Recently, as I’ve sat pondering the mess that’s been my life for the past year, I noticed a common thread. For awhile now, I’ve been allowing other people to invade my boundaries, to dictate how I will act, to affect my life in negative ways without directly standing up for myself and my needs. Instead, I’ve been withdrawing further and further into myself, hoping the barrage from the world around me would stop.
A few examples:
*In my office at work, because I haven’t wanted to deal with the gossip and backbiting, I have emotionally withdrawn, refusing to engage my co-workers unless absolutely necessary. Because I don’t engage with my co-workers or present aspects of myself that they can respond to, I am cut off in an environment where I could be professionally collaborating, potentially finding support, etc.
*The administration at my school, because they have to balance myriads of concerns, made decisions this past year that negatively impacted my life on a number of fronts, and for months, I let this happen without much protest. It wasn’t this past spring that I was able to find the courage to stand up for myself in a direct way.
*In my recently-ended relationship, I spent so much time trying to change myself for the other person (work on my weaknesses, etc.) that I forgot the parts of myself that I love and value. And I was in so much pain over everything that was happening that it was hard to be comfortable in my skin.
So, why do I do all of these things? Why do I allow myself be demolished as I try to work around others’ needs and demands?
I do it to protect myself, to prevent others from getting angry at me, to avoid conflict. I do it because I’m afraid: afraid of what the consequences might be if I put myself out there–mostly, afraid that I’ll end up even more battered if there’s more of me exposed.
But this is no way to live, and I’ve been thinking for a month or so now that I need to regain my sense of self, remember why I’m a fantastic person, and open myself back up to the world around me. I need to come out from where I’ve been hiding and be myself with no apologies.
I realized this a few months ago, but through blogging about my difficulties, it’s occurred to me (from y’all’s comments) that I can apply this to my spiritual journey as well. I think it’s time for exploration and for finding myself, rather than yelling at God and trying to get him to make sense of my life. I want to figure out who am I spiritually and religiously. Will this person fit inside the Mormon church? What kind of relationship will this person have with the divine?
I’m going to do a lot of reading, thinking, and writing. I’m going to keep being Mormon for the time being–I’ve found power and love and peace and knowledge here previously, and I’m not ready to give up on the possibility that I will find fulfillment in this faith tradition in the future. I have to figure out what I want to hold on to of the things I already have. But I think it’s also time to push the boundaries a bit too–read some theology, attend other faith services on occasion, and figure out if what I do believe about God and the world are beliefs that are best compatible with Mormonism or with some other faith tradition.
I’ve been so shut down in order to minimize the pain in my life for so long, and I’m going to open myself back up, stretch, and look around.