Monday, September 17, 2007

i will fear no evil

how many times have i heard those words? i will fear no evil... 100's? 1,000's? it's one of the most familiar phrases from one of the most well known psalms - i will fear no evil. it plunged so deeply into my soul yesterday during worship that it made me gasp, then cry and then bite the inside of my cheek so hard as to stop the depth of emotion rising. i knew if i allowed it to it would have reduced me to a keening, weeping puddle on the floor.

long time readers of my blog will know that i am an addict and my two most difficult drugs of choice that i deal with are food and sex. in less than a month i will celebrate an abstinence of 8 years from the most debilitating of those behaviors. it has been an incredible 8 years. the growth and serenity (and sanity) i have been given because of this abstinence edges on to the miraculous.

there has also been a wall or a ceiling that i just cannot seem to break through though. i have been able to maintain a solid 30 lb., sometimes 40 lb. weight loss, during these 8 years. i can wear normal clothes and would be happy to be this size for the rest of my life - but that 10 lbs. limbo has such an extreme effect on me. for the past year (at least) i have been sitting with the emotions that well up in me because of this limbo.

at the 40 lb. place i feel so healthy, so good in my skin, so much more of who i find myself to be. the tipping point happens though when i am noticed. there is such a deep, quivering wounded place inside my soul that panics when that happens. i have only been conscious of it during the moment for about the past 3-4 months. previous to that i only realized it after the fact. during these past few months i have begun to identify the emotions while they are happening. i haven't really been capable (or haven't figured out how to be capable) enough to do anything about it, but i am at least conscious of it happening. there is a choice being made. i am not compulsive about it any more. and herein lies the rub. this is why these posts on bread have become so important to me.

i know when i am taking that first bite that i am choosing to comfort myself apart from my daily provision or allow myself to be inconsolable. the panic is so great deep within me that nothing matters except replacing those pounds that keep me invisible.

i have told hope, and talked with liam, and even shared last week at my OA group that this is my greatest fear - but i don't remember if i've ever written about it here. somewhere deep within me i am terrified, and yes, terrified is the right word, that i am going to slip sexually. not just in the hidden, private way i used to participate in my addiction, but publicly, exploding and imploding all that i love and hold dear.

i know this is so deeply rooted in who i believe myself to be that any time i begin to feel sexual, sexy or even feminine i crash. and liam and i have spoken of this candidly and it's not usually in the context of our marriage and sexual life, it seems to live outside of me/us. something is broken, something i believe to be true deep in my soul is a lie, someplace in me has been crushed and wounded and shamed so deeply that i am unable to believe anything else to be true.

somehow i have convinced myself that i am like a dog in heat - that any offer i am given will be acted upon and i will wreck everything. i know in my head that this is probably highly unlikely, but in the terrified place in my soul i doubt the truth with all of my being.

this is fine when i am house mom and only in community when it's safe, but life is opening up before me now and the level of terror i feel is palpable. i have sat with these emotions and the reassurances of my best friends and husband that i am not this woman for months now but the fear still causes me to zip on that parka of fat and project a person to the world who is unnoticeable and safe.

the slightest comment, even from a stranger can send me into a tailspin. crossing the border on friday i was just sitting in the volvo alone, reading bonhoeffer and minding my own business and a 60 year old man was crossing in the opposite direction on the bridge. i hear "hello gorgeous" and look up to see he is talking to me. it was sweet and put a smile on my face, but in the back recesses of my mind it started to erode me again. maybe i should just return to that no-makeup, disheveled sweatpants wearing woman i used to be so that i can navigate society as invisibly as possible. maybe doing my hair, wearing bright colors and looking my best is me somehow seeking attention that is wrong.

how can so many of my beautiful female friends looks so sexy, wonderful and confident all of the time and not be riddled with insecurity, shame and confusion like i am? i leave the house feeling so good about myself now and then bam, someone says something like this and i am so confused.

this community is also a wonderful place of real friendship. interaction with my peers and deep conversations abound, many of them with men, or couples and it fills something deep within me. i love my new friends, and i am loved within this community. people think big thoughts here and we have some incredible times of connection. it's so much of what i have ever wanted - but it terrifies me. i have never had true male friendships before like i have here. the church culture i was raised with forbid male/female friendships and i was told repeatedly that they were dangerous.

i was dangerous. the messages that i have been programmed with through ugly theology, abuse and misogyny have rendered me incapable of trusting myself in community. i am so broken. and bread has been my comfort. that 5 lbs. of safety somehow has made me more able to engage. but i know soon 5 lbs. won't be enough. no bread will be enough. this will escalate and my serenity and abstinence will have been lost if i don't connect these dots.

one dot was connected for me during worship yesterday. we sang an unfamiliar song and those are always good for me to engage me in new thought as i read the lyrics. one of the lines was so familiar - but fresh and new all the same. (living and active possibly???) i will fear no evil. i am not a dog in heat. i have and will be able to continue to say no to things that are not good for me. fearing some kind of affair or escapade is not helpful to my serenity. i will fear no evil. god is with me - now - and will be with me if and when some very unlikely offer was ever made that my mind has me exploding my life with. i will fear no evil. living a life not manipulated by fear is where i want to be. just for today i will fear no evil.


Anonymous said...

Oh, my sister. You write my story, though I'm quite a bit behind you on this road. I have NEVER had someone express my problem like you have. I can empathize with you to a degree you would not believe.

