What would each of our staff members share if we had the chance to sit down with you one-on-one over a cup of coffee? What is God doing in our lives, and how are we personally experiencing transformation and awakening? Pour Over is a blog series by our Watershed staff members answering those very questions. Today we'll hear from Abbie Fay, Watershed Office Administrator, GreenHouse Support... and quiet force behind much of what goes on around here!
If you have ever met me in person, you know that I am a woman of few words. I have found in my 27 years of life that being quiet and listening is a lot easier than putting myself out there and talking. That requires vulnerability, something that I have struggled with since childhood.
I was a shy child, so much so that talking to people was terrifying for me. I remember in 6th grade when my family moved to a new town and started going to a new church. My parents coaxed me into going to the youth group in order to make friends. The problem was that I was so terrified of this new situation and of my peers that I spent every week with my back against a wall, not moving for the entire two hours. It took me a year to get up the courage to actually acknowledge the people who tried to talk to me and begin making friends. This is just one instance in my long history of struggling with communicating and interacting with other people.
Despite my early struggles, I somehow found a way to enjoy life and build relationships. Friends at school, buddies on the ski slopes, and roommates in college... I was put into situations where being vulnerable was made easier by being forced to live with someone, ride the chairlift over and over for hours on end, and do homework together for classes. Opening up to people is a lot easier when you don’t have a choice of who you do life with.
This all changed when I got married and moved to California with my husband. In California, he was the only person I knew, but that was okay because I felt comfortable being vulnerable with him, at least initially. I was looking forward to moving across the country to an exciting new place and starting life with the man that I loved.
But that excitement for this new life didn’t last long. Some issues that we had discussed before we got married, that I didn’t think were a big deal, began to grow and slowly consume our lives. I started to sink into despair as the safety net that I felt I had in my husband slowly fell away.
All of a sudden I found myself lonely and desperate for someone to talk to. I touched base with my friends and family back home, but I didn’t feel like I could talk about what was really going on in my life with anyone. I had friends in California, but they were surface-level friends, and, even if they were vulnerable with me, I never felt comfortable enough to be vulnerable with them. I engaged enough to make it seem like I had my life together, but aside from that I never put in any effort to help these relationships grow.
As time went on and things got worse, I began to stop caring about having someone to talk to. Staying home and knitting on a Friday night was a lot easier than going to someone’s house and actually engaging in conversation with them. I slowly isolated myself to the point where I had no desire to spend time with people. I would spend my free time knitting or sewing and thinking about everything that was wrong with my life, and how much I hated everything, especially other people. I began to feel that, as an adult, people only hurt each other, so there was no point in trying to befriend anyone, and there definitely was no point in being vulnerable with anyone, because I would just get hurt in the end.
I got to the point where I didn’t even feel like a real person. I was just going through the motions, trying to keep everything together, just trying to survive another day. I felt numb, I stopped crying when my husband and I would argue, I became a very angry person when things would not go my way at work, and I stopped knowing how to have fun. I was a shell of a person: lonely, isolated, and miserable.
This all changed when the proverbial “other shoe” dropped in my marriage, and I crumbled. The problem that we were facing had grown so big that it had consumed our marriage completely and was now slowly killing it. I could not handle it alone anymore, it was too much. I had to talk to someone, anyone, about what was going on.
The day everything came crashing down, I needed a distraction, so I decided to drive to work, the only other place in that town that felt like home. I ended up talking to a couple of girls who were working at the time, and to my surprise, they were comforting, and supportive, and understanding. They didn’t judge me, they just listened.
I began to open up to more people, and so did my husband. I realized that I wasn’t the only one who was isolated. We had both isolated ourselves from the outside world, and from each other (which is pretty hard to do in a 500 sq ft apartment!). We both started seeking help. We met with other couples who had gone though what we were going through, we started going to counseling, but I knew I was still isolating myself more than I should. I was still afraid to talk to people about what was going on inside my head and heart.
We moved to Charlotte a year and a half ago, in December 2015. We left California about six months after we started the recovery process for our marriage. My first year in Charlotte was a year of healing. Being in a new place, I was able to see everything that had been going on in my life from a new perspective. I was able to be more vulnerable with my family and my husband’s family about what was going on in our lives. I could feel myself awakening from the numbness that I had fallen into the previous two years.
This year has been a year of clarity. We are still in counseling, but we can actually see the light at the edge of the woods now, rather than just darkness. I finally feel alive again. I am learning that even though isolating myself is my default, in the long run it does more harm than good. There are actually studies that show that isolation and loneliness can be harmful to a person’s mental, emotional, and even physical well being. We as humans are not meant to live life in complete isolation.
I am still figuring out what all this means for me. While I would rather spend a Friday night knitting or sewing (and most other nights of the week, honestly!), I am learning to step out of my comfort zone and find ways to form relationships with others, whether it is joining a Bloc, tutoring, or coaching. It is definitely still a learning process for me, and I still struggle with even talking with people at times without feeling super awkward. But I know that I am on the right path. I am growing and transforming right now, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
If any of this resonated with you, or if you would just like to talk, please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.