I want to put on the red lipstick and glam my way through life, pretending I was never this flawed, never this needy.
Yet, in honesty, this is who I was. The same genetic code I still carry was carefully being warped and folded by all the stories that don’t make their way onto these pages and found in all the jumbled and confusing moments that have become lost along the years
I was and still am the girl who fuels the woman who writes the words; trying to find objective distance from the child who was broken by others long enough to learn how to break herself.
Being honest, being direct is more than just a manifestation of my INTJ personality type. It’s a lifeline to reality I hold onto with hands clenched, knuckles white, because Truth-telling is a kind of survival.
But, even more than survival? I am direct, blunt, painfully honest because I understand liars and have dedicated my life to never being counted among the false and the pretender again.
A liar’s shaky world is built on half-truth and outrageous, unbelievable fantasy bringing you to the place of living covertly in your own head.
A single, underlying thought resonates through your fundamental interaction with any one in your world.
What if someone finds that one lie that unravels the whole image?
Painstakingly crafting an elaborate pretence almost, almost, allows the freedom to believe that being passably good enough is enough reason to continue.
The most terrifying thing about this almost-life you are living?
You start to believe it.
Oh, you know that you aren’t as awesome as you say you are. There aren’t any questions there, but you begin to really believe that:
“No one will like me if they know the truth.”
“I am worthless.”
“I am unlovely. Unloveable. Unloved.”
Lies isolate the liar in a cold cocoon of emptiness while breeding cynicism and skepticism.
Everybody lies. No one speaks truth. I can’t trust anyone. No one trusts me.
The sweetest, most compassionate, most well-intentioned people in your world will be suspect as manipulators.
Despising them, unable to trust, the capability for friendship is bled right out of you. Incapable of compassion, living on self-pity, and an overwhelming sense of disgust that everyone is so easy to fool becomes a passable justification for keeping yourself distant from them.
It is impossible to humanly love a liar.
“Heidi, that’s not nice. I would love them so hard. It’s not impossible, I could do it,” you say.
Ok, you can try, but answer me this; how can you love someone you don’t know? How can you love someone who refuses to be known?
Only God, in His all-seeing wisdom and grace, could love such an over-burdened phony.
Yet, I feared Him most of all.
All I’d seen of the justice His people showed made it very clear there was no way He would let me keep the facade and He’d have no problem making a spectacle of me in the process.
So, I ran from Him in a futile attempt to keep my destructive status quo and preserve what I called dignity.
I understand liars and this is why Truth is more important to me than hiding behind the years since those days.
It is Truth propelling me along, waking me at 4:30, and motivating trembling fingers and a reluctant soul to share this story, exposing my flaws, laying bare a defiant sin nature with its temptation to elevate broken-ness to a point of pride.
It seems there is always a temptation to be proud.
This pain. This shame. This abuse. This girl’s heart, worn down and full of anything but love, must be shown, exposed.
She was desperately in need of a Savior.
I understand liars. I understand cynicism and the toxicity of shame.
I understand because, underneath all the years, I was compulsively, hopelessly, and unapologetically, the biggest liar I’ve ever met and the only hope I had was to find a Throne of Grace where Light and Darkness could never exist together.
Truth was the only way to be free.
Being the Christian Girl was boring. Constantly feeling as though I had to be on my guard to avoid doing the wrong things was exhausting and, frankly, after I panicked and told the boy from the North to never write me again because his words were too intimate, the motivation to keep going was dwindling.
I was alone.
What was the payoff for working so hard? There was no infatuation or love strong enough to make me change. No one could be good enough to compensate for my failings. No matter how hard I tried, this change hadn’t brought the internal fulfillment I longed for and the weight of hypocrisy was wearing me down.
I wanted answers to questions I couldn’t find the words to express and the desperate craving for love and affirmation from people who thought they knew me was just desperation and insecurity. They thought they could see me while only looking at the shell of a person.
You can’t love a liar anymore than you can hold on to smoke. Who I was changed, moment to moment sometimes, to better suit the environment in which I found myself. Who did these people want? That is who I would become.
I existed without substance, only perception.
It almost goes without saying that I was often hilariously, heart-breakingly, wrong. But, wrapped in a well-fed conceit bred from years of hearing only my own voice and the whispers in the back of my mind, it was easy to make the inevitable breakdown in relationships all about how no one would accept me. No one really loved me.
They were the liars. They said they cared but where were they when it mattered? When I truly hurt? When I was alone. No one showed up with a word from God saying I needed…Something.
They just rejected me, I thought. But there were other voices inside my head offering platitudes and a calculating warmth of acceptance. Or as close as I was capable of feeling.
