I never thought it could happen…… Not to me!
The first time it happened, I found I simply had nothing nice to say, everything seemed bleak and I didn’t want to drag down those around me. All my jokes, extended stories, quick comebacks, deep philosophies and laughter had left me. So rather than forcing out anything, just for the sake of speaking, I became quiet. Needless to say, everyone could tell something was wrong and hassled me relentlessly about my melancholy reservedness.
It has been many years since my deep depression, and with a lot of therapy and some big life changes, those faithful old friends ‘words’ came back with a vengeance. I sang them, I spoke them, I thought them, I wrote them, I kept them, I shared them….
“Welcome back wonderful words, how I missed you!” – I felt like ME again.
However, recently I have noticed moments of wordlessness appearing here and there.
I’ve forced out a few drafts of posts, but they simply don’t have that genuine passion resonating through them, so I have not been content enough to hit publish.
I haven’t touched my novel in months.
I have even found myself sitting in company, quietly, actually thinking to myself “come on, you must have something to say, think!”.
Have you guessed? I am not a fan of uncomfortable silences!
So I ask questions, to break the silence. I hear their stories, however long or short…
Am I becoming a listener?
It is something I have prayed for many years to become better at. It’s not that I don’t listen, I hear what is being said, but perhaps I don’t let others know, or feel, that I am truly listening. Maybe I am not patient enough to allow others get it all off their chest. I always have some response to share during their stories.
Some have complained that I talk too much, I admit that much of the time I do, and in the past I have become self-condemning about it. At times I have prayed, begged, pleaded for God to SHUT MY MOUTH! Even if a change came, it did not last for long, as soon as the darkness lifted, I felt like myself again and so did my overactive mouth. I dearly hope to find the ability to be in a really good mood and yet stay quiet..but it has eluded me for all my life.
What a strange change…
Perhaps this is just another episode? The low after many weeks of manic moods and excessive mind wandering? In any case I intend to use the quiet to my advantage. To pursue growth.
Has the Lord has opened up a space for meditation while in the company of others? Something I have not often felt able to practice in the past. Really being there and not lost in a sea of my own thoughts and words.
My therapist gave me some great pointers on how to experience deep listening. He based these tips around the mantra “to be present but without self“.
The first time we practiced this, I was surprised how much I had to concentrate on what was being said while shutting down my own thought reactions, reactions that related their story back to me and my feelings about it. To only try to understand their feelings and leave mine out of it.
This is pretty tough for me, my ego is quite a self-centred bully at times. However, I found this whole thing much easier once I understood what I needed to do in order to achieve deep listening skills. It will take effort, awareness and practice, but you know me, I am always up for a challenge of self (or lack of self as the case may be) 😉
So if things have been a little quiet around here lately, now you know why…
I’m here…. I’m listening….I’m growing…
Why so loud?
Valuing some quiet,
Yet it eludes me.
Explaining who to be.
Adds insult to injury,
Until I’m more unsure of me.
Am I a foreign concept
While I’m being me?
I know that I am,
Bouncing along, higher now.
My grip slips.
Things around begin to spin.
Up could even be down.
Where to grab on?
What is truth?
Reach out blindly, and grab,
This feels real.
But no, it’s only lying again.
Reality comes with a Slap!
Face full of dirt again,
Sheepish from the deceptions.
Retreat, withdraw, until,
I am filled once more with truth.
The third anniversary of my Dad’s passing is here, He is missed enormously.
Has it really been 3 whole years since I looked into your eyes? Really!?!?…..
Many things stand out to me when I reflect on who my Dad was, numerous good things, many difficult ones, some sad.
Today I am thinking of something I feel a pull to dig deeper into and treasure up into my heart, so I may emulate it in my own life. I am naturally a personality hungry for love and acceptance. Many of us are, yet not only hungry, starving even. I have tried to expect it, demand it, beg for it, manipulate it, wait for it and eventually … appreciate it.
This week I had an epiphany, I realised that for as long as I can remember I have felt a pressure upon me to compromise my own opinions and perspectives in order to avoid conflict. As if, to be loved and accepted, to enjoy the company of ‘everyone’, then I must alter my beliefs to keep the peace.
