The girls I nanny like to pretend it storms inside their nursery. I'll offer my best booming sounds and give the lights a quick flicker. They'll giggle and hide below the purple umbrella till they're bored or till the thunder and rain voluntarily ceases. (Miss Erika is allowed to get bored, too.) One or the other eventually happens and we move right along, picking another game to play. It's innocent and sweet, so different than the tempest that's ravaged through my family these last 18 months.
Because much good has resulted from my move, sometimes I forget I'm recovering from trauma. Initially I typed I'm still recovering—with a hint of shame in that adverb—as if there's the expectation I should be dandy by now. Spoiler, I'm not. My mind is pinged with reminders of pain when I leave meeting rooms, dates, or conversations feeling overcome by fear. The awareness doesn't come immediately, though. I'll usually be circling in my thoughts, wondering what is wrong—why this amount of insecurity or emotional disconnect? Then, the ping. Or probably the Holy Spirit. It makes sense, but I'm a girl who likes to plow through challenges and besides, I'm tired of this storm. Can't we move on now?
How easily I lose sight of God, dismissing the tender way he meets those with broken hearts. I get impatient and try to control how emotional healing might come. I know myself and my tendencies, having done this plenty of times with my physical health. A little whiny voice inside me cries, "Oh Lord, are we there yet?" There is anywhere but here, I suppose. Far, far away from the grief resurfacing, the anger I can no longer ignore, the haunting memories of abandonment and deceit. Sadness lines my eyes and seeps into my pillowcases, drop by drop. Tears and snot run downstream, carrying with them the very feelings I've wanted to bury.
I'm standing at a visible junction, caught between choosing self-protection or leaning into God, my Protector and Shelter. Writing out my fears and their paralleling thoughts is helpful as I aim to healthily process. I'll share some below, and maybe you can relate?
I'm afraid to trust. How do I let people in again? And trust them with my emotions or struggles, not merely facts? This skepticism has gotten icky. I'm tired of sharing like I'm reading ingredients off a cereal box. I don't want to rehearse vulnerability. Also, as I think to the future and my desire for marriage, I wonder how this might impact a relationship?
I'm afraid to be myself. Who am I and where do I fit in the new normal? My identity as a child of God has not budged, but the way I interact with those truths have certainly altered. I miss the twinkle in Old Erika's eyes and am not sure if this version of her—rougher and more melancholy—will be as readily accepted.
I'm afraid of getting duped. I attribute this phrase to a wise, encouraging woman I got to meet with today. She's 100% right, I am. When you've been successfully manipulated or betrayed, you're left feeling like you should've known better. I scope out potential scenarios as a way to prevent further hurt or shock, deeply intertwined with my lack of trust.
I'm afraid God will change his mind. This fear (or some form of how I relate with and view God) is what all the others crescendo into. Is it true he will not tire of me? He will always be with me, loving me without condition, providing all I could ever need? Will he make right every injustice and provide comfort for every storm's aftermath? Will he stay and keep his promises to his people?
If I've learned anything while dealing with trauma and grief, it's that the way forward isn't charted out in obvious steps. You'll feel like you're living on a question mark. Some days, you're fearful or numb or plain angry. Other days, the sadness simmers and you feel fine. Today my friend gave me the okay to be where I'm at, unashamedly. There's permission to not rush ahead—to not try and suppress or escape the tumultuous feelings inside—because it's the desperate here, not some idealized there, that the Spirit meets us.
Shelter us with your wings, Lord.
It's in you we find our refuge, our comfort, our peace.