The heart, a door.

For many years beginning in my early teens towards my early twenties I struggled with feelings of inadequacy. Because of it, I often overworked myself and I felt really low and un-motivated when I was not accomplishing something or when I had nothing to look forward to.

I also struggled with fears, especially the fear of rejection and failure. Coupled with my feelings of inadequacy, those fears caused me to put high demands on myself and to dread being wrong for fear of condemnation. A few people would say I was obsessed with being "right" all the time.

I would often find myself wondering what people thought of me and would secretly compare myself to others, in my head.

And I would never measure up.

I viewed myself as a failure and was often afraid that something was about to go wrong. I believed nothing could ever go "right" for me for very long without me messing it up and ruining it. I would often feel I was walking on eggshells, just waiting on myself to screw something good up. I swallowed the "self sabotage" narrative hook line and sinker, since it felt SO REAL to me. I felt like I was always waiting on the other shoe to drop, so to speak.

I also believed I deserved only second-best and wasn't worthy of "good" things. It was hard for me to accept grace and recieve love. I enjoyed giving things away but I was almost embarrassed to receive gifts from people.

This was also because of my fear of being hurt, or fear of pain. I subconciously believed that if I never recieved anything, whether it was a compliment or a gift or some form of love, then I could never have anything taken away from me, thus avoiding the pain of rejection and loss. I would sooner be the bad guy by rejecting others first, than having them reject me. And I self identified as one who always ended up letting others down in some way, and being dangerous to love.

I spent many years of my life building walls of self-protection around me, thinking they would protect me from pain and protect me from hurting others - it seemed I always hurt the people I cared about most. No matter how hard I tried, I would end up hurting them and pushing them away from me. I believed that once I came to love someone I would only end up hurting them and driving them away from me so I decided that if I never let anyone in, and embraced being alone, I would never hurt anyone and no one would ever leave I would never have to feel the pain of abandonment.

I worked at building inner walls to keep myself in and to keep pain out...but I didn't realize til later that the walls I thought were protecting me and those I loved were only causing more hurt and worst of all, were keeping love out. I didn't know that love and pain enter in through the same door. And I tried my best to make sure I had no doors in the walls of my heart...

Someone said to me once when I was a child that I had a "heart of cold stone" and I resented that statement and the condemnation that went with it for a long time...only to watch it become a reality in my life years later.

I didn't know that love and pain enter in through the same door.

Blocking pain (and essentially love) out of my life, also blocked God out. I yearned to know and feel Gods love as it was described in the pages of my Bible...I spent hours screaming at Him and crying out to Him...I would lie in silence and wonder if He could really hear someone like me and love what He saw. I fought to believe that He really did love me and accept me and when I would tell others of His love I would doubt inside whether the love I was describing could really be for me. I had no problem knowing and believing that God loved and accepted others but inside I thought I might have pushed Him so far away from me that He would never want to love me again.

I started building up a resistance to pain.

I believed that tears, and giving in to pain were signs of weakness and reasoned within myself that if I could not feel pain, or if I could tolerate high levels of pain then it would solve my rejection issues and would save me from being hurt by others in the future. I believed most women to be weak and emotional "wrecks" and tried my best to "suck it up" and be "strong." I strove to completely squelch my emotions and succesfully suffocated most of my tears. I was always frustrated with myself because no matter how hard I tried, I could not master my feelings or dry them up completely and I would hate myself every time I would break down and cry, angry at myself for being "weak" and "vulnerable." I would take walks in the rain when I needed to cry so that people would not notice my tear-stained face and ask me about it.

I didn't realize that behind the "safety" of my walls I became even more vulnerable than before.

I was angry often and my family took the brunt of my demonstrative silences and outbursts. I excused it with the lie that anger was a "manly" emotion and was therefore acceptable whereas tears were "weak" and "feminine" and were not to be tolerated. I adapted the mysoginistic views of the religion around me. I came to see women as the "weaker vessel" in all the negative ways that could be implied. I subconsciously believed that to be enlightened, holy, strong and successful, was to be like God....or rather, was to be like men. On a very subconscious level, I saw them as one and the same.

I subconsciously believed that to be enlightened, holy, strong and successful, was to be like men.

It eventually became hard for me to cry at all, or feel pain, even when I wanted to. I would sometimes pretend to cry, hoping it would trigger something inside so the tears would flow. I would stand in the shower with the water hitting my face and would imagine myself sobbing until finally something inside would break and I could cry. Not that I never cried involuntarily, but it became a rarer thing in my life than not. I would try to hurt myself, thinking that physical pain might somehow relieve the empty feeling inside. In my warped state of mind, I would secretly find ways to do this that would not be noticeable to my friends or family so that they would not worry about me or worse - pity me. I didn't want them to know because I knew it would hurt them and if I kept them at a distance, they could not judge me or reject me. I would also most ardently reason to myself that outward, physical signs of an unbalanced mind and heart were ways of seeking pity and attention, things I was determined to live without. If I didn't "need" anyone, then no one could ever let me down or hurt me. And if I didn't "need" anyone then I would truly be strong. Those were really the only reasons I didn't cut myself or mutilate myself in a visible form - I didn't want anyone to see because I believed it made me stronger if I were the only one who knew.