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Suppression Unto Deprivation

August 24, 2009

My first week in Texas was… rough. I was tired and overwhelmed. I felt my confidence completely deteriorating. And I found it unusually difficult to engage in a real way with the people I was giving time to be with.

Every time I opened my mouth and said something real that came from a place of any depth, I felt that I could, at any moment, completely fall apart. It didn’t matter where I was. It didn’t matter who I was with. If I dipped anywhere below the surface, I was sure to break down and begin bawling.

This was a problem. I did not want to burden my friends with my emotions. There was a lot of catching up to do. I didn’t feel like crying in public. I didn’t have time to go there. I didn’t really want to be that vulnerable.

So, quite naturally and with little thought, I suppressed my emotions. It took a lot of energy and an almost sub-conscious intentionality. But my once-perfected skill of shutting down my emotions kicked in and I was able to numb myself with very little conscious thought.

I stuck to the surface. If I felt myself about to crack, I would alter my course and steer away from the touchy things. I said relatively little. I felt very little.

There were two major consequences to responding to my emotions in this way. First, it became virtually impossible to relate to anyone in a real way, as I was setting apart significant time to meet with people. It’s hard to connect with a person with any depth when you are determined to stay at the surface. Simple contradiction. Second, I COULD NOT sleep.

Yes. I suppressed my emotions so thoroughly that it was keeping me up at night. It was exhausting.

After about a week of sleep deprivation, I finally realized what I was doing. So, Thursday morning, as I was failing again to fall asleep, the floodgates broke and I just started to cry.

From that point, I resolved not to shut down emotionally, for the rest of my time in Texas. Since then (the last three or four days)… I’ve cried A LOT.

One week to go. A lot of pain remains that I haven’t even touched. But the Holy Spirit, my Comforter, is with me. So I’m feeling pretty hopeful about the next seven days.

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