Hidden Thoughts

My session today focused mainly on my near constant shame based thinking. We discussed all the great things that happened this week; the things that I have wanted for so long, but never really had. Real connections. But I have had to fight the voice in my head trying to convince myself that I am going to do something to mess it up. It is a fear that has often kept me from letting people in. I can't mess up if no one is there.

I'm leaving for California on Thursday, and while I am excited, I always get very anxious before I leave because I have to put on a different front and be "happy" Lily. My dad and stepmom don't know my struggles the past two years with depression and the confrontation of my abuse. It has been well established with A that it is probably a good thing that I keep it from them, as they have both proved to be unhealthy people to confide in. It is just a lot of pressure to keep so much of my life "hidden" and (sometimes) pretend that everything is okay. A made sure to remind me that this shame I am putting on myself because I act like a different person is because my thoughts are misguided. Instead of viewing it as a negative thing, I should be proud that I recognize who in my family is trustworthy and safe to share things with and who isn't. And not only that, be strong enough to keep myself safe.

The hardest thing for me lately has been the pressure I feel around the group I have met through church. I live in constant fear that someone is going to find out that I question my faith constantly. That they'll find out how little I know about the Bible, Jesus and Christianity in general. I sit in a classroom with this group of 50 people and they all appear to be so sure and established in their faith. They don't appear to have doubts. They believe with all their hearts and do amazing work in spreading the word and helping others to believe too. Then there's me. I feel like I've swiped a sweater and shoved it in my bag and am looking around for security. I feel like I stand out like a sore thumb. That it's painfully obvious to everyone that I have doubts.

Going to church has always been a struggle for me, or rather, organized religion has. The rules, the pressure, the judgement... it has always been a horrible deterrent. But when I sit down and pray, I have no doubt. When I sing worship songs, I couldn't feel closer to God. When it's Him and me, everything is fine. When it's Him, me and other people, I start getting confused. And the thought of anyone knowing that about me scares me to death. I have never taken these thoughts out of my head and put them anywhere.. paper, computer screen or out in the world.

So having met these amazing people that I have spent quite a lot of time with, I'm afraid. I don't feel like I can ever ask anyone the questions I have for fear of being judged. I don't feel like I can ever confide my fears in anyone because they will look down on me. I about panicked when one of the girls asked me if I was going to start discipleship with them next week. How in the world can I tell them I'm not even sure enough about my own faith, let alone attempt to pair up and learn how to spread faith to others?

I did a crappy job of trying to tell A all of this. Again, I have never spoken these thoughts, and with A being a Christian, I find it extremely intimidating to talk about this with her. Towards the end of our session, A looked at me and commented on how proud she was of me for taking these steps outside of my comfort zone. She even commented on how impressed she was at how I jump head first into things that I know are going to help me when I am ready to do them. That I don't let excuses hold me back... but after we talked about how afraid I am to let people know the "real" (confused, questioning) me, she brought up one of my biggest goals: relationships. Part of having a relationship starts with trusting people with those things you want to keep hidden. Working towards letting those people you want to connect with on a deeper level know you on a deeper level.

And that is horribly scary.


Grace said...
June 8, 2010 at 10:42 PM

Scary indeed...I will be thinking of you while you are on your trip. I understand how much energy and strength it takes to keep that mask on...
You will make it!And I will be awaiting to hear about your trip upon your return.
Travel safely - Grace

Anonymous said...
June 8, 2010 at 10:52 PM

You know, I've almost had a similar conversation with my therapist many a times, but have never been able to really have it. Because, I think my relationship with God is also something that I need to address--and not feeling worthy. I commend you for doing so, even it if was hard and scary!

Paula said...
June 9, 2010 at 2:53 AM

Dear Lily, I agree with A in you seing whom you can trust. Besides I have learned that my family is not my family by origin but family of choice. Blood doesnt mean closeness, trust, respect or affection. Choice does. In a perfect world all parents and siblings are wonderful, trustworthy and healthy,right? However we dont live in a perfect world.
Putting on a facade is a hard thing to do. Even harder to keep up for more than a few hours. Yet I have learnt as well, that on the end I will not live without a facade / mask completely as everyone needs to know everything. Yet that is a different topic.
Now to teh church meeting: you feel close to the God of your understanding - that is all what counts, getting confused while people around, I assume that has rather to do with your general low self esteem and maybe not neceassry with God in the first place. In addition you compare your inner being with the outside appearance of an entire group. I truly doubt that ANYONE would then measure up!
I truly believe that you dont have to be a member of a certain organised religion to feel close to God, pray and sing. it is your spirituality which counts, the way you are comfortable and not the name of an organised church and certain limitations coming with it. But then what does a Pagan knows ;-))))
Mill of hugs to you. I will keep you in my thoughts.

Anonymous said...
June 9, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Thanks for sharing this. I,too, go through times of doubt. I believe God understands. He knows my love and faith is weak. He is strong and I am so weak.

I bet you'd be surprised how many of the people who (look so good) struggle too. They are just really good at hiding it.

I am a Christian counselor and you'd be surprised what I hear behind closed doors.

I always feel better when I realize Peter denied Jesus and He was with Him in real life. Pretty amazing, huh! He walked with him and denied Him three times.

You are doing so good, sweetie. Just remember people live with masks. It is a form of protection.


Just Be Real said...
June 9, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Lily thank you for sharing. I know you are going through a struggle. Praying for you that there will be some light at the end of the tunnel for you dear one. I agree the closer we get to God the more intimate. We feel okay. But let anyone or anything enter to disrupt our world we feel uncertain. I do understand. Blessings dear one.

Harriet said...
June 10, 2010 at 6:51 AM

It can be just you and God, right? The other people don't matter. And if they think they do, maybe it's the wrong religion.

Shame is so difficult, it is a constant struggle. I hear you.