Do you have someone you can dump to?
This week someone asked me a question that turned out to be revealing in a sort of earth-shaking way. I love being asked those questions usually, because they usually end up being important to the person I could become, but this was not a lovable experience.
I was at a conference earlier this week helping with worship and also attending the sessions, and one of those sessions hit where it hurts. The guy teaching it was one of those loving, grandfather types and he was talking about wounded people and the different types of wounds. The ones that are wounded in their spirit, the ones wounded in soul, and the other was types of grief, I believe, because it mentioned losing someone to death. It was the one about soul wounds that hit me like a load of bricks. He started going through the different symptoms people display with that kind of hurt and I couldn't take it anymore. It was me to a T, and it was all coming back.
Not the burning blackness or the empty isolation in the center of which I stood like a speck of nothingness, but the awful nights that had no witness. The expression of pain that I had never allowed by day. How is it possible to feel burning and utter isolation at once? I thought once that it must be what hell feels like, and I never let anyone see that struggle for my soul while it was happening.
It's one thing to let people actually witness you falling apart, and it's another to tell them about it after you're patched back together and reasonably controlled. The session this week? Turned me into a public mess. That's new for me. It felt as if I was falling apart all over again, and this time everyone would see it. The feeling.. it was too much like shame. This couldn't be me. It was so embarrassing that I almost ran. It was an impossible situation. I couldn't run, because I had to stay and play piano, but I couldn't control myself. In other words, I turned into a snotty-nosed mess. Someone I talked to during this time asked me this question after awhile.
"Do you have anyone you can dump to?"
What a simple question, and it should have a yes or no answer, but it didn't. In fact I have people to confide in that I trust deeply, but no one has ever seen the worst times because I didn't think it mattered enough. What a sad thing. We go around bottling compressed pain from wounds years ago because we think that our pain doesn't matter, and we are not enough.
I thought I was the strong one. You know, the one everybody thinks has it together. This is not to brag, but I've been admired all my life for my level-headedness, my strength, my independence, my ability to keep things together. Meanwhile, I suffered deep wounds, alone. This was nobody's fault but mine, because I wouldn't let them in.
No one can do alone. It's new for me to discover I can't, and in the spirit of true vulnerability it's time that everyone knows that there are deep ridges in my soul filled with rivers of pain no one has ever seen. They know about them, but the worst times have no witness. I don't want to get to the end of my life and realize that I never let someone else bear a burden of mine. It's the emptiest way of living I can think of.
So this is me to the world saying, I resolve to trust more. If there's a deep pain, I'm going to open the doors to let it wash me clean, wring me out, and set me back up on my feet again. If in the process, people see that I'm not half as strong as they thought I was, that's ok because it's honest. I'm going to, for the first time in my life, acknowledge that pain matters. For once, I am enough.
Because my weakness, is His strength. And for all of you who think the terrifying aloneness in your life is your burden to bear? It isn't. We're here. I'm here. Don't make the same mistakes I have. Tell someone, even if just one person. Even if they see you with a face on which the flood waters have washed and left the red, blotchiness of pain. Even if you have to pay them to counsel you through this. Pain matters. Your pain matters.