Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Living in Survival Mode

This is probably going to be a heavy post, so if you're not in the mood you may want to check back another time. I just need to type.

Something awful happened to me as a young person. It stripped away my sense of security. Nothing was safe. Home wasn't safe, school wasn't safe, family wasn't safe, friends weren't safe. And I have come to realize that from that point forward I have been living in a survival mode of some sort. Day to day not knowing what my existence will be, what is around the corner, the constant phrase before me of, "I don't know". To live in a continual state of uncertainty has probably not been the most healthy thing for me. When you live in survival mode, there is a constant need to store or fill. Fill your time, fill your cupboards, fill your face, fill your hands, fill your addiction, fill whatever void is there when your sense of security is threatened in any way. 

There are some really big uncertainties in my life right now. I don't feel like I have any security at all. I feel like I want to stuff everything. Stuff my feelings, stuff my voice, stuff my creativity, stuff my responsibilities. It would be so easy to do that. Throw up that really big wall that helped me cope through those terrible years. I was able to do that back then. No one depended on me. As long as I showed up at school, got good grades, did my homework and kept up with my chores, no one knew that I was a shell.

But being a shell, if even for a time, is hugely inconvenient when you are an employee, wife and mother. You have to be on top of it, you have to make those quick decisions, you have to come up with solutions, you have to be available at a moments notice. And forget about throwing up a wall, there's not time for that. You throw up a wall or shut down and it effects everyone. It effects your work, your marriage and your kids. 

But I realize that this survival mode is self inflicted. No one told me to live this way. It's just further proof that if you don't deal with your junk when it happens, it will creep back up at the most inconvenient times and beg to be processed. And if you're going through something that needs to be survived, chances are you don't have the time or energy to give to going through that process. Yep, it's a vicious cycle.

And survival mode also throws you into irrational thought. If I don't do everything, then I will lose everything. If I don't do every part of my job plus whatever else comes my way, I will lose my job. I need my job. It's security. If I don't do everything to keep my home perfect and be everything to my husband that he needs plus whatever else comes my way, I will lose my husband. I need my husband. He is security. If I am not everything to my kids every moment they are awake, I could damage my kids. I love my kids. I give them security. See... irrational thoughts.

Isn't survival mode what the Israelite nation tried to do when they started wandering in the desert for 40 years? But God took care of them. He gave them manna to eat. And he even told them that if they collected more than they needed for just that day that it would go bad. So they only gathered what they needed and trusted that God would provide what he promised the next day. I would say that after a few days of God following through on that promise that they didn't doubt he would provide. I bet they even went about their day to day business not thinking about what they would need because God kept his promise.

So, here I am, talking about how God provided for them. Do I believe the story? Yes I do. Am I supposed to believe that this story applies to my life as well? Yes. So now I need to do the work of not allowing myself to live in survival mode anymore. That's an almost 30 year habit to break. And if I'm not living in survival mode, what mode am I living in? The whole thing just makes me tired. Which is another part of survival mode.

Ugh, that was ugly. I guess I have work to do on this because there is no "Spunky" in survival mode.

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