For 5 years, I lived in a world that misused the word love. I was told that the actions committed against me were done in the name of love. When I protested, I was accused of being ungrateful - didn't I know that no one would ever really love me?
Those words and actions pierced my heart and spoke into the lie that had been whispered to me before. The lie that told me something must have been wrong with me for my birth parents to abandon me.
Those five stolen years confirmed again and again the lie. For 5 years, I didn't tell. I lived in fear and confusion. My silence covered my move from ignorance to shame, and enabled my hell to continue.
Those five years found me split in two, living a double life. 14 years have passed, and there are still parts that are split. I seem to have forgotten how to live all of myself at once. The thought of telling a friend how I feel, or crying in front of someone makes me sick. A part of me thinks that if I show someone what I value, then those things will be taken away from me as punishment. Or worse, used as leverage against me. I fear that if I share how I feel, I might lose control. And I want to be in charge of myself. For too long I wasn't.
Yet - but - there is a catch. I am called to die to self, to willingly surrender. I am supposed to lay down my life. A life which has never really felt much like mine to start with. Sometimes it feels like I've drawn the short straw an awful lot.
Several years ago, I dreamed that I was packing for a trip. In my dream, all I had to pack were dirty hand-me-downs, and all I had to pack them in was a used paper bag. Every time I put another thing in the bag, the bag would get a new hole. I dreamed that I patched the holes with tape that didn't stick well to the bag, so I kept having to stop not only to patch new holes, but to re-patch old holes. When at last I had finished my packing, and picked up my bag, the bottom of the bag fell out, dropping the dirty clothes on an even dirtier floor.
My dream went on to show me catching a glimpse of a new suitcase, with sturdy sides and a working latch. A new suitcase that was full of new clothes. All of which were mine to own - if I handed over my bag full of cast-offs. Any reasonable person would gladly trade, but my dream found me stubbornly clutching my bag and trying to argue my way into having the new and the old.
Considering that I had this dream while on a religious retreat, I think the symbolism is pretty clear. And I'm fairly certain that I had read the analogy before. I awoke from the dream with a clear impression that I was to take the dream to heart, and I still do. So why has it been 6 years since this dream, and I'm still holding a paper bag?
Fear has kept this heart of mine in a dark room for far too long.