“Alright, that’s enough for today,” is a phrase that I have never uttered to my therapist until today, especially with no chance of getting a refund for the 20 minutes left on the clock. Truth be told, I would have gladly paid full price to miss this whole session. I am a big proponent of self-care but the problem with self-reflection is that you don’t always like what you find embedded in your soul, like what surfaced in mine today.
Anyone who has heard me speak or spent any time with me knows that I hate injustice and even more than injustice those who perpetuate or ignore injustice for their own benefit, survival or comfort and justify it with Christianity. Sharing life with people who struggle with addictions has really irritated that justice crusader in me as addictions have a way of stealing one’s ability to even make a pretense of caring for anything or anyone more than self-gratification. Never having struggled with substance addiction has allowed me to firmly plant a flag of righteousness (more aptly self-righteousness, but we’ll get to that later) on the moral high ground of justice and selflessness. My entire personal and professional life is about serving and protecting others, namely the weak and vulnerable. I would never place self above the needs of those whom rely upon me.
I really don’t like my therapist. Everyone should have someone in your life that makes you hate them as much as I hate her. She says a lot of bleep to me that pisses me off but today it wasn’t her voice that indicted me, it was one of my own— no I am not seeing her for multiple personality disorder, but I do have many voices in my soul that have been screaming for my attention for more than 40 years that I have ignored for the sake of serving others.
I am eight years younger than my closest sibling, the baby of the family, and I was born in a particularly tough emotional and spiritual time for my family. From my earliest remembrances, I believed my job was to protect and salve the emotional wounds of my parents, most often my dad, whom I often saw suffer under the weight of injustice from internal and external pressures. I practiced this vocation with the diligence of a centurion, I never abandoned my post. There are many unhealthy developmental and emotional issues with this reality that neither you nor I care to explore in this already TMI heavy blogpost, but I actually have a point to this, really I do. The main point is that I conditioned myself to be so vigilant in tending to the emotional distress calls of others that I never acknowledged my own.
Fast-forward to the present. I have a hard time liking people who live selfishly. However, the voice I heard on my therapist’s cat hair laden couch hit me with the revelatory force of a freight train. I finally heard the voices deep in my soul and what they said made me nauseous, “you have never cared for us and like a codependent parent you entrusted our care to drunken step parents who don’t give a shit about us.” So much for moral high ground. I am the worst of what I despise. I have allowed the most wounded and vulnerable parts of my soul to be cared for by people who want to exploit their weakness for personal gain. I was attracted to people who offered to care for the screaming voices so I wouldn’t have to. I used them and they used me. I abdicated the care of my soul like addicts often neglect their kids.
This is a cautionary tale. Don’t be like me. Each of us has been created in the image of God and we each bear the responsibility to parent our souls by asking God to nurture and tend to our hopes, dreams, fears, wounds and vulnerabilities as only He can as our loving Heavenly Father. That is why God created us so that we might love and enjoy Him and find all our meaning and identity through His love.
If you are like me, you know who you are. If you are tired of those voices deep in your soul screaming for your attention, tired of using others or being used by others to treat longings that only God can satisfy—Take care of yourself. Invite God to do what He loves to do—love you, His dearly loved child.
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11
*Disclaimer: I actually love my therapist, just wanted to emphasize the difficulty of working through things.