This morning’s reading brought me to a blog by Nadia Bolz-Weber. If you haven’t heard of her, guarantee you will not be disappointed if you look her up. Watch her videos or read her blogs. She has truly helped me see things from a different perspective.
Today’s story told of a time when a woman approached Nadia after an event where she had been speaking on stage. Wearing a scratchy red cardigan, this woman wrapped her arms tightly around Nadia and began to bless her with words. She wrote about the emotions that went through her mind. How that situation created an uncomfortable feeling that forced her to reflect on its meaning.
Reading that blog today brought up a few memories for me. I realized that I lived my childhood in a fight, flight, or freeze mode. While it remained invisible to the outside world or disguised as “weirdness,” there was an overwhelming feeling of unworthiness tucked deep inside. On the outside, others saw me as the weird girl that tried to please people or as the girl that quickly became overly emotional and lashed out in inappropriate ways. I would be lying if I said that wasn’t the case. My skin felt foreign to me. My eyes would meet their reflection in the mirror or a pool of water, and disbelief struck panic in my chest every time. The person staring directly back at me was indeed the person everyone else could see. My attempts to cover up, hide or tuck away had failed. Still yet, I remained visible to the world.
Have you ever felt like an alien in your own family? How about school? That was me during my most vulnerable years. As early as second grade, something pulled me apart from the rest of the crowd. No matter how hard I tried to fit in, I became more and more unlike everyone else around me.
In those moments when I needed to fit in the most, I stuck out like a sore thumb, all while feeling completely invisible. Unfortunately, many of those traits still follow me around to this very day despite therapy, self-discovery, and growth.
You cannot fit a square peg into a round hole. A square peg may try to make itself smaller to fit into the round hole. Still, it will have empty spaces around the edges. That’s how I felt through much of my life. Empty. Hollow. As if there was something in the shadows always waiting to get me, grab me, and pull me in. My thoughts scared the hell out of me. I lived my entire young life jumpy, easily angered, emotional, and always up in arms.
There will always be part of me that holds on to the hurt, scared, and “eager to fit in” little girl of my youth. But, at some point in life, we learn that it’s normal to feel out of place and that we’re much more typical than we ever realize.
Everyone has their insecurities.
Everyone has things that make them
I’ve gone off topic a bit, so let’s get back to what I wanted to write.
After Nadia’s interaction with the woman in the red cardigan, this is what happened in her own words from the blog:
“I sat back down and think, “What the hell just happened?” My friend Sara, having seen the entire interaction, slides into the pew next to me and says, “Girl, you gotta just submit and let people bless you.” – Nadia Bolz-Weber
“Submit and let people bless you.”
The reply hit me like a lightning bolt straight into my heart. I reread it.
“Submit and let people bless you.”
My chest began to feel heavy with a tinge of pain, my pulse started pounding, and my throat tightened. The word “submit” caused a reaction inside of my body, and I had no control.
“Why is my body reacting to this, even though I am safe and well?”
In my experiences from my childhood, submission involved terrible things. When I submitted, bad things happened, and despite the years of therapy, facing facts, and speaking truths, somehow they’ve managed to hold onto me. Luckily, therapy taught me how to do the work when this occurs. But, unfortunately, I cannot avoid these feelings; I deal with them as they come and dive straight through them, feel them, and harness them.
Thankfully, Nadia’s blog today helped me practice the technique that brought me back to my center.
Her friend is right. Sometimes we need to “SUBMIT” and allow others to bless us. If we are operating in the fight, flight, or freeze mode, we could miss the good things people are trying to bring into our lives. We must have positive human connections and intimacy; Not sex, intimacy.
Thankfully, as I learn, bend, and grow into full awareness of myself, allowing people to love me is something I fight a little less every day. But, like greasing the hinges on the door to your childhood home, some things need a bit more attention than others or fine-tuning. So over time, I will need to grease the doors again, and that’s okay! Because now I know the root of the problem and how to fix it.
Cassie C. Redfearn