I say I’m sorry. A lot. Like, annoyingly a lot. I have irrational feelings of guilt. I can’t remember when I didn’t. I’m sure there was a time when I didn’t…maybe when I was very young…but I don’t remember it.
I remember being told growing up how everything was my fault. How much trouble I was…how I was going to ruin everything. I don’t know when I started seeing myself that way, but at some point it happened. At some point “I’m sorry” became an automatic response…not an insincere one, but a true, I really feel like everything is my fault response.
Those feelings intensified as my husbands drinking worsened. I was sorry a lot. Sorry that I made him drink. Sorry that I wasn’t enough for him. Sorry that I wasn’t a good mother. The list is endless. There was not a thing that was wrong that wasn’t my fault.
My husband has this tone of voice and facial expression that cripples me. For years, they were a way to make me feel bad about myself, to blame me for his having to drink…for telling me how lucky I was that he stayed with me, because there is no way anyone else would ever want me. I would agree with him…and then apologize for whatever he had told me I had done wrong.
This went on for years. It’s how we communicated. It became who we were together.
During the last several months, we have both been making a conscious effort to change those habits. Not always successfully, but we are trying.
He will tell me, I don’t mean the tone that you hear, it’s just how I talk. We are working through it. I tell myself that he isn’t angry, that he doesn’t hate me. Well. I tell myself that the next day. When I’ve absorbed as much of the hurt that I can stand. Because when it happens. In those moments. I feel like we’ve gone back in time. Like I need to apologize for everything again. Like I need to remember how lucky I am he’s still with me.
And I don’t (can’t?) remember that his tone, his expression…they’re habits. Formed over years and years. They aren’t an indication of him not loving me. It’s just how he’s always talked. And that doesn’t make it ok. But I do know that he truly is making an effort and sometimes, when life is hard, old habits return. Not the drinking. But the way he talked to me for so many years.
And it’s those times when I need to remind myself. It’s not him, it’s me. His tone is not an indicator of his feelings for me. How I respond to his tone though, is a direct indicator of my feelings about myself. Allowing the self hate…the disappointment…the lack of worth I have in myself…I allow that to come back. I put those thoughts in my head. Because two minutes later, he will have caught himself and corrected.
But it takes much longer for me to correct my feelings about myself. Because it really isn’t him. It’s me.
In the same way, when life is really hard, I sometimes forget that God loves me. No matter what. He doesn’t blame me for things I didn’t do. And things that happen to me aren’t punishment. I forget that. And I see myself through my eyes and not His. And I always fall short. I disappoint. It’s what I’m good at. It’s what I grew up believing.
It’s why everyday. I have to start over. I have to remember. I am more. I am not the sum of my past. I have value. And it’s not God telling me I’m worthless. It’s me. And I think that hurts His heart. And I need to try harder and remind myself more often. It’s not you…it’s me. And I can decide…every day…every hour…every minute sometimes…that’s it’s not me either. Not anymore.