the exhausted optimist

Argh.

I’m somewhere right now between wanting to not write at all today, or at very least not post it, and putting one foot forward in an effort to to be transparent, which is something I strive for more and more as I get older.  Being completely transparent in this season of life eeks me out a little, though, to be completely honest.

I’m a mess lately.  Pretty much all the time.  And for those who know me well, that’s pretty disorienting.  You see, I have this reputation.  I am a happy person.  I am an optimist to the core.  I have a remarkable ability to see the best in people, and to see possibility in every situation.  This particular character trait has backfired a few times, but I count it a good attribute most days.

However…

I think the people around me kind of count on it.  It’s comfortable.  No one in my life really knows exactly what to do with or for me when I’m a mess, because it happens so infrequently.

Except that’s a lie.  It happens far more frequently than I let on.  But I learned something from a young age.  In general, I “bubble,” as a good friend put it many years ago.  And the girl who bubbles is pretty easy to like.  So I learned pretty early how to be liked and how to keep the people around me happy.  How to keep things comfortable.  How to be the person who’s there for people always, who’s steady and consistent and always has an encouraging word.  Problem being, I never learned how to let people be that for me.

So right now, I feel like I’m grasping at the last straws of a personality trait that has been my security blanket for many years.  I’m a mess inside.  Afraid, insecure, frustrated, tired, bitter, hurt…and I am learning that I have no idea how to be those things openly.  I have no idea how to let people see all of those pieces of me without feeling the need, five minutes later, to put my optimist face back on so that everyone sees that I might have my breakdowns, but they’re minor and short lived enough that no one has to be uncomfortable with my messiness for long.

I remember this moment, when I was in my junior year of college.  I was doing 18 hours of classes, working 30 hours a week, my long-term boyfriend and I had just broken up, and I felt like I was falling apart.  I distinctly remember coming home one weekend to spend time with my family, and having a conversation that has haunted me in ways big and small for eight years.  It was Sunday morning, and I went to church with my family, in the church I grew up in.  An older gentleman, one who watched me grow up, came up and hugged me tight, and asked how I was doing.  I could feel my eyes welling up, as they always do when I’m hurting and someone bothers to ask how I am, and I said weakly, “I’m tired.”  And he looked into my teary eyes, smiled and said, “You’re a kid.  You have no reason to be tired.”

I’m tired today.  I’m so tired, at the core of my very being.  And yet I hear in the back of my mind that voice, so gentle it couldn’t be wrong, “You have no reason to be tired.”

I hate that voice.  I hate that it keeps me from being honest and vulnerable with the people God has put in my life who genuinely care.  A husband who is strong and caring and loving and willing to help me shoulder every burden on my back.  Friends who are able to tell me that all they want from me is my heart, bare and exposed.  More than anything, I hate that voice that keeps me from responding to an even quieter, gentler Voice that says, “I know how tired you are.  I know how exhausted your heart is.  Come.  Sit with Me.  Let Me take care of it all.  All you have to do is stop trying.  Just sit down with Me and let Me show you what Rest looks like.”

I’m somewhere near the end of all the optimism I can muster.  And deep down, I know that’s a good thing.  I know that often the optimism is genuine; but sometimes it’s just a mask that I know is pleasing and comfortable for people.  A mask that actually only serves to keep me from being known and loved as my truest self.  I know that God is in the process of uncovering another layer of who He created me to be, a person who is able to be broken and vulnerable and unashamed of it.  Who is able to acknowledge the hurts that can’t be fixed by a smile and dark chocolate.

I want to be that person.  I want to be that person who can live free of masks and expectations and know that my God is big enough to handle how absolutely wretched I feel.  It just feels so hard when I have 27 years of experience with people loving the girl that bubbles, and 27 years of experience with wanting to be what people love.

Still in the process of being okay with brokenness being beautiful.

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One thought on “the exhausted optimist

  1. hankerhearth says:

    You are right where you need to be, and perfect as you are. Trust. Sometimes the people who need encouragement are helped more when they see that you are human, too. 🙂 Solidarity, and all that.

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