It happened again. I didn’t want it but it reared up unbidden, unwelcome, unaccepted. Why, why, why?
That’s what they ask me. “Why?”
I close my eyes to search for pictures, thoughts, feelings. Why? I feel incomplete, empty. I need to consume and cannibalize to fill the emptiness. I need to be one with the other, to be connected.
I become four again, lying on a top bunk, chin propped on my hands, looking through the studs of the unfinished wall to the hallway, through the door into the living room where the adults sit and talk. I’m left out and excluded, not wanted, afraid and insecure.
Betrayed! In that hallway I told Mom about my imaginary friend but Mom argued about the name. I shared and wasn’t believed. I withdrew into the safety of my mind but still I feel empty, a huge cavity inside me. Surely someone could love and want me but there is no one. Vulnerable and alone, is there no one I can stuff into the cavity, make them a part of me?
Sister! I trusted her! But she pulled away and is gone. I didn’t cry when she died but I sob now. I was closest to her, I loved her most. She was part of me but there is no going back. She was ripped away and now is gone.
It was the accident of course. It changed everything. I wasn’t allowed to see her in the hospital and she was there for so long, so many times. I was cut off. She became the focus and the family changed. I didn’t matter no matter how hard I worked for attention, no matter how good I was. She got the visitors, the presents, the plush fluffy slippers with an animal head on each foot that squeaked when squeezed, the Punkinhead she loved till it was bald. It wasn’t fair. I wanted things too but complaining wasn’t allowed.
I pull away, into myself, into the bedroom. I too get injured, confined to bed, and a visitor comes. She shows me how to make beads from pages of the catalogue but it isn’t enough. I need someone to connect to, someone who cares, who is there for me all the time. It hurts. I’m not as sick as Sister.
“I will never leave you or forsake you.”
The words are hollow. Nobody wants me. I’m not good enough—not for God and not for others. Empty. My dreams at age four confirm it. I’m in a basement room with many adults. Jesus comes to the top of the stairs, looks down at me in the far corner and leaves. I’m chased by a dragon and I run. I’m abandoned by God, not good enough. I have to try harder but it’s never enough.
If I don’t try, everything will fall apart. I will be without anchor, without direction. If there is no right or wrong, everything I do will be wrong—the worst possible behaviour. I’ll be at the bottom, completely abandoned with no hope. God wants nothing to do with me there.
Wait! There is the Father, welcoming the Prodigal.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” It still doesn’t sound true.
But wait again! There was a time I hit bottom and God didn’t leave me. It is truth. Can I believe it? Surely it will take a long time before I do.
Hmmm! That truth gives me freedom! I am free to do right or wrong. No matter what I choose, I am accepted and wanted! That’s a scary thought. I try it on for size: No matter what I do, God wants me. Whether I sleep or stay awake, he wants me. If I have an imaginary friend, he wants me. If I’m quiet or loud, he wants me. Whether my table manners are acceptable or not, he wants me. If I get A’s or F’s, he wants me.
This is scary. Can I take this further? He wants me whether I’m good at marriage or not. He wants me when I’m confused about friendships. It seems unbelievable. I’m too scared to believe it is true. “God help me!” I sob.
If I’m wanted regardless of what I do or who I am, what would stop me from making wrong decisions?
Oh! Just listen and trust that it’s him I’m hearing. He wants me no matter what I do. I just need to listen and trust. He wants me!