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Archive for April, 2012

The Complexities of Vulnerability

Thursday I got another lesson in vulnerability and it is has been something I have been considering for the past few days.

Since I was abused by people who were supposed to care for me and who I was supposed to be able to trust I have found it difficult to trust others.

I’ve been working on this because I know it is an important step in all relationships. Being able to share yourself with others is something that we all need. We all need to find a way to let go of our guard and really share who we are.

I have no problem being transparent with my life. I can share my hopes, dreams and desires. I can share my life story and how I process things but there are certain parts of myself that I hold back.

One part has been my feelings. For the better part of my life I thought that my feelings were bad and I had dissociated them. I would start to feel something and then immediately I would push it away. This happens to me a lot in therapy. I will start to feel sad and the moment I try to connect to it, it goes away and I am left feeling blank.

I have started to share my feelings. I have started to share my needs which is another huge step for me. I used to keep my needs to myself for fear that no one would ever meet them. I have gotten better at telling myself as well as my friends and family about my needs. For the most part, they seem to be able to handle and/or meet my needs but that doesn’t mean that they always do.

This is part of being vulnerable, you have to open yourself up to the possibility of either being loved or being hurt. You have to be wiling to take the gamble.

So I have been learning to be vulnerable with my feelings and that is hard enough but now I have to learn how to be vulnerable with my expressions.

I have this weird tick if you will. Whenever I am mad at someone or upset or even sad I will start to smile.

A few therapists ago, I had one who told me some upsetting news and then he asked me to read his face. It reminded me of a scene from Bones where Sweets is trying to teach Brennan how to read facial expressions and then manipulate people  into opening up to her.

My therapist showed me his face and asked me what I saw. They only thing I saw was anger. Then he started reading my faced and when he told me I looked sad I started to smile.

He asked me why I was smiling and I said that I didn’t want him to be sad that I was sad and I didn’t want him to see that I was sad.

I was vulnerable in that moment and wanted to end the moment by smiling. In this case I knew what I was doing but in some cases I will be smiling at the wrong time without even knowing I am doing it.

Thursday in therapy I was trying to tell my therapist how much him saying that I was a burden last week had hurt me. He explained that we had different meanings for burden. He didn’t want me to feel like I couldn’t take up space which is what it sounded like I was struggling with. And I realized that our definitions of burden were very different.

Anyway I brought up how upsetting that was for me and was inadvertently smiling while doing it. He asked me to try to show him with my face what that was like. So with my words and my face I showed him. I teared up and said that it was hurtful and that I didn’t like thinking that I burdened my friends and family that when he said that it felt like he was confirming the lie that I believe. The lie that no one wants to spend time with me, that they are forced to spend time with me.

While we were having this conversation I began to sit up and he began to scoot to the edge of his chair. By the time the conversation was over we were closer both in proximity and in intimacy.

And I began to realize that hiding my expressions from my face was denying myself and my friends the intimacy of seeing how I actually felt. He said he could actually see and feel what I was feeling. My feelings did not become his own but he could begin to see how much he had hurt me and in allowing him to see it I allowed him to get closer to me.

Of all my therapists this last one has really helped me relationally.

I actually said out loud, “Crap” (except if  you know me, you know I didn’t say crap 🙂 ). I realized that if I want all my relationships to be this close I have to let others see how they effect me. I have to let them see how much their influence in my life changes me and if they hurt me I have to let them see that as well.

Which just means I have to be even more vulnerable which is exciting and scary.

I am just now realizing all the complexities that are associated with being vulnerable and even though I know they are scary they are also worth the journey.

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The Decision to Move

People have been asking me for days what has triggered my decision to move to Kansas. Do I have a job lined up? No but I’m looking. What is my plan? My plan is to do CPE, try to do some ministry either part-time or on a volunteer basis, and work part-time.

