The Scariest Thing I Have to Do

I mentioned before that I moved a lot growing up.  By first grade, I had lived in three states.  Mid-way through third grade saw state four.  By sixth grade, I returned to state #1, but was on city #5, and house #6.  At the end of eighth grade, we had lived in Indianapolis for three years, and I was miserable.  I approached my parents to inquire about when we would be leaving, given our pattern of moving every 2 1/2 to 3 years.  I was horrified to discover that they intended to stay put.  I was going to have to face my demons and figure out how to deal.  Realizing I was going to have to figure out how to deal with all the crap from middle school in high school was rough.  I hoped that the influx of new people from two other middle schools would improve my chances of meeting people without preconceived notions of who I was, but ultimately, I ended up with a small circle of close friends I could trust while dealing with lots of rumors and bullying and crap.  I bided my time until I could leave for college.

That was the first time I realized that, because we always moved so much, I had never had to really deal with any of my issues.  When there were people who didn't like me, or who made my life miserable, I never really had to do anything about it because we would leave. It was never a conscious thing.  I didn't try to make problems and get out of them by moving,  And I always carried with me feelings that I didn't belong and that no one liked me.  But, ultimately, I got to start fresh in a new place, where no one knew me, and I would find a few close friends and brave the world as best I could until it was time to do it all over again.  

Recently, as I began to feel a nagging feeling to move, to leave, I began to excavate my feelings associated with all this moving and discovered that I wasn't so much starting fresh as running away. I was surprised.  How could it be running away?  After all, in the beginning, my family dictated the moves.  I never wanted to move--at least until eighth grade--so none of those moves constituted running away.  And then we didn't move when I had wanted to, so that wasn't running.  And then everyone left for college--it's what you did--so that wasn't running, etc. etc. etc.  There was always a reason I had moved, and it never had anything to do with conflict, so I always saw it as a moving bug--not as running away.  Until now.

See, I've been struggling.  Struggling to belong.  To my village.  My amazing village.  The one that has done so much for me, and supported me, and helped me so fully and freely.  The problem is me. In addition to having trouble asking for help, I tend to prefer to keep to myself.  I usually have three or four really close friends--the people I turn to first and foremost for anything and everything.  As I have moved, who those people are has had to change due to distance, but they are always limited in number.  There are lots of reasons for this.  Part of it is my being a pastor's wife and not being able to talk freely about the church and my relationships with many people.  Part of it is because I am an introvert and have social anxiety.  Regardless of the reasons, though, the fact remains that I play things fairly close to the vest with all but a small few of very close people.

Unfortunately, as my grief for Patrick continued, life moved forward on the outside, and, as sometimes happens with friendships, some of them fell away.  Of the four people I knew without a doubt I could call on for anything, I lost three.  Whether from grief, or busyness, or external obligations, I suddenly found myself alone.  The majority of my village remained intact, but was spread out across the country where they couldn't help with day-to-day needs; and those who were close in proximity were not those I felt I could call at a moment's notice for anything because I had not cultivated those friendships in that way.  Worse, I was incapable of attempting to convert any of those friendships into the type that I needed due to the anxiety and grief I was experiencing.

But as I dug myself out of my hole over the last few months, and my energy returned, my "move" bug began to bite.  Then I began to have this nagging feeling that I want to leave; to run away; to start over.  The mind talk went something like: "If I have to find new people anyway, I might as well do it somewhere else--somewhere I don't have all these memories; or somewhere I already have people I have let in."  But that's not an option.  

Our lives are here.  My job.  Phil's job.  Mira's physicians and health history.  For good or ill, all memories of Patrick.  So I have to find my answers here, where I am.  And that's hard.  Much like starting a new school half way through the year, the relationships are set.  People have already given of themselves to others.  They already have "their people"--those whom they have elected to let in and be close and will allow to call on them at a moment's notice.  It's intimidating and difficult to navigate, even for the most gregarious and sociable people.  As a socially anxious introvert, there are few things I find scarier.  

And so I have to trust.  Trust that I am a likable person.  Trust that others will see what previous friends have seen and that I will find those willing to let me in.  Trust that I will find a new circle of three or four from which my village will extend.  Confession time:  I hate this plan.  I despise that this is what I have to do.  But my feelings don't change the answers.  So, please be gentle with me.  If I seem grumpy, or withdrawn, or standoffish, or awkward, it's likely not you.  It's me.  I'm trying to figure out how to, in the words of the old hymn, "Trust and obey.  For there's no other way."

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