Written August 18, 2011
Last sunday the choir sat up in the middle of the platform arranged around the piano. I could not bring myself to sit up there with them and to put myself in the center of attention that way. That wasn't the only reason I skipped choir... but to be honest it was a big part of it. But I also felt that with 16 people there and nothing particularly demanding for the choir to sing that nobody would notice I wasn't up there... and I wasn't feeling well. I was getting the beginnings of a migraine and I wasn't up to the noise and the lights and the attention and being stuck on the platform for the full service without being able to move or relax. It turned out to be the right decision for me because I got pretty emotional and I would have absolutely hated to feel like anyone else was watching. But last night the choir discussed Sunday, and when someone said how much they loved being more a part of things than usual, I cringed inside. I do NOT want to have to do that. It makes me feel like a bug under a magnifying glass. If they said 'you must do this' I'm sure I'd get used to it in time... but my gut screams NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
I don't want to be deliberately made visible... I don't want to feel like I'm 'performing'. The service I liked best was the one where Pastor Becky really wanted to talk to everyone's faces so she called everyone down off the platform for her sermon, and the choir sat down with everyone else for that part of the service. Why did I like that? It's what I'm used to. You do your thing on the platform and at some point you come back to the rest of the church, and you have the same experience of the rest of the service as everyone else in the church.
I hate for people to look at me... I try to be invisible. Invisible is safe. If you don't draw attention to yourself you're that much less likely to be judged and found wanting. If you're just part of the group, hopefully nobody will notice that you are different. People don't like different. It scares them and confuses them as much as BEING different scares me. I already know I'm different... I've always been different from the time I was born. I care about things that other people don't even notice... I feel things that everyone else just brushes aside... some people have a hide like a rhinoserus - mine's about a molecule thick. It wasn't always that thin... but life scraped it away one layer at a time until my soul was left bare to the universe, and I have to work hard to wrap extra layers around it to keep it safe.
The thing is, I know I'm 'safe' in this church... they've demonstrated it to me continuously... this church takes in outsiders and makes them a part of the family. We stand up on a sunday morning and remind ourselves that this is a safe place for everyone... and I know that everyone means it. When we were first going to take church membership I was terrified of drawing attention to myself like that. When we actually got to do it a few weeks ago, I rejoiced. And there are people in this church who are passionate about the same things that I'm passionate about. I've always felt like I was the lone voice in the wilderness when it came to social justice, and guess what? Church people post stuff to facebook that's exactly how I feel. I'm not the lone liberal in a conservative flock... they care too! I feel like I've been scraping off the cocoon a little bit at a time and growing more myself each week. And nobody's rejected me yet except in my own hyper-sensitive imagination. But the idea of being fully exposed to them is terrifying.
The legacy of abuse is that you spend the rest of your life waiting for the other shoe to drop... even when your head knows you're safe, and you've been told you're safe a million times, there's still a part of you that can't (or won't) believe it. People have told you that before, and lied through their teeth. People make judgements every second of the day, and it only takes one to put you in the hot seat, and one or two more to put you beyond the pale entirely, and there's no coming back. Go through that rejection enough times, and you expect to get it from everyone eventually... what happens in your childhood sets a pattern that will keep coming back to haunt you for the rest of your life.