Self-discovery and suffering

I am a hard person. I am hard driven, hard emotionally, and hard to know. I know this, I just don’t know when I became this person.

We are all the totality of our whole experience. But, like boiling a frog, sometimes the slow cooker of behavior and self-perception leads us to be someone that we don’t remember being. This is complicated even more for me through PTSD, chronic pain, and my second death. I don’t know who I was, so I don’t know who I am. I realized that, although I don’t have a memory of who I am, I do have plenty of instinctual memory to be someone that I know is not me. The classic “I don’t know what I want, but I know it isn’t this.”

I have a lot of fear. I am exceptionally self-protective. I am also an idealist; I want to be the best version of myself. Unfortunately, my idealism is also expecting people to be the best version of themselves as well, coupled with the ability to see plenty of beams, but not my own mote. If I can see what is wrong with me, mostly, why can’t everyone else see their own flaws?

But I am a mess. Part of the twisted scape of reality that I dwell in now has other, less desirable impacts, especially on relationships. I know I don’t know what a good relationship looks like anymore, having so many bad ones. And, the one good relationship, an amazing relationship I have been in, was constantly being evaluated by the poisonous memories of toxic relationships. I was so busy measuring the relationship by temporal standards and by my needs and fears, that I didn’t realize I was actually in a good relationship. Then it went bad, with the help of an unprofessional and unethical therapist, but mostly because I wasn’t aware entirely of what I was actually doing to us. I knew I was struggling, I didn’t know my struggle was so palpable.

That isn’t even entirely true, though. It was a good relationship, I was terrified by my own fears and anxieties based on negative past experiences, and I knew this. I had discussed this. I had said as much to her and sought therapy to resolve these before it tanked my relationship. But in trying to get her to understand what I needed to feel ok, I didn’t realize I was making things worse because she was actually doing those things, I just didn’t recognize them. She was loving and affectionate. She was present and sweet. We did talk about future activities together, but I was too consumed in my own fears, finding those rare times when I had an expectation that wasn’t met, that I created a place where neither of us could just be ok.

I recognized my failings, I didn’t know how to correct them, I didn’t have the tools. I do know that I wasn’t being myself, but I don’t remember when I was myself. I don’t remember being ok, being safe, what it is like to be those things, so I analyzed my relationship on what my ideal was, since I don’t have anything else to go by.

It would be so much easier to just wash my hands of relationships, sell my crap, and wander the rest of my life on my Harley. Unfortunately, God has impressed on me something completely different. When I am alone, I am closed, dark, and hard. Heavenly Father wants me to have joy, wants me to be loved, wants me to be in the world.

So what happens, then? Life kicks the tar out of me. I am a hard person, I was raised and sculpted that way. But since I don’t have a memory of being safe and ok, I have no reference to get there. This is where God intercedes, but He isn’t inflicting anything on me, he is allowing me to suffer to learn. No book is going to suddenly help me have understanding, but a sudden gut wrenching blow to the heart certainly does. And usually by people we trust.

I could choose to be angry at what this therapist brought into my life, but after a lot of intense prayer, I chose to forgive. God doesn’t encourage people to harm us, but He lets us choose actions and behaviors that will set us up for these life lessons. In this case, I chose another bad therapist (two in a row) because I put urgency ahead of inspiration. I set myself up for my own lesson. It crushed my heart, I may have lost someone forever whom I love dearly, but I will be a better person for it.

This experience gave me a clearer glimpse of who I really am. I am a child of God, who now understands that life is suffering, relationships have pain, but by calling on Him instead of throwing a tantrum and blaming Him, I am softened. This experience taught me that I am my own worse enemy. I push boundaries, I have expectations, I push people toward my goals. In business, this is great, in law enforcement this is necessary, but in a relationship, it is toxic. Had I not been betrayed by a therapist, I would have not learned these things about myself. Had I not been looking for answers to behaviors that I wanted to change in myself, I would not have been open to the lesson learned here.

I am a hard person, but today I am a little softer. I am hard driven, but today I am putting my relationship on the alter of God for it to be whatever it will be: it is in her hands and by His will. I am hard emotionally, but today I open a little more easily, I express a little more accurately, and listen more intently. I am hard to know, but today I know myself a little better. I don’t know who I was, but I do know who I want to be: I want to be more like my Father in Heaven, and to do so, I must chose to be so.