Maybe I was special. Maybe I just had such a deep spiritual connection to the universe I couldn’t be understood by the idiots around me.
Maybe I was a complete trainwreck masquerading as a complete person?
Well, that thought never occurred to me.
“Completely empty yourself of all that is self and welcome the energy from the air around into your consciousness. Let your spirit and heart become attuned to the auras and spirits of those who have gone before us and then invite them to fill you.”
Sitting on the cold, hard floor, hands on our knees in a classic meditative posture, I sold my brand of enlightenment to get into character for our next performance. We needed to really feel the power of the piece and express it utilizing the combined understanding and spiritual currents. Would it be enough to get us to the state competition?
I hoped so.
Uncouth, direct communication with “demons” was scary and, really, I didn’t want to be like some Evil Legion of Evil minion, I just wanted to be broad-minded, aware, powerful, accepted…Important. Besides, what the folks at church didn’t understand was these spirit guides were beings of light, pointing me toward a more “complete understanding”, a personal age of “consciousness”.
Coming to me in dreams and giving me a sense of special knowledge that created a contempt for the less informed. These guides were there to help. Subtly, they began pointing a way out of this “Christian” only world in which I lived.
I began to toy with the idea that there must be more truth than could be found in any old second-hand storybook. Surely, there was more ways to find Light and Revelation than what the guys in cheap suits told me? What did they know?
“It’s not like they have helped you anyway.” Came the whispers in the dark.
The tactics had changed. I wasn’t being directed any longer, that didn’t fit the rebellion I craved. Instead, I was being led and I followed along meekly.
At every turn, each point of decision, I was walking away from the religion of my father and into this new, exciting world filled with acceptance and tolerance. I was free to be anything I wanted.
All I had to do was open my mind and let a beautiful being of light fill my senses and give me purpose.
So, instead of the full-frontal assault that the previous encounters had been, I began to research the writings from the East. Meditation, energies, mind-control, auras, shakras, and, of course, power.
The underlying hunger was to find some way, some Thing to make me strong enough to keep everyone far enough away so I could guarantee no one could hurt me. I was grasping at straws and I knew it.
Tantalising me, just beyond my reach and my understanding, there was a Peace thing that these folks claimed to have. Understanding and…Insight. Maybe there was special knowledge I could gain to finally unravel the truth from the lie.
What was peace and what part of me would I have to sell to get it?
Easter Sunday came early as it always did. Sunrise services. The ham in the roasting pan before we left. There were Easter Lilies, perfume filling the air while whoever it was, upfront, spoke long and tedious about how Jesus is Alive so we too can live.
Yada yada yada.
I’d heard it so many times I could have given the sermon myself. Dead in sin. Whatever sin was.
Stupid people. Sin isn’t quantifiable. There are just better choices and nobody believes in this stuff anymore.
I was wearing the floral dress with those typical late 80’s puffy sleeves, and I felt gloriously pretty.
It was a good day to be a fake Christian. All the genuflecting and responses were mapped out and I could navigate it easily, nearly without thinking at all.
In the crush to get into the front doors of the little church with orange carpet, I was jammed between the door and the group of people making their way into the building. It wasn’t a large group, just a small door, so I politely waited for the older lady to my left to go in as the man behind me pressed close and then, everything changed.
Among some folks who, totally incomprehensible in their devotion to the Unplease-able God, were pretty nice, usually, if you did all the right things, in the safest place in my world, everything changed.
My arm felt the cold of the door as weak Spring sunshine reflected off my glasses. Easter lilies, old lady perfume, Old Spice mingled and, in the middle of all those people, he touched me. Groped. Fondled. It happened so fast but it felt like time stood still.
I remember hands were touching me in places off limits outside the bounds of marriage and I was too stunned to even move.
I froze as my entire world shifted off centre and I struggled to find my voice. But, nothing came out so I pushed my way into the kitchen, closed the door, and sobbed like a baby.
There was nowhere to go. I was only ever going to be That Girl. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how hard I worked to be undesirable, unnoticed, I would always be That Girl. On the one day I felt pretty. That one day exposed the fear that still lurked.
I was…Prey. Hunted. Weak.
But, the school counselor taught us to tell people when bad things happen, so relying on a 6th grade education, I gathered all my courage like a suit of armor and, on the green shag carpet, in the dress I now despised, I told my dad.
His face turned white, jaw clenched, and he paused for a second before saying these words.
His words resonated like a death march through my head and have done their part to kept me silent for nearly three decades.
“I’m sure it wasn’t that big of a deal. Let’s not talk about it.”
Turning around, he left the room and I stood, motionless. Stunned. Confused as all the weight of my self-hatred was now absolutely validated.
