Sabotaging the Good

In my Celebrate Recovery group, we talked a lot about how working through our issues is like peeling an onion. You peel away one layer and there’s another underneath it to work through. I know that this self-doubt I have that causes my lack of trust is a very big layer for me. I wasn’t ready to face it for a long time, but I guess God feels I’m ready now.  

I started a book, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, about nine months ago. I got about two-thirds through the book and stopped. I don’t know why I stopped; I think life just got in the way. I went back home to Texas last weekend for my high school reunion and brought the book with me thinking I would read it on the plane. I didn’t read it on the way up there, I really just wanted to NOT focus on my issues for a bit and take a break from dealing with hurt and self-doubt. One of the things we focused on in CR is working to live in and enjoy each moment rather than focusing on the past or future, trying to be present in the now and not worry about what may happen. Honestly, it’s hard for me to do and I have to consciously remind myself.   

I didn’t even remember I had the book with me until the last leg of my flight home. We hear all the time that God’s timing is perfect, and let me say, I have never had more proof of that until I picked this book back up and read the next chapter. I had to read this chapter, “Cultivating Gratitude and Joy; Letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark”, three times. I soaked it all in. If I had read this months ago, it would never have spoken to me the way it did now. I had my “aha” moment, my epiphany, God was literally talking to me! 

I have been living in “fear of the dark” for a long time. For years, I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop, or maybe a whole new pair of shoes, or maybe the whole damn closet! All I know is Brené was describing me, she knew me, she knew my thoughts and my fears. In one chapter, she helped me realize what was causing me to doubt myself and others, why I can’t trust.  

I really began my CR journey seven years ago when I began leading music there every Monday night. I didn’t join a group and begin a step study until early last year. I had slowly worked through so much before I began that study, that I already knew my biggest problem was myself. My inventory consisted of my issues with me- my need for perfection, my insecurity about my worth and value, my fear of truly being myself and still being loved. I knew I needed to work on me, but I viewed all these things as separate issues and they were separate issues at that time because God knew I wasn’t ready to deal with them all at once. I needed to break them down into smaller issues and clear some if it away to get to the root of the problem.  

“Until we can tolerate vulnerability and transform it into gratitude, intense feelings of love will often bring up fear of loss.”  Brené Brown 

This hit me so hard I had to reread it multiple times. I had been hurt. I had felt broken and destroyed to the point where I didn’t want to live. I spent at least a year of my life completely numb and emotionally detached to protect myself from the pain. I slowly allowed my emotions back in, but feelings trigger me. I didn’t realize it, but my own feelings trigger my doubts.  

Joy triggers loss, happiness triggers loss, and most of all love triggers loss. I cannot truly enjoy what I have because I am scared it will be taken away. I can’t live in the moment, because I know it will end. I am constantly preparing myself for loss. I am too scared to fully invest myself because I don’t want to be hurt. I am too scared to fully love because I don’t want to lose it again. I’ve had a lot of loss in a short time, and I am too busy protecting myself from more loss to truly enjoy what I haven’t lost and what I’ve gained.  

Here’s where these thoughts really do some damage.  When someone fails me in some way, it confirms to me that I am correct to expect that loss and prepare myself for it. I might even be pushing people away because I don’t want to be rejected or hurt. The good times in life trigger me to protect myself from the hurt I have come to expect. The bad times confirm that the hurt will come and I am right to protect myself. But, can we really protect ourselves from pain that hasn’t happened yet? Or are we just keeping ourselves from the joy God promises us?

“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” Brené Brown 

I can continue to build walls to protect me from further pain, but that won’t keep the pain away. I can worry that someone will hurt me, or I can accept that they’re human and probably will and love them anyway.  I can be anxious for what may come, or I can enjoy what is happening now. What I can’t do is continue to doubt all because a few were not trustworthy. I can’t continue to question my worth because someone made me feel like I don’t matter to them. I can’t continue to question the amazing life I have because I’m dwelling on the loss of what I never had. I can’t let the pain in my past steal the joy of my future.  

My future may look nothing like I had planned, but it is the plan God has for me. No one gets the life they planned, none of us walk away without hurt and loss and disappointment. But many people walk away without joy. Many people spend their life searching for a happiness they can’t find because they are too busy preparing for the loss. I am determined to be more intentional with my gratitude. Not just acknowledging the good in my life, but seeing everything that happens as a way for God to bring me closer to the joy he has promised me. I don’t want to miss out on it! 

This is the day that the Lord has made; 
    let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 

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