Tag Archives: struggles

Facing Fears…

There’s something that is nagging inside my brain that I just can’t shake.  I don’t know what to do with it, honestly.  I figure the best place to start is admitting that it’s there.

I work for my church.  I handle the admin and techy stuff for my two good friends, who are the pastor and his wife.  I read the message each week as I prepare the graphics to be displayed on the big screen.  The message this week is about the fear of rejection.  In some of our advertising, there was a line about this being the biggest fear.  I wanted to cross-reference that a little and see how true that statement was.  As it turns out, rejection is the #8 biggest fear that people have.  Lurking just below it is good ol’ #9 – the fear of intimacy.  While I was there, I read a bit about this fear and how it rears its ugly head.  As I read it, I knew I was reading about myself.  And that hurt a little.

It’s very easy, over the course of about 20 years, to bury things deep.  Real deep.  Walls of comfort are built to compensate and life goes on.  On a purely logical level, I can see that I am a terrible friend.  I can look at myself holding people at arms length.  I justify unanswered and unreturned phone calls.  I live inside my own head.  I even keep my husband out to a certain extent.  There are wrongs that have been committed against me, relationships that were shattered and scars that are left behind.

There’s really no use to make excuses, but there are those wrongs.  Forgiveness has been granted and deep healing on my part has taken place, but the scars left behind form this nasty little fear.  I guess it’s a bit like guarding my heart, but probably against the wrong people now.

2o years ago, I didn’t know anything about guarding my heart…

I was nearly raped in the 8th grade.  My parents and the police walked in and found me and took me out.  My parents were very, very angry.  I went to a bad place mentally for a while after that.

People who say they care about you don’t always mean it.

I graduated high school with no close friends.  I had close friends.  Some moved, some went down bad paths that they couldn’t return from and some I ran off on my own.

Friendships are temporary.

I had plans to marry someone I dated for almost 6 years, but I caught him cheating on me.

You never know when the bottom is going to fall out.

I flipped out a little, went wild and made a very bad decision.  I lied to everyone who loved me and ended up getting raped by someone I met on the internet who deceived me, in a place very, very far from home.

No one and nothing is safe anymore.

I graduated college with no close friends.  I had several, two that were like my family.  An argument weeks before graduation tore us apart and nothing was ever the same.

It’s better this way.  I don’t need anyone.

My husband hurt me repeatedly by doing something that I’ll not mention, out of respect for him.

I am the only one who will take care of me.

And here I am now, with this annoying fear of being really close to anyone.  I’m not oblivious.  I know who I am.  I’m not someone who dislikes hanging out with people.  I love that.  I love being social.  I think I’m pretty fun.  I’ll do anything to help someone out.  But there’s an intimate place that no one gets to.  I’m not sure it even exists outside my own head anymore.  Realizing it, or realizing it again, makes me think it’s not healthy to live that way.  It doesn’t feel bad to me at all, but I know enough about what’s important in life to know that I should try to change.

I wish I could end this with some encouraging pep talk about how I’m going to be different from now on.  A lot of people would say that I should “just stop”.  Right here and now I’m not sure I know how to do that.  And I’m not sure I’m really motivated enough to do anything about it.  But this is something, right?


We Didn’t Know

We didn’t know that 4 years ago when we sold our first home that we had just beaten the beginning of the collapse of the housing market.

We didn’t know that same fact when we built our dream home.  We bought the plans, we watched every brick go up, we picked out every color.  We moved in, but we didn’t know…

…how badly it would hurt for me to leave my son and head to work each day.

…that “it’s all going to be fine” was so far from the truth when I quit my job.

…that the financial markets would also begin to collapse and make my husband’s job very difficult.

…that the school districts would place freezes on hiring, making it impossible for me to return to teaching.

…that the house payment that we easily afforded would become harder and harder to pay.

…how many debts and obligations we would have to let fall away.

…how many times in one day the phone could ring.

…how embarrassing it became to say “I’m sorry, we can’t pay…that amount…or anything.”

…that it would only take about a year to use my entire 401(k) savings that took 8 years to accrue.

…that the time that bought us wasn’t enough for things to turn around.

…how quickly the downward spiral would take us to a point of no return after missing that very first house payment.

…that things still wouldn’t be better after two years…and three.

…what it felt like to be served with foreclosure papers.

…just how little we really could live off of.

…how really, truly amazing our families are.

…that we’d have tough talks.  Tougher than you can imagine.  More often that you can imagine.

…that we’d eventually resign ourselves to silence.

…that we’d become strangers.

…the humility it takes to walk into an office, forms in hand, and ask for assistance to pay for food and healthcare for our family.

…the toll that four years of emotional hell would have on our minds, bodies, outlook, faith, marriage, children.

…that we’d stop turning to each other.

…that walls would come up, hearts would harden and numbness would set in.

…that it would hurt so badly to see happiness in others.

…what happens to a person when they completely turn inside.

…what it feels like to wonder when? How long?

