You’ve Got to be Willing to Risk Failure

Tonight I realized two things:

1) If I want to see myself grow, I’ve got to be willing to risk failure. I have to be willing to venture into the unknown, to walk away from all my familiar surroundings.

2) For years, I have been adamant that I wouldn’t believe in God because God was just another “parent figure” to make me feel unheard, unseen, and abandoned. As far as I was concerned God was never there in my pain. Maybe scripture says I am forgiven but I don’t know if God should be.

Okay, you’re probably wondering how these revelations, or epiphanies, came about. On Christmas Eve my cousin told me about this group of people who meet and worship and then go have beer afterwards. He told me they were really liberal and accepting and that they don’t see God or religion the way we grew up seeing those things. Being the outcast, black sheep, religious reject of the family, I was intrigued. So, that night I took a leap and went to the worship service. And I’ve got to say… something about those people felt like home. I’m not one to easily discount something like that, so I went back tonight to see if there was any validity to what I felt before. Maybe there is… but that isn’t what this blog is really about. This blog is about how taking that leap and then taking it again led me to tonight’s message on retreat. That is what has inspired this blog.

As I listened to the various members of this group talk tonight I thought about another leap I took just yesterday. And how that leap felt so daunting in the moment. It felt impossible. It made me feel like I had cast myself adrift in some vast chasm with no tether to bring me back. It made me feel like I was being led into the unknown. But, it was good. It was a good leap.

Monday my therapist asked me if I would be willing to throw away my razors, right then and there. I hesitated. I think my pregnant pause was pregnant with pause, the silence and contemplation lasted for so long. How could this woman, this trained professional really be asking me to give up the one thing that feels constant in my life right now? How could this woman, who cannot guarantee that I’ll be able to regulate my emotions ask me to give up the one thing that never fails to bring me back? How could this woman be asking me to risk almost certain failure? I’d like to say she asked because she cares. I think she cares enough to want to help me make this journey, to encourage me to jump into the unknown. I chose to trust her but at that point it was a blind trust. I handed my blades over because she holds onto hope for me when I am drowning in a sea of darkness and she reminds me that people survive, that I can survive. I trusted her then without knowing the lessons that today would bring.

Now, I feel that trust has taken a different form. I can see that, giving up my razors, as one step toward something potentially amazing. I can see that the cutting has been my home, my safe place, my place of familiarity. But, I think that I’ve been so immersed in this life, this pain, this struggle that I’ve stopped seeing the magic of all the other things around me. I think we often get so caught up in our day to day struggles that we just disconnect, put ourselves on autopilot and lose the motivation to witness the wonder around us. We stumble from one familiar place inside ourselves to another, being sure to keep the blinders on the whole way. I’ve been living that blind life. I’ve become so focused on just making it from point A to point B that I have failed to appreciate the journey. And, shit, I know it’s cliche but maybe it really is about the journey.

Right, so, that second point of realization. I have literally no idea where it came from. I was driving home from the worship thing tonight and the thought just hit me: God is another parent to emotionally abandon you. This is something I’ve grappled with for years and years and years. I prayed when men made a conquest of my body. I prayed when I couldn’t see the light anymore. I prayed when the church and my mother told me I was an abomination. I prayed when I realized I didn’t love the way I was supposed to love. I prayed and I fucking prayed and I received no answer. There was no solace, no peace, no love. There was a dark, empty silence. A big, fat nothing. A gaping hole in my heart. A crater where my soul should be. There was no one. I don’t know how to move past that but part of me wonders… is there any way to marry these two revelations? Can I risk a belief? Is it that simple? Surely not. Surely I can’t just decide: I’m walking into the unknown and that unknown is a belief in God. Nope. That’s not it; that’s not me. But, what?

Do I let myself believe in all the moments I felt like I hadn’t been abandoned but that my mother assured me weren’t real or valid? Like the time right after I tried to kill myself. I went to some church thing with my youth group, to see a guest preacher.  This guy stopped mid-sermon. He swore as he walked down the aisle that he had never done this before but that God was laying something heavy on his heart that he had to get out. When he reached my row he looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “you are here for a reason. I know you’re hurting but God has plans for you. You’re going to do great things. You’ll be a witness. Your story will change lives.” In that moment there was literally no doubt in my mind that God was talking to me through that stranger. I felt “saved” that night. But when I relayed the story to my mother she said, “you’re not special. That was probably all an act. You haven’t been saved.” I felt so belittled, so small, so ignorant and naive. I have never been able to remember that experience with the same fierce conviction as I had before. The warmth, the love, the goosebumps… gone. Just like that, the moment meant nothing. So, maybe that’s the place where I have to start taking back my power. Not even necessarily just where it pertains to religion but in everything. Maybe I start by taking back my memories and my experiences. I wanted the unconditional love of a mother so badly that I was willing to burn myself at the stake for it; I was willing to disavow everything I thought to be true just for a morsel of that love. I sacrificed myself. So maybe that’s where the two revelations converge. Maybe I am the unknown. Maybe I have to start by taking myself back, one memory at a time, one feeling at a time, one intimacy at a time.

Maybe.