I am moving home, to my parents’ house. With that comes the stigma that all 30 somethings have to deal with when moving back in with their parents. Am I a failure? No, I’ve tried really hard to find a job with no luck so that lie will not reign in me.

In essence my parents are my new roommates. It’s funny to think of it like that but they are. I’m not the same girl who was living there ages ago. I’m different. They’re different.

I’m returning home, but it’s different. I’m not returning to a child’s room nor am I returning as a child. I will always be their daughter but I’m not in my 20s or my teens any more.

When I think about moving back in with my parents I think about how I will decorate my room. I think about how I will add my art and where I will put my things. When I lived with my parents before they owned all the things that were in that room. They paid for each piece of it but now I will be bringing things I made or purchased. I don’t know if I am explaining this correctly but it will be different.

I asked my father if I could move in with them and he said yes. My mom has been offering for months but I needed to ask, I needed to make the decision. I needed to let them know that I wanted this and that I am not coming back with shame in my heart but with thanksgiving for all the things they have done for me.

I’m actually looking forward to that return as well. I’m looking forward to rediscovering what Kansas City has to offer. I’m looking forward to seeing things there with new eyes. I’m no longer a tourist or someone visiting on vacation but a resident, even if it is just for a little while.

When I left Kansas, I left to go to Seminary and to really figure out who I was. I know who I am now. I know what I like and what I don’t like. I know how strong I am. I know my insides and my outsides. I know how amazing I am and what a trailblazer I am in my field. I know that I am unique and I know that I still have lots of growing to do. I am returning as a strong woman who desires to get closer to her family and to explore what Kansas City has to offer me.

When I made this decision I had to think about everything I would have to give up and everything I would gain. I had to consider the friends I would leave behind.

I was having dinner with my friend Betsy the other day and I told her that I couldn’t choose to stay because of the friendships I have made. Some of my friends are married and some are single but my friends are not going to choose to stay in a city because I’m there and I can’t do that either.

I have loved living in Pasadena and I will surely miss all my friends and the amazing weather. I think this year we have had more rain than ever (it’s even raining now) and we have had more storms this year than ever and I have loved every minute of it. I love storms. I love listening to rain and hearing thunder. I know some people hate storms but I love them. I’m not a fan of snow but you live with what you have to.

I’m not saying that Kansas will be my permanent residence, it may be my home base or it may not. If I’m willing to follow God wherever he leads I have to be willing to leave my comfort zone, I have to be willing to leave the safety of my home and go somewhere new, somewhere different.

I’m excited to go and see what life will be like for a while. The future is wide open and I don’t know what is out there but I am excited to give it a try. I want to try to see what ministry opportunites are available in my old church or churches in the Kansas City area. I want to see what kind of fun things I can do.

I have felt God saying for a long time that I’m not meant to stay in one church. I’m meant to reach the lost and they are located everywhere. I’ve done two internships in two different churches and I loved both of them.

I’m excited to see what God will do with me in Kansas. I am sad to leave my roommate and my friends but I’m looking forward to the unknown.

I’m truly at peace with this decision. It feels like the right thing to do and the right moment to do it.

Guest Post: Inside Out

Guest Post: Inside Out.

Hey followers. I blogged on my friend’s page this week. Check it out:

Holistic Body Theology

My friend Laura has been writing about Body Theology this year and how our bodies can be part of our spiritual journey. It’s a fascinating read. She has had some friends guest post on her blog (like me) and has started some conversations using books she has read.

Before meeting Laura I didn’t know there was any such thing as body theology but now I know differently.

Be sure to check out her blog in addition to the guest post I did today.

A recurring dream has me asking: Why?

I keep having this dream that is full of anxiety and angst. I’m running around trying to get everything together for a flight to a foreign land. This time I was going to Germany but I don’t remember where I was going last time.

The first time I had this dream my aunt Cindy was trying to get me to the airport so we had to go pick up my laundry and then I didn’t have a ticket and the last thing that keeps happening in these trip dreams is that I realize I don’t have my passport.

