Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dying in the Water

I was chatting with a friend recently about how some people are attracted to brokenness - and not in a good way.  My friend came out with the most profound statement, "Well, when you're bleeding, you attract either the sharks or the leeches."  I immediately knew exactly what my friend meant.  I've experienced both.

The sharks are those who enter into relationships with me because they know they can lord it over me, and I'll take it.  They 'take a piece out of me' every time they're with me and I take so much before fighting back. Then they go away (if I'm lucky) and wait for me to get over my anger, then apologize - I forgive them - and then they start all over again. They feel that they have the right to tell me how to live, what to do next, what I should have done, how to raise my children, and so forth. When I haven't accepted what they've said, they've gone to other sharks and engaged in the team sport known as 'backbiting.' (That's the fastest way to ruin someone's reputation, by the way.)  I've had to remove myself from harm's way more than once in such situations - and not worry about the fallout or what others might think; it was a matter of survival.  I think it's called 'setting boundaries.'   

The leeches are those who latch on - whose need attaches itself to the place I am already bleeding - and they slowly drain my energy.  I get sucked in (pardon the pun) because they are usually wounded in the same places as I am, but the difference seems to be that I am in a process of healing and want to get better, whereas they appear not to be interested in that, but rather in gaining endless confirmation that their situation is unbearably horrible, that they are wonderful people (which - I must admit - they are, if they'd only believe that!) and that things will work out for the best. Of course they don't believe me and I keep affirming them.  It wears me out - drains my energy - just like having a leech attached to me all the time.  

I've had to walk away from that kind of relationship as well. And it hurts. 

Whether attacked by a shark or latched onto by a leech, the bottom line is that a person only has so much blood.  Eventually - you're dead in the water.  For most of my life I was the leech - sometimes I was the shark - and always I wondered why people wouldn't stay in relationships with me.  Now that I've experienced it for myself, I understand how unhealthy that is, how trapped people can feel in such relationships, and why those people withdrew themselves from me. I can speak from first-hand experience now. It's too draining, being the source of constant affirmation for someone; it's like they've given me the place of God in their life.  That's not good for them and it's not good for me. 

I'm even wondering at this point what I'm even doing IN the water for that matter.  As long as I stay there, the original wounds won't close over and heal.  As long as I look to relationships with people to give me what I need, whether that's affirmation or a sense that I'm helping someone by giving them 'advice' - I will remain in my brokenness and will fall prey to more of the same.  

Perhaps the answer isn't in the water.  Perhaps the answer is in the One who walks on it.  

Through Him, I've been led to friendships with amazing people who (instead of looking up to me or looking down on me) treat me as an equal.  In intimate relationship with Him, I have found the ultimate affirmation - that unconditional love - and a security that allows me to be able to let go of the need to control people or outcomes. To be myself and know that it's enough.  To do what I need to look after myself and my relationship with Him - and know that it's okay to do that, even if it means saying no to things others might consider 'good'.  To not apologize for existing.  To stand up for the rights of the oppressed - even if the oppressed is me.  To accept the things and people (all people) over which I have no control.  To take steps to change the things and the person (that's me) that I can change. To not look to people to meet my emotional needs - for only One can fully meet them.

It's taken me a while to figure it out - and sometimes I still can't quite do it the way I want to or as quickly as I need to - but I'm learning to lift my hand up above the water and burble out, "Lord, rescue me! I'm dying!"

And He does.

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