I am a runner…….I wish I could say I was a jogger, but that isn’t the kind of runner I’m talking about. No, the kind I am talking about has to do with fear, and with feelings, that would cause me to run…from intimacy with people, relationships and from certain situations.
I know I am not alone. There are many who struggle with these same fears. My greatest fear was perhaps the fear of pain. Several years ago God began to dismantle the nice, little wall I had built around my heart regarding pain, or I should say the avoidance of pain…..Through counseling and through encouraging, life changing words from friends, my hardened heart was penetrated and my nice, little ” avoid pain at all costs” life was shattered. It was time to face the fear of pain in my life….I could no longer settle for self-protection if I wanted to live in freedom.
For me this fear of life started in childhood because of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and the death of my mom. I believed the lie as a child that life was not safe anymore because those who were supposed to protect and provide for me were not there for me, in fact some of them were the very causes of my pain, wounds and fear.
As a child, I was quite defenseless because I could not physically defend myself, provide for myself, nor did I have a choice as to where or with whom I would live with. Even though I didn’t consciously do it I think I made a vow in my heart that when I grew up I would never let anyone hurt me or be in control of my life again. I would have to protect myself in any way and every way I could so that no one would hurt me again and I wouldn’t feel any pain. I grew up with the mentality of “avoid pain at all costs”…because cost me it did!!
Children who are abused are usually taught two things: we get punished for trying to defend ourselves, and we get punished for trying to express our negative emotions about the abuse taking place. I know this to be true.
And because of this I think we grow up believing that we cannot be protected as we would expect to be.
I remember as a child when a man, who was a social worker, came to our home. He was visiting us because my aunt and uncle wanted to legally adopt me. I remember him being a very gentle, soft spoken man and I was quite taken with him. He wrote his name and address on a piece of paper and said if I ever needed someone to talk to that I could get in touch with him. I tucked this little piece of paper away in a safe place like it was a treasure. At the time I didn’t know why it meant so much to me but I just knew I never wanted to loose it.
Then fast forward to a time when I was a teenager. It was after I had been raped and I needed to talk with someone that I found my little piece of paper, now creased with age and tattered around the edges, and wrote him. Pouring out my desperation and pain, never fully disclosing what had happened but basically telling him I wanted the pain to end. And then I waited….terrified and yet hopeful.
One day during school I was called into the hallway and met with a young woman from social services. I was disappointed to hear that the gentleman to whom I’d written was had retired and she came in his place. She spent some time with me in a private classroom, just the two of us. Suffice to say that after a couple of hours I didn’t disclose to her the truth of my home life, the abuse and rape. I didn’t know her and I didn’t know if I could trust her.
What I didn’t know would happen is that she went to my aunt and uncle and informed them of my letter. My life got worse after that. My uncle, furious that an outsider knew anything, decided that all my incoming and outgoing mail was to be read first. I had many pen pals and family that I wrote to. No longer could I share my heart with them, most especially my sister with whom I wrote to regularly. Life felt like a prison, and it was my own doing, so I thought.
So once more I believed that I could not be protected naturally in life by natural means through communication based on truth, or physically by either defending myself, or by calling in outside defense from family or the social system.
The lie continued to take root: “I am defenseless, and I need something more to be safe in life”
This I think is where we begin to gather addictions in order to feel protected and in control of our life. Whether the addiction be drugs, alcohol, food or anything else….the only problem is, the addiction ends up doing the very things to us that we think it is protecting us from. It is a lie.
I’ll leave off here for now and continue with this in the next post…..