I’ve been holding people at a distance. I want to say maybe I have, but there is no maybe, I have been.
I don’t know how to interact genuinely or honestly with pain without sharing at least some of my own. I said this to my therapist, and she talked through it with me. I said this to my husband, and he said “vagueness is your specialty.” He meant it as a good thing, I think… Or maybe just a simple observation. He sees how I am with others, and how I am when we’re alone. And I’m different.
Everyone wears masks to some degree, I don’t want to be one of those people. I don’t want the masks to exist, I want depth. I want to share genuinely and honestly everything that’s happened, everything I’ve been through. And yet, as my therapist reminded me, I have my group of safe people, and the boundaries I’m holding to are healthy out of respect for everyone involved.
I’ve heard that gossip is involving people in something when they’re not a part of the solution or the problem. I like that definition, because it helps put things into perspective. There were times that I did break down in groups, there were times that I have shared (and probably too much). But now things are different. Now, the pain isn’t as unbearably overwhelming as it was when I couldn’t help but let it all spill out the second I started talking. I couldn’t even talk about basic things sometimes without crying and not fully being able to make my way through it. It was too much.
There are some who have been part of the solution. There are some who have been part of the problem, and things have healed, maybe not completely, but God’s working on us. Then there are others, who are incapable of love or thinking about anyone else, people who are unsafe, who we have to keep at a distance, and even distance isn’t always enough.
But there are all these people outside of those little bubbles. People who are hurting, who need a safe place. I want to be a safe place. I wouldn’t open up to me either if I was around myself externally, I come off too happy, too put together. And I say this because of the shock and reaction I’ve gotten when certain people have found out that I’ve struggled with depression.
Being fine is a mask. I’m okay now. But I haven’t always been. And just because I’m okay, and God’s growing me, doesn’t mean I’m fine in the loose and casual way that people often take it.
People used to open up to me. Random people. People I’d never met before. There have been a few over the past several years, but not nearly as many as there used to be. Maybe it’s because I’m not around strangers or new people as much, maybe it’s because I’ve changed. I’m more guarded, less open. More cautious, less free.
And yet, there is a freedom in not being compelled to speak, and share, and there is a freedom in not being so broken that vulnerability was forced upon me if I wanted to say anything at all.
I guess what I’m saying is, I’m not sure how to strike a balance. I know the need for healthy boundaries, I know the need to be unmasked. I desire the ability to share and be known, not by everyone, but by some, and I desire to know and understand others, to love them, and support them, and to offer comfort in the places I’ve been broken, comforted, and healed.
In this, I also realized while sitting in my therapist’s office, that I’ve placed my identity in all the wrong things. I’ve based my worth and my value, not in God where it should be, but in my ability to be there for other people.
I hold my hands up, keeping others at a distance, I dodge and avoid things that I really wish I knew how to speak on. And then I’m reminded that all this stuff, there is no clearly spelled out black and white, right and wrong, except that I keep my eyes on Christ, and follow wherever He leads.
Jesus had times when He spoke and called others out, and He had times where He stood silently as he was accused. Both are right, but both at different times.
I know the reasons for these masks, and I’m thankful for the relationships I have where I don’t need to wear them. But I also struggle with the guilt, or shame, of not living up to my ideal identity, of once again, not being able to save others by sacrificing myself.
Why do I hate me so much? And why is it so hard to trust God with my identity? My worth is not based on what I do, but who I am in Him. I guess it’s complicated by the ever nagging question of “who am I?” that all INFJs struggle with. But maybe that’s the key. I think I need to process and pray about this more.
I can’t save everyone. I can’t save anyone. God can use me if He wills, but ultimately, Jesus saves, the Holy Spirit convicts. And I am not God.