Tag Archive | NPD

Life Outside the Box

As a young child, the truth that my parents abused me was too much for me to handle.  In my heart I put that truth inside a big cardboard box and taped it up tight.  I covered the box with a blanket of lies.  “My parents are great.”  “They love me very much.”  “I am lucky to have good Christian parents like them.”  Part of my heart, my young self got trapped inside, under the cardboard, packing tape, and blanket.  That part of me was hurt and angry about being called a liar.

As I became an adult and put physical and symbolic distance between myself and my past I learned to function very well, but from time to time I came to trip over the big old box in my heart that held the truth about my past.  “What’s this old thing?”  “I thought I threw that out years ago!” “I wonder what I packed away in there?”  As the box got old and worn, the truth started to make its way out.  The first thing that came out was anger.  Big scary gobs of anger that neither the packing tape nor my grown up self could hold down came pushing their way to the surface of my heart.  Following the angry trail in patience led me back to the truth about my parents and what had happened to me.

Since then I’ve opened up that box and seen (I think) most of what’s inside it.  It’s no happy place.  If I linger there too long it’s easy to get stuck.  In order to function I’ve set the box of truths aside and gone on with my life.  When I do that it’s too easy to fall back into old patterns of denial.  When it comes to my parents, especially my mother, I am driven by an overwhelming and barely resistible urge to try and please her.  There’s this arrogant part of me who still believes I can make her happy with me if I just give it one more try.

So goes life for me outside the box.  Bouncing back and forth between pain and denial.  What I need to do, what God wants me to do, is to embrace my past.  To love and parent my wounded self.  To enclose and protect and incorporate the truth into the grown and capable me.

The Love Shield

My mom has a love shield.  It’s the most intricate contraption you could ever imagine.  I think about her spending her life sitting in a corner, surrounded by her narcissism and her happy self-messages, adding convoluted contrivances to her love shield.  With its whirring gears and rotating levers, her love shield is designed to deflect all forms of true Love.  It is amazingly effective.  Her love shield has finely tuned filters that keep out all but a few messages.  The only messages allowed in say ‘you are right, as usual’, ‘you always know what’s best’, and ‘people know how good you are’.  These messages sound nice, but they’re not true Love.  These messages aren’t what she needs, but what she needs she cannot hear.  When faced with true Love, I’ve seen Mom lie, storm out, hang up, and run away.  I’ve watched her literally put her fingers in her ears and yell, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!  I’M NOT LISTENING!!”

            I know this because I Love my mother.  In my imagination I walk over to my mom and pick her up like a small child.  I hold her in my arms and smooth her hair.  I promise her that everything is going to be alright, that I will take care of her.  In my waking dream, I see her for who she is and she sees, really sees me.  I hold out my heart full of true Love to her and she takes it.  My Love makes her strong and God puts his arms around us, one arm around her shoulder and one arm around mine.  He looks down at us, draws us close and smiles.

            Now that I know about love shields, I see them everywhere.  Babies are born without love shields, but few adults lack them.  The woman who talks too long and too fast has a love shield.  She keeps her listeners so lost along the path of her words that they are too confused to understand her message and make a true connection.  The man who works too much and comes home grumpy has a love shield.  More than anything, he fears that if he gives his family the chance to really know him, to really be with him, they might Love him.  I see teenagers carrying love shields.  Some even literally cover their hair, their clothes and their bodies with spikes.  Like barbed wire atop a security fence, the spikes say, “Keep Out!  Fear me.  Hate me.  Even laugh at me.  But whatever you do, don’t Love me!”

            I have my own love shield.  I drag it along after me like Linus’ security blanket.  Although it’s smaller and less effective than my mother’s, it’s there for me when I need it.  I use my love shield when I hear a true compliment and my head turns it into a lie.  I use it when I hear true, loving correction and my heart closes up too fast to let it in.  I use it when I read, or even memorize passages of Scripture that my spirit is not yet ready to understand.  You see, God is the most effective Love thrower of all.  He bombards me daily with true, straight, unbroken arrows of Love.  Sometimes my arm grows tired of holding up my shield.  I slip, and one of God’s arrows gets in.  I read something I’ve read a hundred times and suddenly get it.  Someone says something I’ve heard before and it miraculously makes sense.  I sing the same old song and the words unexpectedly jump off the page at me with a whole new meaning.  That’s God’s Love getting through.

            Because I am a practical person, I realize that I’ll probably have my love shield until I die.  But I am actively working to destroy it.  My hope is that by the time I leave this life my love shield will be so chipped, so abused, so cracked and so small that it lies neglected in a corner covered with dust.  I’ll gladly leave my love shield behind me here on earth.  I won’t need it anymore.