Grace found in Rigidity

Since I was as little as five years old, I have been stuck in the mindset of how to survive; trapped in the routines of how to move through each day feeling safe under fear.

Even as the adult, the mom, and the wife I am today, I am continually living behind the rigidity of my day-to-day to keep myself safe from anything that could harm me.

But when does rigidity get in the way of grace? When does the safety of rigidity as I know it, get in the way of living, and being the person who God created me to be?

Rigidity gets in the way of Grace when love, care, and support is only accepted when it falls in the strict boundaries and lines I have created around me my whole life.

What I realize more and more now is, It sucks to be trapped in the rigidity of routines that promise me safety and connection – and yet I see just how much grace I am missing out on.

Friday morning in session, when I was re-connecting to how hard it is for me to move out of the mindset of, “what I allow myself to do” vs. “what I really can do.” We both sat in an awed kind of silence when he said: “ahh it’s the rigidity that gets in the way of grace for you.”

He got it! He truly understood more of how hard it is for me to bend, or change the rigidity I live behind, and just how hard acceptance is for me out of fear of getting hurt.

Of course, my therapist knows my story from front to back, side to side, and all the cracks of my story in between! He knows the struggle of the walls I live behind out of fear, and the routines I live with day to day – but he truly got it on a bigger level this time.

That moment Friday in session, I, at the same time realized just how much grace I am missing out on because of that. I got it! I understood just how much grace had been stolen from me because of that rigidity.

“One of the greatest enemies of grace is rigidity.“

It’s incredibly hard living my life with so many self-boundaries and lines I keep myself within. It’s hard knowing that I have all this incredible support, and yet I only allow myself bits and pieces out of fear of getting hurt, or fear of dependency.

When I am struggling with a hard thought, or if I am struggling to feel connected, or if I am drowning in self-doubt, I know I have support to lean on. I know I can reach out to my support at any time, but the amount of work and energy internally it takes for me to accept that support, is sometimes harder than the problem itself.

Sometimes it takes more work for me to lean in and reach out for support than it is for me to move through it myself – and many times, I will get through it myself. Sad but true, but then there are those moments where I sit and cry and fight for that grace to lean in, because I don’t always want to do it on my own, I sometimes want and need the support, love and care. (just saying that wakes up all the fears around wanting or needing).

You see? I don’t wish this struggle on anyone.

BUT what therapy and this healing journey have taught me is, I don’t have to do this alone! I have realized just how good it feels to have that support, love, care, and understanding when I am struggling.

Deep down, I know I have come a long way with that, but I still struggle with living in that rigidity and living my life in the lines of what is safe for me. My routines, the way “I think” I have to be vs. what “I can” be.

I miss out on a lot of grace because of the abuse I endured as a child. I miss out on accepting more support when needed. I miss out on the ability to be heard when I really need to be heard. I miss out on so much of what grace has to offer because of the rigidity I hide behind.

SO, how do I break that wall of rigidity? How do I let grace in more without letting the fear of getting hurt overtake me? I believe it begins with “knowing.”

Knowing the difference between rigidity and grace, and allowing myself to do it anyways.

Knowing that the walls I created as a child served a useful purpose, and sometimes still do. Those walls created a purpose that was needed at the time.

Knowing that healing happens when realizing what part of those walls do not serve a purpose any longer. Those walls that stop me from seeing grace.

Knowing that it’s not my fault, but grace is here to pull me in.

I won’t lie, it’s hard! It’s hard to change what I know, and what I feel safe to do. But I also know the feeling of how good it feels to have support when it’s needed, and not having to do it all by myself all the time.

I know those who are reading this, those who have been through abuse as a child like I have, know just how hard it is to move outside of the boundaries we create to feel safe from harm. How hard it is to change the very routines that we create to feel safe and secure. I know how hard it is – I have been there, I am still there.

Rigidity is a rigid hard shell against grace, and I am beginning to realize just how much grace gets lost in that.

What I hope those who are reading this will see is: it’s not your fault! It’s not our fault that the walls built were made to create safety around us. It is how I, how we all survived from the abuse done to us.

It’s a hard life to live as an adult surviving child sexual abuse, neglect, rape and mental abuse. It’s hard to wake up knowing I will have to live between the walls looking for any grace I can grab onto without fear, and the work it takes letting go of the walls that no longer serve a purpose.

But healing can happen if you allow Grace to come out from behind the walls of rigidity – allow yourself to bend freely without shame or guilt or even fear!

Maybe it’s about allowing both “rigidity and grace” to be there; helping me to see that grace will offer more. Grace will not disappoint.

I am right there learning and healing with you. It’s a journey, a journey to healing.

10 comments

  1. Karen! You have touched my heart on so many levels tonight with this writing of yours! I never thought anyone would ever understand the struggle of the routine of the life I live and here you are writing about it. THANK YOU for sharing this, it gives me grace to hold onto. Thank You – Jess

  2. Great read! Thank you for sharing. I just wrote a bit about self-worth today….kinda along the same lines. I have struggled all my life with the balance of keeping up “walls” and letting others in. I guess maybe we all do. <3

  3. I love this Karen. You write so diligitly about the process of what rigidity and grace do to each other and how to look past the old to see the new. This is wonderful, I would love to share it with some others if that is ok.

    I look forward to seeing where this takes you next on your journey.

    Mary

  4. Karen – you truly have a gift of writing. When I think no one else could possibly feel the way i do you go and write from your heart.

    1. i am going to read it tonight and i look forward to it. i also followed your blog. if you have a hard time finding the follow button on my blog, you will find it on the wordpress reader!! i am self hosted so sometimes people have a hard time finding the follow button. but i can’t wait to read your blog :) thank you for all your comments :)

  5. We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
    We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
    We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
    We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
    We live life from the viewpoint of victims and we are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
    We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.
    We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
    We became addicted to excitement.
    We confuse love and pity and tend to “love” people we can “pity” and “rescue.”
    We have “stuffed” our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (Denial).
    We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
    We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings, which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.
    Alcoholism is a family disease; and we became para-alcoholics and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.
    Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.

    I don’t know if you relate to this but this is from the 12 step program of ACOA. Helps those suffering from family dysfunction and abuse. Talks a lot about learning to reach out for and receive help. I’ve found it very meaningful and encouraging.
    Thanks for your honesty. I have to say I admire your courage in building a family despite your experiences. Blessings and peace!

    1. Thank you esther … I can relate to 80% of those 12 things you listed … the one thing I got lucky with and thank god for this, but I married a wonderful husband and had 3 beautiful children. Been married 26 years… but I can certainly relate to a lot of what you wrote.. thank you so much for sharing this! I am so glad that you commented and connected with me :) it means a lot to know I can inspire others and its those who I write for :)

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