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Tough Lovin'

In early December, my best friend sent me an email with some gentle, loving, correcting words. She told me that insecurity is a big issue with my character. As I find difficulty loving myself or having confidence in who I am, I lean on others over-much for support and encouragement. I force them into roles they were never meant to fill. Yeah, friends and family are great for encouragement, but they’re not supposed to continually create, support and uphold my identity.

When I first read the email, I cried. I texted her and told her I’d need a while to think about it. I didn’t even want to talk about it. I actually knew I couldn’t talk about it right away without jumping to my own defense, trying to excuse myself for all the hurt I’d caused, wanting to explain it away, make it not my fault.

So I didn’t talk. I sat on my bed, shaking and crying, trying to wrap my head around this weak, messy side of me she saw that I had never known existed. In a few days, I was able to talk about it. I still didn’t know how to deal with my fear, shame, and insecurity, but I could discuss it with her and avoid jumping to my own rescue.

I admitted I was flawed, and that it hurt people. I realized she wasn’t asking me to apologize, just to recognize what was going on, and how it had affected us. She wanted me to change for my sake, her sake, my husband’s sake, for the sake of my future family.

After about a month, I gained a little ground. I learned not to lean on others so heavily. I still hurt, and I still talked to people about how much I hurt, and how I felt insecure, but I didn’t ask them to prop me up continually.

It’s been more than two months now. I still don’t understand completely how to heal from my insecurities, but I’m learning about myself in the process. I’ve learned that this has been an issue since my childhood. I’ve learned how it’s affected more or less every relationship I have. I’ve learned that most of the things I’ve believed about myself are lies. I’ve learned that dragging those lies about myself out into the light doesn’t destroy the relationships its affected. It strengthens them. My friendships are growing stronger when I have the courage to admit how afraid and insecure I’ve been, and am, around those people.

This journey isn’t over; it may never be. That’s not my point.

My point is that sometimes each of us will face some tough love. We all have flaws, and I hope we all have a friend close and brave enough to call us out on those things. If this ever happens to you, remember that they have the best in mind. They love you greatly, or they wouldn’t even be saying anything. Listen to what they say. I don’t care if you can’t speak to them for a week afterwards. Just listen and don’t jump to defensive modes.

And then when you’re ready, start talking about it. Bringing your pain, your fear, your secret flaws out into the light brings a lot of healing. If you’re like me, you’ll spend a lot of time praying about it - hoping there’s a magical verse or prayer that will make God heal your heart. If you’re like me, you’ll start to recognize an enemy attack, a presence of something more than your imagination in those lies you’ve been believing.

Either way, listen to the love, and then bring yourself into the light. It hurts like hell, but it’s a pure, cleansing pain - it’s not a festering wound, like hiding yourself forever from everyone you love. So please. Let others love you real and true and tough.

I realized just a few days ago that I’ve become so self-critical, so afraid, that I haven’t taken any selfies. I’m afraid of how I look, of appearing different or strange or less beautiful than others. And I decided that needed to end. So I had a five minute selfies session - it took less time than I thought to get a photo I liked.

Here’s to appreciating myself and how different I am, not measuring myself against others. And here’s to coffee-shop selfies and deep friendships.

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