Growing up in the toxic environment that I did, the negativity becomes too much, and I honestly have moments when it all comes crashing down around me and I desperately need to shut everyone out to just be alone. (I had to do just that right now before I literally lost it, my adorable baby brother included. Poor thing was crying something fierce outside of my door, but I just NEEDED the space). This place, this toxic environment that I live in, does a number on my psyche. Its so full of hostility, negativity, loud voices, bickering, yelling, and hate that it hurts my heart and soul. It really does. And the silences are no better. They’re so loaded with bitterness, resentment, and anger that it hangs over us like heavy fog that refuses to let up. There’s no love here. Just harsh words and deafening silence.
It just breaks my heart. I so desperately crave a place where my soul can be fed good things like love and be around positive people, but it’s so hard. It’s hard to muster up an ounce of love when all I’ve known is anger and distrust. All I’ve known is hurt and failed promises and nights filled with salty tears and sore throats from crying so much. All I’ve known is loneliness and dysfunction, which has had the unfortunate effect of impacting the way I am outside of these four walls.
I find it so hard to love people, so hard to open up and trust that people have good intentions. And it’s even harder for me to muster up the kindness that I do want to be able to give and radiate. I created my other blog to be a positive escape for me, someplace I can go online to to infuse my wearied spirit with the love and kindness it doesn’t see often, but that can only do so much. All of that can only go so far.
What makes all of this a million times harder is what God says in the Bible, to love all people, even the ones who are most difficult to love. I wrote about this in one of my first posts, but it’s hard. It’s hard when I feel like I’m suffocating beneath their extremely harsh emotions. It’s hard to radiate love when I feel like I’m drowning in hate.
Some people will never know how truly lucky they are to have parents that love and support them, who encourage them instead of manipulating situations to get their way and boost their egos. They’re lucky to have family they can count on and who they know will have their back no matter what. To have siblings who don’t threaten to kill you or others, but who sincerely just have the best intentions for you. I’m just lucky that I have a family who feeds me and hasn’t tossed me into the foster system.
I’m not saying I’m not grateful for part of my upbringing. I’m grateful to have had a home, had food on the table and parents who worked to ensure that I was always fed and the lights were on. There were times when the fridge was bare and school was the only place I could get food, where the lights or the water was off and we had to get by on other means. ***I learned to make due with what I had, to get creative when I didn’t have something, and rely on God’s amazing grace through it all.
I am grateful for so much of my upbringing because I know that there are other who have had it a lot worse than I did, and heartbreakingly did not even make it to see adulthood. I’m grateful that my parents cared about my physical wellbeing, that they sacrificed so much of themselves for me and tried to provide whenever they could. I just wish that they would have tried to provide for my emotional needs. That they tried to foster a place of love rather than one that bred so much negativity.
Being here always weighs on my spirit. It makes it difficult to love, and to even want to love. There are days when all I want to do is give back the hate and bitterness I constantly receive, when I feel broken and I literally just cannot go on any longer. There are days when I feel like a heartless, soulless demon, and feel like no one will ever be able to understand why I act the way that I do around my family. Why I’ve chosen to build a wall of silence around some family members and why I’m super firm and stoic around others, yet can be so friendly with the rest of the world.
There’s an article I read in which Kesha spoke of how she dealt with the toxic/harmful people in her life. Her advice?
If you feel like someone’s wronged you, get rid of that hate, because it’ll just create more negativity…One thing that has brought me great relief is praying for those people. Being angry and resentful will do nothing but increase your own stress and anxiety—and hate is the fuel that grows the viruses. Don’t let anyone steal your happiness!
I took her advice and started praying for my family members, leaving them and all of their baggage, the baggage I’ve tried to conceal and carry for so many years, at God’s feet. Although I’m nowhere near where I’d want to be in terms of being able to love them as they are, praying for them was the step I’d needed to make for so long, and am glad that I finally did. There’s a lot of history and hurt here, a lot that I pray that God will heal as time goes on. Until then, I’m praying for strength to carry on despite the constant barrage of bad vibes and negative emotions, courage to choose love over bitterness and resentment, and peace over what I cannot change. And I’m going to surrender, too, letting go of my family and their struggles and giving them over to God.
This is a super, duper long post, but one I really needed to put out there into the world. I hope you found something useful in these words, and as always I pray that God will stir in your heart and speak to you while you’re here. If you’ve ever felt like I do, please know that you are not a monster, and that God knows your struggle and sees your attempts at loving the difficult ones in your life. Keep going to Him, trusting that He will make beauty from these circumstances.
I didn’t have internet growing up, so when I had to submit a paper for a group project but the library was closed and your girl procrastinated to the last minute, a TRAC phone, those tiny Nokia-like phones totally came through. Was a pain and half but I submitted that thing and I’d never been so happy to be the owner of a TRAC phone lol.
Another story that truly highlighted God’s grace (amongst the MILLIONS) was when I needed money for an expensive project at school but my parents couldn’t afford it. Failure was about to be my best friend when one day at church, around my birthday, an incredibly beautiful, kind, and generous woman told me that God had told her to gift me money. I never told anyone I needed money other than my parents, and I don’t even think I even prayed about that to be honest, but for God to have seen my need and use a woman I barely talked to to meet it…I just don’t have the words.
If I didn’t believe in God before then, I totally would have right then and there. (This along with a million other instances of God’s divine grace is what motivated me to try to be as generous and selfless as I can be. Whenever someone needs something and God has blessed me with the means to help, I want to help. People have been SO good to me in their generosity of spirit, finance, time, energy, and emotions that I have to repay that back into the universe. I just have to).
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
God really sees your needs, my loves. He is moving and working even when you don’t feel Him. He is working in your favor, even when it feels like the obstacles are insurmountable or you’ve screwed up royally. He loves you, sees you, and is sincerely making all things work together for your good. It may not feel like that at all right now, but I promise with every fiber of my being that one day you will see why things had to happen the way that they did. Lean into His promises, and trust that He will make beauty rise from the sorrow and pain, that He has plans to prosper and not harm you. It’s Jeremiah 29:11 that has calmed my soul so many times and given me peace when it felt like my destiny was to live my life in a mental institution (not even kidding).
I still feel like I’m in the midst of darkness, in the valley rather than on the mountaintop, and am easily discouraged when life keeps beating down, but I know that there will be beauty and light and so much good in the future. Even though I wish I didn’t have to endure these circumstances, I know that God has something amazing planned for me, more than I can ever imagine for this. Something that will radiate and add more light and love into this world and glorify His kingdom.