This morning I drank entirely too much coffee. I had been up for all practical purposes since 1 am with a screaming, sick child and I was just coffee guzzling like my life depended on it.
When I got about ¾ of the way through my second enormous cup, I started to not feel well. My head felt a little fuzzy and my heart was racing. The combination of sleep deprivation and a racing heart beat felt like an unhealthy dance of fire and ice inside my veins. I was sure that at any moment I was going to start seeing noises and smelling colors.
I sent a joking text to my friends that said, “I’ve had too much coffee and it’s starting to feel unsafe inside my body. I may have a heart attack. Please pray I don’t die of a heart attack.”
Truth be told, while I was joking, I really wasn’t.
I realized that feeling I had this morning is one of unwelcomed familiarity. The feeling of two polar opposites trying to exist in the same space. The feeling of being both utterly exhausted, moving in slow motion; and the feeling of being anxious and geared up, moving too fast.
The feeling of being unsafe inside my own body.
It was about 12 years ago that I first entered an inpatient treatment facility for the eating disorder that almost took my life. Two years prior to that, I remember a palpable discomfort inside my own skin. If I really think about it though, that has existed my whole life. This sense of not belonging. This feeling of awkwardness and distress.
I was always insecure. My insides never really matched my outward appearance. There has always been this dichotomous imbalance in the way others viewed me verses how I viewed myself.
From the outside I appear together. Confident. Powerful even. But on the inside, much of the time I’m shaking. There is often a literal battle occurring inside me that no one else knows about; and living inside this battlefield feels extremely unsafe at times.
I’ve worked really hard for a really long time to create a safe haven inside my soul because the truth is, if you don’t feel safe inside your own body, you don’t feel safe anywhere.
The last decade and a half of my life has felt like a war. There have been intense, furious battles on the outside, and there have been continuous raging battles on the inside. Battles I almost lost completely.
Twelve years ago I almost died. I felt it in my body, and then my medical stats confirmed it. My heart was shutting down and my organs were struggling to function. It’s been a roller coaster of life since then and the war has continued on. Ultimately, I’ve won all the battles because I’m still here. But the fear and mistrust of my body lingers on.
My biggest fear is that all the damage I caused and havoc I wreaked on my body will suddenly catch up to me and I will in fact have a heart attack. So when too much coffee, or anything, creates that strange feeling in my body, I get scared.
Recovery from anything feels like a fight. Whether it’s a physical ailment, an emotional or mental disease, or some combination of both, sometimes life feels like survival of the fittest. And sometimes, we aren’t the fittest. Or at least we don’t feel like we are.
Many of the things I’ve been through in my life created a storm of uncertainty.
I stopped trusting myself entirely.
I’ve done a lot of soul searching, had a lot of therapy, and done a lot of work on myself over the years and I’ve made immense progress. But I have come to realize that the roots of self-doubt and insecurity are planted deep and they don’t die easily.
I don’t always know what wakes those sleeping roots up, but inevitably, every now and then, they awaken. And I struggle again. I start to feel unsafe again. The ground begins to feel unsteady and I lose trust in myself again.
When that happens, I search for answers. I question. Why? Why after all this time and all this work and all this healing do I still feel unsafe inside my own body? Why is it still a battleground?
I think it ultimately boils down to two major things.
- I don’t trust myself.
- I don’t trust God.
I say I do. I think I do. But in the end it becomes clear that deep down in the bone marrow of my soul, I don’t.
If I trusted God with everything I am I wouldn’t feel the need to do this thing on my own. I wouldn’t feel this urge to start fighting the battles alone.
What inevitably happens when I start doing battle by myself is that I fail. Not always in the same ways I failed in the past, but in some aspect of the fight, I drop the ball. And then I start to lose faith in myself. My inadequacies rise to the surface and all the reasons I can’t trust myself are exposed.
I preach all these messages of self confidence and belief in yourself. Anthems of faith in God and surrendering to Him. Banners of “You’ve got this” and “You are enough.”
And I believe them. I mean every word. And sometimes, I even believe it for myself. But the truth is, sometimes I don’t.
At the roots of me still lies a form of self hatred. A lack of trust. An all encompassing insecurity and inability to surrender for fear of….what? I don’t really know. But I know it’s there.
I don’t trust myself to survive. I don’t trust my heart not to have a heart attack unexpectedly. I don’t trust myself to be enough for my sons and not fail them miserably. I don’t trust myself not to eat too much. I don’t trust myself not to want to throw it all up if I do. I don’t trust myself to love the right people. I don’t trust my brain to function like a normal person. I don’t trust my body to keep me safe. And at the root of all that, I don’t trust God to really help me with any of it.
So what do you do with that? What do you do when you feel unsafe inside your own body? What do you do when after you’ve spent half your life in an internal combat zone, the battle still rages on? What do you do when you thought you were healed and realize deep down, you’re still the same scared, insecure little girl you always were?
All I know to do with it is to call it out, and then give it up…again.
To wave the white flag. To fess up. To out the fear and mistrust. And then lift my shaky hands up to the heavens yet again and say once again, “God, I still don’t trust you. I still don’t trust me. Help me. Thank you.”
And then walk- one step at a time- in the security of the knowledge that even when I feel unsafe in my body and even when I don’t trust myself, God does. Even when I don’t trust God, He’s not shaken.
He assigned me to these battlefields for a purpose. He assigned you to yours for a purpose too. I may not always trust myself to win this war, but God repeatedly shows me that I’m not the one who’s supposed to win it. He is. And He will.
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