Monday, March 23, 2015

Feeling as an Obligation

I’ve experienced many humiliating things in my life, many things I don’t like to even talk about. The damage from those things have left deep scars within me, but none as pronounced as the consequence of feeling as an obligation. Actually, this one thing makes me run for the hills faster than anything else in this world. I don’t run to keep from hurting. On the contrary, I run because I’m hurting very badly. I’m not so strong these days to just ‘suck it up’ and paint a smile on my face as I pretend all is right with the world. That dam blew a few years ago and I’ve been running since.

I suppose this feeling started early in childhood, being told repeatedly that I was a burden, unwanted, unplanned, and a nuisance. Even my nickname was a daily reminder of how much of an burdened obligation I was to my family. I was called “Sap”… because I was that sticky mess one got from a tree and was almost impossible to wash off, no matter how much you hated it. I was bitter and left a bad taste in the mouth. I suppose I wasn’t as sweet as my younger half-sister, whom was called “Sugar”. Later my oldest daughter was called “Sweetie”, but I was always “Sap”.

I became so independent I wouldn’t let people help me. At first, to hide all the secrets that needed to be hidden so that I wouldn’t be taken away from my family, the family that didn’t want me, yet I loved them as all children do. But as I grew older, I became even more independent because I learned to hate them and wanted to get far away, as far as I could. Every relationship I’ve had since, I’d never let anyone have control over me by becoming dependent on them, especially in becoming an obligation.

What I mean by obligation is have someone do something for you NOT because they want to, but because they have to out of responsibility. There’s a lot of things that come with obligation… things such as resentment, bitterness, pity, frustration, blame, and strife. This is true not just in relationships, but for every aspect in life… from work, recreation, socializing, friends, etc.

When the first (I believe only) man that ever really loved me, scars and all, died in combat in Somalia in the early ‘90’s, something else died in me right along with him – I went numb. I soon afterwards got pregnant and married a man who wasn’t in love with me so I could fulfill my own obligations to my children. I was a zombie, yet I searched diligently for years for that spark of life. I search in marriage, I searched in family (his family), I searched in faith (church), I searched in career, I searched in my dreams. Yet, every day I felt unloved, unwanted, as an obligation, and it seared my soul. A couple years ago I left it all. I ran. And slowly, I began to feel again. Granted, I’ve spent pretty much the last few years hurting, crying, with a huge lump in my throat… and some days just begging to be numb again and not feel anything. But, I can’t. There have been some days where I have felt love, I have felt freedom, I have felt so happy and alive. So, no matter how much I may hurt, I can’t shut it off again… because I know there is good to feel too, and all the pain is worth it for those brief moments.

So, I find myself, at the first hint of feeling as an obligation, running… and running fast. It’s the strongest trigger into my PTSD. I wish I was perfect and always responded with perfect reactions, but I don’t. I’m broken, and damaged, and a mess. I’m doing the best I can to be something beautiful and positive in this world. I’ve seen too much ugly. As much as I’d love to promise to never run, I know I can’t make that promise. Just make me feel like an obligation and I don’t think I’d be able to stop from running, even if I wanted. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It doesn’t mean I don’t want you. It simply means… I can’t be “Sap” anymore. She no longer exists and I won’t resurrect her.

I believe… someday, someone will love me enough to stop me.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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