It was true. I didn’t matter. Only the services I provided mattered. It was only important that I was useful, sometimes.
Like an old, worn-out shoe used to swat the dog, I was easily discarded until someone would think to pick me up for a second. If they would think…
The darkness wasn’t far away, lurking behind the false light, and at the slightest bit of weakness, it returned with a vengeance.
There was no love. There was no safety. Enlightment was a farce. Peace didn’t exist.
I was voiceless. Unchampioned. Undone.
There was no place for me.
How do you live like that?
I still hate Easter Lilies.
“But when one does not complain, and when one wants to master oneself with a tyrant’s grip — one’s faculties rise in revolt — and one pays for outward calm with an almost unbearable inner struggle.”
― Charlotte Brontë
The finer the blade the more invisible the scar, I learned, as pink lines cross-crossed on skin easily covered.
You have to move carefully to not inadvertently scrape off scabs and bring attention to your self, I learned, as the evidence of last nights self-hatred pulled and twisted under my sweater.
One by one, red lines would appear and the physical pain somehow made my inner turmoil less unbearable.
Joining with the ancient idolatrous prophets in their psychotic adoration of the demongod, Baal, I slashed and offered the pain as a means to an end.
My end. My secret. Pain heaped on pain until all that remained was a dull ache spiked with shame.
All those years of secrets piled on the heap like garbage dumps in Mexico City. I was the queen.
The queen of garbage, who, for a few seconds, a merciful few, could concentrate on a pain that made sense in a world that didn’t.
Parenting is a tough gig. On the best days it will take you being fully present to keep up with the constant changes and demands.
When my kids were toddlers I thought that it would just get easier and easier. I mean using MY hands to wipe another person’s butt had to be one of the hardest things about parenting? Right?
That is gross and wrong. Like, truly wrong.
Parenting is far harder than I ever imagined. For, no matter how close they are held, guarded, even defended, sin has a way of bringing its gloomy face to the party. Your children will be hurt. You might even be the one who hurts them and that’s not anything we really want to look at, frankly.
We blame Adam. The first one. It’s hard to admit we can still see his face behind ours in the mirror. He blamed Eve. We blame him. Shifting scrutiny to keep hold on the pathetic pieces of rebellion we call proof of life. Because we believe we are “beyond” the obvious sins we have blinded ourselves to the unusual suspects; the affectations of faith we call righteousness while we are feeding an arrogant need to be right.
The last Adam threw that stuff straight back to hell.
So, why do we still live as though we have to do all the fighting?
To quote that bastion of theological brilliance, George Michael;
You gotta have faith.
Sadly, no matter how much we all loved his perfect stubble, he stopped just short of the most important part.
You gotta have faith… in God. Faith by itself is wasted effort. Faith in faith is a circular journey straight to disillusionment. Faith in ideology will carry you as far as the twists and turns of justification until it leads straight back to your own front door.
Faith in effort only works as long as you are strong enough to maintain the effort.
Not faith in yourself. Not faith in your own ideology. Not faith in your own stoicism. Not faith in the church you belong to, or the pastor up front.
You gotta have Faith in the One Who Built The World.
That’s what gives us freedom and delivers us from the barracks.
Unless you really like the orange jumpsuit. Just so you know, that’s the uniform for death row. Why are you still in your bunk?
You could walk out at any time.
When your child doesn’t claim that faith, when you are so bound up in your own issues and fear you can’t share His goodness, the Soul Eater has a field day.
Believing you are limited to modeling only a desperate attachment to the rote and religious what is really happening is this. A deepening commitment to all the external definitions of godliness which only exist to frantically try to approximate the mustard seed.
In that world, it won’t be long before your child’s affinity with the first Adam will be louder than the still small voice of the second.
After all, that’s what you’ve been showing him. You can’t hear the Quiet Master either.
Chin up, buttercup! There is a better way. Promise.
Don’t give up. You both need to find grace and seek a foundation in truth. TRUTH.
That’s where you build a house. On TRUTH.
Delusion. Compensation. Denial. These are faulty pillars and foundations driven into shifting sand and it won’t be long before your house will crash.
My family was powerless against the enemy it didn’t know existed and poorly equipped for the moments when the mask slipped.
I have made my peace with my family and I love them. There is no blame laid at their feet for the choices I made, for the ugliness I held so close. This isn’t a way of getting out my family baggage so you can read it and think they were monsters to let me be so horribly broken.
I was a liar and very good at it. They didn’t know. I liked it that way.
I serve a God who Redeems and He has been so good to me… I have been given so much Grace.
Forgiven much, the capacity to Love much is an exponential increase.