Didn’t make it home on time for the Twitter party or the prompt on Thursday as I was too busy dealing with my car, which decided to not start when it was time for me to leave work. It’s last bit of energy was expended on automatically locking the doors once the key hit the ignition, resulting in a panic-fueled five or so minutes. I finally slammed on the driver’s side door lock, probably breaking it in the process, in order to exit my surprise prison.
Kate says: talk about your path.
More than once I have been accused of being melodramatic and self-centered. The strange thing about such accusations is that I genuinely strive to be the opposite. Like Mia Thermopolis of Princess Diaries fame, many days, even most days, my goal in life is to remain invisible. I don’t want to make waves. I don’t want to make people angry or upset. I don’t want to be a burden. And, also like the character brought to life by Anne Hathaway, I’m good at it. Perhaps you doubt my claim since I’ve obviously chosen to place my writing on a public platform, but you might be surprised at how much one can say without truly revealing anything at all.
The car refusing to start was the final thing in a long, hard week full of physical exhaustion and mental taxation. It sent me over the edge. I became engulfed in a white-hot fury. I lost my temper, and it has been raging ever since.
I don’t throw things. I don’t yell. I haven’t even cried. In fact, I told myself, out loud, “Don’t you dare cry. It won’t fix anything.” In fact, the only real sign that rage swirls around me is my expression: From default blank (“resting b____ face”) to death stare.
All this anger? I turn it inward.
That’s my path.
I suffer from textbook definition hyper-responsibility. Some would call this arrogance, thinking I have more control over things than I do, but what it really comes down to is fear. Somehow it must be my fault. I don’t know how or when I picked this up. I do know that some of my earliest memories are tinged with it.
I learned in therapy that this is directly related to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. This sense of constant failure and need to please sometimes manifests itself in rituals and routines. More often for me, it shows in an inability to speak. To say “no” or “stop” or “you’re/that’s wrong” or “it’s really not my fault that you feel that way/did that thing.” Because I possess a strategic way of thinking, I apply observed patterns of behavior and responses, playing out conversations. If I say this, then he is likely to say that and this will be the outcome and it’s not worth it.
So I went to a dark place in my mind. A very dark place. I said things to myself that I would never say to another person and would never stand hearing another person say to herself. At the root of this self-abuse was the constant echo, I deserve it.
It’s been something of an out-of-body experience, these last two days. Not literally. Just a sense of being disconnected from myself. Times like these are when a theological education can really bite you in the butt. The logical part of my brain knows that I have descended into irrationality. I’m aware that there is a pitched spiritual battle clamoring inside my heart. I know that I have stepped, however timidly, more fully into my calling this summer and I know Satan doesn’t like that. I know that he seeks to hit me where I’m weakest. I know the right answers, yet struggle to apply them.
How does one change her path? How does one move from hyper-responsibility to knowing where she ends and others begin?
I don’t have the answer. It would be a blatant lie if I told you that I did.
It’s not as simple as a single prayer or knowing the Bible better. There is a deep and lasting wound that only God truly understands. Bit by bit across the years I am confronted again and again with it, learning something new each time.
For now, all I can do is hope that the tiny seed of faith buried deep in my soul is enough.
September is is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. On the 19th I will pass a milestone, the five-year anniversary of my own brush with self-inflicted death. Please know that those of us who battle our minds really aren’t self-absorbed or selfish. We love. We care. We want to be useful. We long to help others. We simply struggle. Try to understand. And please, whatever you do, don’t use our struggles against us.