…that help wouldn’t happen.

…that miracles don’t always come…at least not when you think they might.

…how easy life was 4 years ago.

…that everything would fall apart.

We didn’t know.  But now we do.

THAT Child

Yesterday my 4 year-old son became THAT child and Jeff and I became THOSE parents.

We had a big day of service projects at my church instead of having church service.  My job required me to stay behind at the church building to lend a hand in the techy aspects of things.  Jeff was out helping a family move.  We left Evan with my parents since we were going to be there for about 6 hours.  We thought Carter should surely come so he could have fun playing with the other children.

About 15 minutes into the day, I get “delivered” my child.  If you are a parent, you know this term and the feeling of dread that ensues.  It’s the we-can’t-handle-your-child-do-something-about-it-before-you-bring-him back delivery.  Well, I’m trying to work so I’m really not feeling it.  The word is that he hit another child, got put in time out and then did it again.  So, I tell Carter to sit while I finish what I’m working on.  Because I want him to sit and because he will do A.NY.THING to get our attention right now, positive or negative, he did not sit.  In fact, he gets up and starts to walk away.  I’m in the production booth and there’s a room full of people loading Oper.ation Christ.mas Child boxes.  I stop what I’m working on and talk to him about hitting being unacceptable behavior and how we treat our friends and listening to the teacher.  You know, all the things you’re supposed to say when your child hits another child.  Per the teachers request, he’s going to have to apologize before going back in.  I ask him if he would like to apologize and return to class.  He says NO.  His face is full of anger and defiance.  The only other choice is to sit with me.  Of course, he’s 4 so he adds in an extra choice of running away from me.  I get him, take hi in the bathroom and give him the spank.  I hate the spank and it never does an ounce of good, but I continue to go there in those dire cases of “must snap him out of this immediately”.  Stupid, really.  The anger level goes up and the likelihood of apologizing and going back to class falls significantly.  We leave the bathroom and he walks right back into his class.  I pull him out and tell him that his teacher would like an apology for his behavior.  Refusal.  Screaming.  Tantrum.  At this point, we’re drawing a lot of attention to ourselves.  I need to get him out of there.  So, I go get the car so he can sit in there and cool off.  I bring the car right in front of the front door so I can see him and take him out there.  He doesn’t like this choice, either.  Tantrum ramps up.  The arms and legs join the game and now I’m getting hit.  And the screaming is really loud and he’s planking in his car seat to make it impossible for me to put him in there.  I have to kind of lay over him to get him in.  I’ve never seen my child act like this and now I’m crying.  Thankfully, after about 30 minute of going back to talk to him and check on him every few minutes, he does calm down and want to come back inside.  I bring him in, we have a little snack together in the production booth.  All is well and he’s ready to go back to class.

I take him back and there’s a shift change in teachers.  I hear “if he does it again just take him back to Mandi”.  I used to be a teacher and that’s code for: you don’t have to deal with this child if you don’t want to.  Nice.  He stays in there for about 20 minutes then they take the children outside to run around on this huge hill beside the church.  I watch them go outside and I’m thinking that unorganized craziness is probably not going to be a good thing for my child.  He was brought back to me a few minutes later for playing too rough.  The girl who brought him to me said “Tell your mommy you were a Bad Boy.”  Let me tell you, I do not EVER believe in calling a child bad.  Children are not bad.  Children are gifts.  Behavior is bad.  Choices are bad.  In the nicest way possible in front of this young girl, I asked him not to tell me that he was bad, but that he was behaving badly.

So, again I’ve got my none-too-happy son with me while I’m trying to set up the auditorium and lobby for lunch and talk with the caterer.  He’s trying to run out the front door, across the parking lot and back to the fun on the hill.  People are staring at me because I’ve been unable to do anything with my ill-behaved child.  And can you believe that some people will actually laugh at you while watching you struggling?  That didn’t set well with me at all.  I assure you, from my perspective it was quite the opposite of funny.

By the time Jeff returns, we have had countless issues and I’m sure the expression on my face said it all.  He takes Carter and gets him to eat something, but ends up taking him out into the lobby.  I hear tears from Carter and he ultimately ends up in the car again until time to go.  I didn’t need to ask what happened.

I think probably the saddest part to me happened via the Facebook later in the afternoon.  The girl who said my child was bad posted on the wall of the other children’s parents about how sweet/precious/fun/well-behaved their children were.  Of course, I got no such comment.  As a parent, we want our children to be liked and accepted.  To me, this felt like a big label being put on my child’s head.

I’m realistic, though.  I know my child was misbehaving.  I can’t know from his perspective why he acted the way he did or what could have been done for him to make it better.  But I’ve taught long enough to know how children who are labeled as troublesome get treated.  And I know that’s not going to do anything for my son.  As his parent, I have to take the full responsibility.  What have I done wrong?  Where have I failed in teaching him how to treat others?  Have I kept him in too long?  One way or another, changes have to happen.