Now what’s interesting is that I actually don’t have a passport so in the dream it’s not like I left it at home, it’s more like I forgot to get one so there is no way in hell I can get on that plane and leave the country.

Last night’s dream I was stuck with lunatics, one where they threw a party for me for my birthday and they let a girl get alcohol poisoning upstairs so I kick them out but on the way out they all stop to read me a poem they had written about me even though I know none of these people. Then I somehow escape the party only to go to a rummage sale where I am kidnapped and then I try to escape a kidnapping ring (some of this could be the suspense TV show I watched before sleep). Then I end up at my parents’ house and they give me refuge and hide me from the ring. My sister also gives me all of my stuff that I will need: suitcase filled with my clothes and a packet that she swears holds everything I need for my trip.

Just as I’m about to ask if my passport is in there because Tammy’s about to be conscious and awake Tammy knows she doesn’t have her passport, I wake myself up.

Because this type of dream has happened twice and because the anxiety of the dream is so palpable and because I wasn’t able to change the dream I decided to figure out what this dream is about. I can usually change a detail in a dream if I don’t like it or if it produces anxiety but for some reason I can never change this dream.

The previous time I had this dream my aunt was taking care of things but my mother came to the rescue. This time I was lost in a world that was inhospitable but my sister came to the rescue.

In my time of trying to figure out where to go next I have been kind of stuck. I don’t want to leave my life here in California. I like my friends and my support system and the WEATHER and the location and it seems so perfect. But what has kept me here the most, and I am sorry to say it is the lie I believe that: No one wants me.

That no one will indeed come to my rescue. Now the truth of the matter is that my entire time in California my mother has come to my rescue. She has saved me from a bind more than once and she has done so out of love.

This week I was talking with my therapist about my options. It’s been a while now and I still have no job that can support me and it seems as if that won’t be changing anytime soon. I have tried hard to get jobs I want and jobs I don’t want and nothing is happening. The one job I was close to getting just turned me down and the job that might have been a shoe-in was not as it seemed. So my question has been: What now? Should I just go home, try to move in with a cousin, couch surf, or what? When is the time to say enough is enough? Am I just prolonging the inevitable?

All of these questions stem from the hardest part of it all: Am I just a burden?

I don’t want to be a burden but I realize that I am. My therapist tried to get me to see that every interaction with all people makes me a burden. But I don’t like thinking of my interactions with my friends as burdensome. Does that mean that when I hang out with Betsy over tea or dinner that I am burdening her? Does that mean that hanging out with friends is a burden to them? Does that mean being with my family, all I am is a burden?

I can’t think of my life like that. I cherish each interaction that I have with those that I love which includes family and friends.

I think he was just trying to get me to see that we all burden each other in one way or another and no matter if I move home, move in with a cousin or a grandparent, just my presence will be a burden let alone my rent free existence.

Even though I can see his method I still find it harsh.

Anyway I guess what I’m trying to say is that in this dream both my sister and my mother come to my rescue without grudge, without upset and do so because they love me.

So will someone let me live with them rent free, with the knowledge that I will be burden because they love me?

Will love be the overriding factor? …….

Point and Purpose

Being unemployed is boring. My life is the same every day. I wake up. I read a book. I send out a resume, change and send out a cover letter and fill out an application. I make lunch. I shower. I take a nap and on and on it goes. My days don’t really change so when someone asks me what I’m doing I say, “nothing much.”

After a week or so of doing this cycle I started to get depressed and  decided that each day needed a point and purpose beyond the resume/application process. Each day needed at least one accomplishment so that I could feel like each day had a purpose. Sometimes the point and purpose is to do laundry. Sometimes its to do my taxes, to clean, to do dishes, to read a book, to edit something. Whatever it is, as long as I accomplish it that day I feel good. I feel like the day served its purpose.

