I remember sitting in what felt like a zillion sermons about how we are people who need people. How God created us to be in relationship and how those deep relationships showed us the most about the Father. I remember feeling torn, between this truth resonating regarding my relationship with my friends and the despondency I felt about what was meant to be my closest relationship with my spouse. The confusion over many years of feeling that was meant to be true but wasn’t. That which was meant to be real but was false. Thank goodness for my friends, my friends who wanted the depth of me. I think would have died without you all.
When you don’t matter, you get angry. And broken.
To function in the pain, I let anger reside. I cannot say this was the wrong thing to do. The layers of walls built, one in front of the other over the years. Every time I started a sentence with “I need” and it was acknowledged with word and never, ever with deed, I built another wall. I didn’t want to or even mean to but the fact is, walls were all around every part of me with very few exceptions; my children, my friends, my chosen family.
To function not just in that relationship but in others, I learned. I learned that I would be made to be confused. I would be told one thing, and another done. I would be told I was reacting wrongly or too much, I would be told my view of things wasn’t the truth. And so what I learned to do is to keep receipts.
What I mean is, I keep proof. If and any way I can, I have documented the lies. I have documented the half-truths. I have documented the gaslighting. I have done this for a very long time.
This saved me, saved my sanity for years, I truly believe this. When someone gaslights you, you get confused, you get lost in the parts that are true and those that aren’t. Half-truths and circles of opinions and so many word salads. You can lose yourself in trying to determine what is real and what is the reaction you’ve been led into. When someone goads you into a reaction and then points fingers at you, what is the truth of that? When someone says with their mouth that you matter and they will respect you but they do something else entirely and use their words as proof when their actions are the opposite, this is crazy-making. Crazy-making and dishonesty.
So, my documentation may mean nothing to you, but to me they remind me that I am not exaggerating or being dramatic, or falsifying what was said, or ‘stretching’ anything. I am not falsifying. I am not creating something where there is nothing. And I have proof. You don’t even have to believe me because I have proof.
Every time someone tries to turn an innocent mind against their mother, I will have a receipt to share. Every time someone attacks who I am to those who trust me and love me, I will have a receipt to share. Every time someone tries to make my kids into theirs, I will have a receipt to share. I am not throwing away my motherhood because of someone else’s determination to disrespect me. I will not cower. I am every bit of the advocate I have always been for my children, only bolder and stronger and more prepared. I will do everything I can to protect them from negativity, lies, dishonor, half-truths, and conflicts. Every. Thing.
And see, the thing is, now I hold the truth in my hand: Gone are the days of confusing me into a tizzy or being frozen in fear or artfully being worked into rage. I hold the truth in my hands.
And I am stronger. Not in anger, in truth, in love, in openness. Because I matter now. I matter to every person I live with. I matter to my mother in law. I matter to my sister in law. I matter to my siblings. I matter to my cousin. I matter to my chosen family and my friends. I live every day now being heard when I start a sentence with “I need.” I live every day with someone who wants to understand me and acknowledges my feelings and thoughts. Someone who I never have to document to get them to do the right thing, because my spouse NOW has integrity and is trustworthy, is good and honorable, is honest and hard-working. When you don’t matter, you learn to either minimize yourself or scream louder. When you do matter, you can rest. When you do matter, the broken gets healed. When you matter, you don’t have to use anger as a shield, but instead, love, truth and passion focused into rightness.
Perhaps those sermons will prove true after all.