Late last summer, I became aware of a fact that I had been blind to, but most certainly needed to wake up to: the other woman. She had the potential to rob me of the family God had given me, the life I’d been blessed with, the healing I desperately needed. She was living in my home…with me. And she needed to leave.
She was cruel to me, flaunting her amazing, incredible, capable, sufficient, energetic, lively, active, accomplished, healthy, stable, strong, superior self at me whenever she could. She was everything I wanted to be. She was everything I (thought I) once had been. She was me, or rather, the me that was no longer.
She was a ghost. Haunting me, following me around all day, accompanying me throughout the day’s tasks. Constantly criticizing me, putting me down, making me feel guilty, belittling my attempts at living like a normal person again, mocking the small things I accomplished, looking on my small victories with disdain. She was impossible to compete with and please.
She was my ideal. She was the woman I longed to be, but couldn’t be anymore.
And so I stopped trying. Why try when I could never live up to who she was? It didn’t matter if I had energy to make dinner. She was there to scoff and remind me of all the dinners I used to make easily. Why try when anything I did would seem so insignificant compared to all that she could have done? I felt defeated before I even tried. She always won. She was always better.
I kind of gave up without even realizing it. I just settled for living in her shadow, living in the memory of her and missing her. Living with the thought that I would never be good enough and grieving the loss of the woman I wasn’t anymore. It hurt a lot. I despised myself and I despised her too, but at the same time, I worshiped her.
It wasn’t really living. It was more like tolerating life. I tried to smile and keep up my spirits. When I was alone, I was either apathetic or in tears. Life wasn’t what life should have been and could have been.
I resorted to fading into the background of life. I didn’t feel like I was needed or that I could add anything meaningful to life. It was easier to find mindless things to do to drown out the memory of her than to face her with my pitiful contributions to life, especially to our family. I couldn’t be the wife, mom, friend, daughter, or even Christian she could be and if I couldn’t meet that standard, I didn’t feel that being less than that was any good.
But that way of living kept me stuck. Unable to move forward, I was in a constant place of comparing myself to her. When the home videos would go on, it hurt my heart too much to watch myself before the health crisis and I would withdraw to another room where I didn’t have to watch her. Did I mention she was amazing?
But it got worse. The more I was with my family, the more I saw her. My family began to be a reminder of her. Watching them do the things I used to be able to do was excruciating. The more I was around them, the more I was reminded of her and who I no longer was.
And so I began retreating from them more and more. I fought it to a degree, battling through the day, trying not to let the reminder of her intimidate and discourage me. I attempted to keep myself present instead of fleeing…many attempts in vain. I put some effort into it, but not much. I failed a lot at rising to the occasion. It seemed to be a losing battle. I saw her everywhere!
One day, the Lord made it all so crystal clear to me and I just kind of went “Wow.” All the feelings finally made sense. My behavior was no longer a mystery to me. I saw her for what she really was:
An illusion. A fantasy. A thief. A lie. I was letting this person who no longer existed steal precious moments of life from me.
I’m going to be honest. She still tries to hang around. I still feel like shutting down when I catch a glimpse of her. But she’s not controlling my life like she was and she’s not welcome here! She’s been officially kicked out. Instead of focusing on her, I’m learning to focus instead on God and all that He is and who I am in Christ. When I see her out of the corner of my eye, I remind myself with the truth:
I belong to a loving Heavenly Father and I am precious in His sight. I may have lost a lot of “what I can do”, but what I’ve gained in return is more precious than gold and it shows “what God can do”. Even though I may not understand or it may not feel good, God is working everything out for my good. This trial is temporary, whereas my life with Christ is eternal. I am enough, because God says that I am complete in Him. Life is a gift!
I’m still in the process of getting free from the loss, grief, pain, frustration, anger, disappointment, and bad habits. The longer I’m on this journey, the deeper God goes into my heart. The fact is, I wasn’t good enough for myself. There is the root problem, plain and simple. I’m learning to accept who I am now and what I can do. I’m learning to be grateful for how far God has brought me. I’m learning to be content with what I am able to do, because this is God’s will for me at the moment. Fighting God’s will, denying the reality of it…that doesn’t help matters. It hasn’t been easy and the journey isn’t over yet, but the cloud and fog that covered much of 2014 have started to lift and are being pierced through with rays of God’s hope and love.
I have appreciated this verse throughout the past several months and it continues to be a reminder to me of what God desires for me. The Lord doesn’t just want me to “get through” life, He wants me to experience His abundant life here and now while I’m living life on this earth. It’s a promise that I’m holding on to tightly as I continue moving on!
Learning how to move on one step at a time,
~ Adriel ~