It doesn’t mean some days aren’t harder than others but it means that the days don’t run together as much. It means I’m not as sad each day. It meas I feel like I serve a purpose.

One day I went through all of my books and separated which ones I actually want to hold on to so that I can start selling the ones I don’t want.

For me a point and purpose for each day is important. For the last 5 years my daily point and purpose had to do with class and before that it was teaching. I realized to get through this time I need to have a point and purpose for each day.

Shiny Leaves or Real Fruit

I was reading a devotion today in Voices of the Faithful: Inspiring stories of courage from Christians serving around the world compiled by Kim P. Davis with introductions by Beth Moore. I bought the devotion at a Women of Faith Conference many moons ago. I had heard Beth Moore speak and I liked the way that she lived by her calling. She was/is called to work with women only and she doesn’t apologize for it. I like that strength of character.

So anyway, a while ago I was doing that series on God’s Faithfulness and I haven’t quite finished it yet but I will continue to write on that series I just want it to be more natural and not as forced.

Anyway I picked up this devotion merely for the title. It is a devotion throughout the year so I turned to today’s date to see what it had to say and I was surprised by the gem I found there.

The verse for the day was about harvest and the author went into what harvest means and how that relates to the work of ministry. What interested me was the exposition on Mark 11:13-14 and how from far away the fig tree looked good. Its leaves were shiny or showy but it didn’t produce any fruit. Then the author went on to ask a piercing question, “Are we abiding in Christ to produce real fruit, or are we producing showy leaves?” (128).

This question applies to both our own personal walk as well as what the church does. Do our programs produce shiny leaves or do they produce real fruit? Does size matter more than content?

Do we read controversial topics without real depth for our personal walk? Do we instead choose to focus on something that matters for us, that will in the end bring us closer to God?

Are we shiny or do we produce real fruit?

God’s Faithfulness #5: Becoming Ms. Waggoner, teacher at Indian Woods

Here’s a recap of 1-4 just in case you have missed them.

1. God held my heart

2. Surgery when needed

3.Food on the table

4. Internships at the last second

Today is #5:

5. Becoming Ms. Waggoner, teacher at Indian Woods. After I graduated from undergrad God got me a job. It took a while but God did finally come through so there is no reason that God won’t get me a job soon right?

Doubts aside there was a time many years ago that God put me in a teaching position. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in English Education in 2004. I walked with my class at graduation and that summer I had one more class I had to complete which meant that I got my teaching credential after my friends, after the school year started.

I went on many interviews. I did the group interviews and I did several interviews for teaching positions in all the school districts in my area (3).

I had an interview at my old high school that was 90 minutes long and I didn’t get that job. I had another interview after a woman that obviously got the job that lasted about 20 minutes and then I had a surprising interview that lasted 3o minutes.

I went into the interview not caring. After all I had cared for so many interviews and had never gotten the job so I figured a game change was in order.

I walked into that interview assuming I wasn’t going to get it. I laughed and I was completely relaxed. Later that day I got the call that they were checking out my references (which is awesome because who calls your references if they don’t want to hire you?). After they called my references they hired me. Turns out that interview at the school that lasted 20 minutes was worth it. The principal from that school called the principal at Indian Woods and recommended me.

It was great. I worked at Finish Line and was a substitute teacher until I finally got the job at Indian Woods. That job taught me so much and the people I met there were awesome.

It was a great honor to be there and to be hired there. I am proud of my previous career. I loved my time at Indian Woods and I was glad when it ended as well. Teaching in a school setting was not where my life was headed.

I teach now but in a different capacity. I teach ministry. I teach how to write papers but to grad students instead of 7th graders. I’m still a teacher but in a different way.

God came through before and got me a job that taught me skills that I still bring to the table: flexibility, caring heart, creativity and many other things.

I was blessed by my time at Indian Woods and I’m really glad that God came through that time. I hopefully that memory can help me this week as I continue to search for the right position for me.

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