I have a tendency to have a low tolerance level. My tolerance level for shenanigans, rough housing, lies, and pretty much everything you can think of is super low. I’m easily irritated, and even more easily hurt. My heart has been been broken more times than I can count, and I am sure this lends to the low tolerance I have for emotional pain.
I’ve been made fun of my entire life. From my teeth that made me look like a beaver, my inability to chew with my mouth closed, slurring words due to the shape of my mouth, my parents getting divorced when I was 6 years old, my schizophrenic mother not allowing me to go anywhere or do anything, including school sponsored field trips, to my lack of friends in high school, I was teased.
Most of this was not the good natured, “I tease you because I like you”, sort of teasing. Most of this was the kind and type of teasing that we classify as bullying today. It is has shaped my life, my encounters, my self satisfaction, and self esteem. It has caused me to be more careful in choosing my words, less likely to judge others and more likely to give the benefit of the doubt even if it isn’t deserved.
Those are the good things. I suppose its probably surprising that there are so many good things that can from being bullied your entire life. The bad things, I wouldn’t wish most of them on my worst enemy. The insecurity I have felt for most of my life would put most people into a mental institution. It has certainly damaged most if not all of my relationships, friendships, family encounters and marriage.
My insecurity has made it hard to love, and even harder to be loved. I built walls so high that only God himself was able to take them down. Even today the crumbly remains of what was are still laying around ready and willing to be re-erected. I fight it almost daily as my families only way of showing affection seems to be continually bash me and how I look, or even how smart I am not. (For the record I have a pretty high IQ despite being a blonde) From my failed attempt to cook to the flubber I’ve put on since being sick, I am daily reminded of pains that I have long since thought should be gone.
When I was working, my coworkers would tease me for making blonde mistakes, for being out of style, not having curves, oversleeping, whatever it was it was fun to poke at.
If I reach out and touch my husband, he makes a noise like he is throwing up. If I indicate that I would like to be touched, I receive pretty much the same response. I honestly can only think of one time, the entire time we have been together that he said something nice about how I look. To make it worse, my children have picked up on how fun it is to tease mom. If I so much as look at my husband they are sure to tell me how gross it is. They pick up on commercials for weight loss, exercising and healthy living while saying “mom you should try that”.
I struggle with this. I’ve only gained about 14 pounds since November. I am careful most days to watch what I eat, and 3 times a week I spend a painful 1-2 hours “working out”. I can’t complete any full sets of any exercises due to my lung functionally. I do the best I can, I can see positive muscle growth, the trouble is I also have gained some “flubber”.
A fair portion of this flubber I actually like. My body has become much more womanly in the last few months, and I love that. I wish I didn’t also have a small spare tire, but its almost worth it for the added curves. I actually thought my husband would like the added curves. He’s always made fun of how I horribly lack in this area.
The trouble is, now we are not making fun of what I lack. We are making fun of the flubber instead. There has been no mention of enjoying the curves at all. This is particularly saddening because I am so thrilled with them.
Talk about a self esteem destroyer. I feel like my family will never be happy with my body. I will never be attractive or pretty and certainly don’t even begin to compare to the beauty of most women. I had the perfect size 0 body four months ago and all I heard about was my lack of curves. Now I still wear the same sized jeans, only they look nice on me for a change, and no one cares.
So some days I want to just say screw it all and throw up the walls. Let them grow so high that no one will ever hurt me again. I am however, pretty sure this will only lead to the destruction. Vulnerability is not something I do well, but I feel is a very important factor in having a successful marriage.
If I put up the walls again because I am hurting and scared of being hurt again, then the chances of ever receiving the love and affection I crave are not only diminished but gone. It’s also rather lonely when you shut people out. If I refuse to allow my husband and children to see my weakness, for fear I might be hurt again, then I am driving a wedge between us.
When we take the risk, allowing others to see our weakness, it is easier to accept their weaknesses and to connect more intimately. This doesn’t mean it is easy. It’s a fight to keep my walls down. But my marriage has grown tremendously because of the fight. I am growing more more comfortable and confident talking to my husband. I no longer feel like I have to hide my feelings from him, or justify my actions. The walls are down and we are communicating. Occasionally he will reveal something to me too, and that makes me feel elated that he shared an emotional moment with me.
It is easier to keep the walls down when you feel safe and strong, but it is more rewarding when you are weak and vulnerable. Maybe with time my tolerance levels will grow, and I will be able to see the heartfelt love behind the hurtful words.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV