I race through my “work” so I can write what really needs to be put down on paper. These other assignments seem so pointless and futile – a waste of time. Though I know they are required to better myself, they often only add to the frustration and confusion.
I seem to be both of those – frustrated and confused – way too much lately. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I am forced to feel what it is I’m feeling. I can’t escape or numb or run. Reality cannot be outrun anymore. Facing is frustrating and confronting is confusing. I’ve had to hang up my running shoes and add weights to my other shoes.
The doors that lead to the outside are not locked, but I have to visualize that they are. Leaving is an option but not a choice. “Stay the course,” they tell me over and over again, and that involves staying within these walls. I feel like posting signs on the front lawn that read, “Danger, woman at work,” for while these walls provide safety, there is a dangerous aspect to this place in that in order to recover, I have to uncover. That means digging up old things I’ve purposely let collect dust so that they are barely visible to the human eye or better yet, the mind’s memory. When you walk in here, they hand you a rag and tell you to start dusting-uncovering and exposing all that was intentionally or unintentionally hidden.
What is the danger in that? Well, I’ve run and/or ignored those hidden things for my whole life, and when they did surface without warning, I did what was habit: buy a beer and a bag. Feeling good from the alcohol and high, I pushed the inner pain aside, down, out of sight for the moment. I tried to make it last as long as I could. But that moment ended. Tired of running from the past, I ran to this place so I could have a future that wasn’t six feet under.
Now I’m committed and there’s no turning back. Yet, in order to move forward, I’m told to turn around and look back on my past – reliving old memories that killed me emotionally at the time. Those were minutes, hours, and days I put in a jar and placed on my “don’t go there” shelf of pain. Now I’m being encouraged to start dusting those old jars off, to read the faded label, and to open them with the strength I don’t want to find. This is where the danger comes to the climax. Even though I know what the jars hold, the reaction and response holds no predictability. But no matter what feelings and emotions may arise, they are ones that I cannot run from this time.
I’m forced to simply sit and think – to remember all that I still want to forget. I want to just say “Forget this, I’m not ready to drag this stuff up.” But when will I ever be ready? If it were up to me, it would be never. Yet then I know I’d never get well. In order to get clean, I must come clean. I can’t drop the rag and stop the painful dusting. And with each jar I open (or sometimes just break) that’s one less thing on the shelf.
Two shelves down, 20 to go. And I have to be careful not to screw on the lids again after opening them – pretending to look inside and fooling them that I’ve dealt with what’s inside, when really I’ve only fooled myself, for I simply denied that the jar even existed. At least in writing this fallacy down, I’ve admitted this thought has entered my mind and that I’ve even “gotten away” with this deception. But I’m really only deceiving myself, and making this journey a little longer. Shortcuts usually lead to long detours and you end up backtracking to the same place where you left the path.
All this to say that though it’s hard, I must stay the course – the path that has been shown to me only by the grace of God’s merciful leading. Though my feet and the dusting rags seem heavy, He will give me the strength to take that next step and wipe off the next jar – finally accepting that I have to depend on my Savior for the rest of my life instead of the undependable dependencies that laughed when I fell each time.
-- by a former guest of our Women’s Programs