My Own Prison

I had a revelation the other day.

A lot of my anxiety stems from my childhood and things that happened to me when I was a kid. I played sports from a very young age: basketball, softball, track and field, cheerleading. I was a clarinetist in marching and concert band, and I was involved with various school clubs (4H, JETS, etc.).

People might’ve thought I had a lot of friends, especially since I was an athlete, but I felt like the loneliest kid in the universe. I was an only-child, too, so I didn’t have siblings, and the kids in school were really cruel to me in elementary school and junior high. Some of them were abusive (mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically).

I’m not ready to talk about the trauma I experiened, but the point is, I never felt like I had a safe place to go. I carried all my fears around in my stomach, and I never found relief from that knotted-up feeling.

At home, I didn’t feel like I could talk about what was going on at school.

At school, I couldn’t let my guard down.

I was plagued by nightmares and night terrors throughout my childhood, so I found no relief in sleep.

I was so terrified of the dark I would wrap myself in all my sheets and blankets until I felt like I was suffocating, and I dreaded walking down the hallway at night.

In high school, I found more acceptance, but I was already traumatized. By the time I reached adulthood, my heart automatically expected more of the same – more rejection, more betrayal, more ostracizing.

More abuse.

Carrying around all that fear, worry, and anxiety became a natural part of my existence, and I’ve realized – I need to forgive the kids who bullied me. I need to forgive the teachers who allowed it to go on. I need to forgive a lot of people, and I probably need to ask for a lot of forgiveness, myself.

See, the brokenness in those people created brokenness in me. And the brokenness in me perpetuated that cycle of brokenness in others.

Brokenness breeds brokenness. But freedom births freedom.

Written in February 2014
from a hotel in the Dominican Republic

This wasn’t a touristy region of the DR, and the hotel had burglar bars and even metal gates that staff could shut and lock if a threat ever arose (gangs, armed criminals, etc).

I find it ironic that this place was like a small prison and how, at the time, I was processing through childhood trauma that had been imprisoning me most of my life.

I hadn’t thought it that way at the time. Looking back, I see the deeper symbolism…

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