Monday, August 07, 2006

Recovery: Facing The LONELINESS Monster.

I let myself post a blog of a battle I was just beginning to figure out. While I do want to participate in life as fully as possible as a disabled person, the reality is: it isn't always practical, or fair to do so. My hysterical quest to be included in everything, everywhere and all the time stems from a fear that has ruled my life.

I hate being lonely. I crave human contact, and for a number of reasons, have spent countless hours completely by myself. I did not realize what the root issue was, until I did the post on being excluded because of a disability. This is yet another example of how I have learned to rely on God and my faith, to solve problems that have dogged me for years.

First, I want to address the practical side of inclusion in activities for me with my low vision and dreadful balance issues. No one would willingly give me their car keys with my vision in its current state. To seriously make such a request puts people in a really unfair position. Luckily, I have no need to, or desire to drive a car, so the issue in such clear relief doesn't show itself.

My church believes that, whenever possible, willing workers should be put to work. They feel that to slow down for my safety isn't an unfair compromise. I am not sure if I totally agree, but I love them for "living" what they say they believe they should be doing because they follow Jesus Christ. I totally admire their attitude and execution of becoming more and more like Jesus and less and less like their former self-centered selves.

I have been on projects where to get it done fast was the only thing keeping me from much needed sleep, so I can see the drive for speed, as well as the desire for fairness. Personally, when I need sleep, I am driven to wrap things up as fast as possible.

But yesterday I cried at several points in the afternoon, before, during and after posting about inclusion and disability. I realized that my absolute over-the-top fear of being left alone, as in abandonment is an issue I need to lift up before God, so He can calm my fears and teach me to rely on Him to meet my needs. Forcing myself upon humanity is CyberGal trying to meet her needs in my own strength and wisdom. The Bible teaches that both of those sources of performance are sorely lacking. I know that I have some serious deficits when it comes to social situations. Yesterday I admitted that what I have been attempting to "do" about loneliness for myself is not working and I "came to the end of myself". This is a good thing.

It is only when you realize that:
  • I can't.
  • God can.
  • I decide to let Him.
I have already learned that God is very, very kind and gentle with me. When I have a problem, fear, concern or just feel bad. God literally lets me "sense" His presence. I have gotten so used to this gift, that at times, I forget that God has ALWAYS honored my very real need for a very radical kind of assurance and comfort. God is almost a physical thing for me. I can't touch Him, but I can truly say I can feel when He's listening to me, or responding to me.

I don't hear Him speak (as I'd be on the emergency psychiatric line in a heartbeat) if I started hearing voices! But I can hear, like a soft ringing in my ears. It isn't tinnitus. I do have that from time to time, and the sound quality is very different. So yesterday, I just found myself feeling very sad. I had work to do on the bulletin and I wanted to get my Hiroshima remembrance post done. At 12:30 I went to bed and just told God I felt really sad and needed help to regain a sense of faith in Him. I wasn't sure where the problem was, except it had to do with what I consider to be one of my major short comings, mainly my marginal social skills.

Then I remembered that whenever I have (finally) figured it out that I just don't have a clue as to how to do something, God always teaches me. I've had job situations, where He has literally given me new directions of thought, which were the missing pieces of information to complete a new task. Being almost clueless socially is just another skill GOD CAN TEACH ME.

I also remembered a key concept. If I trust God, then I have to believe that when I really NEED something, He will provide it! How many people have come to my door with a prepared meal in tow, sheepishly wondering why they just "had" to cook and bring me a meal? When I used to get hopelessly panicked, food was one of the few ways God could show me that He was with me. My friends were confused, but I heard the love message from my God loud and clear - and gained strength from it.

I then turned on my mp3 Bible and went to sleep until 6:30 this morning. I gulped down a bit of coffee and finished putting today's bulletin together. I prayed I wouldn't be crying at church, as I now understand the tears go way back to childhood and fear, not whether or not I could help the clean-up crew on this one particular day. I kept reminding myself of all the ways God has NEVER failed me, when I've gotten honest and really run to Him.

I have a Pastor who seems to understand the strange combination of shatteredness and strength which is my make-up. On the one hand, if God told me to chew Him out and I knew for sure it was a divinely ordered situation, I'd march in like a lion and deliver the message, no matter the cost. Yet at the same time, sharp, critical words can just crumple me into almost suicidal tears. I believe the severity of my reaction is partly the bi-polar thing, but it also stems from the brutality I've experienced most of my life.

I sent pastor an eCard, I thought was very humorous and at the same time, sweet and uplifting. Pastor understands that in some ways, I don't understand what is and is not proper behavior within our very conservative denomination. So, Saturday morning, before the Prayer Breakfast, he pulled me aside and very gently let me know that there was a problem with the eCard I'd sent.

I still feel this is such a miracle. I am not afraid of pastor. I don't feel like I have to walk on egg shells when I'm around him. He is always so GENTLE. I sense he really doesn't want to make me sad, or more sad, then is necessary. I would do almost anything for that dear man.
This is my first encounter with authority where I don't feel I have to be on "perfect" behavior.

You know, the way you would act, say if the Pope, or the President, showed up for dinner. You would not be in a relaxed, casual frame of mind. With pastor I've learned that he is willing to actually answer my confused questions and its okay for me to make mistakes. I don't fear being thrown away because my judgment, at times, is a bit worldly. I have so much joy over this. I've done more actual changing in this church because I'm not afraid, then I've done anywhere. This process is so healing. I don't know any other way to express it.

For me, this all gets back to how I've learned to trust God and His control over my life. My first church in the Church of God in Christ denomination was run by a very different kind of Pastor. I still love Pastor Shields, but I must have needed a change, because I did permanently change churches and the change appears to be something I was SUPPOSED to do.

I assume I must have needed a different type of church and Pastor, as they are now both successfully in my life. I can rest in the knowledge that God is in charge of meeting my "needs". I can stop pushing so hard, using the advice of the world and let God teach me a new way. All I know, is this system of trusting The Bible over my own judgment has yielded untold moments of peace and true physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing.

I pray to God, just like I'd have a conversation with any person. I don't mean that as an insult to God. I say "Good Morning" and "Good Night" to Him, just as I would any other friend in my home. I can pray aloud, when alone, but I can "think" all the prayers I want on the street, without appearing like a religious fanatic. For those of you who are single and pining after not being single any more, try this.

I went to a nice restaurants and got stood up by my companion. I almost let myself dissolve into tears. I had that taste in my mouth. I was really close to ruining a chance to eat out. Instead I mentally thought of Jesus Christ sitting across from me, and proceeded to share with Him how cool I thought things were. The spot of sunlight that had flopped across part of the beautiful oriental rug. The live plants, trees and bushes within the restaurants, how intricate it all was. How kind the staff had always been and were being to me. Before I realized it, I was having a lovely time. Alone, but not lonely.

I taught myself to pray. I dare you to try it. You will feel really silly at first. Just do it anyway. So, maybe you think you are only talking to The Easter Bunny, or the ceiling. God isn't angry about your confusion. If you keep it up for at least two weeks, I'd be surprised if you don't have a change of mind about the possible existence of God.

Give Him a chance. What if He is real and you can have some of that "comfort" you long for. You have nothing to lose. While you're looking up at that ceiling,by-the-way, think about the beauty all around you. Good engineering that has provided you with a house that hasn't fallen down, plants, animals and the other amazing human beings populating your world.

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