09 February 2015

Burning bridges

I'm a Star Trek fan.

Hmm, let me clarify. I have not seen more than a dozen episodes of the original series but generally think that Captain Kirk is a womanizing renegade whose "cowboy diplomacy" is equally impressive and disgusting.

I like Voyager and The Next Generation most. There's a great Voyager episode, "Day of Honor," in which B'Elanna admits that she just pushes people away when they get too close. She finally realizes how unhealthy it is and agrees to let Tom in, to stop pushing him away.

I find myself starting to identify with B'Elanna. A lot. I'm an introvert and like my personal time and space. And I've got very poor social skills (mostly because--like Mr. Darcy--I don't take the time to practice them and have no interest in bettering them. I'm not good with people. I've never been good with people. Since college I've had very few actual friends (as opposed to friendly people who are really just acquaintances).

As an army wife, I made three really good friends at different times. We hung out a lot, babysat each other's kids, went on outings together. And then things started falling apart--with one friend after another. Out of anger and pain--some of which I still feel when I think about it--I lashed out and ended the first friendship. Out of anger and pain, I made a snarky comment that ended the second friendship. And the third ended basically because she was tired of giving me rides places. (This is why I will never again believe anyone who says s/he doesn't mind giving me a ride more than once.) 

And by the time we moved away from that duty station, I was so ready to move on. I had let three people into my life, and all three of them had rejected me. I was bitter and hurt and angry and alone.

Since then I have avoided making real friends. I've gotten to know people, tried to be friendly at church, made an effort to put on a happy face and not let on that I'm antisocial. The real me inside has ached and begged for friendship, but I have shut it out.

But after being here for almost two years, a couple people are actually asking to be friends, to know about me, and my instinct is to push them away. After being so badly burned the last time I tried, how can I ever open up to anyone else again? I know these people love me, but they don't even know me. And the real me is savage, brutal, raw, so terribly messed up. The real me says No wonder your husband left you. You deserved it. The real me is reaching out and pushing others away. I can feel it coming--the "OK, it's time to move on" inside me. I see myself--as from a distance--starting to burn bridges, leaving them in smoldering ruin. There is new hurt here, new anger and bitterness, and I am watching helpless as things go up in flames.

The pain is real. You'll never fit in. You'll never belong. You're not good enough for us. My joyful voice in worship of my Maker has been silenced. I'm not good enough.

I cough and splutter on the acrid fumes and turn away from the flames. There will not be a next time. The future will see my plastic smile and a shallow heart full of cheer. 

There will be no more need to burn bridges if no bridges are ever built.