20 Thoughts

  1. OH my God your mother…. that is just wrong, KD.. Reading this post made me feel a lightening inside me. I think you are really ready to trust this therapist. I think that is why the issue of the fear of being abandoned by your higher power is coming up now. I know it may be hard to believe but there is a force in you that is whole and seeks your growth. It has the capacity to contain your wounded hurting parts. Dont listen to that voice of your mother. She was just diminishing you and she was not speaking the truth. True none of us is ‘special’ but we also are, if that makes any sense and every single one of us deserves love. I am here cheering you on. I think recognising you have been living in a darknes where any light or good was eclipsed is a huge realisation and shows you are ready to start to deal with and get out of that darkness. Love to you, Deborah

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  2. I feel like I probably make my mother out to be awful. She did do a lot of damage but she was hurting. She was just one hurt person, hurting people. I get the irony of me defending her here after having literally just said I’d be taking myself back. This is maybe the self-sabotage thing I’ve been talking about with my therapist. And the whole, “I’ve got boatloads of compassion for everyone except myself” thing.
    This therapist is good at what she does… the trust thing is still touch and go though. I let her in and then other parts of me self-destruct and try to obliterate that closeness. So… who knows… but I hope you’re right. I hope it does mean I’m ready to seek new terrain.

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    1. That push pull dynamic will probably be something you struggle with for a long time. I also used to defend my own mother because I knew the scars and deficits which led her to emotionally abandon me at times. That said a symptom of not having enough validation is just what you wrote as well as evidence of high compassion. Its also self protective in a way because dealing with the real core feelings is hard.

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  3. That’s such a huge step handing over your razors. That’s such a great way to dive right in to new learning and new skills that are hard to really devote yourself to when the safety net of the razors is readily available.

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  4. I think it takes a lot of strength to let go of your razors. A leap of blind faith, like you said. Although perhaps not as blind as you think because you know yourself better than anyone and you know your own resilience. I also loved what you said about taking a moment to really absorb life. In many societies, people (myself included) really do not take the time to appreciate what’s around them because we are all trying to get by and survive. I have a pin of a firefly jar that when I see it, it helps me take a step back and get perspective because last summer I was thinking about how I hadn’t seen any fireflies yet. I wondered where they were and why they weren’t around. But when I took a second to observe that night instead of breezing in from my car to my house, I saw them. Clear as day. They’d been there all along but I’d never stopped to pay attention. Such a good message in your post to remind us of that. Keep up the awesome choices and hard work!

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    1. I love your story about the fireflies. Thank you for sharing that with me. And thank you for your encouraging, kind words about letting go of my razors.

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  5. Hi, thanks for the follow 🙂 I read what you wrote here, and I just wanted to share something with you.

    I hated being alive. I saw no point, there was no will to live, and I wished I were never born. My parents dont sound so bad when you written about yours, but I don’t agree with my parents and their method of parenting. How they’d make me feel, I never felt like I could tell them anything. I had abandonment and trust issues, friends and family would die or leave or cause me pain, so I found myself alone one day. I had no job, no money, an addiction to cigarettes that was terrible and hard to break free of. I thought I’d end up on the street homeless or something someday.

    It was when God was all that I had, I saw that nothing and no one in this whole world compares to Him.

    Instead of seeing my life as an utter mess and failure with no hope, I saw it as a blessing in disguise. Because I know how these struggles feel like, and many people have struggles like these.

    I don’t know you, what exactly your story or struggles are, but I want you to know that it’s satan who has it out for you, not God. And I hope you can use all that satan ever hoped to destroy you with, for some good and light in this world.

    I used to cut, i used to strangle myself, i used to think of thousands of ways to die, and I almost have many times. I’ve had a broken heart, multiple times, friends betrayed me, and people died.

    I saw that its satan who throws all these bad things into our lives, since its his job, he does not want us to think God exists, and that He is good and loves us.

    The battle of the mind and heart is the hardest. I had read books by Joyce Meyer, she knows what’s up.

    I was just touched and moved by your post, it reminded me of the doubtful girl I used to be, until I found this song, and God had come to teach me.

    If you ever have any questions, doubts, or if you ever feel like you just need a kind friend, feel free to contact me.

    My name’s Kalyn btw, nice to meet you 😊 I hope you will stay alive, and I hope you’ll find peace in your life. Church and Christianity and all that, it’s not a place to go on Sundays, it starts with you, and I just hope you would know that God does love you. He wants to have a relationship like none other with us, and we all have a choice to say yes.

    Take care okay, and God bless 💖

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    1. Thank you, Kalyn, for taking the time to read and to respond. I really appreciate you reaching out and sharing some of your story with me here. It means a lot to be able to connect with people who’ve experienced and felt similar things and who are so willing to be open with their experiences.

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  6. I’m sorry that you’ve been belittled and taken advantage of in the past. I know how painful it can be to not have the support or proper love you expect from a parent. From your epiphany though, it’s easy to see how strong and resilient you really are. I believe God has been looking out for you and is ready to welcome you back with open arms. Remember, one day at a time. Xo

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  7. Your mom and dad sound so similar to my father. He always used to say, “who in the world do you think cares about your ass?” I’m convinced that instead of cutting with a physical object, I’ve long been cutting by repeating the things he used to say to me and still believing them.

    I’m a huge fun of this therapist of yours, by the way. How has it been without the razors?

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    1. I think it’s pretty normal for us to hold onto those voices and repeat the negative messages to ourselves, in a way perpetuating the punishment we have come to believe we deserve (at least on some level).

      As for my therapist, she is pretty great. She has been endlessly patient with me. About the razors, it’s been okay. It sucked at first. And I’m sure it will suck again. But for now I’m not thinking much about it.

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