I can remember the first time I was hurting inside, and someone hugged me. It was in a Year 8 drama lesson. We’d been assigned to groups, to work on a sketch to perform; at the point of coming to the stage, the group denied all knowledge that I’d been working with them for the past hour. My 13 year-old self was devastated. I fought tears while they performed, whilst someone else put their arms around me. And I felt warm, and soothed, and like things would be OK.
Before that, I’d been laughed at at school for crying; told off and punished at home. I’d been hugged before, but not in the midst of emotional pain. Emotional hurt, sadness, anger, were things I wasn’t supposed to feel. So, I never learnt what to do with them.
I’ve been taught ways to handle them since; to distract myself, to self-soothe. Like the swimming pool, where I feel held up by the water around me; like warm blankets that hide me away. Like psalms that speak of God’s embrace. Lectio divina. And these things do ease the rawness of what I feel. But sometimes, the pain seeps through into tears that feel like they will never end.
And I am told again this week that I emanate pain at church, and that my pain distresses others. But I can’t control it, if I am triggered, and God is the only one I know who can take it, so I don’t know what to do. And I don’t know what to do, and I don’t know what to do. I feel like I am unwelcome; like I shouldn’t be at church. All I want is to sense God holding me tight.