, certain other events left me emotionless. I could sit through relatives’ funerals, for instance, and feel no emotion at all. It could be said that we hadn’t been close enough for me to feel anything, but even when my favorite uncle died, I couldn’t shed a tear. And the one memory I have of my father’s funeral was sitting there dry-eyed while the usher fanned and implored us to “go ahead and cry.” But no tears came.
But back to the revelation. In answer to my question, God revealed to me that the emotions I’d been repressing for all those years since my father’s illness and death in 1975 were finally surfacing, and my beloved’s rejection was tapping into that deep well of pain.
No longer could I repress the grief, the pain of losing someone so dear to me, or the fear and anger over the terror my family had been subjected to after Daddy’s death. It all was demanding to be released!
No longer would time with my beloved, or work, TV, books, alcohol, drugs, food serve as distractions.
It was finally time to resolve the emotions of the past and the not-so-distant past.
Either I could allow the emotions to come forth now, or I could continue blaming others for the pain that was, unbeknownst to me, written all over my face. I could allow them to come forth, or I could end up destroying the relationship that was so important to me.
My choice that day was freedom; freedom from the past; freedom from the well of pain that innocuous TV shows and commercials were tapping into; freedom from the pain that often immobilized me for days; freedom from the pain I’d been hiding from family, friends, and colleagues.
Yes, it was time!
So, for the next few months, whenever I felt that familiar heaviness or that overwhelming sadness, I’d take a seat in my bedroom recliner and sit with the sadness. I’d allow it to rise from the hidden places of my heart, and I would cry.
I’d cry for minutes, sometimes hours.
I’d feel the pain in my arms, legs, fingers, and toes.
The pain would be so deep sometimes that it rendered me breathless, racking my body with sobs.
Sometimes I’d sit on the bathroom floor, the door closed against the moaning and wailing that rose from deep within my soul.
At the beginning of each session of what I now refer to as my release ritual, I began asking God to show me the reason for the tears I was about to shed and in my mind’s eye, a scene from the past would play out while I released the emotions associated with it.
Those were some rough weeks, but I’m so very thankful that I made to choice for freedom, that I didn’t give up.
I’m grateful I got to walk in the light at the end of the tunnel, to experience the joy that comes in the morning, and to witness the beauty for ashes and the joy for tears that God promised.
I think, though, that I knew I wasn’t being the person God created me to be because I’d often think of her as trapped inside, wanting to be this, wanting to do that, wanting to be free, free to just BE!!
No more pretending that all was well even though my heart and mind were filled with pain.
No more needing to be Wonder Woman in order to prove I was on my game.
No more allowing the behavior of others to dictate how I feel. If he called, I was happy; if he didn’t, I was sad.
No more needing anyone to fill my voids or to be my joy. Love and self-acceptance fill the voids, and from within comes my joy.
No more avoiding the dance floor. I may not know how to wobble, but I do what I do to my heart’s content.
And while I may not be the best singer in the room, I’ll grab my makeshift mic (knife, spoon, fork, pencil, or pen) and do my thang.
No more restricting myself to the treadmill because I’m too self-conscious to walk outside. I now walk wherever I want—in the park, on the trail, along the river walk, on country roads, even on city sidewalks with traffic whizzing by and without a single thought about who may be criticizing me.
I was discussing plans for our high school reunion with a classmate recently, and she shared how impressed some of our classmates are with me. “Why?” I asked. “Because you talk now,” she replied. I laughed. I had met and talked with several of them while living down home on the farm after my cross-country road trip. How great it was to reconnect and not look for reasons to avoid it.
As for the relationship, it ended a few years later. I cried, yes, but when I think about it now, I can actually smile; first, because it happened and second, because of the role it played in my becoming.
With that said, I hope you’ll read the prayer that prompted me to tell all my business in this blog post (well, maybe not quite ALL of it), and I hope it’ll be the beginning of your journey to freedom.