Living Defensively

Living Defensively

Living Defensively

Living Defensively Rather Than Just Living

I’ve started to work through the apology letter my counselor asked me to write from the one I loved to me.  My nerves are shot, my stomach is upset all the time and tears are too quick to try to come.  I’m working overtime to keep it together when I’m with others, but I am not good with feelings.  Living defensively is how I’ve patterned my life so that when attacks came, I’d be ready for them and they wouldn’t hurt as much.

This weekend, my sister-friend made a comment when a group of friends gathered together to talk about life and the conference we had just attended.  She was asked a question about how she would feel when something happened, and she told them she didn’t know.   She told the group at one point that I had once told her that she approached new experiences like a puppy, so excited for the new adventure that when feelings followed, she was usually caught off guard.

Her approach to life and new experiences is something I’ve always admired about her. She listens for God’s guiding and goes in that direction with all that is in her.  She told them that she guessed I told her about her puppy approach because it was the opposite of how I approach areas in my life.  She then mimicked me and did an excellent job of it!  But the truth rang so true to me.  Living defensively keeps me from fully embracing life.  It keeps my focus on what could happen or keeping something from happening that I can’t experience the moment.

Love?  Really?

Every area of my life and my being has been torn apart at one time or the other, usually many times over, by those who claimed to love me.  Their “love” hurt deeply and I learned to be guarded. The hardest thing, I realize, is that I walked away from those relationships feeling stupid that I ever gave a piece of my heart to them.  You should never feel this way.  I know love can hurt, but it shouldn’t be the main feeling associated with the love of and from someone.

It’s so hard for me to remember how some of the people in my life could claim to love me one minute and then tear me to shreds in the next sentence.  The craziest part about it was that I was then expected to move on like nothing was ever said.  I was expected to smile and be friendly right after being ripped apart even when I never knew when another zinger was coming my way.  The hurt was rarely acknowledged, and if it was, it was usually somehow my fault.

That IS NOT love!  I chose to walk away from a few relationships, after much prayer and counsel from those I trusted, because I couldn’t live in this type of “love”.  It honestly made me sick to my stomach.  I have lived so much of my life in drama that I just don’t want to do it anymore.  When I am surrounded by drama, my stomach starts to hurt and, if it continues for a few days, I almost always get physically sick.  My counselor told me that the stomach ache was feelings.  I had so many negative feelings assaulting me that it effected me physically.  I never put that together.  As I processed some of what I wrote in the letter, she stopped me a few times and showed me how I described situations by telling what happened and how I physically responded instead of acknowledging or even recognizing feelings.  When asked, I couldn’t even name the feelings.

One thing that came from this processing of life is that as I cried, the feeling that overwhelmed me was that I was tired of being alone in the pain.  I’ve spent most of my life feeling alone even with a group of people.  Pain is so isolating even when others are walking with you.  When you add living defensively to the mix, it’s horribly lonely.  I want to truly experience and feel life and I pray this is something I can learn to do.

~ Joanna Lynn

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