I have a very particular MO when it comes to conflict.
I’ve always been a pretty emotional person – I’m either invested ALL in, or all OUT! I’ve always been a person, who goes out of my way for people. I try and be thoughtful and considerate while loving HUGE. If, while I’m all in, I feel like I’m being treated unfairly or poorly, omgsh LOOK OUT! See I don’t just mildly express love or anger, it’s big. It’s loud. It’s fire. It comes in a big wave like my personality. And then I shut down, and shut out. It might not seem normal to most people, to have complete falling outs with people to a point where best friends become total strangers….but it has happened with me. I hate being hurt by people. I am so sensitive to people. And it almost happened again this week…
Until I got a text.
One line read, “Really I’m ok with your emotion, you can have at me! I just need to hear where you are coming from”…Um WHAT? Her words instantly disarmed me. For the first time, in ever probably, what felt like an upcoming shut out, cracked me wide open. It was when she said “you can have at me” that threw me for a loop. It expressed a level of commitment to relationship and understanding while in conflict, I’ve never met before in a friend. It was beautifully disarming. And while disarmed, I was able to really look into my feelings and where my angst was coming from.
Feeing excluded or invalued has always been a trigger for me. I’m not sure to be honest, where it comes from…probably some silly elementary school yard thing that I’ve internalized and carried around all of these years. Regardless, it’s there, dormant, waiting to be triggered.
But her text took me right off my usual track and got me thinking instead of just feeling.
I can only be hurt by people, when they trigger my own insecurities. My anger has nothing really to do with them, but everything to do with what I believe about myself. If someone “makes me feel “ like I’m not fitting in, wanted or valued; it’s because I myself am believing that I don’t fit in, am wanted or valued. The fear lies in me. You cant’ make me feel something I don’t already believe about myself. These lies I’ve somehow internalized create fear in me. And I project. But at the end of the day, it all comes from my own fears of being fraudulent, unloved or undeserving.
So before I can lash out again, point fingers or blame, I need to ask myself, who am I attacking? The mirror in which I am seeing myself, or me for actually believing it?
I guess that is my defence mechanism, and maybe that’s really what is behind my shut out; a smash of the mirror I can’t stand looking into. Blaming you for what I feel or fear I see in myself I (even if none of it is true).
It was cathartic really. She helped me shift, and I felt with clarity:
It’s time to step into my God given value. It’s time to stop giving the devil these footholds and spaces in my life where he creates distance between me and those I love, creating isolation, perpetuating misunderstanding, resentment, judgment, justifications and more callouses inside. Callouses on top of callouses. Hardening my heart and securing these insecurities, magnifying them. Burying them deeper and deeper inside of me. So deep, that the truth of Who I Am becomes totally unrecognizable and I become a product of my falling outs. I become my fall outs. And the next conflict provides another layer of lies and more reasons to write someone else off, shut down and run the other way.
And so I prayed,
Jesus by my Miner. Help me dig through these fears and insecurities and find the value You’ve written over my heart in the very breath of who I am, created by You God. Designed perfectly by You.
How remarkable to have a friend who would offer the most beautiful thing, unwaivering commitment. Not resolution, not promises, pretty words, polite courtesies or pretend make up. Unwaivering commitment to understanding each other. It was in her offer of understanding that I got to understand more about myself, in a way I’ve never known before.
I could have shut down. I could have chalked it up to another friendship gone wrong. I could have quickly erased her presence in my life, swept up those pieces and quietly discarded them…instead I was blown wide open and saw the garbage I need to discard in myself, and it’s good, because it is so time. <3