I’m exhausted right now, and truly, once the kids are through with their movie, I’m going to bed. We keep the television out of sight in our house. I like not having it in the middle of the living room. We don’t have TV, cable, Netflix or any of that. We mainly use the television for movies. It means though, that when they’re watching a movie, they’re in my room. Most of the time I don’t mind. There was though, that one time, when I was gone and two of the former summer staff came over for a few hours. When I heard that they had watched a movie in my bedroom with the kids I felt that weird feeling of violation, like maybe someone had gotten too close that wasn’t meant to be that close.
But I had to shrug and let it go. It was one of those uncomfortable moments of “being humbled” so to speak. That’s pretty much what happens when you live in close proximity to other people. You also get used to them seeing your messes. I can tell who the people are that I’m not completely used to when I feel that self-consciousness about them seeing the messes, or whatever imperfections I’m aware of in their presence.
I’ve been seeing a counselor the past several months. I feel like every time I come away from our meetings I’ve found a new direction. Rather, I feel a little further along on the path we’re all on, like something has healed that needed healing, or courage was found where fear was reigning, or assurance was given where confidence was lacking.
I had actually changed my clothes to go see him. I’d gotten dressed that morning, with one of my two pairs of patterned leggings, paired with my black “free spirit” tank top underneath a grey shirt. The leggings were all different colors, and I feel bright and happy and comfortable when I wear them. Approaching the appointment I thought, “Maybe I should change. These probably aren’t the most appropriate clothes for this.”
So I changed and put on jeans. Ever since my last pregnancy over five years ago now, when I discovered the wonderful gift of leggings, my encounters with jeans have been fewer and farther between. For one it takes time to find ones that fit. And second, they’re nowhere near as comfortable as leggings. Leggings are fun, flexible, and soft.
I looked put together, but I didn’t feel like me. I felt like I looked too good, like I had tried too hard to be acceptable in public. I walked around and got the kids lunch and looked around for my phone and my keys and thought, “You know, this isn’t me. This isn’t who I am when we’re together. I am free to just be who I am with this man.”
A few interactions with men the past several months have caused me pause. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but in these days of many scandals, I’m pretty sure I scared them off. I was too friendly, too flirty, TOO MUCH of myself. This counselor–a grandpa-aged, several inches shorter than me, walks with a limp, has a colostomy bag after surviving colon cancer three different times–tells me it seems I’m in the habit of finding something wrong with myself. Isn’t this what I’m supposed to be doing? Aren’t we as supposed to examine ourselves and be open to finding fault within?
“You’re really not that bad”, he says.
I laugh out loud, partly from nerves, partly out of sheer elation, and partly like this counselor guy is talking craziness. He’s a Lutheran! I told him, “Well, I mean, every week in church we confess how poor and miserable we are, don’t we?” I find this bringing such relief, a refreshing way to see the world, for this is how I see the world. But what about sin? What about Romans 7? What about being a poor, miserable sinner? Aren’t you just feeding me a bunch of theologically unsound psycho-mumbo-jumbo? Is this guy for real? Could it really be that I’m not that bad?
I would’ve never even thought I had this problem til right now, but as I write, as I think and it occurs to me, I think this man might be freeing me from something.
I think this man is freeing me from shame.