Monday, June 6, 2011

A Closet of Armor

Trust is a very delicate thing. For a lot of us, it's as easy to open up to someone as it is to perform our own surgical procedures. It seems that people are constantly breaking our trust more often than not. But the hurting and the healing begin in the same place. Childhood.

For those of you who don't know, I grew up with an alcoholic father and a mother who did what she could to keep the family together, though sometimes that meant enabling him. My father drank himself to death when I was nine years old. My grandfather had died two years before that of an aneurism. I grew up in a house dominated by women with very little male influence. A lot of my years were spent trying to win acceptance by being a doormat. I've had bouts with depression. I've had bouts with bottles of Jack. And I use that as a frame of reference. I'm not saying things were all bad, but Life has a way of making you reflect more on the bad than the good because somehow the bad is more memorable. Hmm.

At some point in my life around the age of 23, I started changing some of my personality traits that I was noticing and didn't like. Some of those things like being honest, holding myself to my word, things that I saw in other people that I didn't like seeing and didn't want to be a part of. Around that time, one of my uncles, one of the last important figures in my life, passed away. I got into a bad relationship because I tried to convince myself that I needed someone who could push me in another direction in my life. I quit my band, kept drinking heavily, and held all kinds of grudges for those people that had ever wronged me. Ever. But you see, keeping things inward destroyed everything else. I suddenly found myself alone, with no relationship, no band, no idea what to do next.

I had a rough time with trust because I had a rough time with God. I had a closet full of suits of armor and I was trying on different ones everyday to see which one "protected" me the best. The armor of course, not letting anyone too close and not letting anything out, started to rust around me. And I realized that keeping everything to myself was destroying my relationships. It was killing my work ethic. And I had always been the kind of person to lead by the example of word and deed. Now it was just word. I was letting those suits of armor weigh me down like an anchor. And when you're weighed down by your problems, it prevents you from moving forward. It prevents you from growing. Especially if you try to carry all that weight for years.

If we're honest with ourselves, a lot of the blame for a lot of the things that scar us falls right back on us and I say that because we can control what we perceive and how we perceive it. We dictate what we will wear our armor for. And a lot of it is just being human, but a lot of it is also because we haven't learned that forgiveness means we can really let go of the weight and begin to start moving.

Here's another thing I learned: You can't spend your whole life living in the past. Living in the pain. Living in the flames that have burned you. It's worthless and it steals the joy from your life. If you're not living for that joy, I can see how some people can work up the courage to get on a ledge and threaten to jump. It seems hopeless, it seems desperate. It seems joyless.

I have lived with a lot of that hopelessness before. But one thing I came to ask myself was if I am so unloveable, then what am I doing wrong? If the answer is something you can fix, fix it. Because a lot of getting past your demons is being honest with yourself, even when it nearly kills you. And during the whole process, we may feel like dying, like giving into the fatigue of the day in and day out trying. But that's a good feeling. It's a sheep in wolve's clothing.

It means you are truly changing. Your old habits are dying and your new habits are finding their bearings. I'm not saying that changing is ever easy. But it is necessary. Part of the reason people rarely change is because they recognize how hard it is and don't think they're cut out for the work. But no change is ever worthwhile without the work, and all that work is truly worth the change. And one day, we will all forget why we even had those suits of armor in the first place and throw them all out.