I'm going to send you a poem I wrote a few years when I get to my office. I had a counselor ask me what I needed him to say or do to convince me I wouldn't have an affair or mess up big time if I lost this weight. He was like, "Do I have to promise you that I'll come shackle you to a wall if you try to act out?" I cried in anguish because I thought, Yeah, that's what it will take. Because I'm dangerous. Where do we get that?! It's so repressed I have no ideas.

I have only learned that once I get the first compliment after I lose a few pounds, I can't get enough food into my body. I'm trying to do Weight Watchers and failing miserably because I find myself constantly sabotaging my good weeks with bad weeks.

I will keep you in my prayers because I understand exactly where you are coming from. Thank you for sharing this tonight.


anj said...

This concern/fear/terror feeling of being dangerous is often part of the impact of sexual abuse as children for both women and men. It is as if we internalize that we are dangerous, as we, in our childish naivete and wanting to make the adult be ok, take on the responsibility for the abuse. In our heads, as adults, we know it is the responsibility of the abuser. In the heart and soul of the child inside, we call ourselves dangerous and bear the cost. That is why a man's admiring glance triggers shame.

I think a huge part of this damage done is the negative label it gives to being dangerous. Jesus was dangerous, and, I believe, as women of God we are called to be dangerous too. Of course, that means coming through seeing yourself as sexually dangerous.

I think it is Dan Allendar's Healing the Wounded Heart that addresses the complexity of this issue in greater clarity.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Angela. I have ordered the book from a local bookstore. It is time for me to move on with faith that God can heal me and use me. --ldqn

wilsonian said...

Bobbie, you are s.e.r.i.o.u.s.l.y throwing down these days. It will not surprise you to know that I share this too... though because of my single status, for many years I just went with it. What a screwed up mess.

Anj... can I just say h.o.l.y. c.r.a.p. here. I'm not even gonna apologize for my language. Dangerous.
I didn't think I'd be coming around to looking at this again, but perhaps its time.

bobbie said...

dang - the comments didn't come through until this afternoon and i panicked. did i overshare? does this not resonate with anyone? i'm so relieved it did and thank you for your comments, thank you so much.

ldqn - kindred heart - it helps to know i am not alone. thank you. god can use you ldqn - your writing is wonderful and your story is so important. i would love to read your blog one day!

anj - i so long to be dangerous in the wonderful redeemed way you speak of - and i can even begin to glimpse her (me) but it's like she's across a street with traffic so busy and going in another direction and i just might loose sight of her.

i have read 'wounded heart' and had 'bold love' recommended to me via email. wounded heart was the first book i read after the first admission i had about the fact that i was sexually abused. i hadn't recovered the memory yet, but the knowledge was there and it was a lifeline for me. thank you for walking on this path with me.

erin - i LOVE your l.a.n.g.u.a.g.e. woman and the link we share in this means so much to me. as you told me the other day - you give me courage. thank you.

judi said...

ah bobbie, why have i not come back here more often to read your blog??? your honesty is so refreshing, your vulnerability feels so out there... your struggles are so real i can almost feel them myself.

bold love is one of my favorite books, and dan allender is a personal hero. i have heard him speak several times, the last time was his wounded heart seminar. he is awesome.

although i feel like i come from a totally different place than you, i do see some parallels. continue to face your struggle and look to Jesus to free you.


anj said...

Umm okay...actually I am not an Allendar fan. Nor am I an Allendar disliker. If that is the correct word. I have found his books, his words, and his seminars often speak to my condition in my journey. And then I need to go a bit deeper and sideways with what comes up (if that makes sense).To me, a huge part of being whole is learning to trust the Inner Voice and allow the Spirit of Christ to speak to our condition. It is, for me, the most difficult part of my journey of recovery. Owning the power of being created in the Image, and the Power of the Image within me. For me, it is deadly territory to label anyone as a hero. Gives away my God-given power of dignity and destiny.

ldqn - I have no doubt that you are being called to more. More wholeness, more healing. Because you are reading bobbie's blog, and that is what her blog is about.

erin - you crack me about h.o.l.y. c.r.a.p. indeed.

bobbie - you rock; four years ago could you even see that dangerous woman across the street? Thank you for sharing your glimpses of her with us. They are real, and they are meaningful to all of us.

Patchouli said...

Jesus!(hold my hand thru this!)
stream of conciousness flowing through:
I have had to retype this sentence three times as I am shaking from all kinds of emotions--the first being outrage--I think. Yes, outrage that a sacred gift has been violated. We are God's crowning creation on this earth, made beautiful for beauty's sake--and that has been stolen, marked, branded as dirty. My very womanhood was ripped apart before I even knew what it was.
Today, my husband said, "you look really nice." And I do. And if someone other man think so, go ahead. This belongs to ME and you can't have any unless I say so. I didn't know that back then, but I do now. I know better, so I do better.
Damn right I'm dangerous--if you try to take what isn't yours.

I will fear no evil because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Jesus was violated and He took that to the cross to set me FREE. He took that to the cross to set you FREE.

Remember the movie Labyrinth? She can never remember that one line of the story until finally, after journeying thru mazes, traps, junkyards, and fantasies, she is face to face with her tormenter/hero. And she remembers..."you have no power over me." ...and he collapses.

This is my mantra, my logo, my banner; I have yelled from my from my deepest soul--"You have no power over me!" until I believed it. I have faced that monster, looked it in the eye and told him--"You have no power over me."

I feel like a mother bear right now, standing up and roaring at those who would dare touch my cubs.

Michael Boyle said...

Reading your stories I'm finding myself in them...