Please understand that I am pretty strong willed and rarely accommodate this change, I don’t back down or let people walk over me. However, I have let the feeling of this lack of acceptance seep deep into my convictions. I second guess myself often, or desperately try to justify and explain, and I search for ways to cope with forcefully opposing views. I find myself either giving in to the pressure over time, or putting up huge walls, or copying some behaviours of others, behaviours that are not ‘mine’, in order to feel I have something in common with them, something that might connect us.
When I was young, doing drugs, drinking and smoking eased the pressure off my reluctance to enter into a sexual relationship, because everyone else was doing ‘it’. I could still engage with my peers that way, without being rejected for being too different. Wanting to be a singer and actress, or a lawyer, was too far from what my peers envisioned for their lives, so I went into hospitality and became an expert at pouring a beer and carrying a tray. Being a Christian came with strange looks and the ‘Goody Two-shoes’ label, so I began dressing in an overly Gothic style and swearing like a sailor.
Do you see the pattern??
I was running around trying everything everyone else was doing, because I had no idea how to be strong and happy enough to just be me, and be different. I needed others to like me for being anything else, anything acceptable. Problem is…What is ‘acceptable’ can change with each new face you greet. It is an impossible bar to reach.
There is a need to be quietly confident in our beliefs, so that we don’t feel threatened when they are challenged.
I am not very good at this, because as the years have passed I have allowed this pressure to cause me to become very defensive of the person I am, the person closest to my ‘true’ self, without the influences of opposing opinions. Yet, I am on guard, certain that previous offenders will threaten my lines of certainty. It makes me anxious and I react badly, lose my composure, and therefore treat these offenders aggressively. The worst part is that these are people I care for, and also if I begin to fire off defensively, innocent people may get hit with friendly fire in the process or aftermath. I feel very far from quietly confident in these moments.
As far back as I can remember, my Dad didn’t compromise his beliefs for anyone except God. He held up his opinions against the word of God and against his relationship with God, and allowed God to challenge him and not the acceptance of people. He stood strong in his convictions against all who tried to manipulate him to change. This affected his family life and his social life to the extent where he spent many many years completely alone, with God. It wasn’t until the last decade of his life when he finally found a bunch of people who accepted him and his beliefs so that he could finally relax and enjoy the company of others.
So in order to still have people in our lives and achieve quiet confidence, we need to develop a loving way to protect our boundaries, without allowing the onslaught of attack and opposition to send us into a tizzy of defensiveness. Not everyone will fall into the category of peacefully agreeing to disagree. Some will always feel that an opposing view needs to be challenged and this can be extremely vexatious to the spirit.
Like Dad, I have begun avoiding spending time with people who can’t help but confront and try to move my boundaries. Lately there are much less times that I feel this pressure, than when I do. I have found my own bunch of people to be comfortable being myself with, who I can disagree with, without getting defensive, and not feel the slightest need to change in order to suit them, because I know they love and accept me regardless of our differing views. I don’t have to defend my boundaries, I don’t feel anxiety in their company. I can relax and be me and it’s all good.
I am going to keep working hard on being quietly confident, and lovingly protect my boundaries with those who I feel anxious around, without the overly defensive reactions. I will definitely need all of your prayers on this one, it’s a biggy!
I haven’t been in the blogosphere much this week, because I am being dealt with, being brought a new level of perspective and change. I recognise that this type of growth usually springs forth from a fragile heart. My heart has been extremely fragile this week…..
In this condition I write and write, pouring my soul out in front of me. I have written 6 or 7 posts this week alone. Yet my state of mind and vulnerable heart are preventing me from seeing my words clearly and I am unable to trust myself or my writing. I am too close to it at the moment, so it’s impossible to edit or publish anything. I guess as usual I have too much to say.
I am going to try to use this time to withdraw, to calm my mind and spirit with relaxation, drink plenty of herbal tea and meditate on God’s word. Perhaps this break will even help me work on the novel which I have been trying to write for over a decade. I will come back to the wonderful blogosphere soon, I will read your fabulous posts and comment when I can get my head around it. I will publish only in God’s timing and His certainty. Until then I ask for your prayers, prayers for me to gain some clarity and some calm inspiration. I am fighting off my inner enemies as best I can, I need time to concentrate on my faith, put on God’s armor and call on my inner angels. I have faith that something amazing is going to emerge from the midst of these trials…..Until then…..
“Jehovah preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he saved me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; For Jehovah hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, Mine eyes from tears, And my feet from falling. I will walk before Jehovah In the land of the living.”
Psalms 116:6-9 (ASV)