Circle the Wagons


I cannot explain how weird it is to feel the way I feel right now. I’m desperate to share. I believe in my heart of hearts that sharing will do some good. For myself and others. I can’t be alone. Others must understand. But here I sit, four months into blogging, and I cannot commit to full-disclosure.

The walls, the massive tower of criticism that holds me back from sharing, from complaining too much, it consumes me. No doubt a learned behavior – isn’t it all? We’re certainly not born this way. The battle of nature and nurture will rage forevermore.

My inner-critic eager to tap me on the shoulder and whisper in my ear. “No need to share. No need to whine and complain. Everyone struggles, and everyone suffers. Get over yourself. Someone always has it worse than you. Suck it up, and move on!” The wall of personal destruction… or maybe deconstruction.

I’ve been down the path time and time again, and it always leads me to a brier patch of pain. The voice of my inner-critic is without a doubt, a voice or voices from my childhood. A system of checks and balances. A corrupt system, built on misconduct, misunderstandings, and miscommunication.

A little girl trained to swallow her feelings. Hurt and concerns met with scorn and disgust. Truth replaced with shame and fear. What I see now, that I couldn’t see then, they didn’t want to hear, didn’t want to see. They didn’t want to face the nightmare they had created. If we don’t talk about it, then it doesn’t exist. Turn away. Run away. Flee!

My fear is not without substantiation. I spent 40 years hiding my pain – covering up my wounds. Owning them, and wearing them as a badge of honor – a medal of courage. As if I’d fought a war, and the battle had made me a better person – the best person. Right or wrong, I made every effort to hide the garbage in my life. I’m strong, because of my pain!

I’ve had slippage and spillage. Little hints of the truth coming out, in moments of pure exhaustion. Generally, in response to an incessant antagonizing, followed by seasons of pain and deceitfulness.  The pain of human existence – wounds inflicted by others. Words and actions leaving deep cuts, and wounded memories.

See, I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone a time or two. I’ve allowed myself to feel welcome and wanted by a person, maybe a few. Small moments, pockets of time, when the overwhelming madness of trauma and anxiety devoured me. A rhythm and cycle I was unaware of prior to my head-on collision. Mindlessly traversing this earth, unaware of triggers and shame.

Completely oblivious to the baggage I was, and still am, carrying around. But see, God turns beauty to ashes. And though I cannot always feel Him moving, I know that He continually uses this dark moment in my life for good. See, now I’m aware. I understand the reasons for how I feel, and how my life is now, so I learn and manage.

And still, here I sit circling the topic, the truth. I get so lost in the details. I’ve put myself out there, shared in confidence, my pain and struggles. Whatever they were at the time, whatever season of life I was stumbling through, always led me to suffocating in my own sorrow. Dumping it all in a rage of rushing water, un-dam-able, and undeniable.

The purging of things buried in the sort term and long; an unearthing of pain-filled corpses. In these moments, shame consumes me in my weakness. My inner-critic reminding me how pathetic I’m being. All the while, fine-tuning my amygdala to hyper-vigilance and awareness. A skewed point of view seen through irrational eyes.

When I share, I feel too much. I find myself sinking in all that is said, but worse, all that is not said. I never know if people are simply listening, or if they’ve tuned me out. Or worse, I’m terrified that they’re simply choosing to follow the rule of if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. There is the chance that I’m simply misunderstood – I really have no clue. But silence will be the death of me.

Silence of unanswered calls, and mixed messages. The sinking solitude of we should get together followed by seasons of nothingness. The emptiness of feeling shunned, with no idea of what you’ve done, other than share. Slamming the door to the tower shut – hammering nails one by one, to insure the door will never open again. No matter how I twist it, sharing my struggle leads to alienation and isolation.

The more I reach out, the more I try, the more my mind and body responds to perceived situations. Honest interactions leaving me lost in a maze of sadness and confusion. So, where does that leave me now? No closer to sharing the laundry list of labels and diagnosis, but closer to where I need to be. Just around the corner from freedom, sits acceptance.

That’s the thing, I have yet to accept my situation. I’m desperate and hungry for others to accept it, but I haven’t even begun to do so myself. Acceptance in this moment, involves truly surrendering myself to the notion that I have no control. Something I know to be true in theory, but… I struggle.

I’ve worn the labels before, and it opened a floodgate of self-pity and wallowing. More by the people such labels brought into my life, than by me, but their energies were contagious. How does a person accept their lot in life, without marrying the darkness of disappointment? See, talking about a thing makes it real, and pretending otherwise no longer works.

I wake every morning to a mind full of ideas, and a body full of promise. For a few moments every morning, I feel like maybe this will be the day that these feelings align with truth. I feel a twinge of youth, a flash of who I used to be, and I pray for the chance to dance with these feelings a little longer.

But instead, somewhere between the act of climbing out of bed and climbing into the shower, I am reminded. How do I accept something I never asked for? As a child I was taught to be courteous when given an unwanted gift. Always happily accepting the ugliest sweater I had ever seen. Smiling thankfully at the basket of bath salts from a person who clearly knows nothing about me. I always made every attempt to accept gifts graciously.

It’s the thought that counts, right? I would accept these gifts, unwanted and otherwise, and I would set them aside. Never discarding them but never truly owning them. They weren’t a part of me – they had no reflection in who I was. They were simply a kind gesture in reflection to who the gift-giver was. But how do I accept a gift given in malice, without intent, but in malice just the same

I start and stop, begin and end, circling, circling around again. I cannot bring myself to spend time talking in detail and specifics. I feel like a list of bullet points would suffice.

  • C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic anxiety)
  • PTSD (post-traumatic anxiety)
  • Chronic Pain (in more areas than I care to list)
  • Chronic Illness (intestinal/digestive)
  • Menopause

It seems so silly to write it, let alone type it out like this, but I think I need to see it. I need to accept that there are forces at work in my life. Forces in which I have no control. I can manage the symptoms of my attackers, but I cannot rid myself of them. Five years of trying, and I think I’m ready to call it quits. I’m ready to surrender, to accept my life for what it is – no better and no worse, simply different.




Photo by Blake Meyer


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