Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cat and mouse.

It has seemed strange to me that some people from my past have been in front of my face and on my mind recently. Not just one or two, from one or two incidents, but multiple people, stirring up all kinds of forgotten feelings and worries and pain. Some of it has been from conversations. Some from social media. Some in my mind, for no apparent reason, just there and not going away. I recognized a connecting thread this morning. This post refers to a specific event, and specific (unnamed) people, but it reaches much further than that into my mind and heart and past. Many people, many events, the same pattern and one answer. Thank God for that.

A few years ago I was disappointed by some people who were very dear to me. The dearness of them made the disappointment particularly painful, and surprising.

I've been thinking of them, and others I've been disappointed by. My mind has been playing a cat and mouse game of chase, one that exists on auto pilot in the recesses of my mind. The question is the mouse “How did I let that happen, and how do I make sure it never happens again? What did I miss?” The answer is elusive and takes up a lot of ambient mental energy. It leads to more questions, usually ones I can't answer without guessing, so it's a time waster. And it is something much more ugly than that. It becomes dehumanizing. I'll explain. 

In my story I have discovered (recently) a theme that goes back into my childhood of believing that people are mostly liars, especially when it comes to caring about me. As long as I am performing a service or being pleasant or maintaining whatever image is wanted I'm “cared for”. Once I stop, the caring stops. And sadly, I have evidence of this in my life. So this isn't about refuting the fact that people disappoint. It is, unfortunately, about what happens to the soul, my soul, in the attempt to not get hurt again.

First I usually am outwardly angry, and inwardly terrified that somehow I made it happen. It's my fault, I'm defective, this wouldn't have happened if I had been more...fill in the blank.Then I chuck all that and say screw them, their loss, if this is who they are I don't want them in my life anyway, I should have known. Which leads me then to the long trek I take down “Why didn't I see it” lane. I thought they really cared. I believed them. I trusted them. I must have cared more than they did, why do I always do that? They are such good liars, and now they are out there fooling more people, someone should stop them.

I make myself crazy going back and forth with these questions and accusations. I don't want to feel victimized again. I want to pick the right people with the right motives every time, so I don't have to feel stupid for “caring more” about the wrong people or getting taken in thinking someone cares about my heart when they care about a service I can render.

And then I don't have to think about whether or not my motives are right with people. I don't have to turn the other cheek, because they will have never gotten to the the first cheek. I don't have to deal with real people, and I don't have to love. Because in the end, that's what got rejected. My love. My imperfect, human, messy love. That's where it hurts.

The cat and mouse stop running around and all the threads of how this and why that and never agains...they go quiet when I say to myself, “I still love them.” Not in the “I'm drumming up goodwill and happy thoughts because I want to get them out of my system and what the heck it's been over 2 years and the holidays are coming so, yeah, love all around, even for those jerks.”


My “I still love them” hits me at the core. It admits that I miss them. I wish I knew if they ever thought of me. I wish I knew if I mattered. I hope good things are happening in their lives. It's the memory of how empty my life felt after our falling out. It takes the wind out of my self contempt, and out of my idolatry of them. Somehow real love does that. It lays me open, and humbles me. The kind of humbling that lets your soul breathe again.

And this is where, in recent days, I've found my feet. I don't have to be ashamed of loving people who may or may not have loved me the way I thought they did. I don't have to worry about whether or not they meant to be deceptive. The questions are irrelevant. Yes, discernment is good, being wise is important, but along with it doesn't have to come skepticism, fear, hatred, self protection, etc. After all, the Bible tells us that Love covers a multitude of sins, and friends, we all have our own multitude. I do. In “protecting” myself I have let myself completely, in turns, dehumanize them, and myself. I worshipped them. I abhorred them. I trusted them. I rejected them.

I also loved them.

And love them.

If I turn it around on them it looks like this. They cared about me. They lied to me. They helped me. They dismissed me. They wanted what I offered, not who I was. They loved who I was.

They loved me.

I do not know if they “love” me. That is uncharted territory, and I won't lie, because this thing I'm doing here is confession. It's the truth I'm mining for, and I don't want to wrap it up with a pretty bow and say “they still love me”. I don't know. I hope so. I don't think I'm being skeptical. I know how ugly endings can taint love until it becomes unrecognizable. I hope that hasn't happened.

What I do know is that there is Love that is pure, and when I find my feet there the ugly parts reveal themselves and start to fall away. I think the more often I can get my feet there the better I'll be able to tell where my wicked heart has been fooling me. I want to learn to live there.

(This post is not a veiled attempt to get anyone's attention. I already had one friend check in and make sure we were good - I don't want anyone worrying about that! The individuals this is about would know if it was about them, and I seriously doubt they read my blog. This is just me, sharing my process and journey, and trying to understand what it means to love and forgive and be human.)