What was meant to be my protection actually numbed me from experiencing any feelings at all. This “bubble girl” had an unpenatrable outside barrier that kept me “safe” from being harmed by anyone, but it isolated me from true relationships.
Why did I finally feel the need to break free from the bondage of never letting people get too close…to see the real me…to trust again?
It was so lonely in that bubble. I seemed too good to be true to those who thought they knew me. Friends and family didn’t think they could be real with me, since I had this facade of perfection. Who can trust their deepest struggles with one who acts like she has none?
My bubble was control. If I could control my feelings, my influences, my circumstances, I’d never be hurt again. As I am learning, this type of response is typical for one growing up in an alcoholic home. Control feels safe, but it’s really a prison of ones own making. Like John Travolta’s character in the 1976 movie, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, I needed to shield myself from harm, even if it meant isolation.
To protect myself, I tried to please everyone. Sometimes, that meant being so cautious that I wouldn’t speak truth, even if it would have been helpful. My automatic response was to keep peace at all costs. Part of that cost was striving imperfectly at perfection and failing miserably. Another hefty payment was paid by those closest to me, since they didn’t feel comfortable being vulnerable with one who seemed to have it all together.
Unfortunately, everyone loses when I choose to remain in my bubble. I know I’m a fraud. My feelings, good and bad just get stuffed, so I’m not really living. My friends and family feel alienated and try to shield me from their shortcomings. And where is God in this equation?
Trust is a big deal to me. I guess it’s because of the trauma I faced as a child, and I felt abandoned and alone in my shame. I didn’t even feel I could trust God. Relationships are based on trust, and it just didn’t seem like it was worth the risk to be let down once again.
God didn’t relent on His pursuit of me, though. He sent me a man to show me that someone could know the real me, the imperfect me, and still love and take care of me. He sent me a daughter and son who whittled away at my false image of perfection and gave me an understanding of what unconditional love means. And, when I was at the end of myself, God swooped in to rescue me from that ridiculous bubble I had constructed and covered me in the shadow of His wings.
Because of God’s unfailing love, I can be real. I can admit my mistakes and talk about my painful past without being driven to despair. I can be free to love. I can be approachable. I can give hope to others who are trapped in their own bubbles.
Oh, every now and then, I am tempted to lock myself away in that deceiving bubble that promises safety. It’s still difficult to do or say something that might “rock the boat.” When it’s too painful or frightening to deal with a new situation or resurrected memory, I must resist that urge to withdraw and let God redeem yet another crisis for His glory. Praise God, I’m no longer a “bubble girl!”